Cardamom is referred to the herbs within genera Elettaria and Amomum and both are recognized for their small, triangular and spindle-shaped seedpod, with a thin husk and black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green in color, while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown.

Genus Elettaria is native to southeastern Asia from India south to Sri Lanka and east to Malaysia and western Indonesia, where it grows in tropical rainforests. It is also grown in Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, and Central America. Elettaria is the most widely cultivated species of cardamom and is commonly known as Green Cardamom, True Cardamom and Ceylon Cardamom. States of Sikkim and Kerala in India are the main producers of cardamom.

Elettaria is a pungent aromatic herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2-4 m tall. Its linear-lanceolate leaves are alternate in two ranks, 40-60 cm long, with a long pointed tip. The white to lilac or pale violet flowers are produced in a loose spike of 30-60 cm long. The fruit is a three-sided yellow-green pod 1-2 cm long, containing numerous black seeds. The green seedpods are dried and the seeds inside are used in Indian and other Asian cuisines, either in whole or in ground form. It is also used to flavor coffee and tea

Amomum, also known as Black Cardamom and Brown Cardamom, is a seedpod with strong camphor-like flavor and a smoky character derived from the method of drying over open flames. There are two distinct species of black cardamom, Amomum subulatum (Nepal cardamom) and Amomum costatum. A. subulatum is smaller compared to A.costatum ansd is used primarily in the Indian cuisines, while the larger A. costatum is used in Chinese cuisine, particularly that of Sichuan; and Vietnamese cuisine.

Black cardamom pods can be used in soups, marinades, chowders, and casseroles for smoky flavor; and also in making traditional tea in Pakistan. It is also an important ingredient in India and Pakistan spice mixture garam masala. Black cardamom is used in savory dal and rice dishes. The largest producer is Nepal, followed by India and Bhutan.

In Chinese medicine, black cardamom is used to treat stomach disorders and malaria.

Elettaria cardamomum MatonElettaria cardamomum Maton
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Cardamom plantsCardamom plants
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Cardamom podsCardamom pods
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Cardamom pods and seedsCardamom pods and seeds
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Black and green cardamomBlack and green cardamom
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