Some herbs have seeds that are just as useful as their leaves. These herbs do double duty in the garden, providing twice the value for the growing space. Once their leaves have faded, their seeds become the desirable culinary flavoring. Save money by saving some of the seeds for next year's crop.
Dill (Anethum graveolens L.) is a member of the parsley family. Its feathery, fennel-like leaves have a strong, easily recognizable smell and flavor that complements meat and fish. Dill's most common use is in pickling.
Dill seeds are not true seeds, but two halves of a fruiting body called a schizocarp. Dill seed's adaptability to a range of soils makes it a weed in some parts of the world, including the northeastern United States, giving it the common name "dill weed." Dill seeds are used whole and ground.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) is grown mainly for its seeds, but its leaves are edible as well. The leaves are known as cilantro or Chinese parsley and are popular in Latin dishes and salads. Coriander thrives in warm, light, dry soil.
Coriander seed was one of the herbs the Romans brought from the East to Britain, and was used by Hippocrates. Coriander seed is used as a flavoring in liquors, confections and as a component of curry powder. It has been used medicinally as a carminative (expels intestinal gas), aromatic and stimulant.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) is a perennial herb, that is usually grown as an annual or biennial. Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, fennel grows to 4 feet in height., and is hardy to 4 degrees F. Fennel thrives in loamy, well-drained soil.
Fennel's licorice-like flavor makes it an unusual seasoning in a variety of foods, and as a tea. The crushed seed is sometimes used as a juniper substitute for flavoring gin. The essential oil is used in the cosmetics industry for perfumes, soaps and creams.
Medicinally, fennel is used as a stomachic (digestive aid), antispasmodic, stimulant, laxative, diuretic and expectorant. Fennel tea is widely used as a carminative to expel intestinal gas. Fennel is also used in Chinese medicine.
Warning: While considered safe when taken as directed, fennel oil may cause pulmonary edema, nausea, seizures and vomiting. Contact with the plant can cause contact dermatitis and photodermatitis.
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