Large Cardamom is a perennial herb with subterranean rhizomes and 50-140 aerial leafy shoots. Each shoot has height of 1.7 to 2.6 mtr and possess 9 to 13 leaves in each tiller. Leaves are glabrous on both sides with a prominent mid-rib. Inflorescence is a condensed spike with yellowish perianth. Each spike has 10-15 fruits. Fruit is round or oval shape, capsule with reddish brown colour. Each capsule is trilocular with many seeds.
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Origin and Distribution
Large Cardamom is cultivated in the Sub-Himalayan region of North Eastern India, Nepal and Bhutan. It is grown in cold humid conditions under shade of trees at an altitude between 800-2000 meters above MSL., with an average precipitation of 3000-3500 mm spread over about 200 days and with temperature ranging from 6-30 degree C.
It is used as a flavourant in dishes like Pulavu, Biriyani and meat preparations. It is an ingredient in curry powder and spice masala mixtures and is also used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicines. It has applications in flavouring cola, biscuits, liquors.
As the largest producer and exporter of large cardamom, India enjoys near monopoly in this spice. The main production centres are the sub-Himalayan ranges spread across Sikkim and Darjeeling district of West Bengal. The popular varieties are ‘Ramsey’, Golsey’, and ‘Sawany’. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Singapore and UK are the major importers of large cardamom.