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|Nigella damascena seed capsule|
About 14, including:
Nigella is a genus of about 14 species of annual plants in the family Ranunculaceae, native to southern Europe, north Africa, south and southwest Asia. Common names applied to members of this genus are nigella, devil-in-a-bush or love in a mist.
The species grow to 20–90 cm tall, with finely divided leaves; the leaf segments are narrowly linear to threadlike. The flowers are white, yellow, pink, pale blue or pale purple, with five to 10 petals. The fruit is a capsule composed of several united follicles, each containing numerous seeds; in some species (e.g. Nigella damascena), the capsule is large and inflated.
The seeds of Nigella sativa, known as kalonji, black cumin (although black cumin may also refer to Bunium persicum), black onion seed, onion seed or just nigella, are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The dry-roasted nigella seeds flavor curries, vegetables and pulses. The black seeds taste like a combination of onions, black pepper and oregano, and have a bitterness to them like mustard seeds. It can be used as a "pepper" in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads and poultry.
Some uses include: Armenian string cheese; one of the five whole spices in Bengali Panch Pharon mix.
Several species are grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Nigella damascena has been grown in English cottage gardens since Elizabethan times, commonly called love-in-a-mist. Nigella hispanica is a taller species with larger blue flowers, red stamens, and grey leaves. Nigella seeds are self-sowing if the seed pods are left to mature.
The dried seed capsules can also be used in flower arrangements.
In India, the seeds are used as a carminative and stimulant to ease bowel and indigestion problems, and are given to treat intestinal worms, nerve defects, to reduce flatulence, and induce sweating. Dried pods are sniffed to restore a lost sense of smell. It is also used to repel some insects, much like mothballs.
Media related to Nigella at Wikimedia Commons