The herbaceous plant Nigella, also called nigella, is directly related to the buttercup family. This genus includes more than 20 species of different plants. Under natural conditions they can be found in Western Asia, Western Europe and North Africa. The Latin name comes from the word "niger", which translates as "black". It is so called because its seeds are charcoal black.
Firstly nigella appeared in the Northern Caucasus and Turkey, and from there it already got to India, and from there to European countries. In England the plant is called blessed seeds, black cumin, nutmeg, calindji, flowering fennel, black sesame, and Italian coriander, but nigella has nothing to do with any of the above plants.
Peculiarities of nigella
Nigella is an annual herbaceous plant possessing branched shoots and reaching a height of 0.3-0.6 m.
The alternately arranged lacy leaf plates may be palmately or pinnately dissected. The upper leaves rise above the plant, resembling an openwork veil. The solitary paniculate flowers are about 4 centimeters in diameter and have 5 sepals, resembling petals. The flowers may be white, blue or yellow. If the flower is swollen, the sepals are arranged in 2, 3 or 4 rows.
The petals of the flowers converted into nectaries. The fruit is a box of inflated or flattened shape, which consists of 5 leaflets. Inside the fruit are egg-shaped, matt black seeds.
Nigella is considered an important element of landscape design. They are planted along borders and hedges, in rockeries, beds and rock gardens as well as in flower arrangements.
Growing Nigella from seed
Nigella can be propagated only by seeds. Sown into open soil in May or under the winter, they should be placed 20mm deeper into the soil. Seedlings shown are quite cold-resistant, but still the first time experienced gardeners recommend that they be covered. Seedlings react very negatively to transplanting, so the seeds should be sown immediately in a permanent place. The first seedlings should appear 14-20 days after sowing.
When the first couple of true leaves begin to develop, the seedlings will need to be pickled in individual peat-mulch pots. The grown seedlings should be planted directly in these pots.
Putting Nigella outdoors
Time to plant
Grows up relatively quickly and can be planted in May in a permanent place in the garden. The site for such a plant should be chosen a well-lit and open, the fact is that in a shaded place, it grows and develops much worse. Also choosing a place for planting nigella, it should be taken into account that it does not suit the neighborhood with groundcover plants.
Suitable soil should be dry, loose, light, rich in nutrients, neutral or lime. Acidic soil is not suitable for planting.
How to plant
Sprouts should be planted directly in peat-mulch pots, with a distance of 15 to 20 centimeters between bushes and a row spacing of 45 to 50 centimeters. If you plant nigella too densely, it will have a negative impact on flowering, and also will not have time to mature seeds. When the seedlings will be planted in the open soil, it should be well watered.
You should not fill the surface of the plot with a layer of mulch, as nigella reacts negatively to mulching. Flowering begins about 40-45 days after the seedlings appear and lasts about 8 weeks.
Garden care for nigella
Care for nigella by systematically loosening the plot surface while removing weeds, as this plant reacts negatively to mulch. As for moistening the soil, you should remember that frequent and infrequent watering can also harm such a flower. In this regard, it is recommended to work out a special regime of watering for nigella.
Feeding this flower should be remembered that it is quite easy to overfeed, so here, too, should be very careful. In this regard, experienced gardeners are advised to plant nigella in the same area where the organic fertilized predecessors were grown. In this case, until the middle of the active growth period, such flowers can not be fed at all. During flowering, fertilize the plant with phosphorus-potassium fertilizer.
This plant can only be propagated by seed without plants or by sprouts.
Sowing into an open field can be done in the spring or under the winter. How to grow nigella from seed is described in detail above. Self-sowing is also considered the way to propagate the nigella.
Diseases and pests
If the weather is cool and damp for a relatively long time, the risk of the nigella getting mildew increases. To save the plants, 2 or 3 treatments with the fungicide are recommended, 7 to 10 days apart.
If there is a long dry period in the summer and the nigella plants are not watered in time, spider mites may settle on them, sucking the plant juice from the leaves. To get rid of spider mites, it is necessary to treat plants with insectoacaricides, for example: Actellic, Pincer, Agravertin, Acarin or Fitoverm. However, do not panic, because with proper care and cultivation nigella is quite resistant to disease and pests. The seeds of this flower also have a very pleasant odor that will repel pests.
Nigella after flowering
The signal for the nigella seed collection is when about 2/3 of the bolls are ripe, usually in the last days of August or September.
The mature pods are cut off with the shoots and then bundled up and left to dry in a dry, ventilated room. When the bolls are dry, shake out the seeds, which will keep germinating for two years. These seeds can be sown immediately after harvesting for the winter or sown in the spring.
Nigella species and varieties with pictures and names
Middle latitude gardeners find this species, also called "lady in green", the most popular. The fact is that not only the flowers, but also the leaf plates are beautiful in such a plant.
In natural conditions such flowers can be found in Asia Minor, in the Crimea, the Caucasus and the Mediterranean. Branched shoots can reach a height of 0.3-0.5 meters. Leaf blades are tri- or double pinnately dissected.
