Elettaria cardamomum

Plant of the month: February

Also known as: Cardamom
Native to: Southern India
Blooms: all-year round in the wild, but not whilst in cultivation in Europe
Habitat: moist, evergreen, tropical forest
Where it’s found at BBG: Tropical House

Cardamom is an evergreen, herbaceous perennial that comes from the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). It is grown for its edible, highly aromatic seeds, which are used in sweet and savoury dishes. Oils extracted from the seeds are used in manufacturing foods as well. Moreover, Cardamom is also used to treat skin conditions and aid digestion.

Its leaves give a wonderful, citrus-like scent when brushed and the stems can grow up to 6 meters high in the wild, though much lower in cultivation. The pale-green flowers contain both male and female parts and have one white petal, which is streaked with violet. It is these flowers, which turn into oval-shaped, green or yellow fruits, housing three chambers containing the aromatic seeds.