Cumin. Cyminum Lond. Cuminum Ed. Cumin, Fr. Kreuzkümmel, Mutterkümmel, Römischer (langer, scharfer) Kümmel, G.—The so-called cumin seeds are the fruit of the Cuminum Cyminum L., an annual umbelliferous plant, which is a native of Egypt, but is cultivated for its fruit in Sicily, Malta, and other parts of Europe.
The cumin fruits (seeds) are elliptical, flat on one side, convex, furrowed, and rough on the other, from 5 to 6 mm. in length and about 1.5 mm. in thickness, and of a light brown color. Each has seven longitudinal ridges. Two mericarps are sometimes seen united. Their odor is peculiar, strong, and heavy; their taste warm, bitterish, aromatic, and disagreeable. They contain about 2.5 per cent. of an essential oil, which is lighter than water, yellowish, and has the sensible properties of the fruits. It consists of three distinct oils, one a hydrocarbon, cymene, C10H14, recognized now as isopropyl-p-methyl-benzene, another cuminol, C10H12O, which may be regarded as cuminic aldehyde, C10H11OH, and the third a terpene, C10H16. Dumas, a long time since, obtained a cymene identical with that of oil of cumin seeds, by dehydrating camphor, and Paterno prepared it in a similar way from oil of turpentine. (J. P. C., 4e ser., xx, 409.) In his discovery Paterno seems, however, to have been preceded by seven chemists, O. R. A. Wright apparently having the priority. (A. J. P., xlvi, 117; see especially A. J. P., xliv, 452.) Cumin aldehyde has also, together with cymene, been obtained from the fruits of Cicuta virosa L. (Trapp, Ann. Ch, Ph., cviii, 386; see also Schim. Rept., 1909, 49.) In medicinal properties cumin fruits resemble the other aromatic umbelliferous fruits. Dose, fifteen to thirty grains (1-2 Gm.).