Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Coriandrum sativum



Coriandrum sativum (coriander)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Documented Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Coriandrum sativum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • coriander
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Coriandrum sativum is a culinary and medicinal herb which can become weedy outside cultivation. It is listed as “agricultural weed, casual alien, cultivation escape, garden thug, naturalised, sleeper weed, weed...

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Coriandrum sativum (coriander); leaves, on a bolting plant. Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July  2008.
CaptionCoriandrum sativum (coriander); leaves, on a bolting plant. Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Coriandrum sativum (coriander); leaves, on a bolting plant. Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July  2008.
LeavesCoriandrum sativum (coriander); leaves, on a bolting plant. Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Coriandrum sativum (coriander); leaves, on small potted plants. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September 2007.
CaptionCoriandrum sativum (coriander); leaves, on small potted plants. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September 2007.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Coriandrum sativum (coriander); leaves, on small potted plants. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September 2007.
Leaves.Coriandrum sativum (coriander); leaves, on small potted plants. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September 2007.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Coriandrum sativum (coriander); flowers. India. December 2009.
CaptionCoriandrum sativum (coriander); flowers. India. December 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke-2011/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Coriandrum sativum (coriander); flowers. India. December 2009.
FlowersCoriandrum sativum (coriander); flowers. India. December 2009.©Dinesh Valke-2011/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Coriandrum sativum (coriander); close-up of seeds. Tamil Nadu, India. January 2012.
CaptionCoriandrum sativum (coriander); close-up of seeds. Tamil Nadu, India. January 2012.
Copyright©Thamizhpparithi Maari/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Coriandrum sativum (coriander); close-up of seeds. Tamil Nadu, India. January 2012.
SeedsCoriandrum sativum (coriander); close-up of seeds. Tamil Nadu, India. January 2012.©Thamizhpparithi Maari/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Coriandrum sativum L.

Preferred Common Name

  • coriander

Other Scientific Names

  • Bifora loureiroi Kostel
  • Coriandropsis syriaca H.Wolff
  • Coriandrum diversifolium Gilib. (1782)
  • Coriandrum globosum Salisb. (1796)
  • Coriandrum majus Gouan (1762)
  • Coriandrum testiculatum Lour. (1790), non L. (1753)
  • Selinum coriandrum Krause

International Common Names

  • English: Chinese parsley; common coriander
  • Spanish: cilantro; coriandro; culantrillo
  • French: coriandre; coriandre cultivee; persil arabe
  • Arabic: kusbara; kuzbarah ‘aadyah,kesbour; tabel
  • Chinese: hsiang sui; hu sui; xiang sui; yan sui; yuan sui
  • Portuguese: coentro

Local Common Names

  • Cambodia: vannsuy
  • Cuba: anisillo; culantro; culantro de castilla; culantro de España
  • Czech Republic: koriander siaty; koriandr setý
  • Dominican Republic: cilantrico; culantrico; silantrico
  • Estonia: aedkoriander
  • Germany: Echter Koriander; Garten- Koriander
  • Hungary: kerti koriánder
  • India: dhanya
  • Indonesia: katuncar; ketumbar; tumbar
  • Italy: coriandolo
  • Japan: koendoro; kushiba
  • Laos: phak ho:m pa:nx; phak ho:m po:mz
  • Lithuania: blakinė kalendra
  • Malaysia: ketumbar; penjilang; wansui
  • Malta: kosbor
  • Mexico: nocuana gueza toti castilla
  • Myanmar: nannan; phat-kyi; ta-ner-hgaw
  • Netherlands: almindelig korander; koriander
  • Philippines: kulantra; kulantro; uan-soi
  • Russian Federation: kinza; kisnec
  • Sweden: koriander
  • Thailand: phakhchi; phakhom; phakhom-noi
  • USA: cilantro

