Herb: Niger Seed

Latin name: Guizotia abyssinica

Synonyms: Guizotia oleifera

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Niger Seed:

The oil from the seeds is used in the treatment of rheumatism. It is also applied to treat burns. A paste of the seeds is applied as a poultice in the treatment of scabies.

Description of the plant:


180 cm
(6 feet)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Casual on tips and waste ground near oil mills, and as a bird-seed alien, in Britain.

Edible parts of Niger Seed:

The seed is eaten fried, used as a condiment or dried then ground into a powder and mixed with flour etc to make sweet cakes. Average seed yields in India range from 100 - 200 kg/ha when grown with ragi, and 300 - 400 kg/ha when grown in pure stands. In Kenya, monocultural yields average 600 kg/ha. Seed yields of 1,000 to 1,200 kg/ha have been obtained on fertile Himalayan soils. Oil yields range about 235 kg/ha. The seeds yield about 30% of a clear, excellent, slow-drying edible oil. It is used as a substitute for olive oil, can be mixed with linseed oil, and is used as an adulterant for rape oil, sesame oil etc. The oil is used in cooking as a ghee substitute and can be used in salad dressings etc. A pleasant nutty taste.

Other uses of the herb:

A drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is used for burning, in making soap, paints etc. The plant can be used as a green manure. It is usually dug in when the plants are about to come into flower.

Propagation of Niger Seed:

Seed - sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Make sure the soil does not dry out because this would delay germination. In warm weather, germination should take place within 3 - 4 days of sowing the seed. When sowing larger areas, the seed may be broadcast at rate of 10 kg/ha or sown in rows 40 to 50 cm apart at rate of 5 kg/ha.

Cultivation of the herb:

Casual on tips and waste ground near oil mills, and as a bird-seed alien, in Britain.

Known hazards of Guizotia abyssinica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.