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Cardamomi Semen. U. S. (Br.)

Cardamomi Semen. U. S. (Br.)

Cardamom Seed. Cardam. Sem. [Cardamomum U.S. VIII Cardamom]

"The dried seeds of Elettaria Cardamomum White et Maton (Fam. Zingiberaceae), recently removed from the capsules." U. S. "Cardamom Seeds are the dried ripe seeds of Elettaria Cardamomum, Maton. The seeds should be kept in their pericarps and separated when required for use." Br.

Cardamomi Semina, Br.; Cardamomum Minus, Cardamomum Malabaricum; Malabar Cardamoms, Cardamoms; Cardamome du Malabar, Fr. Cod.; Petit Cardamome, Fr.; Fructus Cardamomi, P. G.; Malabar Kardamomen, Cardamomen, Kleine Kardamomen, G; Cardamomo minore. It.; Cardamomo, Cardamomo menor, Sp.; Ebil, Arab.; Kakelah seghar, Pers.; Capalaga, Malay; Gujaratii elachi, Hindost.

The fruit of cardamom is official in most of the Pharmacopoeias. The U. S. Pharmacopoeia in its definition confines cardamom to the seeds. In this it follows the British Pharmacopoeia which has always limited the drug to the seeds, but specifically states that the fruit should be kept intact and the seeds separated when required for use. This step was probably a wise one as there has always been some confusion by manufacturers as to whether the article designated as cardamom is a formula was restricted to the seeds or not. On the other hand the pericarp contains some oil and forms an excellent surface for the grinding of the seeds. Furthermore, the decorticated seeds are liable to adulteration with seed of wild cardamom and other foreign seeds which are not detected except upon careful examination.

The subject of cardamom has been involved in some confusion and uncertainty, both in its commercial and botanical relations. The name has been applied to the aromatic capsules of various Indian plants belonging to the family of Zingiberaceae. Three varieties have long been designated by the several titles of the lesser, middle, and larger—cardamomum minus, medium, and majus; but these terms have been. used differently by different writers, so that their precise signification remains doubtful. To Pereira we are mainly indebted for the clearing up of this confusion. It is well known that the lesser cardamom of most writers is the variety recognized by the Pharmacopoeias and generally kept in the shops. The other varieties, though circulating to some extent in European and Indian commerce, are little known in this country.

Ceylon Cardamom.—This has been denominated variously cardamomum majus and cardamomum longum, and is sometimes termed in English commerce wild cardamom. It is the large cardamom of Guibourt. In the East it is sometimes called grains of Paradise; but it is not the product known with us by that name. (See below.) It is derived from a plant cultivated in Candy, in the Island of Ceylon, and also growing wild in the forests of the interior, which was designated by Sir James Edward Smith Elettaria major, but is now generally acknowledged to be only a variety of the official plant. (Elettaria Cardamomum var. ß-Major Smith.. It is affirmed that the annual product reaches nearly 750,000 pounds. The fruit is a lanceolate-oblong, acutely triangular capsule, somewhat curved, about 3.5 cm. long and 6 to 8 mm. broad, with flat and ribbed sides, tough and coriaceous, brownish or yellow ash-colored, having frequently at one end the long, cylindrical, three-lobed calyx, and at the other the fruit-stalk. It is three-locular, and contains angular, rugged, yellowish-red seeds, of a peculiar fragrant odor and spicy taste. Its effects are analogous to those of the official cardamom.

Round or Siam Cardamom.—This is probably the Aμωμον of Dioscorides and the Amomi uva of Pliny, and is believed to be the fruit of Amomum cardamomum, Willd., growing in Sumatra, Java, and other East India islands. The capsules are usually smaller than a cherry, roundish or somewhat ovate, with three convex sides, more or less striated longitudinally, yellowish or 'brownish-white, and sometimes reddish, with brown, angular, cuneiform, shrivelled seeds, which have a spicy camphorous flavor. They are sometimes, though rarely, met with connected in their native clusters, constituting the amomum racemosum, or amome en grappe, of the French. They are similar in medicinal properties to the official, but are seldom used except in the southern parts of Europe.

