Coriander was named after the bedbug emitting the same odor, and it is commonly named cilantro. It originated in southern Europe and reached other areas centuries ago, including the hanging gardens of Babylon. Ancient Sanskrit texts, Egyptian papyrus records, and the Bible all mention coriander. The Chinese believed it imparted immortality, and it was used in love potions in the Middle Ages.
This bright green plant has thin, erect, finely grooved stems and compound, pinnate leaves. The lower leaves are rounded and lobed, while the upper ones are finely dissected. The tiny white to reddish flowers have compound umbels with three to ten rays. The outer flowers are larger than the inner ones. The fruit consists of brownish, globose seeds 1/4 inch long in clusters. The seeds have a musty odor.
Aromatic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.
Ripe seeds have a pleasant citrus scent and can be used in potpourris. The leaves, seeds, and roots are used in cooking salsas and curries or as a garnish. Coriander combines well with onion, sausage, clams, oysters, and potatoes. Whole ground seeds are used in salad dressing, cheese, eggs, chili sauces, and guacamole. The plant can be grown in containers as an ornamental. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.
These plants added a strong fragrance to our garden. Their delicate white blooms, although small, were quite numerous and produced a lovely effect against a varied background of borage and bee balm.