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Sesamum indicum - L.

Common Name Sesame
Family Pedaliaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range Not known but possibly northeast Africa or India.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Sesamum indicum Sesame
Sesamum indicum Sesame


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S. orientale L. (1753) and S. indicum L. have equal priority. DC. (Pl. Rar. Jard. Geneve 16-19. 1825) accepted S. orientale and cited S. indicum as a synonym. The conservation of S. indicum, however, has precedence over S. orientale.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Sesamum indicum is a ANNUAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower in July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


S. orientale.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil  Oil

Seed - cooked[1, 2, 4, 34, 46]. Usually roasted or stewed, it can also be ground into a powder and used as a flour, added to breads, vegetables etc, used to make sweetmeats, or crushed and used as a butter or as 'tahini'[14, 21, 183, 238]. It can also be fermented into 'tempeh', ground into a powder and mixed with a sweetener to make 'halva', or made into a paste and used as the spread 'tahini'[183, 238]. The seeds can also be sprouted and used in salads[183]. The seed contains about 21.5% protein, 60.8% fat, 8.9% carbohydrate, 3.4% ash[179]. It is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids, calcium and vitamins A, B and E[201, 238]. The calcium is absorbed well by the body, making sesame an excellent dietary source[238]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[2, 34, 46, 57]. It is used for cooking or in margarines etc[14, 183]. The oil is very stable and will keep for years without turning rancid[61, 117, 201]. Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb or added to soups[105, 117, 183].


Medicinal Uses

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Astringent  Diuretic  Emollient  Galactogogue  Lenitive  Nutritive  Skin  Tonic

The leaves and seed are astringent[174, 201, 257]. The leaves are rich in a gummy matter and when mixed with water they form a rich bland mucilage that is used in the treatment of infant cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, catarrh and bladder troubles[4, 238]. The seed is diuretic, emollient, galactogogue, lenitive and tonic[218], and acts as a tonic for the liver and kidneys[238]. It is taken internally in the treatment of premature hair loss and greying, convalescence, chronic dry constipation, dental caries, osteoporosis, stiff joints, dry cough etc[238]. It has a marked ability to increase milk production in nursing mothers[254]. Externally it is used to treat haemorrhoids and ulcers[238, 240]. The seed is very high in calories and so should be used with caution by people who are overweight[238]. The oil is laxative and also promotes menstruation[4]. It is used to treat dry constipation in the elderly[238]. Mixed with lime water, the oil is used externally to treat burns, boils and ulcers[238]. A decoction of the root is used in various traditions to treat asthma and coughs[254].


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Other Uses

Oil  Oil  Weather protection

The seed contains up to 55% of a semi-drying oil[132]. Apart from being edible, it is also used in soap making, lighting, as a lubricant and a source of pharmaceutical drugs etc[21, 46, 61, 238]. When added to the insecticide pyrethrum it acts as a synergist, a 10% content of oil doubling the potency of the pyrethrum[57, 174]. The oil can also be used in barrier creams to protect the skin from harmful UV light radiation[201].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

Requires a well-drained porous soil and a warm sunny sheltered position[1, 238]. Sesame has been cultivated for its edible seed for over 5,000 years and is still widely grown in tropical and warm temperate zones[238]. There are many named varieties[183]. The British climate is probably too cool in the summer to successfully grow this crop, though some people have reported success[206]. An early sowing in the greenhouse and some protection when first planting it out will help. Sesame grows well with sweet corn but it grows badly with sorghum[201].


Temperature Converter

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Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Give them the protection of a cloche until they are growing away well[K]. In warm temperate zones, where frosts are very rare and light, or non-existent, the seed can be sown in situ in the spring or the autumn[238].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Beniseed, Benne, Bijan, Bukenyimu, Bununya, Busosyi, Bwengo, Chamkkae, Chih mah, Chitowe, Ellu, Geching, Gingelly, Gingli, Ginjili, Goma, Hnan si, Hu ma, Ingo, Karuthellu, Kattu yellu, Keh, Khasa, Lamti, Lenga, Lidonya, Linga, Matongwe, Mchesi, Me, Mkwiyu, Muki goma, Namuhangwa, Nga dee la, Ngaa, Nuvvulu, Rasi, Sesam, Sesamo, Sesamum, Sibing, Sim-sim, Sivar, Susam, Tal, Thala, Til, Tila, Tili, Usambia, Wijen, Zhi ma, accheellu, ajonjolí, ajonjolí, aceite, ajonjolí, aceite refinado, bahumaniri, ballanuvvulu, baniseed, bariktel, beme, bene, benein, beni, beniseed, benne, benneseed, benniseed, benue oil seed, bhadutil, bhutaghn, black sesame, black sesame seeds, carbonized fineleaf schizonepeta spike, chamkkae, chikhanu, chiteluu, chitrallum, ellu, fineleaf schizonepeta spike, gergelim, gimgelim, gingelly, gingelly sesame, gingelly-oil seeds, gingli, goma, grangasa, hamo, hei zhi ma, heizhima, holi basil, homadhanya, hu ma, ikanyum, jatila, jingjiesui, jingjiesuitan, kalatil, kali til, karellu, kattil, khasa, khaslatil, krishanatil, krishnatel, kuncî, kunjad, kunjad siyah, manchi tulasi, mayou, mfuta, min, mithatel,til, mithytel, molekelele, nalla tulasi, navvullu, nimso, nuvvu, nuvvulu, nyim, oleum sesami, oriental sesame, papaghana, poeuloel, rasi, refined sesame oil, ridi, sacred basil, salalmac, schizonepetae spica, semen sesami nigrum, sesam, sesame, sesame oil, sesame oil, refined, sesame seeds|thala, sesami oleum, sesami oleum raffinatum, sesami semen, sesami semen nigrum, sesamier, sesamo, sesamum, sim-sim, simmasim, simsim, simsim-ui-aswad, sisino, spica schizonepetae, spica schizonepetae carbonisata, spri-nag, sri tulasi, surasa, sésame, sésamo, tal tel til, tall, teel, thiruthazhai, thulasi, ti-la-dkar, til, tila, tila (seed), tilagachh, tili, tsinuni, tulasi, tulsi, ufuha, ufunha, ufuta, uvuta, wangila, yanmoti, yelluchedi, zar-ma, zhi ma, zilechatil, óleo de gergelim.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Afghanistan, Africa, Armenia, Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cambodia, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, East Africa, East Timor, Egypt, Europe, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, Greece, Guiana, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Himalayas, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Middle East, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Korea, South Africa, South America, Southern Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Uganda, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

A J Shahzad   Wed Mar 12 2008

1. we need information about sesamum in south punjab pakistan. 2. time of sowing 3. seed rate per acre 4. yield potential per acre 5. best verity available in pakistan 6. what kind of incescts attack on it 7. requirement of phospharas 8. requirement of nitrogen 9. requirement of micro fertilizer where it seed will be available

pragnesh patel   Wed Jul 23 2008

effect of nitrogen and sulphur on growth and yield of kharif sesame.

   Jul 4 2017 12:00AM

Can You gave some nutritional information about sesamum indicum leave

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