The coriander plant, Coriandrum sativum, L., cultivated in many countries and in nearly all climates, was used as a kitchen spice even before the Christian Era.1) As such, coriander fruit is mentioned repeatedly in Sanscrit writings, in the Bible'2) and in later Roman writings.3) Together with other offerings,4) coriander fruit has also been found in old Egyptian monuments of the 10. century B. C.
Coriander is also mentioned among the useful plants recommended for cultivation by Charlemagne,5) but it appears to have received, as with the Arabians so also with the Germans in the middle ages, only slight consideration. The fruit is again mentioned in the medical6) and distilling books of the 16. century, although it had been employed now and again as a kitchen spice.7)
The distilled oil of coriander appears to have been first obtained by Porta8) in the 16. century who prepared it after moistening the fruit with aqua vitas. In the price ordinances of spices, the oil is first included in that of Berlin of 1574 and that of Frankfurt-on-the-Main of 1587; also in the 1589 edition of the Dispensatorium Noricum.
Coriander oil was investigated in 1785 by Hasse,9) in 1835 by Trommsdorff,1) in 1852 by A. Kawalier2) and in 1881 by B. Grosser.3) A true insight into its composition, however, was brought about by the investigations of Semmler (1891) and of Barbier (1893).
1) Prosper Alpinus, De plantis AEgypti liber. Venetii 1591. Cap. 42, p. 61.
2) Exodus, 16:31. - Numbers 11:7.
3) Theophrasti Opera quae supersunt omnia, Historia plantarum. Lib. VI. 4. Editio Wimmer. 1866, p. 117. - Dioscoridis De materia medica libri quinque. Editio Kuhn-Sprengel. 1829, p. 410. - Plinii Naturalis historiae. Lib. XIX. 35 and XX. 82. Editio Littre. Vol. 1, p. 729 and Vol. 2, p. 33. - Catonis De re rustica Libri XII. Cap. 119 and 157, Edit. Nisard, p. 34 and 54. - Columellas De re rustica. Cap. 10 and 11. Edit. Nisard, pp. 414, 442. - Palladii De re rustica. Lib III. 24. Lib. IV. 9. Editio Nisard, p. 567 and 583.
4) G. Schweinfurth, in the Berichte der deutsch. botan. Gesellschaft, 2 (1884), 359.
5) See footnote 8, p. 133.
6) K. Regel, Das mittelhochdeutsche Gothaer Arzneibuch. 1873. p. 13.
7) Hirsch, Danzigs Handels- und Gewerbe-Geschichte. Leipzig 1858. p. 243.
8) Jo. Bapt. Portae Magiae naturalis libri viginti. Lib. X. "De destilla-tione." Romae 1608, p. 379.
9) Crell's Chemische Annalen 1785, I. 422.