Cilantro is technically the leaf of the herb whereas coriander is the seed. Cilantro should be grown in full sun and in well-drained soil, with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. Cilantro should be planted in the fall or the spring about a month before the last frost. For steady harvest, set out transplants every 3 to 4 weeks until the weather gets warm in spring, or until the first frost of fall. Cilantro grows best under cool conditions, and will easily flower in temperatures at or above 80 degrees F. Mulch with an inch of compost or steer manure, keep pots of cilantro in the shade on hot days (1). When planted near eggplants, tomatoes and potatoes, cilantro reduces populations of the Colorado potato beetle, aphids, carrot rust fly and spider mites. Cilantro enhances the growth of vegetables like chervil, spinach and asparagus when planted near them in your garden. If you want to help your cilantro grow better, plant near it vegetables and herbs like beans, peas and anise (2).
Culinary and Medicinal Uses
Medicinally, cilantro is a great herb to treat exposure to heavy metal toxicity. Animal studies show that cilantro has molecules that prevent the deposition of lead and mercury in the tissues, which makes the herb a great option for those who have been exposed to high levels of those metals (3). Coriander has also been found to be an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes (4). Coriander is also used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic. In culinary dishes, cilantro is used in many Indian dishes in chutneys and salads and also in Mexican cooking, in salsa, guacamole, and as a garnish. Crushed coriander is used as a spice, with lemon overtones of flavor. In Indian cooking, coriander is one of the main spices in garam masala spice and the curries in which it’s used. The roots of the plant are used in Thai dishes, namely as an ingredient in curry pastes.
Significance to Cultural Communities
Coriander is one of the oldest herbs, as it has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, as well as records indicating its use since the time of Hippocrates. In Mexican-American medicine, cilantro is used in teas to mask the taste of other bitter medicinal herbs in the tea (5). Coriander has also been used for many years in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine. The plant is referred to as kustumvari and is used for digestion because the bitter taste was thought of as purifying the body by releasing the doshas (parts of the human body responsible for illness) (6). Coriander also has a history of being a love symbol as well. The Chinese used to use coriander in love potions and It is mentioned as an aphrodisiac in the book Arabian nights (7).
1. Grey, Mara. “The Best Growing Conditions for Cilantro.” Garden Guides. http://www.gardenguides.com/87422-growing-conditions-cilantro.html#ixzz2xVoUztaH
2. Stuchlik, Alecia. “Cilantro Planting Companions.” eHow. http://www.ehow.com/facts_6037787_cilantro-planting-companions.html#ixzz2xVp5XrVH
3. Allen, Kimberly Jordan. “Cilantro: 10 Ways to Use the Superfood.” Kripalu thrive. April 6, 2012. http://kripalu.org/blog/thrive/2012/04/06/cilantro-10-ways-to-use-the-superfood-2/
4. Eidi, M; Eidi, A; Saeidi, A; Molanaei, S; Sadeghipour, A; Bahar, M; Bahar, K (2009). "Effect of coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum L.) ethanol extract on insulin release from pancreatic beta cells in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats". Phytotherapy Research 23 (3): 404–6.
5. Davidow, Joie, Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies (New York, NY: Fireside, 1999).
6. “Medicinal Uses for Coriander.” Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. August 2011. http://www.naturalstandard.com/news/news201108030.asp
7. Bowman, Barbara. “Cilantro.” Gourmet Slouth. http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/articles/detail/cilantro