Varieties, and ‘False Cardamoms’

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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What are sold as cardamoms in western countries are normally true cardamoms, but distinguishing between the commercial categories of these, and the various ‘cardamoms’ of commerce in other parts of the world, is complicated by three factors.

First, the species which provides the true cardamom, E. cardamomum, comprises two botanically recognized varieties, E. cardamomum var cardamomum and E. cardamomum var major. The former is, strictly speaking, the only true one. The latter is the wild cardamom of Sri Lanka, has larger fruits, and is less highly esteemed.