Black Seed
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Black Seed
ntroduced Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Black Seed, Fennel flower, Nutmeg flower, Onion seed, Black cumin • Bengali: কালো জিরা, কালোজিরা Kalo jira • Hindi: कलौंजी, कलोंजी Kalaunji • Kannada: ಕರಿ ಜೀರಿಗೆ kari jirige • Malayalam: കരിഞ്ചീരകം karinjirakam • Sanskrit: कृष्णजीरा Krishnajira • Urdu: Kalaunji
Botanical name: Nigella sativa    Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
Synonyms: Nigella cretica

Black Seed is an annual flowering plant, native to south and southwest Asia. It grows up to 20-30 cm tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually coloured pale blue and white, with five to ten petals. Sepals are whitish, ovate, obtuse, with a short distinct stipe, puberulous. Petals have a short, thick, subulate-capitate appendix. The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of three to seven united follicles, each containing numerous seeds. The seed is used as a spice. Black Seed has a pungent bitter taste and smell. It is used primarily in confectionery and liquors. Peshawari naan is, as a rule, topped with kalonji seeds. Black Seed is also used in Armenian string cheese, a braided string cheese called majdouleh or majdouli in the Middle East.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed in Delhi.
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