Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam.

Last updated: 15 Sept 2015

Scientific Name

Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam.


Ammi dilatatum St.-Lag., Ammi visnaga var. hybernonsis Sennen, Ammi visnaga var. longibracteatum Zohary, Ammi visnaga var. paui Sennen, Apium visnaga (L.) Crantz, Carum visnaga (L.) Koso-Pol., Daucus gingidium L. ex DC. [Invalid], Daucus laevis Salisb., Daucus visnaga L., Selinum visnaga Krause, Sium visnaga (L.) Stokes, Visnaga daucoides Gaertn., Visnaga vera Raf. [Unresolved] [1]

Vernacular Name

English Bishop’s weed, pick-tooth, spanish carrot, tooth pick [2]
China A mi qin [2]
Saudi Arabia Kella, kella balady,khelal,khelal dandane, khell, khella, khilla, khilla baladi, noukha, nounkha [2].

Geographical Distributions

Ammi visnaga originated in the Nile Delta is indigenous to the entire the Mediterranean area and is cultivated in North and South America. Presently, abundant commercial cultivation occurs in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. This herb is annual or biennial growing up to 30 inches in height with white flowers in large umbels. The plant grows well in sandy to heavy soils with adequate moisture. The plant’s dried umbels are long and woody and are sold in the Middle East as toothpicks, a use dating back throughout its history. [3]

Botanical Description

A. visnaga falls under the family of Apiaceae. It is an annual or biennial herb growing from a taproot erect to a maximum height of about 1.0 m. The stems are erect and highly branched. [4]

The leaves are up to 20 cm long and generally oval to triangular in shape but dissected into many small linear to lance-shaped segments. [4]

The inflorescence is a compound umbel of white flowers and highly swollen at the base, later on it becomes woody and used as toothpicks. [4]

The flowers are pentamerous, tetracyclic with radial symmetry, bearing five stamens and inferior ovary composed from two united carpels. [4]

The fruit is a compressed oval-shaped structure consisting of two mericarpes and around 3 mm in length.[4]

The root is fattened and looks like the root of the carrot. [4]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

Essential oil of A. visnaga fresh aerial parts obtained by hydroldistillation has been reported to contain isobutyl isobutyrate, linalool, 2,2-dimethylbutanoic acid, bornyl acetate, thymol, and croweacin. [5]

Essential oil of A. visnaga dried fruit obtained by coventional hydroldistillation has been reported to contain α-thujene, 3-methylpentenol, β-myrcene, methylbutyl 2-methylbutaoate, α-isophorone, 2-nonyne, hexenyl isobutanoate, endo-fenchyl acetate, geranyl acetate, lavandulyl acetate, citronellyl propionate, neryl isobutanoate, lavandulyl 2-methylbutanoate, α-damascone, (Z,E)-farnesal and in trace amount of other components. [6]

A. visnaga seeds fat has been reported to contain fatty acids composition of the of palmitic acid 5%, petroselinic acid 50%, oleic acid 32%, and linoleic acid 13%. [7]

Chloroform extract of A. visnaga fruits has been reported to contain furanochromone (e.g. khellin and visnagin). [8]

Methanol extract of A. visnaga fruits has been reported to contain furanochromone glycoside (e.g. khellol glycoside). [8]

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

A. visnaga was traditionally used in the Mediterranean for the treatment of heart conditions for thousands of years. It is thought that the mechanism of action is similar to calcium channel blocking drugs. [9]  

This oil from this herb was also used in the treatment of kidney stones. Intal, an asthma drug widely used with conventional medicine, is derived chemically from khellin, a major constituent of the plant A. Visnaga along with NasalChrom. Khellin is structurally similar to psoralen and may stimulate melanine synthesis. [10]

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity


Essential oil extracted from A. visnaga flowering shoot showed antibacterial activity when tested against several resistant bacteria (Streptococcus viridans, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus) after 2 days. The most inhibition zone produced by Lactobacillus casei (50 mm) followed by 35 mm of Streptococcus viridans, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus acidophilus, respectively and control (cetylpyridinium chloride 0.05%) indicated 12 mm. [11]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2015 Sept 10]. Available from :
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV A-B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 244-245.
  3. Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy: Phytochemistry medicinal plants. 2nd ed. Andover, Hampshire, UK: Intercept; 1999.
  4. Tutin TG, Heywood VN, Burges NA, et al, editors. Flora Europaea. Volume 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968; p. 205.
  5. Khalfallah A, Labed A, Semra Z, et al. Antibacterial activity and chemical composition of the essential oil of Ammi visnaga L.(Apiaceae) from Constantine, Algeria. Int J Med Arom Plants. 2011:1(3); 302-305.
  6. Khadhri A, El Mokni R, Mguis K, Ouerfelli I, Eduarda MMA. Variability of two essential oils of Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam. a traditional Tunisian medicinal plant. J Med Plant Res. 2011:5(20):5079-5082.
  7. Grindley DN. Ammi visnaga: Composition of the fatty acids present in the seed fat. J Sci Food Agric. 1950;1(2):53-56.
  8. Günaydin K, Beyazit N. The chemical investigations on the ripe fruits of Ammi visnaga (Lam.) Lamarck growing in Turkey. Nat Prod Res. 2004;18(2):169-175.
  9. Wichtl M, editor. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1994; p.
  10. Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.
  11. Abrasvesh Z, Majd A, Rezaei MB, Mehrabian S. Antimicrobial effect of Ammi Visnaga essential oil on the mouth microflora. Iran J Med Aromatic Plants. 2005;2(28):139-148