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Bunium persicum - (Boiss.)B.Fedtsch.

Common Name Black Caraway, Black Cumin
Family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Gentle exposed mountain slopes in C. Asia[74]. Dry scrubby slopes in the Himalayas[145].
Range South-eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Siberia and Western Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Bunium persicum Black Caraway, Black Cumin

(c) Mahdi Faravani
Bunium persicum Black Caraway, Black Cumin
(c) Mahdi Faravani


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Black cumin seeds Bunium persicum are a similar shape to the familiar cumin, yet their color is darker brown. When crushed they are highly aromatic, almost piney and less earthy. The flavor is similarly pine-like, astringent, and bitter. Black cumin is not to be confused with nigella (kolonji), which is often called black cumin seed.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Bunium persicum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft). The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Carum bulbocastanum. Clarke.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root
Edible Uses: Condiment

Root - raw or cooked[74]. Tastes like sweet chestnuts. Seed - used as a flavouring[145], a cumin substitute.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. It is likely to prefer a well-drained light to medium soil in sun or light shade.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

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

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 :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Bunium bulbocastanumPig Nut, Earth-nutPerennial0.6 4-8  LMHNM410
Bunium ferulaceum Perennial0.6 -  LMHNM20 

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

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Readers comment

Mahdi Faravani   Sat Jun 5 04:21:41 2004

Survey on the treatment of the seed amount, the transplanting time of Black zira ( Bunium persicum ) bulbs from nursery to field with the best cultivation pattern. Mahdi Faravani (Iran ) email: [email protected]

The present study was conducted at Khorassan Agricultural Research Center in order to determine the amount of seeds in nursery and the best transplanting date for black zira ( Bunium persicum ) bulbs from nursery to field and also to find out the best cultivation pattern in the field. Treatments consisted of six seed rates ( 20,60,100,180 and 220 kg/ha) which were sown on November, 1996. Results revealed that 60 kg/ha was the best seed rate to produce bulbs of two years old with highest weight (1.98 gr). In 1999, the experiment was laid out in factorial under a randomized complete block design . The factor of the cultivation patterns were included of three levels as square , lozenge and rectangle. The transplanting date of two years old black zira bulbs from nursery to field was conducted in three seasons (summer, fall and winter) in the form of RCBD. The distance between rows was considered in both the rectangular pattern and lozenge 25 cm and in the square pattern 12.24 cm. The results showed that the best transplanting date of the black zira bulbs was summer due to bulb dormancy and considering optimum yield and biological yield. Keywords: Black zira, nursery, bulb, transplanting , pattern.

Mahdi Faravani   Sat Jun 5 04:24:18 2004

The effect of different plant density and plant rates on yield on Saffron (Crocus sativus) and Black Zira (Bunium persicum) in intercropping system. Mahdi. Faravani, A.R. Beheshti, M. Bazoobandi

[email protected]

The effect of different plant densities and rates on saffron (Crocus sativus ) and black zira (Bunium persicum) intercropping was studied in 2000 at Toragh Agricultural Research Station in Mashhad. The experimental design was an randomized complete blocks in factorial arrangement with 4 replications and 15 treatment including 3 levels of plant populations (50, 25 and 12.5 plant per m2 ) and 5 level of two crops ration (0, 33:67, 50:50, 67:33, 100) in an intercropped arrangement bused on replacement series techniques. The method of bivariate analysis was the good methods of analysis and it make analyze simultaneously two values obtained from one plot related to a specific treatment. Evaluation of land Equivalent Ratio (LER) by bivariate method showed that the yield of all intercropped in treatment, LER was higher than 1. Decreasing density from 16.7 to 4.17 plants per m2 decreased the yield of black zira, But the yield of saffron wasn?t significantly changed. Maximum LER obtained with 33:67 saffron to black zira and plant density of 50 plants per m2. Key words : Bivariate Analysis , Black zira, Saffron , Replacement series , LER.

Mahdi Faravani   Sat Jun 5 04:24:18 2004

Determining optimum plant density of Black zira (Bunium persicum) in nursery and field M. Faravani and A.Sobhani Khorasan Agricultural Research Center , P.O.BOX 91735-488 ,Mashad- Iran [email protected]

The study was conducted during 1996-1999 at the farm of Khorassan Agricultural Research Center. The experiment was laied out a Randomized Complete Block Design with replication of four to determine optimum Black zira (Bunium persicum) density in nursery and field. Treatments consisted of six seed rates ( 20,60,100,180 and 220 kg/ha) which were sown on November ,1996. Results revealed that 60 kg/ha is the best seed rate to produce two years old bulbs with highest weight (1.98 gr). Two year old bulbs were sorted into three sizes (small, medium and large) then they were sown at 5 different densities ( 40,50,66.7 , 100 and 200 bulbs m2 in 25 cm row spacing in the second year. Collected data during two year experiment were analyzed using split-plot in time design.Both plant density significantly affected seed yield and biological yield while no significant effect was observed in case of test weight, plant height, and umbrel number per plant and number of seed per umbrellet. Maximum seed yield 604.1 gram was registered in plot with 200 plants per meter square .Quantitative value of plant height, number of umbrella and as a result, seed yield and biological yield were increased in second year where bulb weight was more than 2 grams. Keywords : plant density ,field, nursery ,bulb

SILBHADRA BRAHMA   Wed Jan 18 2006

A project on this plant (Bunium persicum) has been funded by National Agricultural Technology project(NATP)INDIA and the Implementing Agency were Department of Forest Products, Dr. Y.S. University of Horticulture and Forestry Nauni, Solan, Himachal Pradesh, India and SKUAST Srinagar J & K, India. I was one of the Research Fellow (RF) in the same project for three years. In the project we have collected 20 different germplasm from different localities of Himachal Pradesh, India. Cultivation practices also standardised by laying out Agronomic Experiments in Reckong-Peo, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, India, at the altitude of 3000m asl. Oil content of different provenances Bunium persicum was found. And a provenance trial of the same was also established at Shilly Nursery, Solan, HP, India. Two students did P.hD. degree on this plant and their thesis is available in the University Library at Solan, HP, India. The Report of this project available with me ([email protected])

john lovell   Tue Apr 22 2008

Trying to find a seed source. Willing to pay or trade.

Sally Butcher   Mon Jan 18 2010

At a culinary level black cumin(zireh siah) is prized for the fact that it is a sweeter, milder verison of green cumin. It is used a lot in Iranian cuisine (especially pickling), and like most members of the cumin family is good for the digestion. We import it (as seeds) from Iran to the UK: our shop is called Persepolis and it is in Peckham. Google us if you need any further help!

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