Herb: Coriander

Latin name: Coriandrum sativum

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Coriander:

Coriander is a commonly used domestic remedy, valued especially for its effect on the digestive system, treating flatulence, diarrhoea and colic. It settles spasms in the gut and counters the effects of nervous tension. The seed is aromatic, carminative, expectorant, narcotic, stimulant and stomachic. It is most often used with active purgatives in order to disguise their flavour and combat their tendency to cause gripe. The raw seed is chewed to stimulate the flow of gastric juices and to cure foul breath and will sweeten the breath after garlic has been eaten. Some caution is advised, however, because if used too freely the seeds become narcotic. Externally the seeds have been used as a lotion or have been bruised and used as a poultice to treat rheumatic pains. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is "Appetite stimulant".

Description of the plant:


45 cm
(1 foot)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Waste places and arable land, often by the sides of rivers.

Edible parts of Coriander:

Leaves - raw or cooked. They are used as a flavouring in salads, soups etc and the fresh leaves are probably the most widely used flavouring herb in the world. The leaves have an aromatic flavour. It is foetid according to another report, whilst another says that the fresh leaves have a strong bedbug-like smell. The leaves should not be eaten in large quantities. The fresh leaves contain about 0.012% oxalic acid and 0.172% calcium. Seed - cooked. It is used as a flavouring in many dishes including cakes, bread and curries, it is also widely used to flavour certain alcoholic liquors. The fresh seed has a disagreeable and nauseous smell, but when dried it becomes fragrant, the longer it is kept the more fragrant it becomes. Plants yield about 1 tonnes per acre of seed. The root is powdered and used as a condiment. An essential oil from the seed is used as a food flavouring

Other uses of the herb:

An essential oil from the seed is used as a food flavouring, in perfumery, soap making etc. It is also fungicidal and bactericidal. The growing plant repels aphids. A spray made by boiling of one part coriander leaves and one part anise seeds in two parts of water is very effective against red spider mites and woolly aphids. An oil from the seed is used for making soap. The report does not make it clear if the essential oil or the fixed oil is used. The seed contains about 20% fixed oil, this has potential for industrial use in Britain, it could become an alternative to oilseed rape though the oil content is a bit on the low side at present (1995). The oil can be split into two basic types, one is used in making soaps etc, whilst the other can be used in making plastics. The dried stems are used as a fuel.

Propagation of Coriander:

Seed - sow April in situ. The seed is slow to germinate and so on a garden scale it can also be sown in March in a cold frame. Sow a few seeds in each pot and then plant them out when they are growing away strongly in May. The seed can also be sown in situ in the autumn. Autumn sown plants will grow bigger and produce more seed.

Cultivation of the herb:

Waste places and arable land, often by the sides of rivers.

Known hazards of Coriandrum sativum:

The plant can have a narcotic effect if it is eaten in very large quantities.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.