Ammi copticum L.
Ammi glaucifolium Blanco
Ammios muricata Moench
Apium ammi (L.) Urb.
Athamanta ajowan Wall.
Bunium copticum (L.) Spreng.
Carum ajowan Benth. & Hook.f.
Carum aromaticum Druce
Carum copticum (L.) Benth. & Hook.f. Ex C.B.Clarke
Cyclospermum ammi (L.) Lag.
Daucus anisodorus Blanco
Daucus copticus (L.) Lam.
Daucus copticus (L.) Pers.
Helosciadium ammi (L.) Britton
Helosciadium ammi (L.) Oken
Ligusticum ajawain Roxb. ex Fleming
Ligusticum ajawain Spreng.
Ptychotis ajowan DC.
Ptychotis coptica (L.) DC.
Selinum copticum E.H.L.Krause
Seseli foeniculifolium Poir.
Sison ammi L.
Trachyspermum copticum (L.) Link.
Common Name: Ajowan
Ajowan is an erect, aromatic, branched annual herb growing 60 - 160cm tall[
The plant is often cultivated, especially in southern Asia, for its seed which is used as a spice[
]. It also has a wide range of medicinal applications.
Europe to eastern Asia in the Himalayas.
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Ajowan can be grown in the tropics and subtropics, where it is cultivated at elevations from near sea level up to 2,200 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 16 - 24°c, but can tolerate 10 - 30°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 800 - 1,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 1,100mm[
Requires a moist soil in a sunny position[
]. Prefers loamy soils that are not too heavy, though it can be grown on all types of soils[
]. Wet-rice-growing soils are considered unsuitable, however, as they promote vegetative development at the cost of flowering[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8[
Flowering commences 2 - 4 months after sowing, and the seeds are ripe 2 months later[
]. About70 - 80% of the crop is cross-pollinated, and pollination is primarily done by bees[
As the plants are widely branched, flowering occurs unevenly, thus seeds mature unevenly, which makes them difficult to harvest[
The seeds are often harvested before they are fully ripe, to prevent loss due to shattering[
]. The essential oil quality of these fruits is considered the same as that of the ripe fruits[
In India, yields of traditionally grown Ajowan are higher under dry rain-fed conditions than under irrigation, and amount to about 225 kg/ha of fruits. Improved cultivars may give yields of 1.2 - 2.2 tonnes/ha and in 1997 an improved cultivar yielded 82 kg/ha essential oil[
There are some named varieties[
The pungently aromatic fruits are about 2cm long[
]. The pungent flavour is said to be a combination of aniseed and oregano with a hint of black pepper[
]. They are widely used, especially in India, the Mediterranean and Ethiopia, as a flavouring in savoury dishes, including curries, pulses, breads and pastry snacks[
]. The fruit is usually dried, then roasted and ground into a powder before being used as a spice[
An essential oil can be extracted from the whole plant and from the seed[
]. Sweeter than oil of thyme, it is used as a flavouring[
Ajowan seed, and the essential oil it contains, has a long history of medicinal use throughout its range, and the plant often cultivated in other areas[
]. In India, the essential oil is known as 'ajowan oil', and enters into the Indian Pharmacopoeia[
Considerable research has been carried out into the medicinal properties of the plant, and in particular the essential oil thymol that it contains.
Thymol, the main constituent of the essential oil, is strongly antiseptic, whilst the entire essential oil from the seed shows strong antibacterial activity against many gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It also showed long-term antifungal activity against a range of storage and soil-borne fungi[
]. Thymol has also shown significant dose-dependent molluscicidal, nematicidal and larvicidal effects[
The essential oil has been shown to have vasodilatory and hypotensive activity, producing a dose-dependent reduction in blood pressure and heart rate[
]. In addition, it has shown effective anti-oxidant activity[
The seed, and especially the essential oil in the seed, is strongly antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, bitter, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant and tonic[
]. It is used internally in the treatment of colds, coughs, influenza, asthma, diarrhoea, cholera, colic, indigestion, wind, oedema, arthritis and rheumatism[
The essential oil is considered strongly antiseptic and is used to remove internal parasites[
The seed is harvested when fully ripe and either distilled for the essential oil or dried for later use[
The seed contains about 4 - 6% essential oil, of which 45 - 55% is the strongly antiseptic essential oil 'thymol'[
]. The essential oil is also added to cough medicines[
The root is carminative and diuretic[
The seeds contain 3 - 10% essential oil[
]. Between 30 and 35% of the essential oil is thymol[
], which is more commonly found in Thymus species[
]. The essential oil is added to epoxy derivatives[
]. It is used medicinally and in perfumes[
The essential oil is a strong inhibitor for sprouting of potatoes stored at room temperature[
A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed[
].It is used for technical purposes[
Seed - germination usually takes 10 - 15 days, though it may take as long as 1 month[
]. Cool and cloudy weather and gentle rain after sowing are important for the establishment of the crop[
]. The seed is often broadcast, as a sole crop at a rate of 2.3 - 3.5 kg per hectare, or intercropped with grain crops or other Apiaceae[
].The light fruits need to be covered by a thin layer of soil for good germination, and to prevent flushing[
]. For sowing, the fruits are sometimes mixed with rice husks to ensure even distribution[
Good seed is difficult to obtain, as many fruits for sale on the market are empty[