Cilantro….er, Coriander…no, wait…

November 18, 2008

I’m on the hunt for coriander (coriandrum sativum) with a high-cilantro leaf yield to grow indoors and I’m already running into problems.

First is the confusion between coriander and cilantro. This confusion can be addressed by looking at the plant, fruit and leaves.

From seeds catalogs I’ve read, there seems to be an even split between referring to the plant as coriander or cilantro. For my purpose, I’ll refer to the entire plant as coriander.

The fruit (edible seeds produced by the plant) is dried and used as a spice in European and Middle Eastern dishes. The seed’s aroma has been described as warm, nutty and spicy. Most people find it pleasant.
I’ll refer to the fruit as coriander seeds.

The foliage is a parsley-like garnish used in many Latin American and Southeast Asian dishes. Here are the few common names used around the world:

  • coriander leaves
  • cilantro (mainly USA and Canada)
  • dhaniya (Indian subcontinent and in areas of the UK)

People either love or hate the taste of the leaves. Haters describe the taste as soapy and lovers as fresh and tangy. Our house is severely divided – I love it, he hates it. I’ll refer to the leaves as cilantro.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are other similarly-named plants that share some of the same compounds as coriander that gives it its distinct taste, such as long coriander (also from the parsley family and also known as Mexican coriander or culantro) and Vietnamese coriander (from the buckwheat family).

From what I can find online, there seems to be a few varieties of coriander c. sativum, such as “Jantar”, “Delfino”, “Santo” and “Chechnya”. Then there are generalized names such as “Large Leaf”, “Slo-Bolt” and “Pot”. I have no idea which of these results in the highest yield of cilantro. Anyone have any insights?

7 Responses to “Cilantro….er, Coriander…no, wait…”

  1. My understanding, such as it is, is that cilantro refers mostly to the leaves and coriander to the seeds though cilantro is a more commonly used name in the south and coriander in the north (of this continent anyhow). I’m sure it’s not as simple as that. I have some cilantro seeds for a type that has been bred for leaf production. I can’t remember what the name is, but it’s OP. If you are interested, then I’ll send you some seeds.

  2. Matron Says:

    Living in London, England we have always called it coriander. It is used much in Indian cookery and we Brits love our curries! My Sister however, is American and when in California it was referred to as Cilantro when using it for making salsa out there. I always used to think that it was just a different name for the same thing. I read recently that it is a different variety of the plant and not just a different name. The growing conditions are different so this is likely.

  3. Dan Says:

    Hi there, I just found your blog through ‘Down on the Allotment.’ It is nice to find another veggie garden blogger from Ontario, I’m from Brantford. My blog is at and I will be adding you to my blog list.

    How did your sweet potatoes do? I am going to give them a try next year after watching Tiny Farm Blog/ grow them this year. If you have not been to their blog before, they are a small farm located north of Toronto.

  4. I have 4 kinds….just ordered this…

    4517RO Caribe Cilantro OG (55 days) The best of the ten strains of cilantro in our 2006 trial. Received high marks from trialer Heron Breen as “hardworking with lots of excellent eating foliage and great flavor.” Longstanding; was barely beginning to flower on July 9. “Caribe seed performed famously! 10 weeks from seed on the ground to harvest for the freezer. HUGE LEAVES! Better than any I’ve bought or seen anywhere,” one customer reports. SKAL-certified
    A=1g $1.00

  5. Brandy Says:

    Great site! I like your winter sowing photos.

  6. Lynn Says:

    I believe they are the same plant. A gardener who grows amazing stuff here in upstate NY gave me a great tip for high yield. Buy coriander seeds at the co-op bulk spice section (you can probably find organic). Sew thickly, and trim with scissors when you want a bunch. They grow back fast, and this keeps them from bolting. That was outside, and you want to grow inside, but if you had a long windowbox, you could do it.
    Saw you on Blotanical this evening for the first time.

  7. We really enjoy reading your posts, i just used this website, as a way of giving away my unused seeds. Anyone know what I can sell them for? I have maybe 100 geranium seeds left.

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