Carum carui. Caraway.
Nat. Ord. — Apiaceae or Umbelliferae. Sex. Syst. — Pentandria Digynia.
Seeds, (Half Fruits).
Description. — Carum Carui is an umbelliferous, biennial plant, with a fusiform, whitish, fleshy root, and an erect stem, about two feet high, furrowed, and branched above. The lower leaves are of a bright-green color, petiolate, smooth, bipinnate, with numerous finely-cut leaflets, the segments of which are narrow, linear, and pointed ; those of the stem are smaller, opposite, one of them with a dilated petiole, the other sessile. The flowers are numerous, small, of a pale flesh-color, and terminate the branches of the stem in erect umbels, which are generally without an involucre, but are sometimes furnished with one to three involucral leaflets. The calyx is very small ; the petals are five, small and inflexed ; the stamens are about as long as the petals, and bear small, roundish, two-lobed anthers ; the ovary is ovate, and supports styles which are at first very short, but become elongated. The mericarps are elliptic-ovate, of a grayish-brown color, and are marked with single vittae.
History. — Caraway is a native of Europe, and has been introduced into this country. It flowers in May and June, and the seeds, which are the officinal portions, are not perfected until the second year, when they become ripe in August. They are obtained by cutting down the plant, and threshing it on a cloth. They are of a brownish color, with five lighter-colored primary ridges, and a vitta in each interval, are about two lines in length, and slightly curved inward. The odor is pleasantly aromatic, and the taste warm, sweetish, and spicy; which properties depend upon a volatile oil, which is officinal, and which may be obtained by distillation. The oil is at first pale, becomes darker by age, and has the peculiar fragrance and taste of the seed. The virtues of the seed are readily yielded to alcohol or ether.
Properties and Uses. — Aromatic carminative. Used in flatulent colic, especially of children, and as an adjuvant or corrective of other medicines. In substance the dose is from ten to sixty grains. The oil, however, is mostly employed. (See Oleum Carui.) The seeds are much used by the cook and confectioner to improve the flavor of cakes and comfits, while at the same time they gently stimulate the digestive organs.
Off. Prep. — Oleum Carui; Tinct. Cardamomi Comp.