Cuminum cyminum Linn. Umbelliferae. Cumin.
Mediterranean region. This is a small, annual plant indigenous to the upper regions of the Nile but was carried at an early period by cultivation to Arabia, India and China, as well as to the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. It is referred to by the prophet Isaiah and is mentioned in Matthew. Pliny calls it the best appetizer of all the condiments and says the Ethiopian and the African are of superior quality but that some prefer the Egyptian. During the Middle Ages, cumin was one of the species in most common use and is mentioned in Normandy in 716, in England between 1264 and 1400 and is enumerated in 1419 among the merchandise taxed in the city of London. It is mentioned in many of the herbals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and is recorded as under cultivation in England in 1594. In India, the seeds form an ingredient of curry powders and pickles 8 and in France find use in cookery. In Holland, cheeses are sometimes flavored with cumin. The seed is occasionally advertised in American seed catalogs but is probably very rarely grown.