''Eryngium foetidum'' is a tropical perennial herb in the family Apiaceae. Common names include culantro ( or ), recao, shadow beni, Mexican coriander, bhandhania, long coriander, sawtooth coriander, and ngò gai. It is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, but is cultivated worldwide, sometimes being grown as an annual in temperate climates. In the United States, 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.


right|thumb|''Eryngium foetidum'' foliage


''Eryngium foetidum'' is widely used in seasoning, marinating and garnishing in the Caribbean, particularly in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Guyana, Suriname, and in Ecuador and Peru's Amazon regions. It is used extensively in Cambodia, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and other parts of Asia as a culinary herb. 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, 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.

Traditional medicine

''Eryngium foetidum'' has been used in traditional medicine in tropical regions for burns, earache, fevers, hypertension, constipation, fits, asthma, stomachache, worms, infertility complications, snake bites, diarrhea, and malaria. ''Eryngium foetidum'' is also known as ''E. antihystericum.'' The specific name ''antihystericum'' reflects the fact that this plant has traditionally been used for epilepsy. 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. A decoction of the leaves has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in rats. Eryngial is a chemical compound isolated from ''E. foetidum''. 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 ethnomedicinal 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. The main constituent of essential oil of the plant is eryngial (E-2-dodecenal). A pharmacological investigation claims to have demonstrated anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anticonvulsant, anticlastogenic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, and antibacterial activity.


Qualitative analysis of the leaves demonstrated the presence of tannins, saponin, as well as some flavonoids; but no alkaloids have been reported yet. Caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid (CGA), and kaempferol have been among the phenolic compounds found in E. foetidum leaves.

See also

* Cuban cuisine * Cuisine of the Dominican Republic * List of culinary herbs and spices * Mizo cuisine * Puerto Rican cuisine * Thai cuisine * Trinidad and Tobago cuisine * Vietnamese cuisine


External links

Long coriander (''Eryngium foetidum'' L.) page
from Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages {{Taxonbar|from=Q1146782 Category:Edible Apiaceae Category:Herbs Category:Medicinal plants of Central America Category:Medicinal plants of North America Category:Medicinal plants of South America foetidum Category:Plants described in 1753 Category:Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus