A uniquely spicy-sweet aromatic, cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice by weight (after saffron and vanilla), which has been sought-after for its flavour and aphrodisiacal qualities since the Bronze Age.

Origin: Southern India

Family: Zingiberaceae
Subfamily: Alpinioideae
Tribe: Alpinieae
Scientific Name: Elettaria cardamomum

Folk Names: Cardamum, ela (Sanskrit), grains of paradise, green cardamom, Indian cardamom, true cardamom


Element: Fire
Day: Friday
Planet: Venus, Mercury
Zodiac: Taurus
Associated Celebrations: Yule
Deities: Erzulie, Hekate, Hermes, Medea, Mercury, Vishnu

Parts used: Seed pods, seeds

Magical Properties: Love, lust, aphrodisiac, divination, energy, friendship, marriage, passion,

Substitutions: Cinnamon, cloves


Magical Uses



Cardamom is commonly used as a spice/flavouring in foods and drinks. It has a strong spicy-sweet flavour and intense aromatic fragrance.

Cardamom is a common ingredient in Indian cooking (especially sweets, and in curry blends, garam masala, and masala chai), Nordic baked goods (such as the Scandinavian Yule bread Julekake), as a tea and coffee flavouring, in curries, and various other Asian dishes, as well as a flavouring in many herbal liqueurs.

Both the pods and seeds are used for food purposes. Keep the pods intact until use, as the seeds tend to lose flavour once removed.


Cardamom seeds are often chewed to freshen the breath.

Its unique fragrance is used in incenses and perfumery.


‘Cardamom’ can also be used to refer to black cardamom, Amomum subulatum, which is sometimes used in savoury cooking. This is also part of the ginger family.

Type: Herbaceous perennial
Plant Height: 2m-4m
Leaves: 40-60cm long with a long pointed tip. Arranged alternately.
Flowers: White to lilac/pale violet flowers, formed in a loose spice 30-60cm long.
Fruit: 3-sided yellow-green pod, 1-2cm long, containing 15-20 black/brown seeds.

Etymology: From the Latin cardamomum, from the Greek kardamomon (from kardamon, ‘cress’, and amomon, assumed to be a kind of Indian spice plant).

In the Garden

Type: Large herb
Light: Partial shade/filtered sunlight
Water: Keep moist, requires high humidity
Soil: Rich, loamy, slightly acidic (pH 6.1-6.6)