EPPO code

  • CORSA (Coriandrum sativum)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Coriandrum sativum is a culinary and medicinal herb which can become weedy outside cultivation. It is listed as “agricultural weed, casual alien, cultivation escape, garden thug, naturalised, sleeper weed, weed” in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012) and is listed as a weed in Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, and Taiwan (Holm et al., 1979). It is known to have escaped from cultivation in Puerto Rico, California (USA), and parts of the United Kingdom (Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012). The species spreads by seeds, which have been globally traded for both medicinal and food purposes since ancient Egyptian times. Considering that the species readily naturalises in introduced habitats (Forzza et al., 2010; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012) as well as its long history of repeated introductions and known weediness, it can be regarded as potentially invasive, but is not currently recorded as an invasive species.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Apiales
  •                         Family: Apiaceae
  •                             Genus: Coriandrum
  •                                 Species: Coriandrum sativum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Often called the ‘carrot’ or ‘parsley’ family, the Apiaceae family consists of anise-scented, caulescent annual herbs from taproots characterized by flowers borne in rounded, compound umbels, from which the family’s earlier name of Umbelliferae is derived. The family includes many common vegetables and kitchen herbs such as celery, carrot, fennel, dill, coriander, and parsnip.

C. sativum, or coriander, is a commonly known kitchen herb. The genus name Coriandrum derives from the Greek ‘koriannon’, from ‘koris’ meaning ‘a bug’ or ‘bedbug’, referring to the pungent smell from the leaves and unripe fruits (Quattrocchi, 2012). The species name, ‘sativum’ is Latin for cultivated, as this species has been grown for culinary purposes since Egyptian times. In the past the species was also sometimes called ‘dizzycorn’ referring to its use in reducing dizziness by inhaling the aroma of crushed corriander seed (Loewenfeld and Back, 1978). The vernacular name 'cilantro', often used in the United States for coriander leaves, is also used for another species, Eryngiumfoetidum L., ‘sawtooth coriander’ (Diederichsen and Rugayah, 1999).

Coriander is a very variable species, and the botanical literature contains several subclassifications into subspecies, varieties and forms. Plant breeders and the seed trade often refer to two main groups of coriander based on fruit size: var. vulgare (large fruits) and var. microcarpum (small fruits. These groups also differ by other characters such as length of vegetation period, plant height, branching, vegetative productivity and leaf characters.

Recent investigations showed that the shape of the fruit is also important, and a third group (Indicum) with ovate fruits has been described. These three main groups also differ in content and composition of the essential oil of the fruit. A further distinction into nine ecogeographical types (European, North African, Caucasian, Central Asian, Syrian, Ethiopian, Indian, Bhutanic and Omanic) within the three groups is possible, which reflects very well the evolutionary pathway of the species. Chemotaxonomical investigations support such infraspecific classification. Diederichsen and Hammer (2003) proposed three subspecies covering ten botanical varieties of coriander, with characteristics of the volatile oil in the fruits being used together with morphological characteristics to describe the different groups.


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Erect, annual, glabrous, usually profusely branching herb, up to 1.3 m tall with a well-developed taproot. Stem solid, subterete, up to 2 cm in diameter; older internodes sometimes becoming hollow, sulcate, mostly with a white bloom, light green with darker green ribs, occasionally violet. Leaves alternate, rather variable in shape, size and number, with a yellow-green, scariously margined sheath surrounding the supporting stem for up to three-quarters of its circumference; petiole and rachis subterete, sulcate, light green; blade white waxy, shiny green often with darker green veins; basal 1-3 leaves usually simple, withering early, often in a rosette, blade ovate in outline, deeply cleft or parted into usually 3 incised-dentate lobes; next leaves decompound, petiole 0-15 cm long, blade ovate or elliptical in outline, up to 30 cm x 15 cm, usually pinnately divided into 3-11 leaflets, each like the blade of the simple lower leaves or again pinnately divided into 3-7 simple leaf-like lobes; all higher leaves compound, petiole restricted to the sheath, blade divided into 3 leaflets of which the central one is largest, each often variously divided into ultimately sublinear, entire, acute lobes. Inflorescence an indeterminate, compound umbel; peduncle up to 15 cm long; bracts sublinear, 0-2, up to 11 mm long; primary rays 2-8, up to 4.5 cm long; bracteoles 0-6, linear, up to 1 cm long; secondary rays up to 20, up to 5 mm long; usually each umbellet has bisexual peripheral flowers, and the central flowers are sometimes male; calyx in all flowers represented by 5 small lobes; corolla with 5 white or pale pink petals, heart-shaped, very small (1 mm x 1 mm) in male flowers, in bisexual peripheral flowers usually 3 petals are larger: 1 petal develops 2 ovate lobes of about 3 mm x 2 mm and the 2 adjacent petals each develop one lobe; stamens 5, filaments up to 2.5 mm long, white; pistil rudimentary in male flowers, in bisexual flowers with inferior ovary, a conical stylopodium bearing 2 diverging styles up to 2 mm long, each one ending in a minutely papillate stigma. Fruit an ovoid to globose schizocarp, up to 5 mm in diameter, yellow-brown with 10 straight longitudinal ribs alternating with 10 wavy longitudinal ridges, often crowned by the dry persistent calyx lobes and the stylopodium with styles; fruit does usually not split at maturity; it contains 2 mericarps which each bear on their concave side 2 longitudinal, rather wide lines (vittae), containing essential oil. Seed 1 per mericarp, with testa attached to the fruit wall. Seedling with epigeal germination; taproot thin with many lateral roots; hypocotyl up to 2.5 cm long; cotyledons opposite, oblanceolate, up to 3 cm x 4 mm, pale green.

