Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), Coriandrum sativum L.
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Coriander, Coriandrum sativum L., also known as Chinese
parsley or cilantro, is an annual herb native to the eastern Mediterranean
region and southern Europe. Valued for the dry ripe fruits, called
coriander seeds, the herb is produced in Morocco, Romania, Mexico,
Argentina, the People's Republic of China, Bangladesh, Bulgaria,
Canada, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Poland, Syria, the United
States, the USSR, and Yugoslavia (11.1-95, 11.1-96)
. Reaching a height of 1 meter, the plant has strong smelling
pinnately or ternately decompound leaves and produces compound
umbels with small white or pinkish flowers that are attractive
The reported life zone of coriander is 7 to 27 degrees centigrade
with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 2.6 meters and a soil pH
of 4.9 to 8.3 (4.1-31). Coriander thrives in full sun and
grows best in deep fertile loams with adequate drainage. The plant
is tolerant to cold, heat and drought stresses (14.1-7).
Usually sown in early spring, the adromonoecious plant flowers
in July and August. Since seeds shatter soon after maturity, timeliness
of harvest and weather conditions greatly influence yield. Young,
immature fruit have a characteristic disagreeable odor and lack
the desirable spicy aroma associated with mature fruit. Harvesting
in the early morning, while the dew is on the plant, reduces seed
loss caused by shattering. The seed is dried and stored for later
For essential oil extraction, the seed is ground immediately before
distillation to increase oil yield and minimize distillation time.
The essential oil content of dried fruit ranges from 0.5 to 1%
and the oil contains d-linalool, camphor, d--pinene,
camphene, -pinene, sabinene, myrcene, -terpinene, -terpinene,
limonene, and other constituents (1.5-141, 14.1-9).
Coriander fruit also contain a fixed or fatty oil.
Coriander seeds, available whole or ground, are used primarily
as a flavoring agent in the food industry or as spice in the home
kitchen for breads, cheeses, curry, fish, meats, sauces, soups,
pastries, and confections. The seeds are also used to flavor alcoholic
beverages, such as gin, and in liqueurs. Fresh leaves are especially
popular where the plant is produced locally for use as a flavoring
agent in soups and stews. The essential oil is used in perfumes,
soaps, and other cosmetics. The fruit has been used to flavor
As a medicinal plant, coriander has been used as an antispasmodic,
carminative, stimulant, and stomachic. Coriander has also exhibited
hypoglycemic activity (7.1-21). At one time, coriander was
used in love potions and considered to be an aphrodisiac. Chinese
herbal medicine includes the use of coriander for measles, stomachache,
nausea, hernia, and as a tonic (11.1-10). The linalool in
coriander oil is known to cause contact dermatitis (11.1-96).
Seeds are sometimes used as a flavoring agent to improve taste
in other medicinal preparations.
Coriander is generally recognized as safe for human consumption
as a spice/natural flavoring and for use as an essential oil or
oleoresin (21 CFR sections 182.10, 182.20 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997