Java Cardamom.—The plant producing this variety is supposed to be the amomum maximum of Roxburgh, growing in Java and other Malay islands in the East. The capsules are oval, or oval-oblong, often somewhat ovate, from 1.5 to 3 cm. long, and from 8 to 15 mm. broad, usually flattened on one side and convex on the other, sometimes curved, three-valved, and occasionally imperfectly three-lobed, of a dirty grayish-brown color, and coarse fibrous appearance. When soaked in water, they exhibit as their distinguishing character from nine to thirteen ragged membranous wings along their whole length. The seeds have a feebly aromatic taste and odor. This variety of cardamom affords but a very small proportion of volatile oil, is altogether of inferior quality, and, when imported into London, is usually sent to the continent.

Madagascar Cardamom.—This is the Cardamomum majus of Geiger and some others, and is thought to be the fruit of Amomum angustifolium, of Sonnerat, growing in marshy grounds in Madagascar. The capsule is ovate, pointed, flattened on one side, striated, with a broad circular scar at the bottom, surrounded by an elevated, notched, corrugated margin. The seeds have an aromatic flavor similar to that of official cardamom.

Bengal or Nepal Cardamom.—The fruit of Amomum subulatum, Roxb., sometimes known by the name of winged Bengal cardamom. Morung elachi, or Buro elachi, is about 2.5 cm. in length, obscurely three-sided, ovoid or somewhat obconic, with nine narrow, jagged ridges or wings (best seen after soaking in water) upon its distal end, which terminates in a truncate bristly nipple. The pericarp is coarsely striated, of a deep brown, splitting into three valves, disclosing a three-lobed mass of seeds, 60 to 80 in number.

Nepal Cardamom is produced by an Amomum of undetermined species, and resembles the Bengal cardamom, except in having a long tubular calyx on its summit, and in being usually attached to a stalk.

Grains of Paradise. Grana Paradisi.—Under this name and that of Guinea grains, and Melegueta or Mallaguetta pepper, are found in commerce small seeds of a round or ovate form, often angular, and somewhat cuneiform, minutely rough, brown externally, white within, of a feebly aromatic odor when rubbed between the fingers, and of a strongly hot and peppery taste. Two kinds of them are known in the English market, one larger, plumper, and more warty, with a short conical projecting tuft of pale fibers on the umbilicus; the other smaller and smoother and without the fibrous tuft. The latter are the more common. It is probable that one of the varieties is produced by Amomum Grana Parodisi of Sir J. E. Smith, and the other by Roscoe's Amomum Melegueta. (Pereira's Mat. Med., 3d ed., p. 1134.) W. F. Daniell, who has published (P. J., xiv 312 and 356) an elaborate paper on the Amoma of Western Africa, states that the true Mallaguetta pepper is obtained exclusively from varieties of the same species to which belong the Amomum Granum Parodisi of Afzelius and the A. Melegueta of Roscoe; while the A. Grana Parodisi of Sir J. E. Smith is a different plant, and yields a different product. These grains are imported from Guinea, and other parts of the western coast of Africa. Similar grains are taken to England from Demerara, where they are obtained from a plant cultivated by the negroes, supposed to have been brought from Africa, and believed by Pereira to be the Amomum Melegueto of Roscoe. (P. J., vi, 412.) Their effects on the system are analogous to those of pepper; but they are seldom used except in veterinary practice, and to give artificial strength to spirits, wine, beer, and vinegar. Pereira points out seven distinct Scitamineous fruits to which the name of grains of Paradise has been applied by different authors. J. C. Thresh made a proximate analysis of the seeds, and found volatile oil, resin, tannin, starch, albuminoids, and an active principle in the form of a straw-colored viscid, odorless fluid, pungent, but not so hot as capsaicin. (P. J., 1884, p. 297.) Fred'k Schwartz found in the seeds a reddish-brown acrid resin, and an oil having a burning aromatic taste, upon which the virtues probably depend. (A. J. P., 1886, 118; consult also Hanausek's researches on grains of Paradise in Chem. Ztg., 1893, 1765.)

Bastard Cardamom, the seeds of Amomum Xanthioides Wall., resembles true cardamom in appearance, but is of a dirty green color, and has a very biting camphor-like taste. B. Niederstadt gives the following as the results of analysis of the true (hulled) seed and of the bastard cardamom:

True. Bastard.
Water 15.25 15.50
Ether soluble extract 5.10 4.04
Ash 6.55 7.50
Starch and sugar 28.84 24.00
Cellular tissue, nitrogenous matters and extractive 44.26 48.96

A cardamom from East Africa, with a flavor resembling that of official cardamom and of the Korarima cardamom, is said to have been seen in the London market, but apparently has not been identified.

