Black Cardamom
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Black Cardamom
ative Photo: Smita Raskar
Common name: Black Cardamom, hill cardamom, Bengal cardamom, greater cardamom, Indian cardamom, Nepal cardamom, winged cardamom, brown cardamom • Hindi: बड़ी इलायची Bari ilaichi • Kashmiri: Bari aleh بڑہ ألہ • Nepali: अलैंची, ठूलो सुकुमेल Alaichi, Thulo sukumel • Urdu: Bari elaichi الائچی پوربی
Botanical name: Amomum subulatum    Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)
Synonyms: Cardamomum subulatum

Black Cardamom is an evergreen plant that grow up to 5 ft tall. Leaves are found on the upper portion of the stem. The old stems die down after a few years. The rhizomes are a dull red colour. Flower buds appear in spring from the base of the rhizome. The peduncle is short and the buds encased in tight red bracts. Flowers appear from spring through mid summer. Individual flowers stay open for three days and more and new ones open successively. An inflorescence stays in flower for over a month. Its seed pods have a strong camphor-like flavor, with a smoky character derived from the method of drying. The pods are used as a spice, in a similar manner to the green Indian cardamom pods, but with a different flavor. Black Cardamom is farmed in the Eastern Himalayas in Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan at an altitude of 500-2000m, This species inhabits cool forest areas near mountain streams and damp forest floors.

Identification credit: Bharat Pradhan
Photographed at Pelling, Sikkim.
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