As mid summer approaches in Oregon and tomatoes, garlic and peppers start arriving it is a great time to re-seed Cilantro in your garden. Coriandrum sativum is bright and refreshing and one of our favorite cross over culinary-medicinal herbs.
A native plant ranging from Southern Europe to Africa to Southwest Asia, Cilantro is a member of the Apiacea family with soft feathery lobed leaves. It flowers in an umbel like its relative carrot and produces small round seeds. All parts of this plant are edible and used diversely in cooking. If you missed out harvesting the leaves for salsa and chutneys and your plants have started flowering simply allow it to finish and harvest the seeds for use. The seeds (coriander) have a warmer more nut like flavor and are popular in Indian cooking. They can be ground or used whole. The root is often often ground and added to curry pastes in Thai cuisine.
Medicinally the leaves are high in vitamins and are commonly used for gastrointestinal issues as a stomachic and carminative. There is also research to suggest Cilantro leaves have high levels of anti-oxidants and can help decrease symptoms of arthritis. Due to the high levels of essential oils in Cilantro it is also widely used in aromatherapy to treat anxiety and insomnia. My favorite use of Cilantro medicinally is a poultice of the leaves applied topically to poison oak rashes. It is so soothing and cooling and in my experience almost immediately lowers the inflammation in my rash. It is a little messy and expect your skin to be a little green afterwards. Make sure to wash off very well.
Direct sow Cilantro for best results. Place seeds about ¼ inch deep and about 1 inch apart with rows 12 inches apart. Keep moist until germination occurs in 7-10 days.