Plant Type

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Seed propagated


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Coriander has its origin in the Near East. It is not known from the wild, but is widely cultivated, and escapees from cultivation may become weeds. It is now naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

In all South-East Asian countries coriander is grown as a culinary herb and vegetable. Cropping for its fruits is restricted to higher altitudes. In South-East Asia, as in many other parts of the world, coriander is usually grown as a small-scale horticultural crop. Large-scale production exists in southern Russia, the Ukraine and other East European countries.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015Cultivated and sometimes naturalised. Almost throughout all of China
IndiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationDiederichsen and Rugayah, 1999Commercial cultivation
IndonesiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationDiederichsen and Rugayah, 1999Commercial cultivation
IsraelPresentHolm et al., 1979Common weed
JapanPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Naturalized
LebanonPresentHolm et al., 1979Common weed
MyanmarPresent only in captivity/cultivationKress et al., 2003
PakistanPresentIntroducedFlora of Pakistan, 2015
TaiwanPresentHolm et al., 1979Common weed


EgyptPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Weed
MoroccoPresentHolm et al., 1979Common weed
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Naturalized

North America

MexicoPresent only in captivity/cultivationDiederichsen and Rugayah, 1999; Flora Mesoamericana, 2015Commercial cultivation
USAPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Cultivation escape, weed
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedWagner et al., 2015Naturalized on Kaua`i, O`ahu, Maui
-MissouriPresentIntroducedFlora of Missouri, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Naturalized
Costa RicaPresentFlora Mesoamericana, 2015
CubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012Naturalized; potentially invasive
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Cultivated
GuatemalaPresentFlora Mesoamericana, 2015
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Cultivated
HondurasPresentFlora Mesoamericana, 2015
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedLiogier and Martorell, 2000; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Cultivated

South America

ArgentinaPresent only in captivity/cultivationDiederichsen and Rugayah, 1999Commercial cultivation
BoliviaPresentBolivia Checklist, 2015La Paz, Santa Cruz
BrazilPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2010Subspontaneous
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2010Subspontaneous
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2010Subspontaneous
ColombiaPresentVascular Plants of Antioquia, 2015Cultivated herb. Andes, Angelópolis, Bello, Guarne, Medellín, Rionegro, San Jerónimo, Valparaiso
EcuadorPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedVascular Plants of Ecuador, 2015Azuay, Cañar, Chimborazo, Galapagos, Imbabura, Loja, Los Ríos, Pichincha, Tungurahua
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Naturalized
ParaguayPresentIntroducedParaguay Checklist, 2015Cordillera, Paraguarí
PeruPresentPeru Checklist, 2015Cajamarca, Ica, Junín, La Libertad, Lima, Loreto, San Martín


AustriaPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012; DAISIE, 2015Casual alien, cultivation escape
BelgiumPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
BulgariaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015
CroatiaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015
CyprusPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
DenmarkPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
EstoniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
FinlandPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Casual alien
FrancePresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
GermanyPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
GreecePresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
HungaryPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Casual alien
IrelandPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
ItalyPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
LatviaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
LithuaniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
MaltaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
MoldovaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015
PortugalPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
-AzoresPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
RomaniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationDiederichsen and Rugayah, 1999Commercial cultivation
Russian FederationPresent only in captivity/cultivationDiederichsen and Rugayah, 1999Commercial cultivation
-Russia (Europe)PresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
SloveniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015
SpainPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, established
SwedenPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Alien, not established
UKPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012; DAISIE, 2015Cultivation escape, naturalised
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015
UkrainePresent only in captivity/cultivationDiederichsen and Rugayah, 1999; DAISIE, 2015Commercial cultivation


AustraliaPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Sleeper weed, garden thug
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Naturalized
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Naturalized
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Naturalized

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. sativum is one of the oldest spices in written history. It was cultivated by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, included in medical remedies attributed to Hippocrates, and even used to describe the taste of manna in the Book of Exodus of the Bible; the oldest archaeological remains date to around 6000 BC in Israel (Diederichsen and Rugayah, 1999; Lawton, 2007; Floridata, 2015). The crop has since spread throughout the world, and different morphotypes have developed. Coriander reached South-East Asia from two directions: forms with ovoid fruits were introduced from India, while forms with small, globular fruits arrived later (after 400 AD) from China. Forms with large, globular fruits have only recently been introduced from Mediterranean or European countries.

The Romans reportedly introduced the species into Britain, where it came to be used for a wide range of culinary as well as medicinal and magical purposes; for example, in the Middle Ages, it was used to make love potions and to treat facial skin ailments (Phillips, 1822), and in British Victorian society its meaning in the language of flowers was ‘hidden merit’ (Lawton, 2007). It was present in France by the 17th century, as the species was used as an ingredient in the famous Parisian liqueur of this time, eau-de-Carnes (Loewenfeld and Back, 1978). The species was apparently introduced to Austria for ‘fauna improvement’ and to Spain through horticulture (DAISIE, 2015). Today it is widely spread across Europe, and a common feature in various European culinary traditions.

Date of the species’ introduction to the West Indies is unknown, but it may have occurred during the early 19th century. The species was not included in Macfadyen’s 1837 work on Jamaica, though he mentions the species’ seed as a means of comparative measure in other plant descriptions. Neither was the species included in Bello Espinosa’s work on Puerto Rico in the 1880’s, but it was listed by Britton (1918) in his flora of Bermuda, in which Britton writes that the species had been reportedly naturalised there by 1877, despite his failure to observe it growing there in 1918. The species was included in the Britton and Wilson (1923-1926) flora of Puerto Rico, in which the species was reportedly grown in gardens for culinary uses.

Risk of Introduction

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Risk of introduction for this species is low to moderate and warrants further research. In Cuba the species is listed as naturalized and is potentially invasive with a tendency to proliferate in any locality (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). The species has a long history of cultivation dating back to ancient Egyptian times, but it has been known to escape from cultivation and to naturalize beyond its native range, often becoming weedy (Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012). In addition to its long history of repeated introductions, other invasive traits include its fast growth rate, ability to produce seed that remains viable for more than a year, its ability to pioneer disturbed areas, and the global trade of its seed. Considering these factors, but also that the species has not yet been reported to be invasive anywhere in the world, risk of introduction for this species is low to moderate but more research is needed.


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C. sativum is grown as a commercial crop and is also naturalized worldwide (Wiersema and León, 2013). It is a common cultivated plant in many parts of the world including Pakistan, where it is grown in the plains and hills (Flora of Pakistan, 2015). In Peru, the species occurs in disturbed areas of the Amazonian and Andean regions (Peru Checklist, 2015). In Missouri, USA the species is recorded as an uncommon plant found on roadsides, railroads, and open, disturbed areas (Flora of Missouri, 2015). It is a common garden plant in Puerto Rico (Liogier and Martorell, 2000).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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2n = 22-26, 28, 30 (Wagner et al., 2015).

