Nigella sativa

         Nigella sativa; the blessed seed....


Like all plants, Nigella sativa exhibits alternation of generations. Alternation of generation means that the haploid (containing only 1 set of chromosome) cell of the plant can undergo mitosis (cell division). The diploid (containing two sets of chromosomes) part of the cycle is called the sporophyte, which is the dominant stage. Gametophyte (haploid stage) is the non-dominant stage of the flower.

Nigella sativa is a *monoecious plant. It forms a fruit capsule (ovary) which consists of many white triagonal seeds. Once the fruit capsule has matured (the seed capsule has five compartments each topped by a spike) and the ovary is dried up, it opens and the seeds disperse.

Once the seeds disperse, they become black in color; due to exposure to air. Hence the name Nigella (i.e. blackish; the seed coat).

The part of the plant that is commonly used as a medicinal and culinary herb are the seeds. Learn more about the Black Seed composition.


*Monoecious (bisexual) meaning the plant has male and female reproductive organs. Opposite of monoecious would be dioecious.

Photo taken by Benno White

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