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Nigella sativa - L.

Common Name Black Cumin
Family Ranunculaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Waste places, arable land and waysides[9].
Range N. Africa to Ethiopia and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Nigella sativa Black Cumin
Nigella sativa Black Cumin


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The common name used, Black cumin, is also used for the seeds of Bunium persicum which are a similar shape, but their color is darker brown. When crushed Bunium persicum seeds are highly aromatic, almost piney and less earthy than Nigella seeds. The flavor of Bunium persicum is similarly pine-like, astringent, and bitter.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Nigella sativa is a ANNUAL growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
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 dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Condiment  Oil

Seed - raw or cooked. Normally used as a flavouring on bread, cakes, curries, pickles etc[4, 9, 74, 100, 183]. There is a belief that eating the seed will make a woman's breasts plumper[245]. The seed is a very popular spice from the Mediterranean to India. It has a pungent flavour according to one report[46] whilst another says that it has a spicy fruity taste[238] and a third that the scent is somewhat like nutmeg[245]. The immature seed is bitter, but when fully ripe it is aromatic[9]. It is also used as a pepper substitute[4].


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.
Anthelmintic  Carminative  Diaphoretic  Digestive  Diuretic  Emmenagogue  Galactogogue  Parasiticide  

Like many aromatic culinary herbs, the seeds of black cumin are beneficial for the digestive system, soothing stomach pains and spasms and easing wind, bloating and colic[254]. The ripe seed is anthelmintic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, laxative and stimulant[4, 9, 46, 238, 240]. An infusion is used in the treatment of digestive and menstrual disorders, insufficient lactation and bronchial complaints[9, 238]. The seeds are much used in India to increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers and they can also be used to treat intestinal worms, especially in children[254]. Externally, the seed is ground into a powder, mixed with sesame oil and used to treat abscesses, haemorrhoids and orchitis[238, 240]. The powdered seed has been used to remove lice from the hair[245].


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Other Uses

Oil  Parasiticide  Repellent

The aromatic seed contains about 1.5% essential oil[240]. It is placed amongst clothes etc to repel moths[4]. The seeds can also be put in muslin bags and hung near a fire when they will fill the room with their delicious scent[245]. They need to be changed about every three weeks[245]. The seed contains 35% of a fatty oil[74, 240].

Special Uses

Scented Plants


Cultivation details

Easily grown in any good garden soil, preferring a sunny position[1, 108]. Prefers a light soil in a warm position[37]. This species is often cultivated, especially in western Asia and India, for its edible seed[2]. The seed is aromatic with a nutmeg scent[245]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54].


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Seed - sow spring or early autumn in situ[1]. The autumn sowing might not be successful in harsh winters. Plants can be transplanted if necessary[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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
Nigella arvensisWild FennelAnnual0.3 -  LMHNDM20 
Nigella damascenaLove-In-A-Mist, Devil in the bushAnnual0.6 0-0 FLMHNDM31 
Nigella orientalisYellow Fennel FlowerAnnual0.3 -  LMHNDM20 

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

Readers comment

Mr. Ahmad Ibn Mader   Sun Sep 26 18:01:03 2004

A very Good Plant, I'm going to start Growing it next year in my garden... The health benifits are really good.

wasim khan   Sat Nov 10 2007

this page is excellent. i m a registered pharmacist from india . i m wishing for research work on nigella sativa . so pls kindly help me and send valuable imformation regading anticancer & antidiebetic activities. Thanking u.

   Mon Jan 8 2007

Biothemen Information on Nigella sativa in German language

Hussien Ahmed   Mon Apr 2 2007

science publications In Vivo Anti-malarial Tests of Nigella sativa (Black Seed) Different Extracts

zeeshan ali   Fri Dec 7 2007

this page extremely helpful to me, im a scientist doing work on the weed control in nigella sativa.l if anyone have information regarding this experiments plz send to me at

frann leach   Wed Jul 16 2008

Is anyone aware of any problems with this herb used medicinally by pregnant women?

Sean   Mon Aug 18 2008

Very good! I am looking for traditional formulations that utilize this herb, whether they be Ayurvedic, Eurpean, African, Chinese, Islamic, anything. What are the traditional accompanying herbs used in conjunction with this one? Please contact me at if you have any leads.

Dr. Hasmukh Merja   Thu Aug 21 2008

Excellent medicinal use. I tried a few drops mixed in my morning tea and got rid of SI joint pain in two weeks. Seems that it helps in pain and inflamation too.

amreen iqbal   Mon Dec 15 2008

Amreen iqbal mon 15 dec 2008 this page is excellent. i m a research scholar from india . i m wishing for research work on nigella sativa . so pls kindly help me and send valuable imformation regading anticancer & antimicrobial activities. Thanking u.

   Sat Jan 24 2009

seeds purchases in u.p

Ingrid Naiman   Sat Mar 7 2009

Can someone please clarify the climatic zones in which this herb can be cultivated. Thank you.

jaafar assgaf   Sat Jul 18 2009

saada safa nutrin nigella sativa oil

fatima   Tue Sep 29 2009

I am going work on nigella, as mutation breeding but I feel problem to germinate it in aligarh (U.P.), Any body can please make me clear about the problem or if there is any suggestion for me contect me at thanks you

dr. M   Fri Nov 20 2009

i am a final year student of PHARM-D from PAKISTAN, about to start research on this herb. This is a very good article and i hope that it will help me in my work.

Nestle is planning to put a patent on Black Fennel yet there prior art here and elsewhere.   Oct 14 2013 12:00AM

Nestlé: Stop trying to patent the fennel flower

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