Introduction and description

Coriander Coriandrum sativum L. is an important spice crop and occupies a prime position in flavouring substances. It was one of the first spices to be used as a common flavouring substance. The stem, leaves and fruits all have a pleasant aromatic odour. The entire plant when young is used in preparing chutneys and sauces, and the leaves are used for flavouring continental curries and soups. The fruits are extensively employed as a condiment in the preparations of curry powder, pickling spices, sausages and seasonings. They are also used for flavouring pastry, biscuits, buns and cakes, and in flavouring liquors, particularly gin. Coriander seeds are also known for their medicinal properties and are considered carminative, diuretic tonic, stomachic antibilious, refrigerant and aphrodisiac. As such, coriander is a frequent ingredient in the preparation of Ayurvedic medicines and is a traditional home therapy for different ailments. The new value-added products obtained from seeds are also in large demand in international markets. The volatile oil is also used in flavouring liquors and for obscuring the bad smell of medicines.

9.1.1 Botanical description

Coriandrum sativum L. (2n = 22) belongs to the family Umbelliferae with botanical classification:















Purseglove et al. (1981) have given a detailed botanical description of the plant. There are two distinct morphological types: one erect and tall with a comparatively stronger main shoot and shorter branches, the other bushy with a relatively weaker main shoot and longer, spreading branches. The plants attain heights from 30 to 100 cm, depending upon the variety. The crop comes to bloom in 45-60 days after sowing and matures in 65-120 days, depending upon the variety and cropping situation. Each branch as well as the main shoot terminates in a compound umbel (determinate growth) bearing 3-10 umbels, each umbel containing 10-50 pentamerous flowers. The flowers are small, protoandrous and difficult to manipulate for controlled pollination. Like other umbelliferous plants, coriander is also a cross-pollinated crop. The degree of cross-pollination has been reported to range from 50% by Ramanujam et al. (1964) to 60% by Dimri et al. (1977). Anuradha Hore (1979) considered poor seed set as a major constraint to yield. Pillai and Nambiar (1982) considered coriander to be andromonoecious. Singh and Ramanujam (1973) reported significant varietal differences in distribution of male and perfect flowers in the umbels. Hermaphrodite flowers opened earlier than males. Selection of a higher proportion of hermaphrodite flowers was considered an effective criterion for higher seed set.

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