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Guizotia abyssinica - (L.f.)Cass.

Common Name Niger Seed, Ramtilla
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Casual on tips and waste ground near oil mills, and as a bird-seed alien, in Britain.
Range Africa - Tropics. An infrequent casual in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Guizotia abyssinica Niger Seed, Ramtilla

Guizotia abyssinica Niger Seed, Ramtilla


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Guizotia abyssinica is a ANNUAL growing to 1.8 m (6ft). It is in leaf from May to October, in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. 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


G. oleifera.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Condiment  Oil  Oil

The seed is eaten fried, used as a condiment or dried then ground into a powder and mixed with flour etc to make sweet cakes[22, 46, 177, 183]. Average seed yields in India range from 100 - 200 kg/ha when grown with ragi, and 300 - 400 kg/ha when grown in pure stands[269]. In Kenya, monocultural yields average 600 kg/ha[269]. Seed yields of 1,000 to 1,200 kg/ha have been obtained on fertile Himalayan soils[269]. Oil yields range about 235 kg/ha[269]. The seeds yield about 30% of a clear, excellent, slow-drying edible oil[269]. It is used as a substitute for olive oil, can be mixed with linseed oil, and is used as an adulterant for rape oil, sesame oil etc[269]. The oil is used in cooking as a ghee substitute and can be used in salad dressings etc[183, 269]. A pleasant nutty taste[142].

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.
Antirheumatic  Parasiticide  Poultice

The oil from the seeds is used in the treatment of rheumatism[240, 243, 269]. It is also applied to treat burns[272]. A paste of the seeds is applied as a poultice in the treatment of scabies[272].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Green manure  Oil  Oil  Parasiticide

A drying oil is obtained from the seed[1, 2, 17, 46, 171]. It is used for burning, in making soap, paints etc[57, 132, 269]. The plant can be used as a green manure[61]. It is usually dug in when the plants are about to come into flower[269].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any rich soil[1]. The plant is adapted to a wide range of soils, from sandy to heavy, growth being poor on light sandy or gravelly soils[269]. Niger is often cultivated on very poor acid soils, on hilly slopes, where fertility is low due to leaching and washing away of the plant nutrients by erosion[269]. Niger seed is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 66 to 179cm, an annual temperature range of 13.6 to 27.5°C and a pH in the range of 5.5 to 7.5[269]. Niger is often cultivated, especially in Africa, as an oil seed crop[2, 46, 51, 269], it has also been cultivated in Germany[61]. The flowers are very attractive to bees[269]. Several factors lend credence to fears that niger might become a pest if introduced into warm temperate areas - grazing animals do not relish it, the plant tolerates poor soil and drought, it has few serious pests or diseases especially outside its native range, the seeds store for a year or more without deterioration, and the seeds mature 3 - 4.5 months after planting[269]. Arguing against its weed potential are the facts that it is a short day plant and therefore does not flower or set seed until daylight hours average 13 hours or less, it is self-sterile, and requires bees for pollination[269].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Make sure the soil does not dry out because this would delay germination. In warm weather, germination should take place within 3 - 4 days of sowing the seed. When sowing larger areas, the seed may be broadcast at rate of 10 kg/ha or sown in rows 40 to 50 cm apart at rate of 5 kg/ha[269].

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

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

Jenny Pascoe   Sun May 8 15:17:56 2005

Niger sees has started to grow beneath my bird feeders and I wondered if it would make an attractive plant if I allowed it to grow. I look forward to seeing the results.

M Wells   Wed May 11 07:37:26 2005

I also have a lot of these plants growing beneath my bird feeders. I have some concerns re whether this plant could be invasive and cause problems if it escapes into the wild. I have decided to leave one or two in and watch them grow but to dig up the rest! It seems to be extremely fast growing. I am in the Norh West UK.

Jayesh pastagia   Fri Jun 10 09:02:39 2005

I am conducting experiments on effect of bee pollination on seed production of niger.This crop is grown in tribal area of south Gujarat. It require helps of bees for pollination. The oil of this herb has medicinal properties. I want more information on requirement of bee pollination no this crop.

sergio perez   Sun Nov 21 21:18:41 2004

hola mi nombre es sergio perez realice varias pruebas de cultivar niger pero tuve problemas con las malezas y no tuve buenos rendimientos soy de argentina de la provincia de buenos aires

Nitin K.   Mon Nov 22 14:10:24 2004

Please send the nutritional compositions of niger seeds.


Nitin K.

