Grains of paradise

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Grains of paradise
Grains of Paradise with Arillus

Grains of Paradise with Arillus

Order : Gingery (Zingiberales)
Family : Ginger family (Zingiberaceae)
Subfamily : Alpinioideae
Genre : Aframomum
Type : Grains of paradise
Scientific name
Aframomum melegueta
( Roscoe ) K. Schum.
Harvested berries

Aframomum melegueta (formerly known as Amomum granum paradisi ) is a species of plant that belongs tothe ginger family (Zingiberaceae) within the monocot plants . It is native to West Africa and is cultivated in many areas of Africa. Grains of Paradise , also known as Guinea pepper or Melegueta pepper , are the dried seeds that are used as a spice.


Aframomum melegueta grows as a perennial herbaceous plant with a habitus typical of ginger plants and reaches heights of 1.5 meters. A rhizome is formed as a permanent organ.

The alternate, narrow and eilanzettlichen or lanceolate, simple and bare leaves are up to 20-30 centimeters long and 3-6 centimeters wide. They are sessile with a leaf sheath and an ligule . The overlapping leaf sheaths form a "pseudostem". The leaves are entire and tapered at the tip. The veins are finely pinnate, with a lighter central vein.

At the base of the plant, from the rhizome, the flowers appear individually or up to five in short-stalked inflorescences. The inflorescence stalks have cover scales.

The flowers are pointed 7 and egg-shaped, arranged dachziegelig cover sheets lined. The funnel-shaped and relatively large flowers are hermaphrodite and zygomorphic .

The green and red speckled calyx has grown into a tubular, pointed quill pen . The three outer, white petals are fused "almost tubular" at the bottom, with a yellowish throat and at the top in the middle with a larger, boat-shaped and obovate lobe and with a shorter, narrow and elongated lobe on each side.

The large, funnel-shaped, inner and nailed as well as rolled up, white to light purple or purple-colored petal (labellum) is frilly on the front of the expansive plate and notched on the edge. The nail is inside and the plate is basal yellow inside.

There is only a petaloid stamen that is fused with tubes in the lower half , with two small, elongated appendages (staminodes), horns, in the middle. The upper part is three-lobed, the wider middle lobe is fringed and two-pointed and the two outer, protruding lobes are each pointed. The elongated anthers are attached to the front above the tube, at the top of the flat part of the filament.

The three-chamber ovary is subordinate, the long stylus with a ciliate, funnel-shaped scar sits with the lower part in the stamen and is slightly shorter than the stamen. The stylus has two long, elongated appendages at the base (possibly nectaries).

Up to 8-12 centimeters long, egg-shaped and partly beaked , red to yellow, leathery as well as three-chambered and bald berries are formed. The false fruits with the remains of the calyx at the top are finely grooved lengthways. The many (45-65) round, fawn and warty seeds are about 3 millimeters in size. You have a frayed aril . The seeds lie in a white-haired, fibrous fruit chamber.


The first description of this species was in 1828 by William Roscoe under the Basionym Amomum melegueta . Karl Moritz Schumann presented it in 1904 under the name Aframomum melegueta (Roscoe) K.Schum. into the genus Aframomum . Another synonym from others for Aframomum melegueta (Roscoe) K.Schum. is Aframomum meleguetella K.Schum.


Aframomum melegueta is native to the area from tropical West Africa to Uganda and Angola . It is grown locally (especially in Ghana ), but no longer plays a role in global trade.


In the Middle Ages , grains of paradise (also wrongly called grains of paris ) were brought overland to North Africa and from there to Europe , where they were very popular as African pepper or pepper substitute because of their lower price.

During the Portuguese colonial expansion in the 15th century , Joao Alfonso de Averiro reached Benin and from there in 1486 brought the "Guinea pepper" to Lisbon . Initially, the spice was increasingly traded by sea , but lost in importance in the long term after the Portuguese expeditions reached India and thus opened up a new way of importing real pepper .


