Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Black Cumin, Black Onion Seed, Blackseed, Black Caraway, Nutmeg Plant
Nigella sativa

Family: Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Nigella (ny-JELL-luh) (Info)
Species: sativa (sa-TEE-vuh) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

20 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Pale Green
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 15 photos.
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2 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral garden_mermaid On May 18, 2009, garden_mermaid from San Francisco Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

If you ask for black cumin in an Indian market, you will most likely be directed to the seeds of Bunium persicum, not Nigella sativa.

Nigella sativa is more commonly known as kalonji in India.
The true black cumin, kala jeera, looks like a small dark cumin seed, and has a flavour somewhat like a camphored cumin seed.

The flavour of kalonji, or black onion seed, is very different and they cannot be interchanged in a recipe for East Indian food. Kalonji seeds are frequently sprinkled on top of naan breads. If you used kala jeera in it's place you would ruin the naan.

Neutral berrygirl On Mar 7, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Germination note: 60-70 degrees F for 2-3 wks in dark.

Positive PurplePansies On Nov 15, 2003, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

The seed's flavor is hard to describe DELICIOUS! Slightly nutty and slightly "piney" with other carroty flavors.... Has hints of sesame.... the best use for these seeds is in breads ... used like poppy or sesame.... and in cheeses used like caraway. Best in savory dishes :)
Seedling id: slender, spoon shaped. Seedlings true leaves are ferny like carrots.
Plants turn out to be fairly "silly" looking. :). The foliage is attractive enough.... a feather divided foliage like other nigella. But the flowers are very unshowy, silly green little things. Never mind though because I grew it for the seeds which are delicious! :)
Easy to grow. Grow similarly as you would other nigella. Full sun etc. It is said to prefer cooler temps but mine did fine in hot ones. Dislikes "wet" soil so put in a well drained spot. :)

Positive ESH On Apr 11, 2003, ESH wrote:

Speaking from a cook's point of view, it's amazing how this spice got so many names attached to it (the strangest being "Love in a Mist" - what were they drinking when they thought THAT up?) but all in all a very pleasant-tasting spice.

Used in small quantities in the Middle East as a garnish for pastry, and lately in cheeses as well. Since I bought quite a lot for cooking purpouses, I put some in the ground, but to no avail. (Maybe seed sold as a spice are too old or even sterilized.)

As for the taste, I read many descriptions, and all of them were wrong. It's not just a matter of different people have different tastes, it's a matter of people are not accurate enough when it comes to taste. The taste is NOT like cumin or anise or nutmeg. It DOES resemble onion in a strange and pleasant way. Its aromatic oils evaporate quickly, so don't expect any smells, only taste. I recommend using it on baked bread or buns and onion pies.

Neutral pebble On Jan 9, 2003, pebble from Bodrum
Turkey (Zone 10a) wrote:

The edible seed called "Black Caraway" and "Black Cumin" in Europe is often called "Love in a Mist" in the U.S. Also sometimes called "Nutmeg Flower", and was known as Corriander by the Romans.

The seeds are tiny ( 1-2 mm long), black, 3 sided and look a bit like pieces of flint under a microscope. They have a strong, spicy, peppery taste.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

San Jose, California
Sunnyvale, California
Keystone Heights, Florida

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