Home Herbal Monograph Larger or Greater Cardamom, Nepal Cardamom

It is native to Arabia and Syria, But is also found in the Indian market. The Nutmeg cardamomum or the true Cardamomum majus (Elettaria cardamomum) made its appearance in the Bombay market in 1885. Up to that time, the only large cardamomums that were encountered were the Bengal or Ceylon kinds. It is referred to by Arabian physicians under the name Hil-Bawa.


It grows wild in the eastern Himalayas and cultivated in West Bengal, Assam, Sikkim and Nepal

Morphology Description (Habit)

It is a tall and perennial herb, with leafy stems. Rhizomes are creeping and branched, with several erect leafy shoots and panicles. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate, 30-60 cm in length, glabrous and the tip is acuminate. The spikes are globose, very dense, and shortly peduncled. Calyx and corolla tube segments are sub-obtuse, shorter than the tube and the upper one is cuspidate. Lip is obovate-cuneate, emarginate, yellowish white and rather longer than the corolla-segments. Capsules are 2.5 cm long, irregularly obcordate, echinate, trilocular, dark red-brown in color, containing several aromatic seeds in each cell and held together by a viscous sugary pulp. The fruit is anterio-posteriorly flattened, having 15-20 irregular, dentate-undulate wings which extend from the apex to downward for two-thirds of its length. There are three well-known cultivated varieties in Sikkim.

Principal Constituents

Cardmonin, Alpinetin1 and Subulin2 were isolated from seeds. The major constituent of the essential oil from the seeds is cineol (64.94 %).

There is no adverse effect reported on usage of this plant.


Medicinally, the seeds are credited with stimulant and astringent properties. It is used in gastrointestinal and genito-urinary complaints.

  1. Planta Medica, 1976, 29, 391.
  2. Indian J. Chem., 1977, 15B, 814.