Anethum graveolens L.
Family : Umbelliferae
Other names: Dill seed, dill
weed, garden dill
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
is a fennellike annual or biennial herb of the parsley family. Native
to Mediterranean countries and southeastern Europe, dill is now
widely cultivated in Europe, India, and North America. The name
dill comes from an Old Norse word, dilla, meaning "lull" since they
used it to quiet crying babies. Dill was widely used in Greek and
Roman times. In the Middle Ages it was thought to have magical properties
and was used in witchcraft, love potions and as an aphrodisiac.
The whole plant is aromatic. The young leaves and the fully developed
green fruit are used for flavoring purposes.
Native to Southern Europe and Western
Asia, dill grows wild in Spain, Portugal and Italy. It is now cultivated
in India, Germany, Rumania, and England and to some extent in North
and South America as a commercial crop.
Dill is an annual herb of parsley
family, 45-75 cm in height, with finely feathered blue-green fern-like
leaves and hollow stems. It produces small open umbels of creamy-yellow
flowers in summer followed by dark brown seeds. The fruit, or seed,
is broadly oval in shape, about 0.14 inch (3.5 mm) long, with three
longitudinal dorsal ridges and two wing-like lateral ridges.
The seeds should be planted in rows
at the rate of 15 to 20 to the foot either late in fall or early
in spring and thinned to 3 or 4 plants per foot. If dill is planted
along the north side of the garden, the shading of smaller plants
will be avoided. Germination takes place in 10 days to 2 weeks if
seeds are sown in spring; fall-sown seeds do not germinate until
early in spring. In good soil the plants will grow 3 to 4 feet in
height, and only light cultivation is necessary to control weeds.
The fruiting umbels are ready to harvest for seasoning when the
fruit is fully developed but not yet brown. The seed is the ripe
fruit of the plant, actually formed by two united carpels. The leaves
are used only in the fresh state, but the fruiting tops may be used
either fresh or dried. A few plants should be left to mature seed
for planting. The umbels may be dried on screens in the shade and
stored in closed containers for winter use, but the leaves lose
their pleasing flavor when dried.
Dill seed contains 2 - 5% volatile
oil. Its main constituent is carvone and the other components are
d-limonene and phellandrene. A recent study also found eugenol and
vanillin present in the seed. Dill weed or leaves contains 0.3 -
1.5% volatile oil, the chief constituent also being carvone.
Dill is used as a condiment and
flavouring and as a pickling spice. It is used to season foods,
particularly in eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The entire plant
is aromatic, and the small stems and immature umbels are used for
flavouring soups, salads, sauces, fish, sandwich fillings, and particularly
pickles. The leaves freshly chopped may be used alone or in dill
butter for broiled or fried meats and fish, in sandwiches, in fish
sauces, and in creamed or fricasseed chicken. The major commercial
use of dill is in the form of dillweed oil, used in the pickle industry.
Dill has a warm, slightly sharp flavour somewhat reminiscent of
The whole seeds and the seed oil
have carminative properties and have been used in treating flatulent
colic. Often taken as 'dill water' to relieve digestive problems
and flatulence. It is used widely to cure insomnia and hiccups.
Occasionally dill is used to perfume cosmetics. A medicinal oil
is distilled from leaves, stems and seeds.