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Flowers of Trachyspermum ammi
Flowers of Trachyspermum ammi
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Trachyspermum
T. ammi
Binomial name
Trachyspermum ammi
(L.) Sprague ex Turrill
  • Ammi copticum L.
  • Carum copticum (L.) Link
  • Trachyspermum copticum Link
  • Sison ammi L.

Ajwain or ajowan (Trachyspermum ammi) [3] (/ˈæəwɒn/) —also known as ajowan caraway, omam (in Tamil), thymol seeds, bishop's weed, or carom—is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae.[4] Both the leaves and the seed‑like fruit (often mistakenly called seeds) of the plant are consumed by humans. The name "bishop's weed" also is a common name for other plants. The "seed" (i.e., the fruit) is often confused with lovage seed.[5]


Ajwain fruit (schizocarps)

Ajwain's small, oval, seed-like fruits are pale brown schizocarps, which resemble the seeds of other plants in the family Apiaceae such as caraway, cumin and fennel.[6] They have a bitter and pungent taste, with a flavor similar to anise and oregano. They smell like thyme because they also contain thymol, but they are more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as being somewhat bitter and pungent.[6] Even a small number of fruits tend to dominate the flavor of a dish.[5]

Cultivation and production[edit]

Ajwain grows in dry, barren soil in its indigenous regions of India, Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of northern Africa.[6] Gujarat and Rajasthan are regions in India well-known for cultivating ajwain.[7]

Culinary uses[edit]

The fruits are rarely eaten raw; they are commonly dry-roasted or fried in ghee (clarified butter). This allows the spice to develop a more subtle and complex aroma. It is widely used in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent, often as part of a chaunk (also called a tarka), a mixture of spices – sometimes with a little chopped garlic or onion – fried in oil or clarified butter, which is used to flavor a dish at the end of cooking. In Afghanistan, the fruits are sprinkled over bread and biscuits.[8]

Other applications of ajwain include incorporating the seeds in specific types of breads, such as naans and parathas. The seeds can also be used as a mouth freshener when mixed with lemon juice and black pepper, and then dried, or can be used as an ingredient in hot tea.[6]

In herbalism[edit]

Ajwain is used in herbalism practices, such as Ayurveda, in the belief that it can treat various disorders.[6][9] However, there is no good evidence that ajwain is effective as a therapy for treating any disease.[6]

Adverse effects[edit]

Pregnant women should avoid ajwain due to potential adverse effects on fetal development, and its use is discouraged while breastfeeding.[6] In high amounts taken orally, ajwain can result in fatal poisoning.[6] People taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or antiplatelet medications are susceptible to adverse effects from ajwain ingestion, as ajwain has anti-clotting activity of its own.[6]

Essential oil[edit]

Hydrodistillation of ajwain fruits yields an essential oil consisting primarily of thymol, gamma-terpinene, p-cymene, and more than 20 trace compounds which are predominantly terpenoids.[6][10]


  1. ^ "Trachyspermum ammi". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  2. ^ ITIS entry for Trachyspermum ammi
  3. ^ "ajowan - Definition of ajowan in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries - English. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
  4. ^ "Ajwain". Digital Herbarium of Crop Plants. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  5. ^ a b Aliza Green (January 2006). Field Guide to Herbs & Spices: How to Identify, Select, and Use Virtually Every Seasoning at the Market. Quirk Books. pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-1-59474-082-4.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Bishop's weed". Drugs.com. 29 July 2022. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  7. ^ Bairwa, Ranjan; Sodha, R. S.; Rajawat, B. S. (2012). "Trachyspermum ammi". Pharmacognosy Reviews. 6 (11): 56–60. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.95871. ISSN 0973-7847. PMC 3358968. PMID 22654405.
  8. ^ Alan Davidson (2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  9. ^ Duke, James A. (2002). Handbook of medicinal herbs. Duke, James A., 1929- (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. ISBN 978-0849312847. OCLC 48876592.
  10. ^ Singh, Gurdip; Maurya, Sumitra; Catalan, C.; de Lampasona, M. P. (June 2004). "Chemical Constituents, Antifungal and Antioxidative Effects of Ajwain Essential Oil and Its Acetone Extract". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 52 (11): 3292–3296. doi:10.1021/jf035211c. hdl:11336/105641. PMID 15161185.