Real caraway

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Real caraway
Real caraway (Carum carvi)

Real caraway ( Carum carvi )

Order : Umbelliferae (Apiales)
Family : Umbelliferae (Apiaceae)
Subfamily : Apioideae
Tribe : Careae
Genre : Caraway ( Carum )
Type : Real caraway
Scientific name
Carum carvi

Real caraway ( Carum carvi ), mostly simply caraway , regionally also called meadow caraway or common caraway , is a plant species in the umbelliferae family (Apiaceae). Caraway is also one of the oldest spices .


Illustration from Otto Wilhelm Thomé: Flora of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Gera 1885
Stem and leaf base with sheath

Vegetative characteristics

Caraway is a deciduous, usually biennial herbaceous plant and usually reaches heights of 30 to 80 centimeters, and under favorable conditions up to 120 centimeters. The plant has a grooved, bare stem and develops a beet-like root (taproot). The bare stem is multiple and sparsely branched.

The cross-opposite or opposite and stalked leaves are two- to three- pinnate and elongated in outline. The partial leaves of the last order are pinnate with finely pointed teeth and tips. Your leaf sections are linear with a width of at most one millimeter. The lowest pairs of plumage of the second order are clearly separated and placed crosswise. Most of the stem leaves have a sheath with stipple-like plumage pairs.

Double-gold inflorescence (top view)

Generative characteristics

The flowering period extends from May to July. The stalked and axillary and terminal double umbels have 6 to 12 ribbed rays. Individual, linear bracts may be present under the umbels, but the covers are usually missing. Hull leaves can also be formed in the dome. The mostly hermaphrodite, five-fold and protandric , stalked flower with a (simple) flower envelope is white to pink or reddish in color. The calyx is mostly absent or is reduced to minimal teeth and the obovate petals are usually inflected at the middle tip, tips. There are five free stamens. The two-chamber ovary is underneath with two short and curved styluses that sit on a fleshy, pillow-shaped stylopodium ( discus ).

The seeds ripen in June to August. The bare rippige schizocarp (a Scheinfrucht ), double achene called, is at a length of 3 to 7 mm and a width ellipsoid of 0.7 to 1.2 mm and is divided into two single-seeded fruit (Merikarpien) at one Karpophor depend . The slightly sickle-shaped curved and at both ends slightly pointed, clearly ribbed individual fruits are dark brown and light brown, yellowish in color. Remnants of stylus still cling to the fruits. The individual fruits, popularly known as "caraway seeds", have a characteristic scent when they are ground.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 20 or 22.


The real caraway is a biennial semi-rosette plant with a root beet.

From an ecological point of view, these are intensely fragrant, nectar-bearing disc flowers. Pollinators are flies and beetles.

The fruits are spread by ungulates; in addition, it spreads randomly through humans. The seeds are light germs . The seed ripening begins in June to August.


The meadow caraway is native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean countries . The distribution extends over Europe and the temperate zones of Asia to Tunisia, India, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan.

The meadow caraway grows wild on roadsides and meadows . It occurs in colline , subalpine to alpine altitudes . He is a characteristic of the plant-sociological order Arrhenatheretalia. In the Allgäu Alps , the Wiesen-Kümmel in the Tyrolean part of the Luxnacher Sattel near Häselgehr rises to an altitude of 2070 meters.



Caraway seeds were found in excavations of pile dwellings dating back to 3000 BC. Backdate. Its use in the kitchen can already be proven in the cookbook De re coquinaria , which is attributed to Apicius and which was probably written in the 3rd century AD. The cultivation of caraway is mentioned by Pliny the Elder and Pedanios Dioscurides . Dioscurides calls the "seed" of a plant called "Karos" (Greek káron and káreon mean "caraway") digestive (like anise ), with Pliny "Careum". Gerhard Madaus only considers the “careum” in Charlemagne's Capitular to be identical with the Nordic meadow cumin. In medieval medicine , caraway was used in the medicinal form of caraway latwerge diaciminum . According to von Haller, caraway helps digestion, abdominal pain and urinary stones, Hecker used it for hypochondria, hysteria, insufficient milk secretion and breast diseases, Leclerc for air swallowing, Dinand for amenorrhea . Bohn calls him an expectorant when there is a lack of milk secretion, stomach and uterine cramps, Zörnig . According to Madaus, caraway is a popular stomachic and carminative for flatulence, stomach cramps, stomach weakness, dyspepsia and enteritis, especially for children, less often for milk and labor weakness, amenorrhea and as a diuretic . Folk medicine knows it as a carminative and galactogogum. Externally, caraway is used as a warm pad for ear, head and toothache, caraway oil for diseases of the respiratory organs, rickets and skin parasites. Usually only the ripe fruits are considered effective, harvest time at the beginning of July when they start to brown.