Growth and Development

Some genotypes of coriander form several basal leaves, others start stem elongation immediately or after the second leaf. Flowering is protandrous and starts in the primary umbel, about 50-90 days after sowing. The peripheral florets of the umbellets are the first to flower. Coriander is cross-fertilized by insects; the stigma remains receptive for 5 days, pollen is fertile for 24 hours only; stamens emerge one by one. The length of the flowering period depends on the number of branches and the weather conditions, and extends for up to 30 days. Thus, maturation of the umbels of different orders is a successive process, and ripe fruits of the primary umbel may shatter before those of umbels of a higher degree have reached full maturity. Coriander seeds reach physiological maturity 6-7 weeks after anthesis. During ripening the aldehyde components of the essential oil disappear, and the odour of the fruits changes notably. This process continues after harvest of the fruits and is accelerated by high temperatures combined with dry weather. The time from sowing to harvesting depends very much on the genotype, and is usually between 90 and 140 days. However, since young coriander of some genotypes is frost resistant it can be cultivated as a cold-season crop over a much longer period.


Germination of coriander occurs at temperatures above 4°C, but is optimal at 17-20°C for genotypes with small fruits and at 22-27°C for genotypes with larger fruits. Sowing is therefore possible at any time, provided that the water supply during the juvenile period is sufficient. After stem elongation, coriander is sensitive to low temperatures but resistant to drought. Long days accelerate the generative development of coriander, but the effect is only minor. For successful fruit production the temperature sum during the vegetative period should be more than 1700°C and only high temperatures together with dry weather during ripening guarantee fruits of acceptable quality. Coriander for fruit production is found in tropical highlands, subtropics and temperate regions, while in the lowland tropics it is grown as a green herb. The soil should preferably be at least a sandy loam, but the crop will also grow well on loam and clay soils with good drainage. Sole cropping and intercropping, for example, with legumes, are practised.

In Colombia, the species occurs in valleys and humid premontane forests between 500- 2000 m (Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2015), while in Bolivia, where it also grows in dry valleys of the Andean region, it has been reported between 1500-3500 m (Bolivia Checklist, 2015). In Ecuador it is grown in Galapagos and Andean regions between elevations of 2000-3500 m (Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2015).

The species grows quickly and can produce market-ready leaves (sold as cilantro) within a month and market-ready seeds (sold as coriander) after about a month and a half. It prefers full sun and can tolerate light shade and light frost, but cannot tolerate extreme temperatures, humidity, or waterlogging (Floridata, 2015).


Per 100 g, air-dried fruits of coriander contain approximately: water 11 g, crude protein 11 g, fatty oil 19 g, carbohydrates 22.9 g (starch 11 g, pentosans 10 g, sugar 1.9 g), crude fibre 28 g, mineral constituents 5 g and essential oil 1.0 g. The essential oil content varies between almost zero and 2%; small-fruited types have the highest content. The oil consists of several monoterpenoids. The main component (usually making up more than 60% of the essential oil) is always linalool. Other components, none of which accounts for even as much as 10% of the essential oil, are alpha-pinene, gamma-terpinene, geranyl acetate, camphor and geraniol.

The composition of the monoterpenoids is largely genetically determined, and this chemical feature supports an infraspecific classification mainly based on morphological characters. Coriander originating from the Indian subcontinent (Indicum group or subsp. indicum) has ovoid fruits, with a low content of essential oil containing little or no camphor, myrcene and limonene, but much linalool. In spite of the relatively low content of essential oil, this coriander is sometimes preferred because of its specific flavouring quality. Medium or large globose fruits with low or medium contents of essential oil (Sativum group or subsp. sativum) are characteristic of the coriander forms that developed in the Near East, northern Africa, the Mediterranean, Europe and the New World. Coriander with small, globose fruits (Microcarpum group or subsp. microcarpum) developed mainly in the Caucasus and Central Asia and includes forms with the highest essential oil content, always containing camphor, myrcene and limonene.

The content and composition of fatty oils in the endosperm of ripe fruits varies between 12 and 25% and is much more dependent on environmental conditions. The major fatty acid (more than 60%) is petroselinic acid (C18:1(6C)), which is an isomer of oleic acid (C18:1(9C)) that is also present. Other components of the fatty oils are linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, vaccenic acid and myristic acid. The high content of petroselinic acid gives the oil physicochemical properties suitable for special technical purposes.

The use of coriander as a culinary herb is based on volatile compounds with a bug-like odour contained in the roots, stems and leaves. Per 1 g fresh leaves about 4 mg of essential oil is present. About 41 volatile components have been detected in this foliar essential oil, including alkenals in the C9-C16 range, C7-C17 alkanals, C10-C12 primary alkenols, alkanols, and nonane. The aldehydes make up more than 80% of these volatile compounds. Furthermore, the green herb's notable content of provitamin A (up to 12 mg/100 g), vitamin B2 (up to 60 mg/100 g) and vitamin C (up to 250 mg/100 g) is worth mentioning.