The color of the flowers may be blue, white or blue. The flowers seem to be surrounded by a showy "veil" composed of tracery leaves on the shoots directly below the flowers. There are many varieties of Nigella, but not all of them are very decorative. The Baby Blue variety, for example, is more of a green lump, which can grow to 15 centimeters tall and has tiny flowers and ugly, horny fruit. The most ornamental varieties include:
- Cambridge Blue.
Tender stems can reach 0.9 m in height, the color of the semi-maxillary flowers is blue.
- Miss Jekyll Rose. Very straight stems reach half a meter in height. The color of the flowers is dark pink-red.
This variety was especially designed for florists to use in dry or fresh flower compositions. This mixture contains plants with blue, purple-pink, white or pink flowers.
- Dwarf Moody Blue. This dwarf plant can reach a height of 15-20 centimeters. The color of the flowers is blue.
Nigella sativa (Nigella sativa)
This species is cultivated as a medicinal plant. The height of this annual may vary from 0.3 to 0.7 meters. The white, blue or yellow-green flowers can be simple or bold and look very impressive with their finely dissected, lacy leaves similar in appearance to those of fennel.
The black seeds of this type of nigella have a very strong spicy odor, making them used for many hundreds of years as a condiment in a variety of dishes. Also such seeds are used to make choleretic and stomach remedies. This species includes such names as: black cumin, black sesame, and flowering fennel. And the Quran says of it, "In black cumin is healing from all diseases."
This species is not as well known.
This annual is native to northern Africa and southern Spain. The bush can reach 0.6 meters in height. The deeply divided leaf plates are dark green in color. The dark blue flowers are about 6 centimeters in diameter, have a faint scent and brightly colored stamens.
The light red ovaries of this species are also quite spectacular. Flowering is observed in June-September.
Nigella orientalis (Nigella orientalis)
This species is not very popular. It is used to decorate flowerbeds, and such flowers are grown for cuttings and for making dry bouquets. This annual plant has small flowers and spectacular inflorescences.
Nigella sown (medicinal nigella) is used not only for decoration of the garden plot. The seeds of this type of nigella have a strawberry odor and a pungent peppery taste, so they are widely used in cooking as a spice. The seeds are used in baked goods, bread, canned vegetables in marinades, and soups. The leaves of this plant are eaten as greens, the fact is that they have a restorative and tonic effect. In the summertime, these leaves are used to prepare a salad together with coriander, dill, basil, parsley and chervil.
This plant has not only a pleasant taste, but it is also very useful. For example, the seeds of the medicinal nigella have carotene, essential oils, vitamin E, ascorbic acid as well as lipase enzyme. Because of this, they have an analgesic, antispasmodic, antifungal, antioxidant, bronchodilator, antiviral, anthelmintic, diuretic, analgesic, antiulcer, antibacterial, anti-allergic, anti-tumor, immune stimulating and choleretic effect. They are recommended for use in hypertension, dysbacteriosis, periodontal disease, pyelonephritis, flatulence and GI disorders, hormonal disorders, vascular dystonia, cystitis, and poor appetite. These seeds can enhance memory, improve liver and pancreatic function, and also help to slow the aging process in the body.
These seeds together with certain medicines treat diseases such as: diabetes, arterial hypertension, epilepsy, asthma, malignant tumors and drug addiction. A tea made from such seeds helps to speed up metabolism and detoxify the body, and also helps to get rid of excess weight.
Some fairly well-known folk remedies from nigella seed:
- Tincture from the seeds of nigella. The seeds should be combined with vodka in a 1:5 ratio. This mixture is placed in a dark place for 7 days.
Then the tincture will only have to filter and put on a shelf in the refrigerator for storage. In diseases of the respiratory tract this tincture is drunk 10-15 drops.
- Tea. 200 mg of just boiled water should be combined with 1 gram of nigella seeds. Allow the remedy to infuse for 15 minutes.
Such tea should be drunk during the day in small portions, and it will have a laxative, tonic, diuretic and choleretic effect on the body. To achieve the anthelmintic effect, you should drink at least 2 liters of such a remedy during the day, at the same time you should eat spicy food (herring, onions, etc.). These seeds are characterized by the fact that they have almost the same spice as the black pepper, but they do not have an irritating effect on the gastrointestinal organs.
- Tasty cakes with seeds.
You will need 1 kg of flour, from which a dough should be prepared in water. 1.5 big spoonfuls of nigella seeds are poured into it and everything is mixed well. Let the dough stand for 40-50 minutes and then form it into flapjacks. They are baked in the oven and then buttered while still hot.
Blackcorn seeds are also widely used in the fight against moths. The seeds are poured into small bags of gauze or cloth, which are sewn up tightly. Then the bags are placed on the shelves in the closet. Interestingly, the scent of these seeds can repel not only moths but also mosquitoes and snakes.
But the nigella plant has several contraindications; products from this flower cannot be used:
- pregnant (especially during the late term);
- with active thrombophlebitis;
- with gallstone disease;
- with coronary heart disease;
- with acute gastritis with hyperacidity.
Such remedies should be completely excluded for people with transplanted organs. The fact is that they strengthen the immune system, and this can lead to rejection of the implanted organ.