Cultivation and harvest

The real caraway is cultivated as a spice plant. In 2002 the acreage for caraway in Germany was around 450 hectares , the main cultivation areas are Egypt , the Netherlands and all of Eastern Europe .

For the cultivation of caraway seeds, loamy soils are preferable to sandy ones because they are more productive locations. The cultivation is done by direct sowing in pure culture or as undersowing in a cover crop ( pea , green corn , spring barley ). The cover crop is important for an additional harvest in the first year. The culture is biennial. Annual varieties are already available. Sowing is carried out in March. The row spacing is 30 centimeters, with a placement depth of 1 to 1.5 centimeters. The thousand grain weight is three to four grams. 5 to 8 kg of seeds are required for one hectare. Caraway seeds that are too densely sown shoot less. Germination takes one to three weeks, with the optimum temperature for germination between 5 and 20 ° C. The germination lasts two to three years. The essential oil carvone is responsible for slow germination or even sprout inhibition . The profitability of the cultivation is not particularly high due to the two-year cultivation and the fluctuating prices for the seeds produced. Varieties with a high content of essential oils tend to be less profitable. The seed yield averages 1.3 tons per hectare and fluctuates between 0.8 and 1.5 tons per hectare. The pure sowing brings higher yields than the undersowing sown under the cover crop.

Diseases and pests

The most common bacterial disease in caraway seeds is cone blight. It is caused by the bacteria Erwinia , Pseudomonas and Xanthomonas and can appear as soon as flowering begins. Among the fungal diseases, anthracnose ( Mycocentrospora acerina ) is particularly well-known, which usually causes the first damage when shooting begins. Less common are Alternaria -Brand ( Alternaria spp.), 1999 was the first time umbel tan pathogen ( Phomopsis diachenii shown) in Germany, Real , and downy mildew , Sclerotinia ( Sclerotinia sclerotiorum ), Septoria ( Septoria carvi ) and Wurzeltrockenfäule ( Fusarium spp.). There are three known pests of caraway. The caraway gall mites ( Aceria carvi ) cause the rosette leaves to be deformed into a parsley-like shape and can cause damage in the sowing year from mid-September and in the harvest year from the beginning of vegetation. The caterpillars of the caraway moth or caraway cockroach ( Depressaria nervosa ), which appear at the beginning of the plum blossom between April 20 and June 10, feed on the umbels. Otherwise various blind bugs , especially Lygus campestris and Lygus calmi , can be found on caraway.



The leaves of the caraway have a mild taste that is compared to parsley and dill . They are often used for soups and salads . The roots can be cooked as a vegetable.

Caraway seeds (botanically correct, they are whole caraway fruits) are a classic spice in hard-to-digest dishes, such as B. Serve cabbage . They are particularly popular in Jewish , Scandinavian and Eastern European cuisine, where they are also used as a condiment for cakes and rye bread , goulash , cheese and braised apples .

The "caraway seeds" give various spirits a characteristic taste, for example the Scandinavian Aquavit , the North German Köm or the Kaiser-Kümmel .

Use as a medicinal plant in modern phytotherapy

Ingredients (selection)
(S) - (+) - Carvone Structural Formula V.svg

( S ) - (+) - carvone


p -Cymol

The Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products of the European Medicines Agency has approved cumin as a medicinal plant. Dried, ripe fruits of cultivated varieties and caraway seed oil are used as drugs in the pharmaceutical sense. The main active ingredients are essential oils with carvone as the main component and odor carrier, which sometimes contains well over 50%, as well as limonene (over 30%), phellandrene and other monoterpenes; Phenol carboxylic acids, flavonoids and traces of furocoumarins.

Caraway stimulates the activity of the digestive glands and has considerable anti-flatulence and antispasmodic properties. It is used for indigestion with flatulence and bloating, for mild cramps in the stomach, intestines and gall bladder, as well as for nervous heart and stomach complaints.

The caraway seeds are used as tea or the essential oil and its preparations, often combined with fennel or aniseed and coriander or with their essential oils.

Of these drugs, caraway has the most potent anticonvulsant properties. Caraway seed oil has been shown to have anti- microbial properties, so it can also be used in mouthwashes and toothpastes. Chewing some caraway seeds is said to prevent bad breath odor .

The caraway was selected as Medicinal Plant of the Year 2016 by scientists at the University of Würzburg .


The caraway seeds are rich in essential oils

The caraway plant is rich in essential oils ; the seeds in particular contain more than three percent essential oil; in newer varieties, the proportion can rise to seven percent. They can be driven off by steam distillation and isolated by subsequent extraction. In the essential oil is D - (+) - carvone in addition to D - (+) - limonene . The main component represents addition, myrcene , α- phellandrene , p-cymene , β- caryophyllene , cis - and trans - carveol , cis - and trans - Contains dihydrocarvone , trans - dihydrocarveol , α- and β- pinene , fatty acids and tannins . The vitamin C content of the fresh plant is 224.6 mg per 100 g fresh weight.


