This section is from the book "A Text Book Of Materia Medica, Being An Account Of The More Important Crude Drugs Of Vegetable And Animal Origin", by Henry G. Greenish. Also available from Amazon: A Text Book of Materia Medica : Being an Account of the More Important Crude Drugs of Vegetable and Animal Origin.
The coriander, Coriandrum sativum, Linne (N.O. Umbelliferae), is an erect herbaceous annual that has become naturalised throughout temperate Europe. It is cultivated principally in Russia, Thuringia, Moravia, and Hungary, as well as in northern Africa, Malta, and India. The whole plant, and especially the unripe fruit, is characterised by a strong disagreeable odour, whence the name coriander (from the Greek a bug). As the fruit ripens, this gives place to an agreeable aroma, and the plant is then cut and thrashed. It has been cultivated for many centuries for use as a spice.
The two mericarps of which the fruit consists remain firmly united by their margins, and enclose between them a small cavity, the cremocarp being nearly globular in shape. The fruit is of small size, averaging only about 5 mm. in diameter, of a uniform brownish yellow colour, and quite glabrous. It is crowned by the remains of the calyx-teeth and styles, and bears on each mericarp five inconspicuous wavy primary ridges (containing fibro-vascular bundles) and four more conspicuous, straight, secondary ridges alternating with the primary. Both transverse and radial sections show a curved endosperm (suborder Coelospermeoe), and on the former only two vittae, both of which are situated on the commissural surface, can be discerned. In addition to these, however, the young ovary contains vittae on the dorsal surface; as the fruit ripens these become compressed and break down into tangentially elongated cavities, the outer portion of the pericarp being finally thrown off.
Fig. 62. - Coriander fruit. A, whole fruit (cremocarp), magnified 3 diam.; B, commissural surface of half-fruit (mericarp), showing the vittae as dark lines; C, longitudinal section through both mericarps, showing the endosperm and embryo, magnified 3 diam.; D, transverse section, showing the vittae, μ, magnified 14 diam.; E, portion of the same, further enlarged; k, primary ridges; X, secondary ridges; 2, endosperm. (Berg).
The odour of the bruised fruit is aromatic, and the taste agreeable and spicy.
The student should observe
(a) The firmly united mericarps,
(b) The wavy primary and straight secondary ridges,
(c) The two vittoe on each commissural surface.
Coriander fruits of good quality yield from 0'8 to 1.0 per cent, of volatile oil (sp. gr. 0.870 to 0.885, O.R. + 8° to + 14° chief constituent 90 per cent, of the alcohol linalol). That distilled from unripe fruit has a fetid odour, which, however, disappears on keeping.
English: these are grown in Essex, and said to have the finest flavour, though not specially rich in oil.
Russian and German: these are the richest in oil, yielding up to 1.0 per cent.
Mogadore, which are the largest and brightest of all, but contain only 0.2 to 0.3 per cent, of oil.
Bombay, which are distinguished by their oval shape; they yield only 0.15 to 0.2 per cent, of oil.
The fruit and the oil distilled from it are used as aromatic carminatives.