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Carum_carvi - L.

Common Name Caraway
Family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
USDA hardiness 3-9
Known Hazards Caraway is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine[218]. Excessive intake can lead to kidney and liver damage [301]
Habitats Moist meadows, arable land and waste places from lowland to mountain elevations[9, 165, 244].
Range Europe. Rarely naturalized in Britain. Perhaps native in S.E. England[17].
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Carum_carvi Caraway

Carum_carvi Caraway


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Carum_carvi is a BIENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. 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


Bunium carvi. Carum aromaticum. Carum decussatum. Foeniculum carvi.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Seed - raw or cooked. A spicy flavour, it is used as a flavouring in confectionery and bread, also as a flavouring in salads, vegetables etc[2, 4, 5, 9, 18, 20, 27, 183]. It is high in protein and fat[14]. The seed is often chewed after a meal in order to sweeten the breath and also to relieve heartburn after a rich meal[244]. Per 100g, the seed contains 333 calories, 10g water, 20g protein, 14.5g fat, 50g carbohydrate, 12.5g fibre, 6g ash, 689mg calcium, 568mg phosphorus, 16.2mg iron, 258mg magnesium, 17mg sodium, 1351mg potassium, 5.5mg zinc, 363 IU vitamin A, 0.383mg thiamine, 0.379mg riboflavin, 3.61mg niacin[218]. An essential oil from the seed is used as a flavouring in ice creams, candy, soft drinks etc[183, 238]. It is an essential ingredient of the liqueur kümmel[244]. Root - cooked[183]. Used as a vegetable like parsnips[2, 4, 9, 14, 55, 115]. Stronger in taste than parsnips, but liked by many[207]. A delicious vegetable[244]. Leaves - raw or as a flavouring in soups etc[2, 14, 27, 55, 115]. The young leaves are much less spicy than the seeds and are a good salad[9], having a mild parsley-dill flavour[238]. They give an aromatic tang to salads[244]. Older leaves can be cooked as a spinach[183]. The crushed seeds are brewed into a tea[183]. It has a soothing effect on the digestion[244].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaf (Fresh weight)
  • 253 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 7.2%
  • Protein: 20g; Fat: 4.4g; Carbohydrate: 55.8g; Fibre: 11.9g; Ash: 12.6g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 1784mg; Phosphorus: 543mg; Iron: 48.8mg; Magnesium: 451mg; Sodium: 208mg; Potassium: 3308mg; Zinc: 3.3mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.42mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.28mg; Niacin: 2.8mg; B6: 1.5mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ ]
  • Notes:

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.

Caraway has a long history of use as a household remedy especially in the treatment of digestive complaints where its antispasmodic action soothes the digestive tract and its carminative action relieves bloating caused by wind and improves the appetite[4, 238, 254]. It is often added to laxative medicines to prevent griping[238]. The seed is antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactogogue and stimulant[4, 7, 9, 21, 46, 165, 222, 240]. It can be chewed raw for the almost immediate relief of indigestion and can also be made into infusions[238]. The seed is also used in the treatment of bronchitis and are an ingredient of cough remedies, especially useful for children[254]. The seed is also said to increase the production of breast milk in nursing mothers[254]. The seed is harvested when fully ripe, then dried and stored in a cool, dry place out of the sunlight[244]. The essential oil can be extracted from the seed and has similar properties[4]. A tea made from the seeds is a pleasant stomachic and carminative, it has been used to treat flatulent colic[207, 222]. The seed is used in Tibetan medicine where it is considered to have an acrid taste and a heating potency[241]. It is used to treat failing vision and loss of appetite[241]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Carum carvi for dyspeptic complaints (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

An essential oil from the seed is used in perfumery, for scenting soap, as a parasiticide etc[7, 46, 74, 171]. Twenty-five kilos of seed yield about 1 kilo of essential oil[4]. The essential oil yield of the seed from plants cultivated in Poland is up to 10.33%[240]. Caraway is also used as a breath freshener.

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in ordinary garden soil as long as it is not too wet in winter[1]. Prefers a moist soil in full sun or partial shade[4, 200]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 7.6. Caraway is a well-known herb that has been cultivated for its culinary and medicinal uses since ancient times[244]. It is frequently cultivated in the modern herb garden and sometimes also commercially[4, 46], there are some named varieties[183]. Plants growing in more northerly latitudes and also in full sun are richer in essential oils and therefore more aromatic[4, 245]. Plants strongly resent root disturbance[200]. They often self-sow freely when in a suitable location[244]. This species is deep rooted[201] and is a good plant for breaking up the sub-soil on heavy, wet land[18, 20]. It dislikes growing near fennel or wormwood[14, 20] but is a good companion for most plants, especially those that are shallow-rooted[201]. The flowers attract parasitic wasps to the garden, these prey on aphids and so help to reduce populations of insect pests[238].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it is best sown in situ as soon as it is ripe in late summer and early autumn[4, 200]. The seed can also be sown March/April in situ[200], though in areas with cool summers the plants might not produce a crop of ripe seeds[238]. Plants are very sensitive to root disturbance and should not be transplanted.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Caraway, also known as Persian cumin. Other names: Alcaravia, Carvi, Comino, Gunyun, Jangli jira, Jeera, Jenuju, Jintan, Jira, Kaluduru, Karawya, Karuwai, Karwij, Kim, Kmin, Koomen, Koomlid, Kummel, Shia-jira, Shimai-shembu, Shimpaisapu, Sushavi, Tmin, Wilayati-zirah, Yuan-sui, Zira, Zirah-siah.

Afghanistan, Africa, Australia, Asia, Austria, Balkans, Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, China, East Africa, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Europe, Finland, Germany, Greece, Himalayas, Holland, Iceland, India, Indochina, Italy, Mediterranean, Middle East, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, North Africa, North America, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Prussia, Russia, SE Asia, Switzerland, Syria, Tasmania, Thailand, Tibet, USA.

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.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. Noxious Weed Information: USA - Colorado B list (noxious weeds)

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Carum carviCarawayBiennial0.6 3-9  LMHSNM433

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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Readers comment

Dr. med. Veronika Rampold   Mon Dec 26 2005

Carawaym, sown from spice cupboard as mentioned at Coriander, did not flower in second year as expected, with the exception of one plant. I am curious whether there will be plants remaining "in childhood stage" even in their third year.

Pralhad Patki   Fri Jun 13 2008

Carum carvi in Gripe water has clinical efficacy in infantile colic. It is safe and efficacious.The oil is also called Oil of Krishnajiraka. It is also useful in Indigestion, Flatulance .

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