Family: Apiaceae

Bengali/Vernacular Name: Jira, Safedjira, Shiajira.

English Name: Cumin, Point Caraway, Caraway Seed.

Description of the Plant

A slender annual. Leaves twice or thrice 3-partite, ultimate segments filiform. Flowers small, white, in compound umbels. Fruit cylindric, ridged, tip narrowed, aromatic.

Using Information

Seeds are stomachic, carminative, digestive, tonic, uterine stimulant, antipyretic, stimulant, cooling and astringent to the bowels; used in the treatment of chronic diarrhoea and dysentery; useful in sore throat and loss of appetite.

It is also used in the preparation of drug for gonorrhoea; relieves hiccup, inflammations and enlarged spleen. To increase secretion of milk, seeds are taken shortly after child birth. Cumin oil can be converted into thymol, which is anthelmintic against hookworm.

EtOH(50%) extract of fruits is spasmolytic and hypotensive. Alcoholic or aquous extract showed significant antiimplantation activity in albino rats. Essential oil from fruit is larvicidal, antibacterial and antifungal (Asolkar et al., 1992).

Chemical Constituents

Seeds contain protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B1,2,3,6,9,12, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. They also contain 2-4% volatile oil, the chief constituent of which is cumaldehyde.


Besides the aldehyde, the oil contains ß-cymene, pinene, dipentene, cumene, cuminic alcohol, ß-phellandrene and a-terpeneol. Besides volatile oil the seeds contain 10% fixed oil (Anon, 1951) and USDA Nutrient database). Apigenin-7-O-glucoside and luteolin-7-O-glcoside have been isolated from the fruits (Rastogi & Mehrotra, 1993).


Cultivated in small scale in North Bengal.

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