You may have ever heard the word cardamom. This refers to neither more nor less than three different plants, although only two are the most popular and, therefore, the best known and most cultivated. Even so, it is very interesting to know all of them, because although their main use is culinary, all three can really look great in gardens, patios and terraces, and even inside the home.

Its maintenance is not very complicated, but it must be borne in mind that, since they are tropical plants with warm climates, they will need protection if the temperatures are very low in autumn and winter.

Origin and characteristics of cardamom

As we have advanced, there are three plants that are known by that name. All of them are perennial and rhizomatous herbs that we will find growing wild in Asia, Australia and Africa. In gardening they have several uses, such as the decoration of gardens planted in groups or alignments; They also look great in pots, embellishing the balcony or patio. But without a doubt its most widespread use is culinary.

Let’s see what are the main characteristics of each species:

Green cardamom ( Elettaria cardamomum )

Image – Wikimedia/ Afifa Afrin

Green cardamom, the kernel of paradise, and simply cardamom, is a rhizomatous perennial herb native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia that reaches a height of 2 to 4 meters. Its scientific name is Elettaria cardamomum, and its leaves are lance-shaped, green, and measure 40 to 60 centimeters. Its flowers are white with purple lines in the center. It produces fruits called yellow-green pods of 1 to 2 centimeters that contain black seeds.


Apart from being able to be used as an ornamental, its seeds have other very interesting uses:

  • Medicinal:
    • Essential oil: it is stimulating, carminative and helps to stimulate the appetite.
    • Tincture: against flatulence.
    • In decoction: to try to relieve the symptoms of digestive, respiratory (except allergies), and kidney diseases.
  • Culinary: its seeds are aromatic, which is why it is used to correct flavors or flavor beverages such as tea.

Important: it should not be consumed if you have a neurological disease, gastroduodenal ulcers, ulcerative colitis, epilepsy or Crohn’s disease. Nor if you have a respiratory allergy or hypersensitivity to other essential oils. It should not be administered topically to children under six years of age.

Before starting any treatment, a doctor should be consulted.

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Black cardamom ( Amomum subulatum )

Image – Wikimedia/ AJT Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF

Black cardamom is a rhizomatous perennial herb native to Nepal to central China whose scientific name is Amomum subulatum. It reaches a height of 1.5 meters, and develops simple, whole and sharp green leaves. Its fruits are pods that contain brown seeds.


It is a very beautiful plant, which is also used for medicinal purposes. In traditional Chinese medicine the seeds are administered for stomach problems, as well as to relieve the symptoms of malaria. Of course, they cannot be eaten raw. However, do not hesitate to consult with your doctor before starting a treatment with cardamom.

On the other hand, its seeds are said to be a good substitute for pepper.

Ethiopian cardamom ( Aframomum corrorima )

Image – Twitter/ Ariana Day Yuen

Ethiopian cardamom, also known as false cardamom or korakima, is a perennial rhizomatous herb whose scientific name is Aframomum corrorima. It is native to Tanzania, western Ethiopia, southwestern Sudan, and western Uganda. It reaches a height of 1 to 2 meters, and develops stems with lanceolate leaves. Its fruits are pods that contain brown seeds.


Its most widespread use is culinary. Its fruits are pulverized and ground to be used later as a condiment and to flavor the coffee. They are also used as carminatives, laxatives, and tonics.

What care does cardamom require?

Although they are three different species, the care they require is quite similar:


  • Exterior: they must be kept in semi-shade, in an area where they are not directly exposed to sunlight.
  • Indoors: in case of growing them at home, they should be put in a room where there is a lot of light.


  • Garden: it must be rich in organic matter, and well drained.
  • Pot: fill with mulch mixed with 30% perlite. Said pot must have holes in its base.


Plants known as cardamom need to be watered an average of 2 times a week in summer and every 7-10 days the rest of the year. They are sensitive to overwatering, so if in doubt check the moisture in the soil, for example by inserting a thin wooden stick.


Image – Flickr/ Dinesh Valke

During the entire growing season, that is, while temperatures are around 20-30ºC, it is advisable to fertilize them with an organic fertilizer, such as guano, compost or herbivorous animal manure.


They multiply by seeds and by division in spring.


They support up to 7ºC. If you live in an area where it is colder, you should protect them indoors or in a greenhouse.

What do you think of these plants?

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