Nigella, or Chernushka - description, cultivation and reproduction
Nigella (Nigella) - a genus of annual herbaceous plants belonging to the family Ranunculaceae. The people call this flower in different ways: “wild fennel”, “nutmeg flower”, “damsel in greenery”, “Italian coriander”, “black caraway seeds”, but more often “chernushka” for seeds of coal-black color. All these names indicate not only the delicate beauty of the flower, but also the beneficial properties of seeds, which have long been used in cooking, perfumes, and medicine.
About 25 species of nigella are known, common in North Africa, Western Asia and Europe. Of these, only 10-11 species are found in Eastern Europe. Florists mainly grow two types:
- Nigella spanish (Nigella hispanica) - a fast-growing plant with fragrant dark blue flowers, attracting gardeners with an abundance of bright stamens and a red ovary, which after flowering turns into a large fruit;
- Damascus Nigella (Nigella damascena) - a plant up to 35-45 cm high with unusual white, blue and sky-blue flowers surrounded by decorative cirrus-dissected leaves.
Application and beneficial properties of nigella
In medicine, the seeds and leaves of a plant are used. Young leaves contain many useful substances, so they are added to fresh salads. Seeds have a nutmeg smell and pepper taste. These properties are mainly used in oriental cuisine.
In Turkey, baked goods are sprinkled with blackberries instead of the poppy we know. In Indian cuisine, seeds are widely used as seasonings. They give salads, fish, meat dishes a special piquant taste. Nigella flavors ice cream, tea, jelly, and is also used for home canning. Seeds are stored in a dry, darkened place in tightly closed porcelain or glass containers.
In eastern countries, chernushka is called the "blessed seed" and are sure that it will cure any disease, except, of course, death. Currently, this flower is considered an effective elixir from numerous diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver.
In addition, Nigella is a very popular decorative flowering garden plant, which is often used to decorate borders, flower beds, rabatka, Moorish lawns. The flower looks especially advantageous among flowering perennials and annuals (poppy, flax, cornflowers). Florists use the plant to cut and create exquisite dry bouquets.
Chernushka is a low (30-60 cm) plant with straight branching stems, gray-green leaves, very similar to dill leaves only located a little denser, and rather large, single, simple or double flowers of blue, blue, white, less often red color.
Mass flowering of nigella begins in July. Each flower blooms for about a week, and flowering itself lasts 1-1.5 months.
The fruit is a five-leaf with black seeds resembling onion seeds. Non-blooming nigella is also decorative. Her delicate lush greenery with bright seed boxes is ideal for forming winter bouquets.
The secrets of growing nigella
Nigella prefers an open, generously sun-warmed location. In the shade it grows and blooms poorly. It does not tolerate proximity to ground cover plants. Not picky to the ground. Perfectly develops on nutritious light soils. Mulching is better not to use, it negatively affects the development of the plant.
Water the black nigella in moderation. She does not like excessive dampness, as well as long periods of drought. You should carefully feed the flower, as it does not tolerate the excess of any fertilizer. It is advisable to choose the site for planting the one on which flowers that were well fertilized with organic matter were previously grown.
Nigella plant is cold-resistant and easily tolerates spring short-term frosts. It is rarely damaged by pests and practically does not get sick.
Nigella is an ideal plant for a garden, care of which consists only in systematic watering and weeding from weeds.
Nigella is propagated only by seeds, which are collected at the time of ripening 2/3 bolls. The branches are cut, tied into small bundles and dried in a dry, well-ventilated room until the leaflets are fully opened. Seed germination is maintained for 3 years. Seeds can be sown in early spring directly in garden soil or in seedling boxes.
When sowing on a garden bed, the nigella seeds are planted to a shallow (3-4 cm) depth, watered abundantly and covered with agrofiber until seedlings appear.
Nigella seeds are sown for seedlings in March, planted to a depth of 2.5-3 cm. The first seedlings hatch after a couple of weeks. Seedlings are rapidly gaining strength and by May they can already be planted in garden soil with an interval of 15-20 cm. Young plants will bloom in 40 days.