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(Name used by Pliny, from Greek koris, a bug; refers to the smell of the broken leaves.) Umbelliferae. Two species of annual herbs. Lower leaves lobed, with ovate segments, upper leaves 1-3-pinnate, segments linear. Umbels compound; involucre absent; involucel of few bracteoles; calyx of conspicuous sepals; flowers white to pale purple; outer petals larger, 2-lobed, with inflexed apex. Fruit ovoid or globose; mericarps ridged, not separating when ripe; vittae solitary. W Mediterranean.


Coriandrum sativum, a strongly aromatic annual cultivated in the herb garden for its seed and distinctively flavoured fresh leaves, is indespensable in Indian, Oriental, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and Mexican cookery. The few-flowered umbels of tiny white, pink or purple flowers are attractive to pollinating insects. Grow in sun, in warm, light and freely draining soils that are not too rich in nitrogen. Sow seed in situ in spring, 1cm deep, in rows 30-45cm apart. Harvest the whole plant when seeds are ripe, as the fruits begin to turn grey-brown. Coriander may self-seed in favourable conditions.

Coriandrum sativum   

CORIANDER; CHINESE PARSLEY. Glabrous annual to 50cm, all parts strongly scented. Lower leaves orbicular in outline, lobed to 1cm, ovate-cuneate, margin incised-serrate; petiole long; upper leaves 2-3-pinnate, segments narrow-linear. Umbels with 2-5 rays, to 1.5cm; involucre commonly absent; involucels commonly 3, linear; flowers white or pale purple. Fruit 2-6 x 2-5.5mm, commissure broad. Summer-autumn. Europe, rare in Great Britain.

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