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Plant ID: a perennial Caraway?  RSS feed

 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Hello,

Someone gave me 3 years ago a plant that was thought to be caraway. It was in a small pot.

Well, I am familiar with cumin smell and use on food, but not with caraway. That's the problem. And the problem with this "caraway" plant I have is that since it was given to me 3 years ago, for these 3 years it grew quite tall up to 1m, and produce a lot of strongly aromatic seeds, for the entire 3 years, always sprouting in spring from the same root. While common Caraway is an annual or biannual, my plant behaves as a hardy perennial, so I might have perhaps another species of carum (caraway). Interestingly, Wikipedia says there is a polyploid variety of caraway that is a perennial. And it says there are at least 20 species of carum (species in the same genus as caraway).

It smells what I think it is caraway; a fennel-like strong-anise menthol peppery scent, and rather hot, much different from the sweet aromatic smell of cumin. Seeds are darker, and have pale white ridges in between, just like caraway seeds are supposed to have.

One fact to note is that it grows amazingly well in the cold and short Icelandic summer, and overwinters pretty well, and the foliage is very winter hardy. I wonder if its a subspecies or even a different caraway species that became perennial. Interestingly, Iceland seems to be bountiful with perennials from the apiacea family. We also have wildly growing sweet cicely and scotish lovage. Both are very hardy and very strong aromatic herbs. The smell of the sweet cicely seeds and the seeds of my "caraway" plant, are very similar, both strong anise scent!

I will post tomorrow a photo of the plant and its seeds.

Any idea?
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1014
Location: Northern Italy
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Bunium persicum is a PERENNIAL (Black Caraway)
Carum carvi is a BIENNIAL (Caraway)
Petroselinum segetum is a BIENNIAL (Corn Caraway)
Trachyspermum ammi is a ANNUAL (Ajowan caraway)

www.pfaf.org

I'd say you have a 1 in 4 chances that it is a perennial. Need to find out if it's Bunium persicum or Carum carvi.
William
 
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