Cardamom, Which Type?
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Dexter Tiu
Posted on: August 14, 1998

Do your cardamom plants bear the true green cardamom seeds or are they of the brown variety?

We are growing possibly two types of cardamom. One is a type that has been offered in the horticultural trade for years. It is propagated by division. It is the one we sell as plants (because division works well and is faster than seeds). But we have not seen it flower in our greenhouses. Deni Bown writes in her book, "Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses" (available from Richters), that there is a non-flowering cardamom with fragrant leaves in the U.S. horticultural trade that is actually a species of Aframomum. Our plants seem to fit this description, but we cannot say for sure. We obtained it from a reputable U.S. grower labelled "Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)".

We also sell seeds. These are from the true species from a plantation in Ecuador. According to Bown, true cardamom has a eucalyptus note, which our has. It also has a green pod, unlike the cardamom substitutes. According to Jill Norman, author of "The Complete Books of Spices" the Indian, Nepali, Chinese, Thai and Ethiopian varieties (Amomum and Aframomum species) are distinctly camphorous and have brown or black pods.

We suggest that you try the seeds. But be prepared for sporadic and slow germination, and a wait of 3-4 years before your plants reach flowering size.

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