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Definition: coriander from Philip's Encyclopedia

Strong-smelling herb of the carrot family native to the Mediterranean and Near East. The leaves, the ground seeds and oil from the seeds are used as aromatic flavourings in foods, medicines and liqueurs. Family Apiaceae/Umbelliferae; species Coriandrum sativum.

Summary Article: Coriander
From The Encyclopedia of Seeds: Science, Technology and Uses

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum, Apiaceae) is one of the earliest known spices (see: Spices and flavours, Table S.12). The plant is an annual herb, long prized for its spicy, aromatic ‘seeds’ (really fruits) (Fig. C.22) used either whole or in ground form as a main ingredient in curry and other food and flavour products. Freshly cut leaves are one of the world’s most widely used culinary herbs.

The plant is an erect, herbaceous annual. When grown for the fruit, the crop duration varies from 100-200 days. The optimum time to harvest varies widely depending on the location, season and the cultivar. The aromatic fruit is an ovoid to globose cremocarp with two one-seeded mericarps, each 3-5 mm in diameter, yellow-brown when ripe with ten longitudinal ribs.

Ripe dried fruit contains 1-2% essential oil (obtained by steam-distillation) and 16-28% fixed oil. The flavour of coriander is contributed by the essential oil whose main constituents are shown in Table C.22 (see Fig. S.44). The oil is used in the food and perfume industries.

Indian households use huge quantities of coriander powder in culinary preparations. Ground coriander is a major component in spice mixes worldwide, curry powders and garam masalas. Coriander is used in flavouring meat preparations. It has antimicrobial properties and is also used in treatments for colic, neuralgia and rheumatism. Coriander paste is applied to skin and mouth ulcers. Its fruits are used in gastrointestinal complaints such as dyspepsia and flatulence. It is useful as a poultice for ulcers and carbuncles. The essential oil is widely used in the food industry and for flavouring alcoholic beverages, as well as in perfumery.

Table C.22. Major components of coriander essential oil.


Percentage (%)

Atta-ur-Rahman, M.I., Choudhary, A., Farooq, A., Ahmed, A., Demirci, B., Demirci, F. and Baser, K.H.C. (2000) Antifungal activities and essential oil constituents of some spices from Pakistan. Journal of the Chemical Society of Pakistan 22, 60-65.







Trans-linalool oxide (furanoid)


















Hexadecanoic acid


Fig. C.22. Dried coriander fruits (image by Mike Amphlett, CABI).

  • Peter, K.V. (ed.) (2001) Handbook of Herbs and Spices. Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, UK.
  • Weiss, E.A. (2002) Spice Crops. CAB International, Wallingford, UK.
  • Peter, Kuruppacharil V.

    Burbulis, Natalija
    © CAB International 2006.

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