A monograph on the physiological properties of coriander fruit oil has been published by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM). The 1000-seed weight is 7-17 g.

Adulterations and Substitutes

The commercial essential oil is sometimes adulterated with sweet-orange oil, cedar-wood oil, turpentine and anethole or anise-fruit oil. The high esteem for the aromatic taste of green coriander is illustrated by the use of two other species as a substitute: Eryngium foetidum (Apiaceae), known as sawtooth coriander and also as 'Mexican coriander', and Persicaria odorata (Polygonaceae), known as 'Vietnamese coriander'.


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The only information on organisms attacking C. sativum comes from cultivated crops. Seed-borne bacterial diseases can cause considerable losses, for example, Pseudomonas syringae pv. coriandricola. Heat treatment or chemical disinfection of fruits is possible. Fungal diseases (Fusarium sp., Ramularia sp.) can be avoided by treating the fruits with a fungicide before sowing. In India, fruit damage is reported to be caused by the chalcid fly Systolealbipennis. Pests like the biscuit beetle (Stegobiumpaniceum) may damage stored fruits.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Intentional Introduction

The species reproduces by seeds, which are themselves a global food and medicinal commodity, and the leaves of the species are also commonly used in cookery; the species has thus been intentionally dispersed by man as a crop plant for centuries.

Accidental Introduction

The species has been accidentally introduced to habitats beyond its native range, as it is listed as a garden thug in Australia and is known to escape from cultivation in Puerto Rico, California (USA), and parts of the United Kingdom (Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Botanical gardens and zoos Yes Yes
Crop production Yes Yes
Cut flower tradeUsed in British Victorian bouquets Yes Yes Lawton, 2007
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Randall, 2012
Food Yes Yes
HorticultureUsed in British Victorian bouquets Yes Yes Lawton, 2007
Medicinal use Yes Yes
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Soil, sand and gravel Yes Randall, 2012

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive

Impact: Environmental

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This species has been reported to escape from cultivation and is known to be naturalized and weedy in some parts of the world (Randall, 2012), but there has been no research on the potential environmental or economic impacts of this species’ invasiveness to non-native habitats and no PIER risk assessment for this species has yet been conducted. Considering its centuries-long history of cultivation around the world and no current reports of its invasiveness, this species is not likely to become a high-threat species in the near future.

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Fast growing
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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Coriander fruits are commonly used as a spice, being part of a large number of dishes. Ground coriander fruits are also an ingredient of spice mixtures like curry powder (containing up to 40% coriander). The leaves or the entire young plants are popular as a culinary herb and vegetable, for example, for chutneys or in soups. Taproots are also aromatic and are commonly used as a vegetable in China, Thailand and, to a lesser extent, in other South-East Asian countries. Green plants are dried for preservation and are traded on the world market as well as the fruits. Coriander is used in folk medicine. It has been well known since antiquity. Green plants are applied in East Asia as a cure for measles. The fruits are reported to have carminative, diuretic, tonic, stomachic, antibilious, refrigerant, anticatarrhal, antispasmodic, galactagogue, emmenagogue and aphrodisiac effects. The essential oil from the fruits is used in the flavour industry, for various basic and luxury foods, to some extent in medicine too, and in cosmetic perfumery. The extraction residues are used as feed for ruminants. In the USA the regulatory status 'generally recognized as safe' has been accorded to coriander fruits (GRAS 2333) and coriander fruit oil (GRAS 2334).

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Food additive
  • Honey/honey flora
  • Seeds
  • Spices and culinary herbs
  • Vegetable


  • Cosmetics
  • Essential oils

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore


  • Cut flower

Prevention and Control

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There is a lack of research regarding methods of prevention and control for C. sativum.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Considering that the seeds of C. sativum are a global commodity and because it will continue to be cultivated around the world, areas for recommended research in the future include risk assessment and impacts of the species in places where it is known to be weedy, as well as methods of prevention and control.


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17/03/2015 Updated by:

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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