Cuminum cyminum L.

Last updated: 03 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Cuminum cyminum L.


Cuminia cyminum J.F.Gmel., Cuminum aegyptiacum Mérat ex DC., Cuminum hispanicum Mérat ex DC., Cuminum odorum Salisb., Cuminum officinale Garsault [Invalid], Cuminum sativum J.Sm., Cyminon longeinvolucellatum St-Lag., Ligusticum cuminum Crantz, Selinum cuminum E.H.L.Krause. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Jintan puteh [2]
English Cumin, Roman caraway [2]
China Zi ran qin [2]
India Acai, acai cirri, acaiyu, acanaveti, ajaji, ajajika, ajmoda, anicil, attimai, attinam, attitamatam, caci, cacini-kam, cankuvankanam, cheerakam, cheerakum, chirakam, cicari, cikariccaram, ciraciram, cirakacceti, cirakacutti, cirakam, ciram, cirri, cirnam, citakkakoli, cittirapattiri, civakam, cukkumapaciyam, cukkumapattiram, cutapattiri-kam, cuttiracirakam, dipaka, dipya, dipyaka, dirghajiraka, dirghaka, dirghakana, gajar, gaurajaji, gaurajiraka, hras-vanga, jaji, jarana, jaranam, jeelakara, jeera, jeera khar, jeera safed, jeeraka, jeerakam, jeeram, jeerigay, jeerige, jeerige bili, jeerige kari, jera, jilakara, jilakarra, jilakhrah, jira, jira safed, jirage, jiraka, jirakah, jirakaha, kirakam, jirakataila, jirana, jiranan, jiregire, jirige, jiringe, jirna, kaci, kacikki-rusnan, kamonabaize, Magadha, maicatci, maisakukkilam, naccirakam, nallacirakam, narcir, pacakam, pacam, pacumpi, safaid zira, safed jeera, safed-zira, tilaka, tippiyam, tirkkakanam, upakumpam, upakumpapicam, vahmisakha, varivaricu, variyarici, zeela-karra, zeera, zeerasafed [2]
Indonesia Awas aceh, cumin, jinten bodas, jinten poteh, jinten putih, jira putih [2]
Thailand Thian-khao, yira [2]
Laos Th’ien kha:w [2]
Myanmar Ziya (Burma)[2]
Cambodia Ma chin [2]
Arabic Kammoun, kamoun, kemmoun, kimono, sanoot [2]
Tibet Dzi-ra, go snod, go-snod, si ra karpo, zi ra, zira dkarpo [2]
Mexico Bere lele [2]
Italy Cimino, cumino [2]

Geographical Distributions

Cuminum cyminum is grassy plant which the origin is not known exactly but is believed to be in the area extending from the south-eastern Mediterranean to central Asia (formerly Turkestan). This plant has been known since antiquity. Its cultivation is currently most important in China, India, Morocco, Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, Iran and southern Russia. In other parts of the world, cultivation is only occasional while in Southeast Asia, it is only grown in mountainous areas such as in Indonesia. [3]

Botanical Description

C. cyminum is a member of Umbelliferae family. It is an erect to sub-erect annual herb, reaching up to 20-50(-80) cm tall and with thin taproot. All green parts are hairless but usually covered with a bloom. [3]

The stem is slightly cylindrical, measures up to 3 mm in diameter, finely grooved and with branches at all heights. [3]

The leaves are arranged alternately, compound and blue-green. The petiole is 2-25 mm long, slightly cylindrical, finely grooved, and with sheathing at the base with scarred margins while the upper leaves are usually only with sheathing. [3]

The blade consists of 3 slender leaflets where each leaflet is often forked 2-3 times into slender lobes up to 7 cm long. [3]

The inflorescence is a compound umbel and measures up to 3.5 cm in diameter. [3]

The peduncle is slightly cylindrical, measures up to 7 cm long and finely grooved. [3]

The bracts are often as many as primary rays, with sheathing at the base, linear and often up to 3-forked into lobes 2-35 mm long. There are 2-10 primary rays per umbel which are cylindrical, unequal in length, measuring up to 18 mm long and finely grooved. There are 3-5 bracteoles per umbellate which are linear, measuring up to 25 mm long, with sheathing at the base and sometimes up to 2-3-forked. Besides, the secondary rays are arranged in 3-8 per umbellate and measure up to 6 mm long. [3]

