Coriandrum sativum: One plant, two uses
Many people do not realize that coriander and cilantro are actually the same herb. Coriander often refers to the seed, and cilantro refers to the leafy greens of Coriandrum sativum, an annual herb native to Southern Europe, North Africa and south-western Asia. Different varieties are grown commercially depending on the desired product. The larger-seeded varieties (used for coriander seeds) can be grown in cooler climates, require a shorter time to mature, and are mainly cultivated in the Prairies. The small-seeded varieties (used for cilantro) require a more temperate climate and are suitable for growing in Ontario.
This plant is used primarily for culinary purposes. The cilantro herb is used world-wide to flavour foods especially in Middle Eastern, Chinese and Latin American cuisine. Coriander seeds are used to spice liqueurs, candies, sausages, and pickles. Essential oils can be extracted from coriander seeds for medicinal and industrial uses. Coriander oils can also be used to scent soaps, perfumes and other cosmetics.
Grading standards for both coriander and cilantro are usually set by the buyers, who grade the product according to a variety of characteristics such as appearance, aroma and size. Pest management practices depend on the end use of the plant. For example, pests of the flowers and seed head are only an issue for coriander.
Figure 1. Cilantro
Figure 2. Coriander
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