The official cardamoms are produced solely in India, chiefly in Malabar, Mysore, and adjacent regions. Malabar cardamoms are rather smaller than Mysore cardamoms.

The cardamom plant has a tuberous horizontal rhizome, sending up from eight to twenty erect, simple, smooth, green and shining, perennial stems, which rise from six to twelve feet in height, and bear alternate elliptical-lanceolate sheathing leaves. The flower-stalk proceeds from the base of the stem, and lies upon the ground, with the flowers arranged in a panicle. The fruit is a three-celled capsule, containing many seeds; during drying it is said to lose three-fourths of its weight.

This valuable plant is a native of the mountains of Indochina, where it springs up spontaneously in the forests after the removal of the undergrowth, and is very extensively cultivated by the natives. Recent reports indicate that the cultivation of cardamom is being discontinued in favor of cinchona and rubber plantations on both the Malabar Coast as well as in Ceylon. For a detailed account of culture, see A. J. P., 1877, 605; alsoP. J., 1888, and Bull. des Sc. Pharmacol; Paris, 1906, pp. 114 and 584. Cardamoms have also been cultivated to some extent in tropical America. The plant begins to yield fruit at the end of the fourth year, and continues to bear for several years afterwards. The capsules when ripe are picked from the fruit-stems, dried over a gentle fire or by sun-heat, and separated, by rubbing with the hands, from the footstalks and adhering calyces. J. W. Mollison describes the method of washing and curing cardamoms employed in the Bombay Presidency, India. The washing and manipulation is performed by women, and water from special wells is employed. The cardamoms are first washed in earthenware vessels containing a mixture of the well water with pounded soap nut and a species of acacia, in the proportion of two pounds of the former to a quarter pound of the latter. About ten pounds of cardamoms are treated at one time. Two women stir them vigorously in the mixture for about one minute and then allow them to rest about an equal length of time, and again stir for another minute. A thick lather results. This completes the first washing, after which the cardamoms are baled out by hand into a basket where they are allowed to drain for a few seconds, and then subjected to a second washing similar to the first except that the mixture contains less of the soap nut preparation and an additional quantity of soap solution. They are then thrown upon a mat and sprinkled with water from the special well at intervals of a half hour, until the next morning, when they are spread upon the roof of a house and allowed to dry for four or five hours. After nipping off the short stalk, an operation performed with a large pair of shears, the cardamoms are sorted, only the most plump fruits being prepared for the foreign market. Besides bleaching by this process, cardamoms are also subjected to starching in India. The starched product has a whiter appearance than, the bleached cardamoms. The starch is prepared by pounding together rice, wheat, country soap and buttermilk. The paste is diluted with water and sprinkled over the cardamoms as they are nibbed by hand. (B. C. D., 1904, see also Ph. Era, 1904, 137.) Most of the cardamom is sent to Bombay, from whence it is shipped to London, about 250,000 pounds being marketed annually. Thus prepared, they are ovate-oblong, from 10 to 17 mm. long, from 6 to 8 mm. thick, three-sided with rounded angles, obtusely pointed at both ends, longitudinally wrinkled, and of a yellowish-white color. The seeds constitute about 74 parts per cent. by weight. According to Pereira, three varieties are distinguished in commerce: 1, the shorts, from 6 to 12 mm. long, from 4 to 6 mm. broad, browner and more coarsely ribbed and more highly esteemed than the others; 2, the long-longs, from 14 to 25 mm. in length by 4 to 6 mm. in breadth, elongated, and somewhat acuminate; and 3, the short-longs, which are somewhat shorter and less pointed than the second variety. The odor of cardamom is fragrant, the taste warm, slightly pungent, and highly aromatic.

"Mostly agglutinated in groups of from 2 to 7, the individual seeds, oblong-ovoid in outline, 3- or irregularly 4-sided, convex on the dorsal surface, strongly longitudinally grooved on one side, from 3 to 4 mm. in length; externally reddish-gray-brown, coarsely tuberculated, and with more or less adhering portions of the membranous aril; in section showing a thin reddish-brown seed-coat, a large white perisperm and a central, greenish endosperm enclosing a small straight embryo; odor aromatic; taste aromatic, pungent. The powder is greenish-brown; consisting chiefly of coarse angular fragments of cells of the reserve layers and seed-coat; cells of endosperm and perisperm filled with compound starch grains, the individual grains from 0.001 to 0.004 mm. in diameter; fragments of seed with dark brown stone cells, which are polygonal in surface view and about 0.02 mm. in diameter; in mounts made with hydrated chloral T.S. single prisms or crystals in rosette aggregates may separate in the cells of the endosperm and perisperm; fragments of spiral tracheae with accompanying slightly lignified bast-fibers relatively few. Cardamom Seed yields not more than 8 per cent. of ash." U.S.