The flowers are bisexual, regular and protandrous. There are 5 sepals which are narrowly triangular, unequal in length and measuring up to 2.5 mm long. The 5 petals are usually all equal, oblong, measuring up to 1.5 mm x 1 mm, whitish at the base and pinkish to reddish at the top. The apex is strongly inflexed and narrow. There are 5 stamens with slender filaments 1.5 mm long. The pistil is with ribbed ovary, with 2 styles on a conical, persistent stylopodium and semi-cylindrical stigma. [3]

The fruit is an ovoid-oblongoid, erect or slightly curved schizocarp, measuring 3.5-6.5 mm x 1-2 mm x 0.8-1.5 mm, crowned by the persistent, sharp stylopodia and with sepal base and yellow-brown. There are 8 primary ribs while the secondary ribs are prominent and alternate with and wider than the primary ones. They are whitish and bristles-like but easily break off. The fruit splits into 2 mericarps with slight pressure. The mericarp is strongly ventrally concave, dorsally convex, usually bears one oil duct (vitta) below at each secondary rib and with two vittae on the commissural ventral side. [3]

The seed is with testa adnate to the fruit wall, with grey endosperm and fatty. Seedling is with epigeal germination. [3]


C. cyminum requires rather cool and dry weather with full sunlight for a season of 3-4 months, as can be found in semi-arid areas with a moderate winter or at higher altitudes in the tropics (up to 2200 m). The temperature range is 9-24°C and frost is not tolerated. C. cyminum is a short-day plant. Rich well-drained medium to heavy loams with pH of 6.8-8.3 are optimal. [3]

Chemical Constituent

Essential oil extracted from C. cyminum fruit has been reported to contain p-mentha-1,3-dien-7-al, p-mentha-1,4-dien-7-al, p-meth-3-en-7-al, β-myrcene, α-phellandrene, cuminaldehyde, γ-terpinene, α-pinene, β-pinene. [4][5]

C. cyminum essential oil has been reported to contain α-pinene, 1,8-cineole, linalool and cuminaldehyde. [6][7]

C. cyminum seed has been reported to contain glycolipids (e.g. acylmonogalactosyldiacylglycerol and acylated sterylglucoside, monogalactosyldiaclyglycerol, monogalactosylmonoacyglycerol, and digalactosyldiaclyglycerol), and phospholipids (e.g. phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylinositol, lysophosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidyglycerol). [8]

Plant Part Used

Fruits (seeds) [5]

Traditional Use

In Malaysia, this plant is use in medicines, both externally and internally, invariably mixture. Taken internally, it is used as a stomachic and astringent. A decoction of C. cyminum is given orally for severe abdominal problems, and also for those after childbirth. [9]

A poultice of C. cyminum with a variety of mixture often applied and pounded to treat skin broken. [9]

Oil distilled from the seeds of C. cyminum is used in making liqueurs. C. cyminum also is always used as condiment for seasoning curries. [9]

Preclinical Data


Antibacterial activity

Essential oil extracted from fruit of C. cyminum that contain active ingredients of p-mentha-1,4-dien-7-al, cumin aldehyde, gamma-terpinene, and beta-pinene has been demonstrated antibacterial activity against gram+/- bacteria, therefore, illustrating the potential role in controlling bacterial diseases. [4]

Essential oil extracted from C. cyminum which contain high phenolic content and good antioxidant activity also can be supplemented for both nutritional purposes and preservation of foods. [10]

Essential oil extracted from the seeds of C. cyminum has been demonstrated effective antibacterial activity against eight pathogenic bacteria, causing infections in the human body when compared with standard antibiotics, at a very low concentration. [11]

Antidiabetic activity

An animal study used a chemical constituent from the essential oil of C. cyminum seeds against lens aldose reductase and alpha-glucosidase. The results showed an inhibitory effect against both lens aldose reductase and alpha-glucosidase, although not as strongly as quercetin or acarbose. Researchers believe this compound will be useful in developing anti-diabetic therapies in the future. [12]

