Tips for Growing Cilantro
Commonly known as cilantro, Chinese parsley and coriander.
Cilantro is found in many dishes the world over, with particularly presence in dishes from Mexico. Cilantro leaves and seeds are also used to spice foods, and have been used by traditional societies for medicinal purposes. This savory herb is easy to grow, and possesses excellent health benefits. Cilantro grows wild in much of the Near East, as well as southern Europe, and may have first been actively cultivated in Greece around the second millennium BC. In 1670, the British brought cilantro to North and South America, making it one of the first Old World plants to appear in the New Continent.
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND USES:
Medicinally, cilantro is most commonly used as a carminative and as a digestive aid for easing the process of assimilating foods. Iranian traditional medicine also used the plant for treating anxiety and insomnia. Research done on laboratory mice shows that cilantro is an active anxiolytic, diuretic, digestive potentate, antimicrobial agent, analgesic, antioxidant, anti-rheumatic, fungicidal, larvicidal, and cardiac/circulatory stimulant.
Cilantro Cultivation and Growing Methods
This is an annual plant meaning it blooms and must be replanted yearly.
The fresh or dried leaves and stems, as well as the dried seeds.
Well drained, moist, loamy soil.
Does best in morning sun and afternoon shade.
Does best in Mediterranean climates, South America and the temperate U.S.
Cilantro can be planted in both the spring and the fall, as the summer causes the plants to grow too quickly, thus bolting to flower and seed to quickly.
Cilantro is a great self-pollinator. When your plant begins to flower, cut off the top flower heads to allow more leaf growth. But, if you want to allow the plant to pollinate, let the seed tops grow. In this way, the seed heads will naturally re-sow themselves within a few weeks, on their own.
Cilantro seeds and flowers very quickly, so it is recommended to plant it continually throughout the growing season, to maintain a crop. (Approximately every three weeks)
Normally cilantro seeds will yield a harvest within eight weeks, and can be cut any time during their growth. To harvest, wait until the plant reaches at least six inches tall and cut the biggest outer leaves, leaving the smaller to grow. Once the plant goes to seed, you can collect the fresh seeds for cooking, or dry them in the sun for a few days for storage. You can also use the dried seeds to replant for the next crop.
DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
Cilantro can be used fresh or dried. One of the best ways to dry cilantro is in the oven. Bake the leaves on a cookie sheet (possibly lightly coated with oil to avoid sticking) on 250-300 degrees F, for 20 -30 minutes. When dried, slightly crumble the leaves and store in an airtight jar for use as a dried spice.
One seed can yield a plant that will reap 4-6 harvests.
PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
Can be dried and stored in an airtight container for months.
ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
The essential oils of cilantro are extremely useful as anitmicrobials. In fact, the oils have been used to slow and prevent the growth of both E. coli and Salmonella. The essential oils of cilantro helps to flush out accumulated fluids and toxins. It is helpful in treating arthritis, diarrhea, colds, flatulence, general infections, migraine headaches, as well as general aches and pains.
The main chemical constituents in cilantro are Alpha-pinene, lauric acid and p-cymene.
IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
The plant is generally quite safe, but the essential oil can be toxic in very large doses.
Clinical Research About Cilantro
- Emamghoreishi M, Khasaki M, Aazam MF (2005). "Coriandrum sativum: evaluation of its anxiolytic effect in the elevated plus-maze". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (3): 365–370.[PMID: 15619553]
- Sreelatha S, Padma PR, Umadevi M. "Protective effects of Coriandrum sativum extracts on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity in rats." Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Apr;47(4):702-8. Epub 2008 Dec 29. [PMID: 19146910]
- Maryam Eidi, Akram Eidi, Ali Saeidi, Saadat Molanaei, Alireza Sadeghipour, Massih Bahar, Kamal Bahar "Effect of coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum L.) ethanol extract on insulin" Phytotherapy Research. Volume 23 Issue 3, Pages 404 - 406 [DOI 10.1002/ptr.2642]
- Misharina TA, Samusenko AL. "Antioxidant properties of essential oils from lemon, grapefruit, coriander, clove, and their mixtures" Prikl Biokhim Mikrobiol. 2008 Jul-Aug;44(4):482-6. [PMID: 18924419]
- Tamilarasi S, Nanthakumar K, Karthikeyan K, Lakshmanaperumalsamy P. "Diversity of root associated microorganisms of selected medicinal plants and influence of rhizomicroorganisms on the antimicrobial property of Coriandrum sativum." J Environ Biol. 2008 Jan;29(1):127-34. [PMID: 18831345]
- Lust, John, N.D. "The Herb Book", Bantam Books. 1979.
- "Coriander", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 1989. Oxford University Press.
- Fragiska, M. (2005) Wild and Cultivated Vegetables, Herbs and Spices in Greek Antiquity. Environmental Archaeology 10 (1): 73-82
- Dawakhana, H (2007). "Coriander: Cure from the Kitchen".