Experiencing Coriander/Cilantro

Published in the column A Flirtation With Herbs in Healthy Options Magazine, New Zealand, April 2009 I was away for much of the summer, helping my sister with her newest addition to the family. As a result, my balcony garden didn't do so well. My spaghetti squash died, my nasturtiums were killed in an aphid infestation, my calendula was ravaged…



Coriandrum sativum

The Carrot Family (Umbilliferae): Plants of the Airy Element

Symbolising: Love, Well-Being and Intelligence

Dancing Coriander

In the United States the fresh plant is called cilantro and the tiny dried fruit is called coriander. In many other parts of the world both plant and seed are called coriander.

Random Tidbits (not necessarily factual)

  • One of the longest recorded histories of all the spices-one of the medicinal plants mentioned in the Medical Papyrus of Thebes (written in 1552 BC)
  • According to Pliny: “the best (Coriander) came from Egypt,”and from thence no doubt the Israelites gained their knowledge of its properties.
  • When the Children of Israel were nourished by manna in the wilderness they claimed it was…”as coriander seed.” And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans and made cakes of it ; and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.”
  • Coriander is an ingredient in absinthe
  • Used to be made into a coriander ale as the volatile oils are extracted more readily by alcohol than water.
  • In 17th century Paris-it was the principal ingredient in Eau de Carnes a concoction used as liqueur or a cologne.
  • The Africans are said to have called this herb by a similar name goid, which Gesenius derives from a verb gadad, signifying ‘to cut,’ in allusion to the furrowed appearance of the fruit.
  • Originally in the northern countries of Europe, the chief consumption of coriander seed was in flavoring certain alcoholic liquors (gin). For which purpose it was largely grown in Essex.
  • Veterinary surgeons employ it as a drug for cattle and horses.
  • The Chinese believed the seeds had the power of conferring immortality.
  • Turner says (1551): “Coriandre layd to wyth breade or barly mele is good for Saynt Antonyes fyre”
  • Fruits and leaves posses totally different flavor and cannot be used as substitute for each other.
  • It’s name (Greek koris) means bug and it has been used planted around gardens to repel bugs (it can also be made into a spray for bug repellent).
  • Re-establishes harmony between the functions of blood and nerves and therefore cheers up and satisfies heart and mind.
  • Was grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
  • If used too freely the seeds become narcotic.
  • The Hungarians called it cig¡nypetrezselyem “gypsies’ parsley”


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