Nigella

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Nigella
Nigella damascena seed capsule1.jpg
Nigella damascena seed capsule
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Nigella
L.
Species

About 14, including:

Nigella is a genus of 18 species[1] 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.

Uses[edit]

Nigella seeds

Culinary[edit]

The seeds of Nigella sativa, known as kalonji, black cumin, black onion seed, onion seed or just nigella, are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Garden flowers[edit]

Nigella in full bloom

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.

Other[edit]

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.

Nigella orientalis - MHNT

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Plant List: Nigella". Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden. Retrieved 3 January 2017. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Nigella at Wikimedia Commons