Learning about Spices
What is a spice?
Why were spices important?
Sources of spices
Perfumes and Incenses 
Use of spices as aphrodisiacs
Use of spices as medicines
Culinary herbs
A spice timeline

Table of Spices
Allspice (Pimento)
Anise
Black Pepper
Cardamom
Cassia
Chile Pepper
Chocolate
Cinnamon
Clove
Coriander (Cilantro)
Cumin
Dill
Fennel
Fenugreek
Frankincense and Myrrh
Galangal
Garlic
Ginger
Horseradish
Licorice
Mustard
Nutmeg and Mace
Onion
Saffron
Sugar
Sumac
Tamarind
Turmeric
Vanilla

Contacts and Acknowledgments
Common Name CARDAMOM CARDAMOM
Click image to enlarge
Genus SpeciesElettaria cardamomum
FamilyZingiberaceae
Origin Near East and Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Cultivated India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Cambodia, Guatemala, El Salvador
  
  
  
  
  
Description Several varieties of seed plants are known as cardamon, but the best known is an export from India, where it is obtained from a ginger-like plant, Elettaria cardamomum. It is related to black cardamom, and to melegueta (also known as grains of paradise), a peppery cardamon-like seed which grows mainly in West Africa; this was a popular European import in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Cardamom is particularly popular in Arab countries for flavoring coffee, and perhaps half the world’s production is thus used. Cardamom and related spices were used by the Romans, and it remains popular in baked products in Scandinavian and Baltic countries. The seeds are widely used in cooking and in chewing products (similar to chewing gum) in India and Pakistan, and in Persian cuisine, but it is not widely appreciated in North America as a cooking spice or as a flavor in candies or beverages. Its exotic qualities have suggested it could be used as a stimulant and aphrodisiac, and long ago it was used as a perfume and breath freshener. See a list of spices by Taste and Hotness.
Useful Parts The aromatic extract contains many essential oil chemicals, some of which have a smell like that of camphor. Thus, its main use is as an adjunctive spice in curries, coffees and other Asian or Middle Eastern foods. It used to be second in expense to saffron, and is known in India as Queen of Spices. However, declining markets and increased production in Guatemala have led to a fall in its value.
Medicinal Properties Medically, it is used mainly as a flavor and an aid to digestion. It is used more prosaically to treat colds, bronchitis, fevers, inflammatory conditions of the oropharynx, and liver complaints. There is no evidence to support any of these uses.
See chemicals in spices.
Historical View “The effects of cardamoms are those of a very agreeable aromatic; they are used partly on account of their flavour, and partly for their carminative and stimulant properties. They are, however, rarely prescribed alone, but commonly either as adjuvants or correctives of cordial, tonic and purgative medicines.”

Bentley, Robert and Henry Trimen. Medicinal Plants; being descriptions with original figures of the principal plants employed in medicine and an account of the characters, properties, and uses of their parts and products of medicinal value. London, Churchill, 1880. (WZ 295 B556m 1880)
CARDAMOM
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Spice Exhibit URL: http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm

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