Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Carum
Species: C. carvi
Binomial name
Carum carvi

Caraway (Carum carvi) also known as meridian fennel,[1][2][3][4] or Persian cumin[5] is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae,[6] native to western Asia, Europe and Northern Africa.

The plant is similar in appearance to a carrot plant, with finely divided, feathery leaves with thread-like divisions, growing on 20–30 cm stems. The main flower stem is 40–60 cm tall, with small white or pink flowers in umbels. Caraway fruits (erroneously called seeds) are crescent-shaped achenes, around 2 mm long, with five pale ridges.



The plant prefers warm, sunny locations and well-drained soil rich in organic matter. In warmer regions it is planted in the winter months as an annual. In temperate climates it is planted as a summer annual or biennial.


Caraway fruits
A magnified view of caraway fruits used as a spice.

The fruits, usually used whole, have a pungent, anise-like flavor and aroma that comes from essential oils, mostly carvone and limonene.[citation needed] They are used as a spice in breads, especially rye bread.

Caraway is also used in desserts, liquors, casseroles, curry and other foods. It is more commonly found in European cuisine. For example, it is commonly used in British Caraway seed cake and is also added to sauerkraut. [2][3][4][5][6]. It is also used to add flavor to cheeses such as bondost, pultost, nøkkelost and havarti. Akvavit and several liqueurs are made with caraway. In Middle Eastern cuisine, caraway pudding is a popular dessert during Ramadan. [7]

The roots may be cooked as a root vegetable like parsnips or carrots.

Caraway seed oil is also used as a fragrance component in soaps, lotions, and perfumes.

Names and history

The etymology of caraway is complex and poorly understood.

Caraway has been called by many names in different regions, with names deriving from the Latin cuminum (cumin), the Greek karon (again, cumin), which was adapted into Latin as carum (now meaning caraway), and the Sanskrit karavi, sometimes translated as "caraway" but other times understood to mean "fennel."[7] The Italian finocchio meridionale (meridian fennel) suggests these shared roots, while cumino tedesco (German cumin) again points towards cumin—though caraway also has its own name in Italian, caro . Other languages share similar peculiarities, with the Norwegian name "karve", Yiddish borrowing the German Kümmel (caraway) as kimmel to mean caraway, yet using the semitic term kamoon for cumin, which is Kreuzkümmel in German.[7]

English usage of the term caraway dates back to at least 1440,[8] and is considered by Skeat to be of Arabic origin, though Katzer believes the Arabic al-karawya (cf. Spanish alcaravea) to be derived from the Latin carum.[7]

Similar herbs

Caraway thyme has a strong caraway scent and is sometimes used as a substitute for real caraway in recipes.

Other similar members of the family Apiaceae include anise, fennel, dill, cumin, licorice-root (Ligusticum), and coriander (cilantro).[6]


  1. ^ Anise Seed Substitute: Caraway Seed
  2. ^ English Malayalam Spice Names [1]
  3. ^ Global Crops Database: Meridian Fennel
  4. ^ Benefits of Carawy Seeds: Meridian Fennel, a biennial herb with a fleshy root ...
  5. ^ Plant Name: Meridian Fennel Meridian Fennel
  6. ^ a b USDA Plants Classification Report: Apiaceae
  7. ^ a b c Katzer's Spice Pages: Caraway Caraway (Carum carvi L.)
  8. ^ Walter William Skeat, Principles of English etymology, Volume 2, page 319. 1891 Words of Arabic Origin

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Caraway — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Barbara Mallory Caraway (* 1955), US amerikanische Politikerin Hattie Caraway (1879–1950), US amerikanische Politikerin Pat Caraway (1905–1974), US amerikanischer Baseballspieler Thaddeus H. Caraway… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Caraway — Caraway, AR U.S. town in Arkansas Population (2000): 1349 Housing Units (2000): 606 Land area (2000): 2.320450 sq. miles (6.009937 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 2.320450 sq. miles (6.009937 sq …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Caraway, AR — U.S. town in Arkansas Population (2000): 1349 Housing Units (2000): 606 Land area (2000): 2.320450 sq. miles (6.009937 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 2.320450 sq. miles (6.009937 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Caraway — Car a*way (k[a^]r [.a]*w[asl]), n. [F. carvi (cf. Sp. carvi and al caravea, al carahueya, Pg. al caravia) fr. Ar. karaw[=i][=a], karw[=i][=a] fr. Gr. ka ron; cf. L. careum.] 1. (Bot.) A biennial plant of the Parsley family ({Carum Carui}). The… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • caraway — [kar′ə wā΄] n. [ME carawai < (? via ML carvi < OSp alcarahueya < Ar al karawiyā < ? Gr karon, caraway] 1. a white flowered biennial herb (Carum carvi) of the umbel family, with spicy, strong smelling seeds 2. the seeds, used as a… …   English World dictionary

  • caraway — late 13c., from O.Sp. alcarahuaya, from Arabic al karawiya, of unknown origin. Suspected to be somehow from Gk. karon cumin …   Etymology dictionary

  • caraway — ► NOUN ▪ the seeds of a plant of the parsley family, used for flavouring. ORIGIN Latin carui, probably ultimately from Greek karon cumin …   English terms dictionary

  • caraway — /kar euh way /, n. 1. a plant, Carum carvi, of the parsley family, native to Europe, having finely divided leaves and umbels of white or pinkish flowers. 2. Also called caraway seed. the aromatic seedlike fruit of this plant, used in cooking and… …   Universalium

  • caraway — car·a·way kar ə .wā n 1) a biennial usu. white flowered aromatic herb (Carum carvi) of the carrot family (Umbelliferae) with pungent fruits 2) the fruit of caraway that is used in cookery and confectionery and is the source of caraway oil called… …   Medical dictionary

  • caraway — [14] The ultimate source of caraway is probably Greek káron ‘cumin’ (caraway and cumin seeds are very similar). Arabic borrowed the word as alkarāwiyā ‘the cumin’, and it subsequently diverged along different branches. Borrowed into medieval… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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