Cuminum cyminum. Cumin Seed.
Nat. Ord. — Apiaceae. Sex. Syst. — Pentandria Digynia,
Description. — This is an annual, herbaceous plant, about six or eight inches high, having a round, slender, branching stem, and numerous multifid leaves, with long, filiform, deep-green segments. The flowers are small, white, or purple, overtopped by the bracts, which after flowering are reflexed, and are disposed in numerous terminal umbels, which have very few rays, partial and general involucres, consisting of two or three filiform, one-sided bracts. The fruit is about two lines long, much longer than the pedicels, nearly taper, but little contracted at the sides, fusiform, crowned by the short teeth of the calyx, densely covered with short rough hair upon the channels, less densely upon the ridges, which are paler, filiform, and a little raised ; it consists of two oblong plano-convex half fruits, commonly called seeds, united by their flat sides.
History. — This plant is a native of Egypt, and is cultivated for its fruit in many parts of Europe. The seeds are elliptical, flat on one side, convex, furrowed, and rough on the other, about one-sixth of an inch in length, and of a light brown color. Each has seven longitudinal ridges. Two seeds are sometimes united together as upon the plant. Their odor is peculiar, strong and heavy ; their taste warm, bitterish, aromatic, and disagreeable. They contain much essential oil, which is of a yellowish color, and has the sensible properties of the seeds.
Properties and Uses. — Highly stimulant, and carminative ; possessing medical properties similar to the other aromatic fruits of umbelliferous plants, but more stimulating. They are seldom used in the United States. Dose is from fifteen to sixty grains.