|Scientific name:||Nigella arvensis L.|
|Hebrew name:||קצח השדה|
|Arabic name:||الحبة السوداء – حبة البركة|
|Life form:||Therophyte, annual|
|Inflorescence:||Inflorescences terminal or axillary, flowers solitary|
|Flowers:||Perianth-segments 5, ovate-cordate, apiculate, light blue, white|
|Fruits / pods:||Follicles 3-veined throughout, united for c. half of their lenght; seeds granulate, black|
|Flowering Period:||April, May, June, July|
|Distribution:||Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes|
|Chorotype:||Euro-Siberian - Med - Irano-Turanian|
Derivation of the botanical name:
Nigella, diminutive of Latin niger or nigrum, black, referring to the seed color.
arvensis, arvum, field, cultivated land, plowed land; ensis, country or place of origin or habitat; of cultivated fields.
Its upright, hairless stem boasts bush-like branches with alternating serrated leaves and apical blossoms bearing a light-blue five-leaved flower cup rimmed with greenish strips. The three to five leaves of the seed capsule reach halfway up the stem and are long with little horns. The deep black, sharp-cornered seed grains are used as a spice, they have a rough surface and an oily white interior. They are roughly triangulate, 1 1/2 - 3 mm. long and similar to onion seeds. Nigella seeds have little aroma, but when ground or chewed they develop a vaguely oregano-like scent. The taste is fragrant and slightly bitter.
Nigella has been traced back more than 3,000 years to the kingdom of the Assyrians and ancient Egyptians and used since antiquity by Asian herbalists and pharmacists. A bottle of black cumin oil was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun, The Romans used it for culinary purposes; in the Middle East nigella is added to bread dough and in Israel it becomes more and more popular.
The earliest written reference to black cumin is found in the book of Isaiah.
Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field?
27) Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick.
(Isaiah 28: 25, 27).
The usage and popularity of black seed is widely known as a "remedy of the Prophet". "The Prophet's Medicine" is a collection of Hadith (collection of Islamic traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad) that instruct Muslims on the subject of sickness or medical treatment.
The seeds are rich in sterols, especially beta-sitosterol, which is known to have anti carcinogenic activity. The seeds are also known to repel certain insects and can be used in the same way as mothballs.