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Chapter 4: The Agronomy and Economy of Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum M.): The "Queen of Spices"

Chapter 4: The Agronomy and Economy of Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum M.): The "Queen of Spices"

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VII. Cardamom Entomology

A. Major Pests

B. Minor Pests

C. Storage Pests

D. Conclusions

VIII. Harvesting and Processing of Cardamom

A. Harvesting

B. Curing

C. Moisture Content

D. Grading

E. Bleached and Half Bleached Cardamom

F. Commercial Cardamom Grades in Sri Lanka

G. Grading and Packing

H. Conclusions

IX. Industrial Processing of Cardamom and Cardamom Products

A. Cardamom Seeds

B. Packaging and Storage of Cardamom Seeds

C. Cardamom Powder

D. Grinding

E. Storage Powder

F. Cardamom Oil

G. Industrial Production of Cardamom Oil

H. Improvement in Flavor Quality of Cardamom Oil

I. Storage of Cardamom Oil

J. Cardamom Oleoresin

K. Solvent Extraction

L. Large Cardamom (Nepal Cardamom)

M. Other Products

N. Conclusions

X. The Economy of Cardamom Production

A. The Emerging Trends in Cardamom Production

B. Export Performance of Cardamom

C. Direction of Indian Export Trade

D. India’s Competitive Position in the International

Cardamom Market

E. Demand and Supply Pattern

F. Model Identification

G. The Forecast

H. Demand

I. Projections of Supply

J. Conclusions

XI. Pharmacological Properties of Cardamom

A. Pharmacological Properties

B. Carminative Action

C. Antimicrobial Activity

D. Anticarcinogenetic Activity

E. Anti‐Inflammatory Activity

F. Other Pharmacological Studies

G. Toxicity






H. Other Properties

I. Cardamom as a Spice

J. Conclusions

A Peep Into the Future of Cardamom

A. Potential Applications

B. Future Outlook

Large Cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.)

A. Habit and Habitat

B. Cultivars

C. Plant Propagation

D. Plant Nutrition

E. Crop Improvement

F. Insect Pest Management

G. Diseases

H. Management of the Chirke and Foorkey Diseases

I. Harvesting and Postharvest Technology

J. Natural Convection Dryer

K. Chemical Composition

L. Properties and Uses

M. Conclusions

False Cardamom

A. Elettaria

Specification for Cardamom

A. Requirements



Cardamom, popularly known as the ‘‘Queen of Spices,’’ has a checkered

history, dating back to the Vedic period (ca. 3000 BC) and is among the

ingredients poured into the sacrificial fire during the Hindu marriage.

Today cardamom commands a leading position among the spices of

immense commercial importance and is finding its way into the dietary

habits of millions around the world, even among people on the European

and North American continents, hitherto unaccustomed to its use. Cardamom use ranges from a simple dietary constituent to that of immense

pharmacological benefits. Although beset with many problems, both agronomic and economic, it is a safe bet that next to black pepper, cardamom will

emerge in the world market as a spice of immense commercial importance.

Although India was the world leader in cardamom production, starting from

the 1970s the country began to slide down both in production and productivity,

while Guatemala, took the leading position, although the cardamom

produced there is of inferior quality. Among the primary constraints of

production, is the absence of an ideotype that combines many positive traits

to boost production potential, while at the same time resisting the ravages of

the devastating viral disease Katte of the Karnataka State in southern India.

Fertility management of cardamom soils is still rooted in classic ‘‘textbook

knowledge.’’ This exhaustive chapter covering many aspects of the agronomy

and economy of cardamom production, has also a separate chapter on the




relevance of ‘‘The Nutrient BuVer Power Concept,’’ developed by the author,

# 2006, Elsevier Inc.

in enhancing cardamom productivity.


Cardamom, popularly known as the ‘‘Queen of Spices’’ is the second most

important spice crop in the world, next to black pepper (Piper nigrum), which

is known as the ‘‘King of Spices.’’ The description ‘‘Queen of Spices’’ is

because cardamom has a very pleasant aroma and taste and is a highly valued

spice since time immemorial. It belongs to the genus Elettaria and species

cardamomum (Maton). The term Elettaria, which is the generic name, has its

origin in the colloquial word Elettari (in Tamil, one of the popular South

Indian languages) referring to the cardamom seeds. In the original description

it means a ‘‘particle/seed of the leaf.’’ It is a large‐sized perennial, herbaceous

rhizomatous monocot, which belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. The plant

is extensively grown in the hilly tracts of southern India at elevation ranging

from 800 to 1500 m. It grows as an under crop, beneath forest trees as it grows

best in shade and cool climate at high elevations. It is grown in Sri Lanka,

Papua New Guinea (PNG), and Tanzania on the African continent. Within

Latin America, Guatemala is the biggest grower of cardamom. Guatemala is

also the biggest competitor to Indian cardamom in the world market.




