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Whorled Caraway

Carum verticillatum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Grassland, marshes, meadows, riversides, waterside, wetland, woodland.

White, 5 petals
The flowers appear in umbels of 2 to 5cm in diameter. The flowers have upper and lower bracts.
Smooth, egg-shaped fruit.
The leaves are similar to that of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) with thread-like leaflets. They are arranged in palmate whorls up the stems. This is a hairless biennial plant.
Unlike, Caraway (Carum carvi), the fruits of Whorled Caraway are not aromatic.
Other Names:
Purple Caraway.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Carum verticillatum, also known as whorled caraway or purple caraway, is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family. It is native to the Himalayas and is widely distributed in other parts of Asia. The plant is known for its small, white or pink flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in well-drained soil and is often found in grasslands, forests, and along streams. Carum verticillatum is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 60 cm in height. It is commonly used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including indigestion and respiratory disorders. The plant is also used as a spice in cooking, as the seeds have a distinctive flavor and aroma.


Whorled Caraway (Carum verticillatum), also known as Slender Caraway, is a herbaceous perennial plant native to Asia and Europe. It is a member of the Apiaceae family, which includes other culinary herbs such as dill, cumin, and coriander.

Whorled Caraway is a hardy plant that grows up to 50 cm in height. It has delicate, feathery leaves that grow in a whorled pattern around its stem, which gives it its distinctive name. The leaves are green and have a sweet, slightly pungent aroma, which is similar to that of its close relatives, cumin and caraway.

The flowers of Whorled Caraway are small and white, with five petals. They grow in clusters and bloom from July to September. The plant is self-seeding, so it can spread quickly and become invasive in the right conditions.

The seeds of Whorled Caraway are small and brown, with a strong, aromatic flavor. They are used as a spice in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, and pickles. They are also used to flavor liqueurs, such as vermouth, and are sometimes used as a substitute for caraway seeds.

In traditional medicine, Whorled Caraway has been used to treat digestive problems, such as indigestion and bloating. The seeds are thought to have antispasmodic and carminative properties, which help to relieve gas and stomach cramps.

Whorled Caraway is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils and climates. It is drought-tolerant and prefers full sun to partial shade. It is easy to grow from seed and can be propagated by dividing the roots in spring or fall.

Whorled Caraway is a unique and versatile herb that is well worth growing for its aromatic leaves and flavorful seeds. Whether used as a spice or for its medicinal properties, this plant is sure to add a touch of flavor and fragrance to any garden.

Whorled Caraway is also a great plant for attracting wildlife to your garden. Its small white flowers are a favorite of bees and other pollinators, making it an important plant for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Additionally, the seeds of the plant are a source of food for birds, providing them with a nutritious snack in the winter months.

In terms of cultivation, Whorled Caraway is a low maintenance plant that is easy to care for. It prefers well-drained soil and can tolerate a range of soil pH levels. It is best to water the plant regularly, especially during dry spells, to keep the soil consistently moist.

It is important to note that while Whorled Caraway is not considered toxic to humans, it should not be ingested in large quantities. Like other members of the Apiaceae family, the seeds contain compounds that can cause digestive problems if consumed in excess.

Overall, Whorled Caraway is a valuable addition to any herb garden or wildflower meadow. Its delicate leaves, white flowers, and flavorful seeds make it a plant that is both beautiful and functional. Whether used for cooking, medicine, or simply as a way to attract pollinators, Whorled Caraway is a plant that is sure to impress.

In terms of landscape design, Whorled Caraway can be used in a variety of ways. It can be planted as a specimen plant in a herb garden or mixed border, where its delicate leaves and white flowers will provide an attractive contrast to other, bolder plants. It can also be planted in masses to create a swath of fragrance and texture in a wildflower meadow.

In addition to its ornamental qualities, Whorled Caraway is also a valuable plant for erosion control. Its deep roots help to anchor the soil and prevent erosion, making it a great choice for planting on slopes and hillsides.

When growing Whorled Caraway for culinary use, it is best to harvest the seeds just as they begin to mature, which is usually in late summer or early fall. The seeds can be dried and stored in an airtight container for later use. The leaves of the plant can also be harvested and used fresh or dried for use in teas, sauces, and other culinary dishes.

In conclusion, Whorled Caraway is a versatile and valuable plant that offers a range of benefits to gardeners, wildlife enthusiasts, and herbalists alike. Its delicate leaves, white flowers, and flavorful seeds make it a great choice for a wide range of applications, from ornamental gardens to erosion control, and everything in between.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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