Nigella sativa or false cumin

Its common name is Nigella sativa although it is commonly known as false cumin, all spice, foreign light, black cumin, etc. The most characteristic of this herbaceous plant are its seeds, which we will comment on below. Its properties have been known for a long time so it is interesting to know it. Let’s grow it!



Nigella sativa belongs to the Ranunculaceae family, with more than 2,500 species. It is annual and we can see it in full swing throughout the year. Its origin is Asian (like many other plants) although today it is naturalized in some areas of the Mediterranean, where it usually grows without problems.

A curiosity, if we approach the plant and smell it, it gives off a characteristic smell that reminds us of nutmeg. In Spain it is not common to see it unless you are interested in having it, but it does have a lot of weight in some Eastern countries.

There is not much information online about this plant in relation to its cultivation, but there is about its properties. This is because in the past it was a well-considered plant, but today little is known about its cultivation except in the areas that we have discussed, with more traditional societies where today they continue to use very old techniques.


Its cultivation does not entail special conditions and it is considered a fairly rustic plant. It prefers soft and spongy soils, whether they are clayey or sandy. It usually requires an extra application of water and fertilizer in the flowering season, in spring and early summer. The pH tends to the basic but given its rusticity, it supports limestone soils.

In general we have to follow the same steps as similar aromatics such as cumin. Its multiplication can be done through seeds, from which all the essential oils full of properties are extracted.

Although it is an aromatic herbaceous plant , the ornamental potential of its flowers should not be discredited. It does not have leaves as we know them but it produces fantastic white flowers. When we brush the plant or shake it, a characteristic smell of nutmeg is given off, discussed above.


The properties of seeds have been known since ancient times. We can go back to Roman times and they already had some “recipes” in which they used these characteristic black seeds. In particular, they used it as a substitute for pepper, since it does not have all the capsaicin potential of pepper (remember the Scoville scale , which analyzes the spiciness), so it is a great substitute for delicate stomachs that do not tolerate pepper in excess.

On the other hand, its consumption should be moderate since in high concentrations it is toxic. It can cause us vomiting and nausea . Its moderate consumption facilitates digestion and is used in making breads and doughs in Germany.

In a traditional way, they have been given many properties that, although they have not been studied scientifically and conscientiously, are passed from grandparents to grandchildren. They give this plant anti-inflammatory , antioxidant, antimicrobial, aphrodisiac, diabetes, anti-cholesterol, pain reduction, etc.

Well, we simply mention them but we do not want to prove them without the presence of studies.

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