Carum carvi L.

Last updated: 7 April 2016

Scientific Name

Carum carvi L.


Bunium carvi (L.) M.Bieb., Carum aromaticum Salisb., Carum decussatum Gilib. [Invalid], Carum gracile Lindl., Carum officinale Gray, Carum rosellum Woronow, Carum velenovskyi Rohlena, Carvi careum Bubani, Falcaria carvifolia C.A.Mey., Foeniculum carvi (L.) Link, Karos carvi (L.) Nieuwl. & Lunell, Ligusticum carvi (L.) Roth, Pimpinella carvi (L.) Jess., Selinum carvi (L.) E.H.L.Krause, Seseli carvi (L.) Spreng., Sium carvi (L.) Bernh. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Jintan [2][3], kummel [3]
English Caraway seed, common caraway, kummel seedcake [2], caraway [2][3], carum [3]
China Ge lü zi, zang hui xiang [2]
India Appakacaccompucceti, asita jiraka, bhedanika, bhedini, cimai compu, cimai peruncirakam, , gonyod, jiraa, kalazera, karunjiraka, krishna, kamoon, pilappu-chirakam, prithvikaa, shiajira, shimai-shembu, shiragam, siya jeera, sugandha, sushavi, syah zira [2]
Thailand Hom-pom (Northern) [2][4]
Saudi Arabia Karawiya, karouia [2]
Nepal Chhonyo, chi [2]
Tibetan Agar go-snyod, go-snyod, sgo-snyod, shia-jira, zira nag po [2].

Geographical Distributions

Carum carvi species consists of a winter (biennial) and a spring (annual) type. The latter is indigenous to the eastern part of the Mediterranean including Egypt. The winter type is native to the mountain ranges of Eurasia and along the draining rivers flowing from them. It is cultivated in East-European countries and the Netherlands. Unless otherwise specified it is the spring type that is described and referred to below, because of its relevance for South-East Asia. [4]

Botanical Description

C. carvi is a member of Apiaceae family. It is a glabrous, erect, annual or biennial herb that can grow up to 0.5-1.5 m tall. [4]

The stem is terete, can grow up to 2 cm in diameter, hollow, striate, branching in upper part. [4]

The leaves are alternate, in approximately 2/5 arrangement, compound, bright green; petiole up to 13 cm long, upper ones gradually shorter, uppermost absent, all of them with a sheath with membranous margin and auriculate apex; blade subtriangular in outline, 6-15 cm x 2-8 cm, 2-3-pinnate, lowest leaf segments at least twice as long as wide, ultimate lobes linear-lanceolate to linear, 3-25 mm long. [4]

The inflorescence a compound umbel, 4-8 cm in diameter, terminal; peduncle up to 11 cm long; bracts and bracteoles absent or few, bracts occasionally leaf-like; primary rays 3-16, unequal, 0.5-6 cm long; secondary rays 6-16, unequal, up to 1 cm long; umbellets about 1 cm in diameter; flowers bisexual, protandrous, usually white, sometimes pinkish; calyx absent; petals 5, obcordate with short inflexed apex, about 1.5 mm x 1 mm; stamens 5; styles 2, recurved, with enlarged base forming the stylopodium, stigma capitate. Fruit a schizocarp, ellipsoidal, laterally compressed, 3-5 mm long, splitting into 2 mericarps; mericarp often falcate, 5-ribbed, brown, with wide, solitary vittae. [4]

The taproot is fusiform to cylindrical, strong, thick, fleshy and long. [4]


C. carvi is propagated by seed. The small seed requires an even, well-prepared seedbed. Seed is sown about 1-2 cm deep in rows 20-30 cm apart, or broadcast at a rate of 5-10 kg/ha. In Israel, a plant stand of 60 per m2 gives the best per ha yield. Micropropagation using in vitro culture of tissues derived from petiole, hypocotyl and seedling shoot tip has been reported. Weeding is recommended during establishment of the crop. Application of 75-100 kg N/ha is recommended to stimulate root development. [4]

Chemical Constituent

C. carvi has been reported to contain monoterpenes (anethofuran, carvone, limonene), glutathione S-transferase, α,β-unsaturated ketone, trans-dihydrocarvone. [5][6][7]

Plant Part Used

Seed, leaves, root. [3]

Traditional Use

The decoction of the C. carvi seed was used in traditional medicine in the treatment of hypertension and diabetes in the Errachidia province, Morocco. [8]

Preclinical Data


Antibacterial activity

Several Iranian essential oils, including caraway, were tested against food-born pathogens Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Caraway demonstrated antibacterial activity against these strains. [9]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation.


Dosage Range

No documentation

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Carum carvi L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013. [updated on 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Apr 7]. 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. 130-131
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 150
  4. Toxopeus H, Lubberts JH. Carum carvi L. In: de Guzman CC, Siemonsma JS, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 91-94.
  5. 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.
  6. Bouwmeester HJ, Gershenzon J, Konings MC, Croteau R. Biosynthesis of the monoterpenes limonene and carvone in the fruit of caraway I. Demonstration of enzyme activities and their changes with development. Plant Physiology. 1998;117(3):901-912.
  7. Zheng GQ, Kenney PM, Lam LK. Anethofuran, carvone, and limonene: potential cancer chemopreventive agents from dill weed oil and caraway oil. Planta Medica. 1992;58(4):338-341.
  8. Tahraoui A, El-Hilaly J, Israili ZH, Lyoussi B. Ethnopharmacological survey of plants used in the traditional treatment of hypertension and diabetes in south-eastern Morocco (Errachidia province). J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;110(1):105-117.
  9. Mohsenzadeh M. Evaluation of antibacterial activity of selected Iranian essential oils against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in nutrient broth medium. Pak J Biol Sci. 15 Oct 2007;10(20):3693-3697.