Common name: Coriander
Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum
Uses: Aromatic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.Ripe seeds have a pleasant citrus scent and can be used in potpourris. The leaves, seeds, and roots are used in cooking salsas and curries or as a garnish. Coriander combines well with onion, sausage, clams, oysters, and potatoes. Whole ground seeds are used in salad dressing, cheese, eggs, chili sauces, and guacamole. The plant can be grown in containers as an ornamental. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.
History: Coriander was named after the bedbug emitting the same odor, and it is commonly named cilantro. It originated in southern Europe and reached other areas centuries ago, including the hanging gardens of Babylon. Ancient Sanskrit texts, Egyptian papyrus records, and the Bible all mention coriander. The Chinese believed it imparted immortality, and it was used in love potions in the Middle Ages.
Description: This bright green plant has thin, erect, finely
grooved stems and compound, pinnate leaves. The lower leaves are rounded and
lobed, while the upper ones are finely dissected. The tiny white to reddish
flowers have compound umbels with three to ten rays. The outer flowers are
larger than the inner ones. The fruit consists of brownish, globose seeds 1/4
inch long in clusters. The seeds have a musty odor.
Plant type: Annual
Hardiness: Hardiness zones are not applicable to annuals.
Height: 12 to 36 inches
Width: about 6 to 8 inches
Disease: None noted.
Cultivation: Protect the young plants from prevailing winds by planting seeds in a sunny, sheltered location. Work the soil until fine and crumbly, adding a little lime if the soil is too acidic. Sow the seeds in April or May in 1/2-inch-deep drills. Cover, pack the soil down, and keep it moist until seedlings appear. In hot, dry weather, water regularly in late afternoon or evening. As the plants grow, they may need to be staked or supported.
Companion planting: Grown near anise, coriander helps the seeds germinate, but grown near fennel, it hinders germination. It grows well with chervil. Honey bees are attracted to the flowers.
Propagation: Seeds (remain viable for five to seven years).
Flowering period: June to August
Garden notes: These plants added a strong fragrance to our garden. Their delicate white blooms, although small, were quite numerous and produced a lovely effect against a varied background of borage and bee balm.