SCIMAT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIMAT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A close-up of a coriander inflorescence. Coriander - Coriandrum sativum - is native to regions spanning from southern Europe and northern Africa to southwestern Asia. It is a soft plant growing to 50 cm (20 inches) tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in small umbels, white or very pale pink, asymmetrical, with the petals pointing away from the center of the umbel longer (5-6 mm or 0.20-0.24 inch) than those pointing toward it (only 1-3 mm or 0.039-0.118 inch long). The fruit is a globular, dry schizocarp 3-5 mm (0.12-0.20 inch) in diameter. The seeds are generally used as a spice or an added ingredient in other foods or recipes, although sometimes they are eaten alone. The dry fruits are known as coriander seeds. In Indian cuisine they are called dhania. Flowering coriander is used for aphid control in lettuce.
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