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Friday, 25 July 2014

Nigella damascena and Nigella sativa

Nigella damascena is part of the plant family Ranunculaceae which is also referred to as the Buttercup family.There are a number of varieties or cultivars and a similar species Nigella sativa is the source of the spice Black cumin also known as Nigella and Kalonji.
Nigella damascena in herb garden at foot of Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill, Bristol
However, I am not a hundred percent sure that this is Nigella damascena and not Nigella sativa because although it resembles Nigella damascena, they were growing in the spice and herb garden along one side of the base of the Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill in Bristol. So given that all of the plants growing in that area were either herbs or spices I  suspect that it is most likely Nigella sativa.
I am trying to find other sources I can look at to see how I can differentiate them since they look quite similar. I have seen some varieties of both species ranging from white to deep blue along with the same lacey bracts.

Maybe some are misidentified? I suppose that I will need to hunt down some more reliable on-line sources and or find a book that covers the genus in a bit more detail.

Warning although Nigella sativa is used as a spice it is used in very sparse quantities because it is toxic in large amounts.

Nigella damascena in herb garden at foot of Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill, Bristol

While Nigella damascena is extremely popular in gardens and has been so since Elizabethan times for its striking flowers, lacey foliage and bulbous seed heads as well, it is also cultivated for its essential oils.

Seed pod of Nigella damascena in herb garden at foot of Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill, Bristol
The generic name is derived from the Latin niger which means black, no doubt for the colour of its seeds. The specific name damascena refers to the city of Damascus in Syria.

Close up of Nigella damascena in herb garden at foot of Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill, Bristol




Close up of Nigella damascena in herb garden at foot of Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill, Bristol



Binomial Name: Nigella damascena
Common names: Love-in-a-mist, Ragged lady,  Devil-in-the-bush (English); Nigelle de Damas (French); Jungfer im Grüne (German); Nigella damascena, arañuela o cabellos de Venus, amor en la niebla, demonio en los arbustos (Spanish); Juffertje-in-het-groen (Dutch)

Binomial Name: Nigella savita
Common names: fennel flower, nutmeg flower, black carraway, Roman Corriander, Black Cuin, Onion Seed and Black sesame (English); cumin noir (French); Echte Schwartzkümmel (German); _ (Spanish); Zwarte komijn, nootmuskaatbloem (Dutch); Semaro nreo(Italian)
Taxonomic hierarchy: 


Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae – Green plants
Infrakingdom: Streptophyta – Land plants
Division: Tracheophyta – Vascular plants
Subdivision: Spermatophytina – Spermatophytes (seed plants)
Infradivision: Angiospermae – Angiosperms (flowering plants)
Class: Magnoliopsida
Superorder: Caryophyllanae
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae – 
Genus: Nigella – 
Species: Nigella damascena

Notes: 
  • I am using the taxonomical classification system used by ITIS (Intergrated Taxonomic Information System). I have decided to use this system in order to avoid confusion as well as because it offers a comprehensive hierarchy from kingdom right through to subspecies whereas other sources only go as far as order or  provide the names of some of the higher taxonomical ranks but only indicate "unclassified" rather than providing the rank.
  • When and where possible I will endeavour to include alternatives classifications although  I may limit this to occasions where an opportunity arises to discuss the reason for the different classifications.
  • Taxonomical data used in this post was retrieved [June 15 2014], from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database, http://www.itis.gov.

References:

Books:
  • Lippert Wolfgang, and Podlech Dieter, Wild Flowers of Britain & Europe, translated and adapted by Martin Walters, Collins 2011, page 144
  • Branson Andrew, Wild Flowers of Britain & Europe, Octopus Publishing 2011, page 146
Articles:
  • Edward Hammond: Third World Network, Briefing Paper 5 "Food Giant Nestle,claims to have invented stomach soothing use of habbat al-barakah (Nigella Savita), Nagoya Protocol ICNP-2, 2-6 July 2012, New Delhi
On-line sources:

  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database Website
  • Edward Hammond: Third World Network, Briefing Paper 5 "Food Giant Nestle claims to have invented stomach soothing use of habbat al-barakah (Nigella Savita)
  • Royal Horticultural Society: Entry for
  • Mossouri Botanical garden: Entry for 
  • Wikipedia: Entry for Nigella damascena
  • Wikipedia: Entry for Nigella
  • Wikipedia: Entry for

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