The plant is considered to be little or hardly toxic, but irritating to the skin.

The main active ingredients are the essential oil with carvone as the main component in addition to limonene.

The main effect of the essential oil is to irritate the skin. In the literature, allergic reactions to caraway oil have been described several times. In this context, it is worth noting that caraway seeds also contain natural pesticides.

Symptoms of poisoning also occur with chronic abuse of caraway-containing brandies; in addition to the influence of alcohol, damage in particular to the liver caused by caraway oil as a toxin can also be considered.

Other spices known as "caraway"

Not comparable to real caraway in terms of taste:

See also



  • Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany and neighboring countries. The most common Central European species in portrait . 7th, corrected and enlarged edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-494-01424-1 .
  • Ingrid Schönfelder, Peter Schönfelder : The new manual of medicinal plants. Special edition. Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-440-12932-6 .
  • Lutz Roth, Max Daunderer, Karl Kormann: Poisonous plants plant poisons. 6th revised edition. Nikol, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-86820-009-6 .
  • Gerhard Madaus: textbook of biological remedies. Volume I. Olms, Hildesheim / New York 1979, ISBN 3-487-05891-X , pp. 848-852 (reprint of the Leipzig 1938 edition).

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Carum carvi L., Wiesen-Kümmel. In:
  2. a b c d e f Konrad Lauber, Gerhart Wagner: Flora Helvetica. 4th completely revised edition. Paul Haupt, Bern / Stuttgart / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-258-07205-0 , pp. 762–763.
  3. a b c d e Werner Rauh, Karlheinz Senghas: Flora of Germany and its adjacent areas. Founded by Otto Schmeil, Jost Fitschen. 88th edition. Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg / Wiesbaden 1988, ISBN 3-494-01166-4 , p. 248.
  4. a b c d e f g h i C. Röhricht, S. Mänicke: Cultivation technology , yield and quality with caraway (Carum carvi L.). In: vegetables. Volume 38, No. 7, 2002, ISSN  0016-6286 , pp. 23-24.
  5. a b M. Kretschmer: Das Saatgutportrait: Kümmel (Carum carvi). In: vegetables. Volume 35, No. 3, 1999, ISSN  0016-6286 , p. 209.
  6. ^ Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas . 8th edition. Stuttgart, Verlag Eugen Ulmer, 2001. ISBN 3-8001-3131-5
  7. ^ Carum in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  8. Erhard Dörr, Wolfgang Lippert : Flora of the Allgäu and its surroundings. Volume 2, IHW, Eching 2004, ISBN 3-930167-61-1 , p. 272.
  9. H. Küster: Small cultural history of the spices. CH Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-42025-7 .
  10. E. Reich: The food and luxury food, historically, scientifically and hygienically justified. Volume 1, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht's Verlag, 1860, p. 203.
  11. Konrad Goehl : Observations and additions to the 'Circa instans'. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 34, 2015 (2016), pp. 69-77, here: p. 71.
  12. ^ Gerhard Madaus: Textbook of biological remedies. Volume I. Olms, Hildesheim / New York 1979, ISBN 3-487-05891-X , pp. 848-852 (reprint of the Leipzig 1938 edition).
  13. a b c d e B. G .: Cultivation of one and two year old caraway - Bernburg seminar. In: vegetables. Volume 44, No. 10, 2008, ISSN  0016-6286 , p. 38.
  14. J. Gabler: Phomopsis diachenii Sacc. Developed in caraway - serological evidence. In: vegetables. Volume 36, No. 8, 2000, ISSN  0016-6286 , pp. 19-20.
  15. ^ G. Bedlan: Septoria carvi to caraway. In: vegetables. Volume 41, No. 11, 2005, ISSN  0016-6286 , p. 25.
  16. A. Plescher, W. Czabajska, M. Herold, A. Studzinski: Caraway and Fusarium species. In: vegetables. Volume 30, No. 5, 1994, ISSN  0016-6286 , p. 324.
  17. ^ NN: Integrated cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants 2008. In: Notes on compliance with the UL funding program, part of the environmentally friendly horticulture program. Appendix 26, Register 11, 2008, pp. 1–13.
  18. Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products: European Union herbal monograph on Carum carvi L., fructus.
  19. ^ Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products: European Union herbal monograph on Carum carvi L., aetheroleum.
  20. a b c d Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products: Assessment report on Carum carvi L., fructus and Carum carvi L., aetheroleum.
  21. Heinz Schilcher : Guide to Phytotherapy. Elsevier, Munich 2003. ISBN 978-3-437-55348-6 . P. 157ff.
  22. Caraway is a medicinal plant in 2016. Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung , October 9, 2015.
  23. ↑ Steam distillation of caraway oil (PDF file; 261 kB)

Web links

Commons : Echter Kümmel ( Carum carvi )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Kümmel  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations