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Botanical Source. Coriander is an annual, smooth herb, with a tapering root, and a round, erect stem, 12 or 18 inches high, more or less branched, leafy, round, and striated. The leaves are compound; the lower ones pinnate, on long, slender petioles, their leaflets wedge-shaped, or fan-shaped, acutely notched; upper leaves multifid, in fine, linear segments. The flowers are white, often with a reddish tint, disposed in compound, terminal, stalked umbels, of rarely more than 4 or 5 rays; the partial rays being more numerous. The calyx is 5-toothed, acute, unequal, and permanent. Petals obovate, emarginate, with inflexed lobes, the exterior radiating and bifid. The fruit is spherical, a line and a half in diameter, somewhat coriaceous, carminative, and aromatic. The seed is excavated in front and has a loose skin.
History. Coriander is an Italian plant, but introduced in all the warmer portions of Europe and temperate parts of Asia and Mexico. Flowering from May to July, and maturing its fruit early in the latter part of summer. Occasionally it is found in cultivation in the United States, South American States, Mexico and The Rio Grande Valley of Texas. When the fresh plant is bruised, it emits a disagreeable, bedbug-like odor, but by desiccation the fruit acquires its peculiar aromatic odor. The pleasant flavor is owing to a volatile oil, which may be procured by distillation. Alcohol takes up the active properties of the seed, water only partially.
The Romans, who combined it with cumin and vinegar, rubbed it into meat as a preservative brought coriander to Northern Europe. Coriander has been cultivated for over 3,000 years. Seeds have been found in tombs from the 21st Egyptian dynasty (1085-945BC) The herb is mentioned in the Old Testament--"when the children of Israel were returning to their homeland from slavery in Egypt, they ate manna in the wilderness and the manna was as coriander seeds"--and it is still one of the traditional bitter herbs to be eaten at the Passover when the Jewish people remember that journey.
The Chinese once believed it bestowed immortality and in the Middle Ages it was put in love potions as an aphrodisiac. Its name is said to be derived from koris, Greek for "bedbug" since the plant smelled strongly of the insect.
Medicinal Coriander is good for the digestive system, reducing flatulence, stimulating the appetite and aiding the secretions of gastric juices. Bruised seed can be applied externally as a poultice to relieve painful joints and rheumatism. Coriander seed is used in some soaps and in toilet waters to add fragrance. Whole or ground seed is added to potpourri to blend the scents and Coriander oils is used in perfumes.
Cilantro - Coriander Link
Coriander Properties Used by Aztec's
Stomachic, Digestive, Eliminates odorous and unpleasant gases from the digestive track which lead to belching and flatulence, Fortifies the Lungs, Gives Energy and is Useful for relieving colic.
Aztec Method of Use
Cilantro (coriander) should be washed and disinfected very well since it usually contains many amoebas. It may be used in salads, soups, garnishes, Pico de Gallo, ect, ect.
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