Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to South Asia.Its seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form. It also has many uses as a traditional medicinal plant.
The English cumin is derived from the Old English, from Latin cuminum, which is the Latinisation of the Greek κύμινον (kyminon), cognate with Hebrew and The earliest attested form of the word in Greek is the Mycenaean written in Linear B syllabic script. Forms of this word are attested in several ancient Semitic languages, including kamūnu in Akkadian.The ultimate source is thought to be the Sumerian word gamun.
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant grows to 30–50 cm (12–20 in) tall and is harvested by hand. It is an annual herbaceous plant, with a slender, glabrous, branched stem that is 20–30 cm (8–12 in) tall and has a diameter of 3–5 cm ( 1 1⁄4–2 in).Each branch has two to three sub-branches. All the branches attain the same height, therefore the plant has a uniform canopy. The stem is coloured grey or dark green.
The leaves are 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long, pinnate or bipinnate, with thread-like leaflets. The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. Each umbel has five to seven umbellts. The fruit is a lateral fusiform or ovoid achene 4–5 mm ( 1⁄6– 1⁄5 in) long, containing two mericarps with a single seed.Cumin seeds have eight ridges with oil canals. They resemble caraway seeds, being oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in colour, like other members of the Umbelliferae family such as caraway, parsley, and dill.