Nigella, from niger, black, because of the color of the seeds, which are the parts of the plant used in cookery. The species are curious or neat little plants, with fine-cut leaves, like fennel. N. damascena and sativa are hardy annuals. In some parts of Europe, the leaves and seed of the latter species, and N. arvensis, are used in cookery, instead of more expensive aromatics. They are also said to be extensively used in the adulteration of pepper.

N. damascena is from the south of Europe; two feet high, with light-blue flowers, from June to September.

Flowers in a leafy involucre.