Nigella arvensis, Love-in-a-mist,
Hebrew: קצח השדה, Arabic: الحبة السوداء – حبة البركة

Scientific name:  Nigella arvensis L.
Common name:   Love-in-a-mist
Hebrew name:   קצח השדה
Arabic name:   الحبة السوداء – حبة البركة
Family:  Ranunculaceae, נוריתיים

Flowers of the Bible, biblical plants, bloemen in Israel, Bloemen in de Bijbel

Life form:   Therophyte, annual
Stems:  10-40cm
Leaves:  Alternate, dissected
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
Habitat:  Sand
Distribution:   Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes
Chorotype:   Euro-Siberian - Med - Irano-Turanian
Summer shedding:  Ephemeral

Nigella arvensis, Love-in-a-mist, קצח השדה


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.
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
Nigella is probably native to western Asia where it grows both wild and cultivated. Nearly all names of nigella contain an element of black: in Arabic kamun aswad, "Al-habbat ul Sawda"; in German Schwarzk?mmel; in Latin Nigella (niger). In some English sources Nigella arvensis is called field black cumin (also known as wild black cumin, oat or horse black cumin), and grows just 30-45 cm. tall.
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.
25) When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
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).
  • Easton's bible dictionary clarifies that the Hebrew word for black cumin, qetsach, keh'-tsakh, kezah, refers to without doubt Nigella sativa.
  • Pliny the Elder (23-79) crushed black seeds, mixed them with vinegar and honey, and applied the paste to snake bites and scorpion stings.
  • Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40-90) used black cumin seeds to treat headaches and toothaches.
  • Narrated Abu Huraira (d.678): I heard Allah's Apostle saying "There is healing in Black Cumin for all diseases except death."
    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.

    Nigella arvensis, Love-in-a-mist, קצח השדה