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Brown Cardamom Amomum subulatum

Phonetic Spelling
amo-mum sub-u-lay-tum
Description

Black cardamom is a spice in the ginger family similar to the more common green cardamom, though it has a smokier flavor. It is a native of the slopes of the Himalayas in Sikkim, India, and Nepal and is the oldest and most widely used spice in the world, often referred to as the “Queen of Spices”. The name Amomum comes from the Greek word momum meaning ‘unblemished’ or ‘faultless’ and the Latin word subula meaning “awl”, referring to the awl-shaped and pointed leaves.

Black cardamom is a red stemmed, tall, clustering, evergreen with abundant glossy, slim, tropical leaves. The mostly yellow or white flowers form at the base of the dull reddish-brown spreading rhizomes that then produce the fruit that contains the cardamom seed that is used as a spice. Cardamom is best grown in hot, humid, shady tropical rainforest conditions, ideally near hilly mountain streams or valleys where there is ample well-drained water, with temperatures ranging from 50 to 95 degrees and altitudes between 2200 and 5000 feet. In moderate climates, cardamom can be planted in containers and brought into a greenhouse, or other warm shady humid areas, such as a bathroom, when temperatures drop below 50 degrees.

To grow from seed, plant 1 to 2 inches deep and 18 inches apart, and fertilize with a high nitrogen, low potassium fertilizer. The soil needs to be kept evenly moist, and never allowed to dry out. Plants may not flower or fruit when grown in less that tropical climates or when grown in pots, but it still makes an interesting foliage plant. Propagation is by division of the rhizomes or from seeds. Seed germination is poor, but seeds that do germinate produce plants that are more resistant to viral diseases. Plants from division bear fruit earlier, but are more susceptible to disease. It takes up to four years to receive a harvest from the plant. Fruiting takes about five months from flowering, making harvesting time in late fall. India is one of the largest producers and exporters of cardamom, harvesting 3500 to 4000 metric tons annually. Cardamom is harvested by hand, and is the world’s 3rd most expensive spice per weight.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

Susceptible to Stem Borer, Shoot Fly, Leaf Caterpillar, Lace Wing Bug, Fruit Borer, Aphid, Mealy Bug, Hairy Caterpillar, Scale, Grass Hopper, Rhizome Weevil, and Thrips.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#rain garden#houseplant#edible flowers#herbaceous perennial#edible roots#edible seeds#spice
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#rain garden#houseplant#edible flowers#herbaceous perennial#edible roots#edible seeds#spice
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Amomum
    Species:
    subulatum
    Family:
    Zingiberaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Cardamom was used in food preparation as far back as the sixth century BC, and also used to drive away evil spirits. Today 60% is consumed in food preparation, and 40% is used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and perfume industries. It is mentioned in Ayurveda (the traditional Hindu system of medicine) for a variety of health benefits, including for dental, skincare, kidney, heart, nausea, circulation, detoxification, digestion, asthma, stimulants, astringents, and many others.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Nepal to Central China
    Distribution:
    Assam, Bangladesh, South Central China, Southeast China, East Himalaya, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Tibet.
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Edibility:
    Cardamom seeds are a popular spice used in flavoring spicy and rustic dishes, such as long simmering soups and stews, lentils, rice, pasta, curries, and meat dishes. Its mild, smoky, roasted flavor comes from the seed pods being dried over open flames, enhancing the other ingredients in the dish. Leaves of the plant can also be cooked and consumed as greens, the roots can be boiled and eaten like potatoes, the flowers can be used as a garnish and the pods are used in beef and chicken curries.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Long-lasting
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The light green capsule is irregularly globose with 10 to 15 irregular dentate-undulate wings. As the capsule matures, the skin becomes rough, deeply wrinkled, with a tough paper-like skin and turns dark brown. The capsule holds 40 to 50 purple, dark brown, or red-brown seeds in a sugary pulp. The seed pods have a camphor-like aroma.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Ivory flowers with yellow borders and pink or blue-violet stripes radiating from the center, are formed on erect or semi-erect inflorescences. The short, compact, spiked inflorescences bearing 40 to 50 buds arise from the base of old shoots coming from the rhizomes. Tight red bracts encase the flower buds. Each flower on the inflorescence stays open for three days or more, with each inflorescence flowering for over a month. Flowering continues from spring through mid-summer.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leafy aerial shoots grow up from the spreading rhizomes. The evergreen sword-shaped leaves are formed on the upper part of the stem. The 1 to 2 foot leaves with their prominent mid ribs are dark green and glossy on top, and lighter green and smooth on the bottom.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Red stem grow up to 5 feet tall. After a few years the old stems die down.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Riparian
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heavy Shade
    Humidity
    Wet Soil