Grains of Paradise have a piquant, spicy, but not burning taste and a pleasantly spicy aroma . Therefore, they can be used as a spice or medicinally. They are particularly suitable for stews with long cooking times, and they are almost always used ground.

Grains of paradise are rarely used in European kitchens today, apart from a few ancient recipes for gingerbread , sausages , beers and bitters . However, grains of paradise are used in Bombay Sapphire brand gin . Today, dishes seasoned with grains of paradise are mainly found in the Maghreb states , especially Morocco . In the West African countries of origin, they are used in folk medicine as well as for cooking .

The fruits are edible and an aromatic oil can also be obtained from the seeds. The whole plant and rhizomes are also used medicinally.

Common names

Trivial names in different languages ​​are:

  • Latin: Grana paradisi
  • Arabic: جوزة السودان, جوزة الشرق, Jouz as-Sudan, Jouz ash-sharq, Jouz al-Sudan, Gawz al-Sudan, Gawz al-shark, Jawz as-Sirk, Tin al-Fil, Khayrbûâ, Qâqullah dhakar
  • English: Grains of paradise, Guinea grains, Melegueta pepper, Meleguetta pepper, Maleguetta-pepper, Alligator pepper
  • Estonian: Melegeti aframon
  • French: Graines de paradis, Malaguette, Poivre de Guinée, Maniguette, Maniquette
  • Icelandic: paradísarkorn, gíneupipar
  • Italian: Grani de Meleguetta, Maniguetta
  • Russian: Rajskiye zyorna, Malagvet
  • Spanish: Malagueta, Pimienta de malagueta
  • Turkish: Afrika kakulesi

See also


  • JM Lock, JB Hall, DK Abbiw: The Cultivation of Melegueta Pepper (Aframomum melegueta) in Ghana. In: Economic Botany. Volume 31, No. 3, 1977, pp. 321-330, doi: 10.1007 / BF02866884 (with PDF file).
  • HM Burkill: The useful plants of west tropical Africa. Volume 5: Families S – Z. 1985. (2nd edition. 2000, ISBN 1-900347-40-7 ) (online at JSTOR) .
  • Georg Dragendorff : The medicinal plants of the different peoples and times. Its application, essential components and history. A manual for doctors, pharmacists, botanists and druggists. Ferdinand Enke, Stuttgart 1898; New print Werner Fritsch, Munich 1967 (Reprographischer Reprint Munich 1968), p. 145.
  • Georg August Pritzel , Carl Jessen : The German folk names of plants. New contribution to the German linguistic treasure. Philipp Cohen, Hannover 1882, p. 24.

Web links

Commons : Grains of Paradise ( Aframomum melegueta )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ William Roscoe: Monandrian plants of the order Scitamineae. Smith, Liverpool 1828, t. 98, first description and historical illustration on
  2. ^ Karl Moritz Schumann: IV. 46. Zingiberaceae. In: Adolf Engler (ed.): The plant kingdom. Issue 20, Engelmann, Leipzig 1904, p. 204, online at
  3. Aframomum melegueta at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
  4. Aframomum melegueta in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
  5. ^ Aframomum meleguetella at KEW Science.
  6. Rafaël Govaerts (ed.): Aframomum melegueta. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) - The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  7. Jürgen Martin: The 'Ulmer Wundarznei'. Introduction - Text - Glossary on a monument to German specialist prose from the 15th century. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1991 (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Volume 52), ISBN 3-88479-801-4 (also medical dissertation Würzburg 1990), p. 158.
  8. Ulrich Menzel : The order of the world. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-518-42372-1 , p. 304.
  9. Grains of Paradise at Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages.
  10. Aframomum melegueta at Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database, University of Melbourne.
  11. ^ Wolfgang Schneider : Lexicon for the history of medicines. 7 volumes, Frankfurt am Main 1968–1975, Volume V / 1: Herbal Drugs A – C. P. 51, online at Digital Library - the publication server of the TU Braunschweig.