A native to Southwest Asia and North Africa, coriander is probably one of the oldest known herbs.It has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years for its medicinal and culinary properties.Fresh leaves, commonly known as , are used as flavouring to salads, soups and other dishes, and remains one of the most widely today.Dried seeds are popular in exotic cuisine, adding a strong scent to cakes and curries.Medicinally, coriander has long been used as a domestic remedy for digestive problems.Please consult with your doctor before using coriander for health related purposes. Coriander seeds has a mild and sweet scent. The leaves has a fresh taste, but some people find its taste 'soapy'.
Coriander is a soft, hairless plant, growing to 50 cm tall, with variable shaped leaves. The leaves are broadly lobed at the base of the plant and slender and feathery higher on the flowery stems. The asymmetrical, white or pale pink flowers are borne in small umbels, with the petals pointing away from the umbels is longer (5-6 mm) than those pointing towards it (1-3 mm). the fruit is a globular dry schizocarp 3-5 mm in diameter.
All part of coriander plant is edible, but fresh leaves and dried seeds are the parts commonly used in cooking. The leaves have a different taste from the seeds. The flavours have been compared to those of the stink bug, as similar chemical groups are involved (aldehydes). The fresh leaves are used as garnish, added into dishes, and used in salad or sauces. The leaves spoil quickly once remove from the plant, and lose their aroma when dried or frozen. Coriander contains antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food. Both the leaves and seeds contain antioxidants, but the leaves have stronger effect. Chemicals derived from coriander leaves were found to have antibacterial activity against Salmonella choleraesuis.
Coriander has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia in Iran. It is also a traditional treatment for diabetes, as the extract had both insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity. Coriander is extremely easy to grow in almost any soil. It grows quickly, producing harvest able cilantro (the leaves) in a month or so and coriander (the seeds) in about 90 days. The flowers of coriander are attractive to many kinds of beneficial insects and the foliage is eaten by the caterpillars of swallowtail butterflies.