"Fruits from one to two centimetres long, ovoid or oblong, bluntly triangular in section, shortly beaked at the apex, pale buff in color, plump and nearly smooth or with slight longitudinal striations. Seeds dark reddish-brown, about three millimetres in length and the same in breadth and thickness, irregularly angular, transversely wrinkled, and enclosed in a thin, colorless, membranous aril. The powdered Seeds exhibit abundant, minute, angular starch grains, often compacted into masses; but no spiral vessels, sclerenchymatous fibres, or strongly elongated sclerenchymatous cells (absence of pericarps). Aromatic odor; taste agreeably warm and aromatic. Ash not more than 6 per cent." Br.

Cardamom yields its virtues to water and alcohol, but more readily to the latter. The seeds contain 4.6 per cent. of volatile oil, 10.4 of fixed oil, 2.5 of a salt of potassium mixed with a coloring principle, 3.0 of starch, 1.8 of nitrogenous mucilage, 0.4 of yellow coloring matter, and 77.3 of ligneous fiber. (Trommsdorff.) The volatile oil is colorless, of an agreeable and very penetrating odor, and of a strong aromatic, burning, camphorous, and bitterish taste. It is dextrogyrate, and consists essentially of a terpene, C10H16, with small quantities of formic and acetic acids. From old specimens of oil Dumas and Peligot claim to have separated crystals of terpene hydrate, C10H20O2 + H2O, while Flückiger has obtained a crystalline deposit from Ceylon oil which he considers identical with common camphor. Weber (Ann. Ch. Ph., ccxxxviii, 98) found a small amount of a crystalline non-volatile compound which fuses at 60° to 61° C. (140°-141.8° F.). Schimmel & Co. published in their semi-annual reports for April and October, 1897, some results of investigation of several varieties of cardamom oil. The terpenes of Ceylon oil they state to be terpinene and dipentene; both Ceylon and Bengal cardamom contain cineol, C10H18O; Malabar cardamom yields terpineol as well as cineol, while Siam cardamom yields a crystalline sediment composed of borneol and camphor in approximately equal proportions. The sp. gr. of the oil is between 0.92 and 0.94. It cannot be kept long without undergoing change, and finally, even though excluded from the air, loses its peculiar odor and taste. If ether be made to percolate through the powdered seeds, and the liquor obtained be deprived of the ether, a light greenish-brown fluid remains, consisting almost exclusively of the volatile and fixed oils. It has the odor of cardamom, and keeps better than the oil obtained by distillation. (A. J. P., xxi, 116.) The oil of cardamom of commerce is often factitious, being composed of several cheap volatile oils, oils of cajuput, nutmeg, and others being used. Schimmel & Co. announced in 1901 that they no longer distilled the oil from the fruit of Elettaria cardamomum, but from the seeds of another species; this oil makes a clear solution with three parts by volume of 70 per cent. alcohol. (Schim. Rep., 1901, 14.) See Oil of Cardamom, N. F. IV., Part II. The seeds should be powdered only when wanted for use, as they retain their aromatic properties best while in the capsule.

Cardamoms are sometimes adulterated; G. W. Kennedy reported nearly 4 per cent. of orange seeds and unroasted grains of coffee admixed with cardamom. Solstein (1892) found that pure powdered cardamom yields 8.36 per cent. of ash; three commercial samples of powdered cardamom that he examined contained sodium carbonate.

Uses.—Cardamom is a grateful aromatic, not strongly heating or stimulating, and useful chiefly as an adjuvant. Throughout the East Indies it is largely consumed as a condiment. It was known to the ancients, and derived its name from the Greek language. In this country it is employed chiefly as an ingredient in compound preparations.

Dose, fifteen to thirty grains (1-2 Gm.).

Off. Prep.—Fluidextractum Aromaticum (from Aromatic Powder), U. S.; Pulvis Aromaticus, U. S. (Br.); Pulvis Cretae Aromaticus, Br., N. F.; Tinctura Cardamomi, U. S.; Tinctura Cardamomi Composita, U. S., Br.; Tinctura Aromatica, N. F.


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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