Cardamom has an interesting history dating back to Vedic times, about

3000 years BC. In the ancient Indian language Sanskrit, it is referred to as

‘‘Ela.’’ In ancient times of the Hindu culture, sacrificial fire was a common

ritual and mention of cardamom as an ingredient of the mixture of several

materials into the sacrificial fire, solemnizing a Hindu marriage has been

mentioned in ancient texts (Mahindru, 1982). Charaka Samhita and Susrutha

Samhita, the ancient Indian Ayurvedic texts, written in the post‐Vedic period

(1400–1600 BC) make a mention of cardamom. However, it is not precisely

known whether cardamom, referred to as Ela, in these texts, pertain to the

Indian variety or the large Nepalese variety. Assyrians and Babylonians were

familiar with medicinal plants, and among the 200 odd plants that the former

dealt with, cardamom was one (Parry, 1969). It was mentioned that the

ancient king of Babylon, Merodach‐Baladan II (721–702 BC) grew cardamom

among other herbs in his garden. Surprisingly, there was no mention of



cardamom in the ancient Egyptian texts, unlike that of pepper. Possibly,

cardamom was just beginning to reach Assyria and Babylonia through the

land routes. Interestingly reference to cardamom has been seen in the ancient

Greek and Roman texts. Spices were the symbols of royalty and luxury and

cardamom was used in the manufacture of perfumes during the Greek and

Roman times. In addition, cardamom was also used as an aphrodisiac (Parry,

1969). Significantly, the Greek physician and author of the legendary Materia

Medica, Dioscorides (40–90 AD) makes a mention of cardamom in his work.

Cardamom was widely used to aid digestion and that was the most important

reason both the Greeks and Romans imported the same in large quantities

from India. Thus, it became one of the most popular oriental spices in Greek

and Roman cuisine. This led to cardamom being listed as a dutiable item in

Alexandria in 176 AD.

Linschoten in the Journal of Indian Travels (1596) describes two types of

cardamom in use in southern India, the ‘‘greater’’ (large) and ‘‘lesser’’ (small)

types. This would suggest that the large cardamom found extensively in Nepal

must have been finding its way to southern India through land routes, brought

by travelers dating back to nearly 4000 years. Dymock while referring to the

introduction of cardamom to Europe writes, ‘‘When they were first introduced

into Europe is doubtful, as their identity with the Amomum and Cardamomum

of the Greeks and Romans cannot be proved.’’ Linschoten writes about lesser

cardamom as ‘‘it mostly is grown in Calicut and Cannanore, places on the coast

of Malabar.’’ Paludanus, a contemporary of Linschoten, wrote that according

to Avicenna, there are two kinds of cardamoms, ‘‘greater’’ and the ‘‘lesser’’ and

continues to add that cardamom was unknown to the Greeks such as Galen and

Dioscorides. Galen in his Seventh Book of Simples wrote, ‘‘cardamom is not so

hot as Nasturtium or water cresses,’’ ‘‘but pleasanter of savor and smell with

some small bitterness.’’ The properties indicated were dissimilar to that of the

Indian cardamom. Dioscorides in his First Book commented on the cardamom

brought from Armenia and Bosphorus and added that ‘‘we must choose that

which is full, and tough in breaking, sharp and bitter of taste, and smell there of,

which cause heaviness in a man’s head (Watt, 1872). Obviously, Dioscorides

was writing not about Indian cardamom, but other distinctly diVerent plant.

Such references led Paludanus (Watt, 1872) to infer that the Amomum and

Cardamomum of the ancient Greeks were not the spices of India. On the whole,

references to cardamom in ancient and early centuries of the Christian era and

even in the middle ages are but scanty compared to black pepper. Even

Auboyar in his classic work on day‐to‐day living in ancient India (200 BC to

700 AD) makes only a fleeting mention of cardamom (Mahindru, 1982).

The Mediterranean merchants were clearly cheated by the Arabs on the sea

route through which the latter brought home the spices from India. Like

pepper, cardamom was no exception. Pliny thought that cardamom was

grown in Arabia. This belief persisted until the discovery of the sea route to

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Chapter 4: The Agronomy and Economy of Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum M.): The "Queen of Spices"

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