Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) comes from a region of Sri Lanka. It's additionally cultivated in El Salvador, Cambodia and India. A favorite herb for trade and commerce, cardamom is a perennial that grows upward of 5 feet, with long leaves and oblong fruit capsules.
In Hoodoo, it's believed that carrying cardamom seeds brings good luck and improves relationships. In Arabia it represents hospitality, and in India cardamom seeds take part in wedding celebrations. They are eaten as a symbol of sweet joy.
In Arabic countries, coffee regularly features cardamom flavoring, which ties to its symbolic value of welcoming guests. Arabs consume over one half of the world's cardamom annually.
In Baltic regions, cardamom plays a role as a flavoring in treats, including sweet beverages and candy. People sometimes candy the seeds by themselves and use them as breath mints.
The ancient Romans felt that cardamom made an excellent, exotic aphrodisiac to stimulate passions.
In Middle Eastern cuisine, cardamom appears regularly in curry recipes as a distinct flavor note. Cardamom has compound tastes including savory, sweet, citrus and lightly floral.
Folk remedies recommend cardamom as a digestive aid, and for treating colds and fevers.
Cardamom may be rolled and smoked like tobacco or added to tobacco, providing a unique aroma and taste.
Cardamom tinctures go into a variety of medicines, like cough syrup, to improve their flavors.
The cosmetic industry uses cardamom for scenting powders, perfume and other aromatic products.
Aromatherapists recommend cardamom for improved focus and energy.
Some alcohol manufacturers use cardamom to make gin. One such brand, called simply No. 209, is produced in San Francisco.