Growing The Nigella Flower For Black Cumin Seeds
The nigella flower, often called love-in-a-mist, devil-in-the-bush or Jack-in-the-bush, is native to northern parts of Africa, southwest Asia and southern Europe. These delicate and alien-looking flowers have been a favorite in many gardens since the Elizabethan era, mainly due to their unique shaped foliage, general loveliness and the seeds that the produce that seem to heal all ailments.
These plants grow annually and are bear-threaded with alternating pinnate leaves that form a collar perches around the head of the flower. Traditionally, the nigella flower will grow to be 2 inches around and be made of either a double or sometimes a single head that blooms and can grow to be 30 inches tall. These peculiar yet stunning flowers can contain up to 25 sepals that are usually light blue but may also appear in shades of purple, pink and white.
It is recommended to sow the seeds once a month, beginning right before the last spring frost until the end of autumn. This will prolong the blooming period. After you sow the seeds, cover them very lightly. It traditionally takes one or sometimes two weeks for the seeds to germinate so if you prefer, you can start your plants in the house before the last frost is predicted.
The ideal location for your nigella flower will be in a spot that has well-drained soil and plenty of sun. If you do decide to grow them indoors first before transplanting to your garden, keep in mind that they take much longer to germinate inside and may take as long as six weeks.
The nigella flower is fairly easy to care for. It appreciates being watered occasionally during dry spells and a bit of fertilizer from time to time is a good idea. To stop them from spreading or if you are not specifically growing them for the seeds, you will want to deadhead the flowers after they are done blooming.
Black Cumin Seeds
Aside from growing the nigella flower for its pure beauty, most people add them to the garden for the famous healing black cumin seeds that they produce. These natural healers have been used throughout history for an endless number of ailments and were even found in the tomb belonging to Tutankhamen. Around 40 years ago, they started to become a focal point of a lot of research.
Greek physicians used the seeds to literally treat everything from toothaches to headaches and Mohammed suggested that they could cure everything other than death. It is reported that these seeds contain more than 100 chemical constituents that are good for you.
The seeds are spicy and have little aroma but they relieve gas, aid with digestion and clean the intestines of worms. Black cumin is proven to be a healer of allergies and asthma and can increase sperm count and milk production in a nursing mother.
The black cumin seeds from the nigella flower are often used to create a nice cup of tea. Simply add hot water to some seeds, cover and allow to steep for around 10 minutes. They are also delicious added to breads or casseroles and can be used in canning and extracted in vinegar or wine. Some people even grind the seeds up and sprinkle them over salads or add them to a dressing. Black cumin is delicious in stir fry dishes when partnered up with tahini, lemon or cilantro.
Black cumin is taken in capsule form by many people to strengthen their fingernails and hair. The oil from the seeds can also be added to creams to treat eczema and psoriasis. Additionally, you can add some to a lotion to simply moisturize your skin, eliminate wrinkles or relieve joint pain.