Tony Winch, Hereford, UK   Thu Dec 8 2005

Niger Seed Guizotia abyssinica Inga Seed, Blackseed, Guizotia Oléifere (French); Gingellikraut (German); Alashi (Oriya); Hechellu (Kannada); Karale (Marathi); Neehoog/Neuk (Tigrinya); Noug (Amharic); Payellu (Tamil); Ramtil (Hindi & Panjabi); Sarguza (Bengali); Sorguja (Assamese) Niger seed originated in Ethiopia, where it is now mainly cultivated, on approximately 250,000 Ha. It is also grown in marginal areas in India, and to some extent in East Africa and the West Indies. It is the most important edible oil crop in Ethiopia supplying about half of their oilseed production. It is a member of the Asteraceae (alt Compositeae) family. It is a short-day plant, an annual, 1-3m tall (up to 15m), which is frost tolerant, drought resistant and adapted to a wide range of soils. There are three main types: dwarf, semi-dwarf and giant. It is propagated by seed, which is about 3.5-5 mm long, contains 30-50% of a yellow semi-drying oil with a pleasant taste, and a protein content of about 20%. The oil from Ethiopian crops contains about 70% linoleic acid, while oil from crops grown in India contains about 50%. For farmers, it is much kinder plant to grow than safflower, as the plants do not have spines, and harvesting could be mechanised. More research is needed on this potentially useful source of edible plant oil. Detailed information is available online from the publications department of the Plant Genetic Resources Institute. PLANTING Propagation: Niger is self-sterile and needs bees for cross-pollination. Soil: Niger seed grows well in poor soils, if they are neither very acidic (it is classified as “sensitive” to soil acidity) nor waterlogged. Ph range 5.5-7.5. In fertile soils the plants may lodge (fall over) and have a prolonged growth period. It is not normally fertilised though it does normally respond to both fertilisers and manure. Seed rate: 5-8 kg/ha in rows (440-50cm apart), 8 - 12 kg/ha when broadcast (when NPK fertiliser is often broadcast together with the seed, then harrowed into the soil). Seed spacing: normally broadcast, sometimes in rows 35-50 cm apart. Depth: covered with light harrows when broadcast, otherwise about 1 cm deep in a fine tilth. Germination: the seed can be stored for a year or more without losing much viability. Intercropping: commonly done, with finger millet (ragi), cereals, legumes and other annuals. Rotation: works well with wheat and/or maize. GROWTH CONDITIONS Day length: intermediate response, varies with type, but most are short-day (do not flower or set seed until daylight hours average 13 hours or less). Growth period: 100-150 days. Temperature: very frost tolerant. Semi-dwarf types are adapted to temperate climates. Rainfall: about 600-1800mm a year for all types. Dwarf types are more drought resistant. Altitude: the optimum is around 2000-2200m, but it can be grown from about 1600-2600m. Pests and diseases: rarely a problem; locusts, grasshoppers & armyworms sometimes attack. YIELD When intercropped with finger millet in India Niger seed yields about 100-200 kg/ha. Pure stand yields have been recorded in both India and Ethiopia of about 300-400 kg/ha, 400-600 kg/ha in Kenya. 1.2MT/ha is possible with good growing conditions. Oil yields are 30-50% of seed yield. UTILISATION  seeds of Niger seed are crushed, giving about 30% of a clear, edible semi-drying oil which is yellow in colour and tastes of nuts. Seeds can also be used fried or as chutneys and condiments, or fed to caged birds. In Ethiopia they are pressed with honey and made into cakes.  oil is used for cooking, for making soap and for lighting; some is used in making paints. It is used as a substitute for olive oil, can be mixed with linseed oil, and is used as an adulterant for rape oil, sesame oil etc.  whole plant can be used to attract bees, and also as a green manure (before flowering).  presscake is used as a high protein (30-35%) food for animals, especially cattle. This black oilcake is comparable in feeding value to undecorticated groundnut cake. Up to 30% can be added to laying poultry rations. It is sometimes used as manure/soil improver. LIMITATIONS  yields are rather modest.  there is a shortage of improved varieties and of large quantities of good quality seed.  the growing crop needs a well prepared seedbed, with very few or no weeds.  the seeds are very small, and it is more difficult for subsistence farmers to extract oil from Niger seed than from other oilseed crops.

V. Nishitha Naik   Sat Feb 4 2006

Let me know about its uses in soilborne disease control especially nematode M. incognita and pathogenic fungi Fusarium and Botryodiplodia. If you are having any reference in this regard please mail to the address nishi_naik2002 @yahoo.co.in

Bill Church   Sun Aug 26 2007

I discarded some old Niger seed which germinated successfully and grew strongly. The interesting thing is that it is now heavily parasitised by Western Field Dodder. The seeds of this must have been mixed with the Niger seed because Field Dodder is not a native of Worcestershire UK.

Tony Winch   Sat Sep 16 2006

hallo, Tony Winch here. Just thought to tell you that other crops are also described in my book "Growing Food", soon to be published by Springer - see Internet links under "Growing Food Tony Winch". These crops include: Amaranthus, Bambara Groundnut, Buffalo Gourd, Leucaena, Lupin,Tepary Bean and Winged Bean - as well as about 50 other common food crops.

Peter Giles   Tue Apr 1 2008

The recent increase in finches like goldfinch, siskin and redpoll in UK gardens found in the RSPB survey may be related to the greater use of Nyger seed feeders. Do nyger seed sales reflect this increase?

Glenn Page   Thu Apr 17 2008

I have developed a variety that will flower in 30 - 35 days when planted in warm soil. I think it would work as a second crop here in the U. S. Go to www.Nyger.com


Rodolfo C. Kintanar, M.M.   Tue Sep 16 2008

I am interested in growing Guizotia abyssinica in the Philippines. Anybody interested sending me seeds of Guizotia abyssinica? I will give feedback on how it will grow in Philippine conditions. You may send it to Rodolfo C. Kintanar, M.M. 115 Scout Rallos St., Quezon City Philippines 1103

S Williamson   Tue Sep 16 2008

Where can someone buy Guizotia abyssinica (Black Oil Niger) seed to plant (vs sterilized seed)? USA

Tesfaye Asnakew   Tue Jan 20 2009

It is native to Ethiopia.Your research supports Ethiopian farmers to improve their productivity.

adarsha   Tue Jan 19 2010

very good

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