Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Carum carvi - Caraway

Family: Apiaceae [E-flora][Wiki-1] (Umbelliferae) Carrot [Wiki-2]

"Carum carvi is a BIENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

"General: Biennial herb from a taproot; stems single at the base, branching above, 0.3-1 m tall." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Leaves: Upper leaves finely dissected into linear, threadlike segments; lower leaves stalked, well-developed, 8-17 cm long." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat / Range Fields and waste places in the montane zone; infrequent throughout BC S of 56degreeN; introduced from Eurasia."

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]



"I find it reassuring that this small biennial herb has survived and is still grown today for use in the kitchen and as a medicinal herb. Records show that it was used in the Stone Age, and it has been found in Egyptian tombs and at the ancient caravan stops along the Silk Road trade route. In Elizabethan feasts, eating caraway seeds became a traditional way to finish the banquet, and the herb was also reputed to ward off witches and to prevent lovers from straying. I like using the seeds and leaves in the kitchen for their flavor, and I love to grow the herb for its delicately pretty flowers." [Grow Herbs]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Caraway has a long history of use as a household remedy especially in the treatment of digestive complaints where its antispasmodic action soothes the digestive tract and its carminative action relieves bloating caused by wind and improves the appetite[4, 238, 254]." [PFAF]
"The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Carum carvi for dyspeptic complaints (see [302] for critics of commission E)." [PFAF]


Lore: "The medicinal use of the seeds dates back to early times... Its main use, in the form of an essential oil, has always been as a carminative. “It consumeth winde”, Gerard wrote. The prescription appears again in American domestic medicine. Gerard went on with his list of virtues, “it helpeth conception … and is mixed with counterpoysons …” There are just as fantastic prescriptions much later than in his day – for earache, as an example – the patient was advised to pound up a hot loaf with a handful of bruised seeds, and clap this to his ear (Fernie). And Culpeper said the seed “helpeth to sharpen the Eye-sight”, and the seed was used in Tibetan medicine to treat eye diseases (Kletter & Kriechbaum). A Cambridgeshire cough remedy sounds more realistic: two ounces of caraway seeds boiled in a quart of water down to a pint, half strain off, sweeten with sugar, add a glass and a half of rum. Take a wineglassful every night on going to bed (Porter.1969)" [DPL Watts]

Select Indications (Caraway) — Anorexia (2; APA; HHB; KOM; PIP); Bacteria (1; APA; HH2; PHR; PH2; TAD; WO2); Cancer (1; APA; TAD); Candida (1; HH2; PHR; PH2); Cardiopathy (f; PHR; PH2); Cold (2; APA; PHR); Colic (1; DEP; KOM; PIP; WO2); Cough (2; APA; PHR); Cramp (1; APA; DEP; HH2; KOM; PHR; PH2; SHT; TAD; WO2); Dyspepsia (1; APA; DEP; HHB; KOM; PHR; SHT); Enterosis (f; DEP; PH2); Fungus (1; APA; HH2; WO2); Gas (1; APA; DEP; HHB; JAD; KOM; PHR; SHT); Gastrosis (1; PH2; PIP; PNC; WO2); Infection (1; APA; HH2; PHR; PH2; WO2); Mycosis (1; APA; WO2); Rheumatism (1; HHB; WO2); Water Retention (f; EFS; WO2); Worm (f; DEP; EFS); Yeast (1; HH2; PHR; PH2). [HMH Duke]

"Dosages (Caraway) — 1.5–6 g fruit (PIP); 1–2 tsp crushed seed/cup water 2–4 ×/day, between meals (APA); chew 1 tsp seed 3–4 ×/day (APA); 0.5–2 g powdered seed (PNC); 0.05–0.2 ml concentrated seed water (PNC); 0.5–1 tsp tincture up to 3 ×/day (APA); 3–4 ml liquid extract 3–4 ×/day (APA); 3–6 drops oil (PIP); 0.05–0.2 ml caraway oil (PNC)." [HMH Duke]


"Activities (Caraway) — Anthelminthic (f; DEP); Antianemic (1; APA); Antibacterial (1; APA; PHR; PH2; TAD; WO2); Anticancer (1; APA; TAD); Antihistaminic (1; APA); Antiinflammatory (f; SHT); Antiseptic (1; KOM; PIP; PH2); Antispasmodic (1; APA; HH2; KOM; PH2; SHT; TAD); Aperitif (1; APA); Candidicide (1; HH2; PHR; PH2); Carminative (1; APA; DEP; JAD; SHT); Choleretic (1; HH2; PHR; PH2); Collyrium (f; DEP); Digestive (1; APA); Diuretic (f; WO2); Emmenagogue (f; APA; PHR; PH2); Expectorant (f; PNC; SHT); Fungicide (1; APA; WO2); Lactagogue (f; APA; HHB; MPI; PHR; PH2); Larvicide (1; APA; WO2); Myorelaxant (1; APA); Neurotropic (f; WO2); Stimulant (f; PNC); Stomachic (f; HHB; MPI; PHR); Uterorelaxant (1; APA); Vermifuge (f; EFS)." [HMH Duke]

