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Coriandrum sativum, colloquially known as coriander, originated in Italy but is today cultivated widely in The Netherlands, Central and Eastern Europe (Russia, Hungary, and Holland), the Mediterranean (Morocco, Malta, and Egypt), North Africa, China, India, and Bangladesh. All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and dried seeds are commonly used in cooking in India and Pakistan. In addition to its culinary use, the coriander seed possesses medicinal properties and has been used since time immemorial to treat disorders of the digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems, as it has diaphoretic, diuretic, carminative, and stimulant effects.
It is a soft, hairless plant growing to 50 cm (20 in) tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in small umbels, white or very pale pink, asymmetrical, with the petals pointing away from the centre of the umbel longer (5–6 mm) than those pointing towards it (only 1–3 mm long). The fruit is a globular, dry schizocarp 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in) in diameter.
The young plant is used for flavouring and garnishing curries and soups. The fruits (seeds) are widely used as condiments with or without roasting in the preparation of curry powders, sausages and seasonings. It is an important ingredient in the manufacture of food flavourings, in bakery products, meat products, soda & syrups, puddings, candy preserves and liquors. In medicines it is used as a carminative, refrigerant, diuretic, and aphrodisiac. In household medicines, it is used against seasonal fever, stomach disorders, and nausea. Coriander oil and oleoresins are primarily used in seasonings for sausages and other meat products.
The coriander leaves have high contents of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, manganese, thiamine, zinc, and dietary fiber. The fresh juice of the C. sativum leaves is helpful in curing deficiencies related to vitamins and iron. The seeds are very rich source of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and zinc.