OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312



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Coriandrum sativa



Coriander (cilantro)

Coriander in early sources


Description      Propagation      Cultivation        Harvest

Scientific name

Coriandrum sativum
Common names, modern

Coriander, cilantro, Chinese parsley, dhania (Hindu), and malli (Malaysia).

In the USA, the name cilantro is used  for coriander leaves, while the seeds are called coriander. The leaves have a different, milder flavor than the seed, and while the flavor of the seeds becomes more pungent over time, the leaves quickly lose their flavor once they are picked.

Some people enjoy the flavor and scent of Coriandrum sativum, while others dislike it, describing it as "soapy." It appears that, as is true with Brassicas, this is a matter of genetics. That is, people's sensory experience of these flavors and scents is affected by their genes, and varies depending on this inheritance.


Lifespan Coriander is an annual, but may self seed
Cold hardiness Not hardy
Size 20" tall, 6"-8" wide

Airy and delicate

Coriander flowerFlower

Flowers are white to very pale pink, carried in small umbels

Coriander foliageFoliage

Leaves look like parsley, are bright green and strong smelling

Coriander seedBy seed

Sow directly into the garden after last frost; thin seedlings to 4" apart in rows 12" apart. Can be started inside, but transplants may bolt (go to seed) more quickly (due to stress from transplanting) than those started in the garden.

Germination temperature 65-70o
Germination time 7 days
Moisture Water regularly until seedlings are well established
Light Does not need light to germinate; plant 1/4" to 1/2" deep



Prefers  light, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic, but is tolerant of most soils


Keeping plants well watered may slow seed formation --  a good thing if you want to harvest the foliage as cilantro, rather than the seeds as coriander.

Light Full  sun, but will tolerate part shade

A seed-borne bacterial leaf spot, Pseudomonas syringae, can infect both coriander and parsley; disease-free seed is important.

Season to bloom/bear

Flowers in midsummer; has seed by late summer. Plants tolerate the careful harvesting of leaves throughout the summer.

Seed collection

Seed heads, which form in late summer, are symmetrical and attractive; round black seeds fall quickly once ripe, so must be promptly gathered.


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