This article was translated by Angela Iancu!
Identification elements: The plant: annual herbaceous species, up to 40 (60) cm tall; the root: fibrous and thin; the stem: simple or branched, cylindrical, hairy; the leaves: alternated, 2-3 times finely divided with linear leaves, 2-3 cm long; the flowers: solitary at the tip of the stem with simple flower structure, from 5 white petals with the tip green-bluish; 5-8 bilabial nectaries with the interior labium bilabial; numerous ovaries and stamina; fruits: capsule composed of united follicles; black wrinkled seeds, 1,5-2 mm long and around 1 mm thick.
Flowering: V - VIII.
Raw material: Semen Nigellae, Semen Milanthii, Semen Cuminis – small flat triangular seeds colored in black and the surface with small asperities. Characteristic aromatic smell, pleasant aromatic hot taste.
Ecology and distribution: This species is resistant to high temperatures and strong sunlight. The plant is distributed in the Mediterranean area, the Balkans, West Asia, India and North Africa. It requires rich aired soils.
Cultivation technology: The ground works of the soil are the same as for the white mustard. It does not like to follow after oleaginous and rapacious plants. On the same soil it can return after 4-6 years.
The plant is seeded early in the spring in rows 40-50 cm apart. On the fields free of weeds and well cultivated it can be seeded in double rows. Between two close rows the distance will be of 15 cm and between double rows of 50 cm. for one hectare are necessary 10 kg of seeds with 98% purity, 70-80% germination and maximum humidity 12%. The seeding depth is of 1-2 cm. In good conditions, the seeds emerge after two weeks.
After the plants emerge, the first hoeing is performed and the weeds are cleared out from the rows. On the second hoeing, the thick plants are singled out at 15-20 cm apart. During the summer time are performed at least three hoeing and two weeding. Because it is a honey plant, it is recommended to bring in the vicinity of the crop some bee hives.
The seeds rich maturity before the fruits and are harvested when their color is black otherwise they will shake down. The plants are harvested with a sickle and put into bundles, then transported to the threshing floor.
For small surfaces, the threshing is done with the harvester. On large surfaces, the harvest is done mechanically with the combine C-12. In this case, the best moment for harvest is when 60-70% of the plants have reached maturity. One hectare produces 600-800 kg.
The seeds for the next seeding are chosen from areas with normal density, with well developed plants, free of weeds and which have underwent a biological purification. They are harvested, threshed, conditioned and deposited separately. The weight of a 1000 seeds is around 2 grams.
Preparing the product for conditioning: The seeds are fanned, cleaned of impurities and deposited in a dry and clean space. While they are still wet, they are laid in thin layers until they reach the normal conservation humidity.
The technical conditions for reception admit max. 4% of impurities (crashed undeveloped seeds or fruit capsules), foreign organic bodies max. 2% and mineral max. 1% and maximum humidity 10%.
Chemical structure: The seeds contain around 1% volatile oil from which there were separated a carbonylate compound - nigellone, hederagenine – a triterpenoidic compound, fat oil, albuminoid substances etc.
Pharmacodynamic action – therapeutic uses: Due to the presence of nigellone it has an antihistaminic action in bronchial spasms. It also has a slightly diuretic action. But the black seeds are mostly used in the food industry, especially to spice up the cheeses.