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Cumin Characteristics

(Cuminum Cyminum)

Growing Cycle of Cumin
Growing Cycle of Cumin

Name Origin:

Cumin has several different possible name origins, many coming from Arabic words due to the spice’s history in Persia. The oldest reference relates to the Sumarian word gamun. We have more on the history of cumin.

Natural Order:


Growing Cycle:

Annual herb


Believed to have originated in the Nile valley. Cumin is mentioned in the Bible (See Isaiah xviii, 25-27 and Matthew xxiii, 23.) and was cultivated in the Mediterranean region, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, India, China and Palestine.


6 – 12 inches


Thin spiky leaves resembling pine needles.

Cumin Flowers:

Small lilac flowers form in umbels of 10 to 20 blossoms.

How to Grow Cumin

(Seeds, sowing, cultivation, and harvesting)

Growing Cumin From Seeds

Cumin seeds resemble caraway seeds but are straighter, lighter and larger. Their form is similar to the double seeds of coriander seeds. Fresh cumin seeds have long hairs that fold up when the seed is dried.

For best results use cumin seeds that are less than 2 years old.

When growing cumin from seeds, waiting until the ground is warm and sow cumin seed in drills about 15 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep in their desired location.

Cumin Cultivation

Seeds should be planted where the plants will reside and other than keeping down weeds growing cumin requires no further attention.

Harvesting Cumin Seeds

The plants mature in about only two months. Stems should be cut and dried in the shade.

Culinary Uses of Cumin


Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are typically ground to a powder and used as a condiment (like pepper), an ingredient in curry powder, or for flavoring pickles pastry and soups.

Cumin is often used in Middle Eastern and Moroccan cooking with lamb, chicken, yogurt, and eggplant.

In Holland and Switzerland, cumin seeds were once used for flavoring cheese but have been replaced with the less bitter tasting Caraway.

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