Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Caraway, the half fruit or mericarp (q.v.) of the umbelliferous Carum Carni, commonly miscalled a seed. The plant is a native of northern and western Asia and northern Europe, and is cultivated in Kent and Essex, occurring also as an escape. It has a fusiform root, finely-cut leaves, compound umbels with not more than one bract, white flowers of which the outer ones are larger, and an oblong fruit. The mericarps have each five ridges and conspicuous oil-cavities. They have an aromatic odour and a spicy taste, from the presence of from three to six per cent. of a volatile oil, a mixture of the stearoptine carcol and carvene. This oil is extracted by distillation and is used in medicine as a carminative and as a flavouring ingredient in liqueurs and confectionery. It is more abundant when the plant is grown in northern regions. Whole caraways are also largely used in cookery, and about a thousand tons are imported into England annually, mainly from Holland.