Happy Friday! It's #PlantAppreciation day for #BlackBotanistsWeek and I want to shout out the plants I use every day––spices! I'm going to try and identify them all on this thread from left to right. Image
Saffron comes from the plant Crocus sativus. The stigma/styles are what create the spice after being dried. It’s the most expensive spice in the world due to how labor intensive it is to harvest as it is hand-picked. It takes about 80 hours to pick about 2lbs (.9kg) of saffron.
Salvia rosmarinus is the first herbs I was able to recognize in my mother’s garden. There are a bunch of different cultivars. The latin translation of this plant is “dew of the sea” because it thrives in Mediterranean like climates and the leaves/flowers/stems are used in cooking Image
Piper nigrum fruit’s are what we know to be peppercorn! If you’re a pepper fan you can get different colors of pepper (black, green, and white) which are just different stages of ripeness in the same plant/fruit. It’s “spicy” not because of capsaicin, but because of piperine.
Funny enough, I don’t have coriander (dried fruits/seeds) apparently, but I do have cilantro! Coriandrum sativum stem and leaves are known as cilantro. I am someone who tastes a lemony flavor when consuming cilantro, but many others taste dish soap because of a genetic mutation.
Vanilla, in the orchid fam, is derived from the word vaina meaning sheath or pod. Edmond Albius a Black, ensalved man who lived on the French island of Réunion is a VIP in the cultivation of vanilla when he, at the age of 12, how vanilla could be hand pollinated to produce fruits Image
Cream of tartar, aka potassium bitartrate, is the secret to making puffy cookies. Trust me. CoT is a byproduct of winemaking, so I’m going to give this one to the plants too. It’s low solubility in water crystalizes during fermentation of grape juice. So thank you Vitaceae!
Origanum vulgare's name is derived from oros “mountain” and ganos “brightness”. Who doesn’t want to add brightness of the mountain to their pizza? Leaves can be more flavorful when dried than fresh and good quality oregano can be strong enough the numb the tongue!
Cinnamon comes from the genus Cinnamomum. The flavor comes from the essential oil cinnamaldehyde. When harvesting the inner bark is peeled and the cinnamon curls as it drys. It is often used in sweet dishes, but you’re missing out if you haven’t tried it in a savory dish yet!
Cuminum cyminum is a plant in the Apiaceae family (like coriander, parsley, carrots, and dill) and it’s seeds are dried and ground to make cumin! The spice has been documented for being used for over a millennia. It’s earthy and warm aroma makes it perfect for curries and chili
Also, hopefully you're not like my mom who likes to play games pronounce cumin so suggestively her adult children run out of the kitchen.
Ocimum basilicum has a lot of hybrids like sweet, lemon, and holy basil to mix flavors which means the taxonomy is a lil cray due to it’s frequent cross-pollination. It is good to know once it produces flowers and the stem becomes woody, the essential oil production declines.
Cloves are flower buds of the tree Syzygium aromaticum, native to Indonesia. Eugenol gives cloves its flavor and makes a great combinations with other spices including the infamous pumpkin spice. Moreso it’s been used in traditional medicine for toothache pain and aromatherapy
Halfway through these seasonings like "Knowledge is power, but I'm tired. Must–share–more–plant–facts–" #BlackBotanistsWeek
Pepper flakes/chili (2 L's - britain, 1 L - american) blended powder is dried ground fruit. The peppers are all from the Solanaceae family (home of the tomatoes & potatoes) and blends often contain Aleppo, ancho, cayenne, chipotle (smoked ripe, jalapeño), pasilla, and piri peri.
Paprika is dried, ground fruits of Capiscum annuum a sweeter pepper. Paprika spice can be mild to hot depending on where it's from and how much of the seeds+stalks+placenta are included. Its color comes from carotenoids the same reason for leaf color foliage in the fall.
Cardamom is made from black seeds in pods of plants in the Elettaria and Amomum genera, the same fam as ginger. It is the world’s third most expensive spice, behind vanilla and saffron. It’s flavoring is strong and a bit smoky that can be used on sweet dishes as well as drinks.
Bad Botany Joke: What happens when you pollinate Cardamom? You have a Cardi Bee #BlackBotanistsWeek
Nutmeg is the seed from the genera Myristica. The fruit produces nutmeg and mace (a red aril seed covering), which makes sense since some folks get allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. It's great for sweet/savory foods and beverages like cider, wine, and my fave horchata.
The dried, ground Allium sativum is the first stem that I’ll be mentioning! Everything thus far has been leaves and reproductive parts! The bulb is really smelly and propagated asexually. #TIL that latitude determines the subspecies of garlic and determines the clove size!
Celery seed, Apium graveolens, grows in marsh areas that are salty and wet. The seeds are actually ridiculously tiny fruits used for cooking, but as essential oils in the perfume industry. You can also expect to find ground celery seed+salt in your Bloody Mary cocktail.
Dill weed, Anethum graveolens, is monotypic meaning its the only species in its genus. Fresh and freeze-dried leaves are very aromatic and perfect for fish, soups, and pickles. Dill is a favorite amongst black swallowtail caterpillars so it’s a butterfly garden go-to!
Zingiber officinale, not a root, but a rhizome, is a modified stem used in spices and folk medicine. Ginger has been bred by humans and is not found in the wild. When it is harvested it is scalded/washed/scraped to prevent sprouting. Also, gingerale is my Black household staple.
Salvia officinalis a shrub that belongs to the mint family has dispersed world wide. The “holy herb”, has been used in religious rituals, medicines, and foods for centuries. Cultivars of this species can vary in just about all traits including leaf size, pattern, and flower color
An aside: If you smudge/burn sage or want to begin because you've heard it's (fill in the blank), please don't. It's a huge conservation issue and impacts native and indigenous folks who actually use it for cultural reasons. Please stop your friends from colonizing white sage.
Sesamum seeds are one of the oldest oilseeds as it was domesticated over 3000 years ago. Seeds are encapsulated in fruits that split when ripe. Dried, toasted seeds have a nuttier flavor and its oil has a high smoke point, so it’s good for frying!
Furikake (rice seasoning) is a blend of dried fish, sesame seeds, and chopped seaweed. I wanted to show marine plants some love so here we go. Porphyra is a coldwater seaweed and is the most domesticated algae. The annual production of this species in Japan is at 100 billion yen.
Alright, the plant seasoning facts are done!
I hope you all enjoyed. Here's to #BlackBotanistsWeek and #BIPOCinNature tomorrow!

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