or Persian cumin (Carum carvi) is a biennial
plant in the family Apiaceae, native to
Europe and western Asia.
The plant is similar in appearance to a
carrot plant, with finely divided, feathery
leaves with thread-like divisions, growing
on 20-30 cm stems. The main flower stem is
40-60 cm tall, with small white or pink
flowers in umbels. Caraway seeds are
crescent-shaped and around 2 mm long, with
five pale ridges. It prefers sun and
The seed, usually used whole, has a pungent,
anise-like flavour. The aroma comes from
essential oils, mostly carvone and limonene.
They are used as a spice in breads, liquors,
casseroles, and other foods, especially in
Central European and Scandinavian cuisine,
for instance sauerkraut. It is also used to
add flavour to cheeses. Akvavit and several
liqueurs are also made with caraway, and a
tea made from the seeds is good for colic.
Caraway seed oil is also used as a fragrance
component in soaps, lotions, and perfumes.
The roots may be cooked as a root vegetable
like parsnips or carrots.