Cardamom, Elletaria cardamomum
, is an herbaceous perennial in the family Zingiberaceae grown for its fruits which are used as a spice. Cardamom is a clumping plant with between 10 and 20 leafy shoots arising from the rhizome. The shoots are actually pseudostems composed of overlapping leaf sheaths. There are several additional flowering shoots. The leaves are lanceolate and dark green in color. The plant produces flowers on a long drooping pannicle and a capsule-like fruit which is triangular in cross section and initially pale green or yellow in color but dries to brown. The fruit contains 15–20 small aromatic seeds. Cardamom can reach a height of 5 m (16.4 ft) and has an economic lifespan of 10-15 years. Cardamom may also be referred to as green cardamom, black cardamom, brown cardamom, red cardamom or white cardamom and originates from southern India and Sri Lanka.
The cardamom fruit or seeds are used dried as a culinary spice. The seeds are used whole or ground. Cardamom may also be used as a flavoring in drinks, baked goods and confection.
Cardamom originates from mountainous forests and can be grown in a variety of soils ranging from forest loam to quartz gravels. It can be grown in the home garden in areas with tropical climates and elsewhere can be grown as a container plant and moved indoors when the temperature drops in the Fall. The optimum annual mean temperature for the growth of the plant is 22°C (71.6°F) and the plant will not grow below 17°C (62.6°F). As a consequence of their forest origins, cardamom plants thrive in shaded areas with indirect sunlight.
Cardamom seeds can be collected from the mature capsules (pods) by gently pressing the capsules until they pop open. The seeds should be left to dry for a couple of days before planting in a container or outdoors in a prepared bed. For large scale production, they are commonly sown in nursery beds and transplanted to the field when they are 1–2 years old. Propagation from rhizomes is achieved by dividing the rhizome of plants that have at least three shoots. Plants are usually spaced 1.5–3 m (5–10 ft) apart allowing a further 1.5–3 m (5–10 ft) between rows.
Anandaraj, M. & Sudharsham, M. R. (2010). Cardomom, ginger and turmeric. In Verheye, W. H. (ed) Soils, Plant Growth and Crop Production. Eolss Publishers Company Limited. Chapter available at: http://www.eolss.net/Sample-Chapters/C10/E1-05A-49-00.pdf. [Accessed 10 November 14] Free to access
Spices Board India. (2009). Cultivation Practices for Cardamom. Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. Available at: http://www.indianspices.com/pdf/Book_Cultivation_Cardamom.pdf. [Accessed 10 November 14]. Free to access
Common Pests and Diseases
Category : Oomycete
Azhukal (Capsule rot)
Water-soaked lesions on rachis; plant dries up beyond point of infection; rotting capsules with a foul odor which fall from plant; water-soaked spots on leaves which enlarge and coalesce
Plants must be protected during pre-monsoon period by removing all crop debris including diseased plants and burning; try to reduce the amount of shade on the plantation and promote good drainage
Category : Fungal
Damping-off (Rhizome rot)
Pale leaves and yellowing of plant; collapse of seedlings in nursery; more mature plants may exhibit a discoloration and decay of the rhizome; decay causes death of plants
Soil drenches with appropriate fungicides may be used to treat the disease prior to planting nurseries; all infected clumps, including rhizomes must be removed and destroyed; plant cadomom in well-draining soils
Category : Viral
Katte disease (Mosaic)
Cardamom mosaic virus (CdMV)
Thin chlorotic flecks on youngest leaves of stem which develop into pale green stripes running from midrib to leaf margin parallel to veins; all leaves emerging subsequently have stripes; symptoms then spread to all tillers
Check planatation for symptoms of disease at least twice each year; remove and destroy affected plants; replant with healthy material; avoid planting close to diseased gardens; do not use volunteer or tillers from infected plants as planting material
Category : Insects
Silvery sheen or discoloration on young leaf sheaths and unopened flower bracts; damaged areas developing white, yellow and brown blotches and/or streaks
Regulate shade in plantation; applications of appropriate insecticide may be required
Category : Nematodes
Stunted, yellowing plants; galls on roots which can be up to 3.3 cm (1 in) in diameter but are usually smaller; reduction in plant vigor; yellowing plants which wilt in hot weather
Check roots of plants mid-season or sooner if symptoms indicate nematodes; solarizing soil can reduce nematode populations in the soil and levels of inoculum of many other pathogens