Relaxant activity

Aqueous extract of C. cyminum has been demonstrated to exhibit a potent relaxant effect on the tracheal chains of guinea pig which may due to a stimulatory effect of the plant on beta-adrenoceptors and/or an inhibitory effect on histamine H1 receptors. [13]

Anticonvulsant activity

C. cyminum was used in seizure-induced mice to measure the potential anticonvulsant activity. The results were positive, and furthermore, this essential oil could cause sedation and motor skills could be impaired. [14] 

An additional study demonstrated that extracellular application of C. cyminum oil decreased the frequency of epileptiform activity induced by pentylenetetrazol in mollusk. [15]

Anticaries activity

The essential oil of C. cyminum has shown to demonstrated both antimicrobial and antibiofilm activities, which may has potential preventive activity of cavities and gingivitis. [16]

Antinociceptive activity

Essential oil extracted from C. cyminum fruit has been demonstrated some analgesic effects in mice subjected to various pain stimuli. [17]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


This essential oil is an irritant- do not apply directly onto the skin. [5]

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of C. cyminum [3]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Cuminum cyminum L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Aug 03]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U.  CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 534-535.
  3. Jansen PCM. Cuminum cyminum L. In: de Guzman CC, Siemonsma JS, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 108-111.
  4. Iacobellis NS, Lo Cantore P, Capasso F, Senatore F. Antibacterial activity of Cuminum cyminum L. and Carum carvi L. essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(1):57-61.
  5. Tisserand R, Balacs T. Essential oil safety. UK: Churchill Livingston Press, 2006.; p. 264.
  6. Gachkar L, Yadegari D, Rezaei MB, Taghizadeh M, Astaneh SA, Rasooli I. Chemical and biological characteristics of Cuminum cyminum and Rosmarinus officinalis essential oils. Food Chem. 2007;102(3):898-904.
  7. Derakhsan S, Sattari M, Bigdeli M. Effect of subinhibitory concentrations of cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) seed essential oil and alcoholic extract on the morphology, capsule expression and urease activity of Klebsiella pneumonia. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2008;32(5):432-436.
  8. Hemavathy J, Prabhakar JV. Lipid composition of cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) seeds. J Food Sci. 1988;53(5):1578-1579.
  9. Burkill IH. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1. London: Published on behalf of the governments of the Straits settlements and Federated Malay states by the Crown agents for the colonies, 1935; p. 701-702.
  10. Allahghadri T, Rasooli I, Owlia P, et al. Antimicrobial property, antioxidant capacity, and cytotoxicity of essential oil from cumin produced in Iran. J Food Sci. 2010;75(2):54-61.
  11. Singh G, Kapoor IP, Pandey SK, Singh UK, Singh RK. Studies on essential oils: part 10; antibacterial activity of volatile oils of some spices. Phytother Res. 2002;16(7):680-682.
  12. Lee HS. Cuminaldehyde: Aldose reductase and alpha-glucoside inhibitor derived from Cuminum cyminum L. seeds. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(7):2446-2450.
  13. Boskabady MH, Kiani S, Azizi H. Relaxabt effect of Cuminum cyminum on gunea pig tracheal chains and its possible mechanism(s). Ind J Pharmacol. 2005;37(2):111-115.
  14. Sayyah M, Mahboubi A, Kamalinejed M. Anticonvulsant effect of the fruit essential oil of Cuminum cyminum in mice. Pharma Biol. 2002;40(6):478-480.
  15. Janahmadi M, Niazi F, Danyali S, Kamalinejad M. Effects of the fruit essential oil of Cuminum cyminum Linn. (Apiaceae) on pentylenetetrazol-induced epileptiform activity in F1 neurones of Helix aspersa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;104(1-2):278-282.
  16. Shayeqh S, Rasooli I, Taghizadeh M, Astaneh SD. Phytotherapeutic inhibition of supragingival dental plaque. Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(5):428-239.
  17. Sayyah M, Peirovi A, Kamalinejad M. Anti-nociceptive effect of the fruit essential oil of Cuminum cyminum L. in rat. Iran Biomed J. 2002;6(4):141-145.