Eryngium foetidum is a tropical perennial herb in the family Apiaceae. Its scientific Latin name literally translates as "foul-smelling thistle". Common names include culantro (/kˈlɑːntr/ or /kˈlæntr/), "cha[r]don beni", Mexican coriander, bhandhania, and long coriander.[2] It is native to Mexico and South America, but is cultivated worldwide, sometimes being grown as an annual in temperate climates. In the United States, where it is not well known outside the Latino/Hispanic, Indo-Caribbean, and Caribbean communities, the common name culantro sometimes causes confusion with cilantro, a common name for the leaves of Coriandrum sativum (also in Apiaceae), of which culantro is said to taste like a stronger version.[3]


Eryngium foetidum foliage


E. foetidum is widely used in seasoning, marinating and garnishing in the Caribbean, particularly in Panama, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and in Peru's Amazon regions. It is also used extensively in Thailand, India, Vietnam, Laos, and other parts of Asia as a culinary herb.[4] It dries well, retaining good color and flavor, making it valuable in the dried herb industry. It is sometimes used as a substitute for coriander (also called "cilantro"), but it has a much stronger taste.

In the United States, E. foetidum grows naturally in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.[5] It is sold in grocery stores as a culinary herb under the common names; "culantro" /kˈlɑːntr/ or "recao" /rˈk/.

Traditional medicine

E. foetidum has been used in traditional medicine for burns, earache, fevers, hypertension, constipation, fits, asthma, stomachache, worms, infertility complications, snake bites, diarrhea, and malaria.[6]

Eryngium foetidum is also known as E. antihystericum.[7] The specific name antihystericum reflects the fact that this plant has traditionally been used for epilepsy.[8] The plant is said to calm a person's 'spirit' and thus prevents epileptic 'fits', so is known by the common names spiritweed and fitweed. The anticonvulsant properties of this plant have been scientifically investigated.[9][medical citation needed] A decoction of the leaves has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in rats.[10]

Eryngial is a chemical compound isolated from E. foetidum.[11] The University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica, has investigated the use of enyngial as a treatment for human Strongyloides stercoralis infection (strongyloidiasis).

It is used as an ethno-medicinal plant for the treatment of a number of ailments such as fevers, chills, vomiting, burns, fevers, hypertension, headache, earache, stomachache, asthma, arthritis, snake bites, scorpion stings, diarrhea, malaria and epilepsy.[medical citation needed] The main constituent of essential oil of the plant is eryngial (E-2-dodecenal). Pharmacological investigations have demonstrated anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-convulsant, anti-clastogenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic and anti-bacterial activity.[12][unreliable medical source?]


The nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis which causes rat lungworm disease may be very widespread in the United States.[citation needed] Beginning in 2017, Hawaii experienced an epidemic involving Eryngium foetidum that is infested with the semislug Parmarion martensi, which is the principal molluscan vector of the disease. The slime containing the stage 3 larvae can cause the disease and that the nematode larvae can remain viable in the slime for up to three weeks.

See also


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "Eryngium foetidum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 21 January 2018. 
  3. ^ Ramcharan, C. (1999). "Culantro: A much utilized, little understood herb". In: J. Janick (ed.), Perspectives on new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, Virginia; p. 506–509.
  4. ^ Singh BK, Ramakrishna Y and Ngachan SV. 2014. Spiny coriander (Eryngium foetidum L.): A commonly used, neglected spicing-culinary herb of Mizoram, India. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 61 (6): 1085-1090.
  5. ^ Distribution of Eryngium foetidum in the United States United States Department of Agriculture
  6. ^ Paul J.H.A.; Seaforth C.E.; Tikasingh T. (2011). "Eryngium foetidum L.: A review". Fitoterapia. 82 (3): 302–308. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2010.11.010. 
  7. ^ "Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants". 
  8. ^ Culantro. "Herbalpedia" (PDF). The Herb Growing & Marketing Network. 
  9. ^ Simon, OR; Singh, N (1986). "Demonstration of anticonvulsant properties of an aqueous extract of Spirit Weed (Eryngium foetidum L.)". The West Indian medical journal. 35 (2): 121–5. PMID 3739342. 
  10. ^ Sáenz, M. T.; Fernández, M. A.; García, M. D. (1997). "Antiinflammatory and analgesic properties from leaves ofEryngium foetidum L. (Apiaceae)". Phytotherapy Research. 11 (5): 380. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1573(199708)11:5<380::AID-PTR116>3.0.CO;2-#. 
  11. ^ Yarnell, A. "Home Field Advantage" Chemical & Engineering News, June 7, 2004. Volume 82, Number 23, p. 33.
  12. ^ Singh BK, Ramakrishna Y and Ngachan SV. 2014. Spiny coriander (Eryngium foetidum L.): A commonly used, neglected spicing-culinary herb of Mizoram, India. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 61 (6): 1085-1090

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