"In animal tests the drug had a spasmolytic effect. The antimicrobial effect has been demonstrated against bacillus, pseudomonas, and Candida; dermatomyces are also inhibited. The choleretic effect has been described in a study which is not accessible." [PDR]


Essential oil
Components, %: Cadinene – 37.2; carvone – 31.2; dihydrocarveol – 9.5; and others [1]
Aerial Parts
Essential oil, % abs. dry wt: 2.5–7.67 [1]
Components, %: Carvone – 41.0–60.0; limonene – 30.0; and others [1]
Mass of 1,000, g: 1.750 [2]; 2.0 [3]
Oil, % dry wt: 19.4 [3]; 18.4–21.18 [1]
Iodine value, % J2: 135.0 [3]
Composition (GLC, Ag+ TLC), %: 16:0 – 5.2; 18:0 – 1.1; 18:1(6) – 35.4; 18:1(9) – 24.1; 18:2 – 33.9; others (2) – 0.2 [3]
Essential oil, % abs. dry wt: 6.40 [2], 3.0–6.0 [4] [LEO]

"This is one of a group of plants whose seed oils contain petroselinic acid (∆6–18:1). This reaches levels of 35 to 43% in caraway, 66 to 73% in carrot, 31 to 75% in coriander, and ~80% in parsley (Ucciani, 1995a). This isomer of oleic acid is a potential source of lauric and adipic acids as products of oxidative cleavage. The C6 dibasic acid is an important component of many polyamides (nylons) and is usually made from cyclohexane by a reaction reported to be environmentally unfriendly. The use of petroselinic acid in food and in skin-care products has been described in two patents (Anon., 2003a)." [CRC TLHB]

"In the berries: volatile oil, fatty oil, polysaccharides, proteins, furocoumarins (traces)" [PDR]
"In volatile oil: in particular D-(+)-carvone and D-(+)- limonene" [PDR]

Caraway – Carum carvi [PFAF - Source not given]

Part: Leaf Per 100 g fresh weight
Food Energy (Kcal) 253 Ash (g) 12.6 Potassium (mg) 3308
Water (g) 7.2% Thiamine (mg) 0.42 Magnesium (mg) 451
Protein (g) 20 Riboflavin (mg) 0.28 Calcium (mg) 1784
Fat (g) 4.4 Niacin (mg) 2.8 Phosphorus (mg) 543
Carbohydrate (g) 55.8 Vitamin C (mg) - Sodium (mg) 208
Fibre (g) 11.9 Vitamin A (RE) - Iron (mg) 48.8
Zinc (mg) 3.3 Manganese (mg) - B6 (mg) 1.5

Caraway – Carum carvi [PFAF - 218]

Part: Seed Per 100 g fresh weight
Food Energy (Kcal) 333 Ash (g) 6 Potassium (mg) 1351
Water (g) 10 Thiamine (mg) 0.383 Magnesium (mg) 258
Protein (g) 20 Riboflavin (mg) 0.379 Calcium (mg) 689
Fat (g) 14.5 Niacin (mg) 3.61 Phosphorus (mg) 568
Carbohydrate (g) 50 Vitamin C (mg) - Sodium (mg) 17
Fibre (g) 12.5 Vitamin A (IU) 363 Iron (mg) 16.2
Zinc (mg) 5.5 Manganese (mg) - Copper (mg) -


"Succeeds in ordinary garden soil as long as it is not too wet in winter[1]. Prefers a moist soil in full sun or partial shade[4, 200]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 7.6. Caraway is a well-known herb that has been cultivated for its culinary and medicinal uses since ancient times[244]. It is frequently cultivated in the modern herb garden and sometimes also commercially[4, 46], there are some named varieties[183]. Plants growing in more northerly latitudes and also in full sun are richer in essential oils and therefore more aromatic[4, 245]. Plants strongly resent root disturbance[200]. They often self-sow freely when in a suitable location[244]. This species is deep rooted[201] and is a good plant for breaking up the sub-soil on heavy, wet land[18, 20]. It dislikes growing near fennel or wormwood[14, 20] but is a good companion for most plants, especially those that are shallow-rooted[201]. The flowers attract parasitic wasps to the garden, these prey on aphids and so help to reduce populations of insect pests[238]." [PFAF]

Dynamic Accumulator: Phosphorus [DynamicAccumulator]


"Carum is a genus of about 20 species of flowering plants in the family Apiaceae, native to temperate regions of the Old World. The most important species is caraway (C. carvi), the seeds of which are widely used as a culinary spice. In the Mongolian Flora (adjunctive by Urgamal M., 2012) is two species (C. carve L., C. buriaticum Turcz.) belong to the genus Carum L." [Wiki-1]

Local Species;

  1. Carum carvi - Caraway [E-flora]

"Carum copticum Benth. & Hook. f. (Apiaceae). bishop’s weed. The smoke of burning seeds was used in Iran to clean a woman’s uterus (Mohagheghzadeh et al. 2007). In India, the seeds were sometimes smoked or taken as snuff for the relief of migraine headache or delirium (Williamson 2002). In the latter case, the species was referred to by its synonym, Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprague ex Turrill" [UAPDS]


Page last modified on Friday, March 19, 2021 9:59 PM