Scientific Classification:

Kingdom Plantae
Unranked Angiosperms
Unranked Monocots
Order Zingiberales
Family Zingiberaceae
Genus Elettaria
Species E.cardamomum
Binomial name Elettaria cardamomum

Other Common Names:

The other common names for the cardamom are Bastard cardamom, cardamom seeds, cardamon, Malabar cardamom, cardamom, Ela and Elachi.


Cardamomum' was the name by which some Indian spice was known in classical times. It is said that cardamom grew in the gardens of the King of Babylon in 720 B.C. The ancient Egyptians chewed cardamoms to whiten their teeth and simultaneously sweeten their breath. As early as 4 B.C., Indian Ayurvedic medicine texts used the spice to remove fat and as a cure for urinary and skin complaints. Cardamom was used in perfumes by ancient Greeks and Romans, and also recommended by Apicius, a famous Roman epicure, to counteract over-indulgence.

Cardamom has been part of the Chinese and ayurvedic pharmacies for thousands of years. Long used in Asia as a culinary herb, it is primarily a tonic to the digestive system, kills the bacteria responsible for bad breath, and is well know for relief of nausea. Cardamom is perhaps the best source of a phytochemical called cineole, which helps break up chest congestion and gives the entire central nervous system a boost. Cardamom is found in many aphrodisiac formulas in Asia. The oil is a mild stimulant, warming with a lovely aroma.


Cardamom is a perennial plant found commonly in southern India. The simple, erect stems grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet from a thumb-thick, creeping rootstock. It has a large, fleshy rhizome, and the alternate, lanceolate leaves are blades from 1 to 2 1/2 feet long, smooth and dark green above, pale, glaucous green and finely silky beneath. The flowering stems spread horizontally near the ground, from a few inches to 2 feet long, and bear small, loose racemes, the small flowers being usually yellowish, with a violet lip. The fruits are from 2/5 to 4/5 of an inch long, ovoid or oblong, bluntly triangular in section, shortly beaked at the apex, pale yellowish grey in colour, plump, and nearly smooth.

They are three-celled, and contain in each cell two rows of small seeds of a dark, reddish-brown colour. These should be kept in their pericarps and only separated when required for use. Though only the seeds are official, the retention of the pericarp is an obstacle to adulteration, while it contains some oil and forms a good surface for grinding the seeds. The value is estimated by the plumpness and heaviness of the fruits and the soundness and ripeness of the seeds. Unripe seeds are paler and less plump.

The unbroken fruits are gathered before they are quite ripe, as the seeds of fruits which have partially opened are less aromatic, and such fruits are less valued. The seeds have a powerful, aromatic odour, and an agreeable, pungent, aromatic taste, but the pericarps are odourless and tasteless.


Cardamom is a perennial reed like herb native to Asia and southern India. The cardamom is an indigenous south Asian plant, growing in southern India and the island of Sri Lanka.


In the tropical areas, the cardamom can be found teeming in forests at elevations of 2,500 ft - 5,000 ft - about 800m - 1,500 m - above mean sea level. The natural habitat of cardamom is the evergreen forests. It is grown in the areas where the annual rainfall ranges from 1500 to 4000 mm, with a temperature range of 10 to 350C and an altitude of 600 to 1200 m above MSL. Rainfall distribution should be good and summer showers during February-April are essential for panicle initiation, otherwise it will affect the yield.


The seed of the cardamom is the main method of propagation for this herb in commercial plantations. The seeds are sown in the fall, alternately, the plants are also propagated by root division method in the spring and summer seasons. Cardamom plants require shaded sites to grow well; such sites must have rich and moist soils that must also be well drained without the risk of water logging. Cardamom spice is actually the seedpods of the cardamom plant; these seedpods are harvested just before they begin to open in the dry weather during the fall. Collected seedpods are then dried by spreading them out in full sunlight for several days. Cardamom seeds are principally obtained from commercial plantations found in Sri Lanka or in the Southern Indian states. In these areas, the cardamom crop is harvested in the fall, from October to early December.

Parts Used


The seed pods and essential oil are the main parts of the cardamom which are used for its commercial and medicinal purposes.

Flowering Season

The flowers of the cardamom are in bloom from the month of the April through May.

Pests and Diseases

Thrips cause damage to leaves, shoots, inflorescence, and such affected capsules fetch lower price. Larvae bore the unopened leaf buds, panicles causing drying of feed on young seeds causing the capsules empty, incidence occur throughout year. Nymphs and adults suck the sap and act as vector of the mosaic or Katte Virus which causes spindle shaped, slender chlorotic flecks appear on youngest leaves, later there develop into pale green discontinuous stripes as leaves mature, mosaic symptoms are marked, infected clumps are stunted, smaller in size, with slender tillers and shorter panicles. Capsule rot occurs in heavy rain zones, affected capsules turn brownish black in colour, and often rotting extends to tillers and rhizomes also.

Medicinal Applications


• Cardamom relieves nausea and morning sickness in pregnancy.

• It relieves spasm, making it beneficial for colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion and cramps.

• It also strengthens weak digestion.

• Cardamom is perhaps the best source of cineole, a strong antiseptic that kills the bacteria responsible for bad breath.

• Cardamom is an expectorant and decongestant. It can be added to thyme and taken as a steam inhalant for congestion of the lungs.

• Cardamom seeds are useful for flatulence, but they are usually used as adjuvants with other remedies.

• They are also used as a spice in cooking and as flavouring in other medicines.

• Cardamom has decongestant properties that make it useful in colds and congestion as well.

•  Cardamom is a stimulant, it cools the body in extreme heat and it aids digestion.

• It is used as remedy for Celiac Disease.

• The infusion can be used in the treatment of problems such as flatulence or a sudden loss of appetite.

• The cardamom herb in relieving gas and its use in treating colic and muscular cramps.

• The Indians have used the cardamom in herbal medications since ancient times for treating various conditions, these problems include disorders such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, problems like kidney stones, disorders such as anorexia, debility, and a weakened vata.

• The ancient medical system of China also included the cardamom in its herbal repertoire, in traditional Chinese medicine, the cardamom is used in the treatment of urinary incontinence and as a general herbal tonic.

• A long standing reputation of the cardamom herb is its aphrodisiac effect.

Commercial Applications


• Cardamom can be added to teas, coffee, or used as a spice in cooking.

• This oil is a mild stimulant with a sensual quality and makes a light, refreshing bath oil.

• It has a sweet, spicy, camphor-like aroma with floral undertones that imparts a warm note to masculine scents and floral perfumes.

• It blends well with most essences, especially bergamot, frankincense, ylang ylang, cedarwood and coriander.

• The seeds and pods contain a volatile oil which is used in perfumes and as a stimulant.


According to the astro reports the cardamom spice is under the dominion of the planet Uranus.

Folklores and Myths

Cardamom seeds are used in cookery and for confections, but also have a widely-held reputation for being of magical use in bringing about good luck in love affairs and sexual relationships. Some of our customers say that they chew cardamom seed when they they go to a party where they want to meet a new lover. Others tell us that they mix cardamom with other so-called love drawing herbs, such as rose buds, cubeb berries, damiana leaves, juniper berries, catnip leaves, red clover flowers, rose petals, or lavender flowers and carry this in a red conjure bag so that when they meet someone new whom they desire, the man or woman they want can be easily led into lust.