The Nigella Genus (Love-in-a-mist; Devil-in-a-bush)

The Nigella genus is made up of 18 annual plants in the buttercup family, which come from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Southern Europe.

These plants are unique, featuring very thin, airy leaves, and gorgeous flowers that wouldn’t be out of place on Avatar or an alien planet.

Nigella Name Origin

The genus name comes from Latin, niger, which means black, referring to the very dark seeds that these plants produce.

The common name love-in-a-mist refers to the way the flowers seem to float on top of very thin, airy leaves, like mist.

The curious name devil-in-a-bush comes from the appearance of the seed pods, which are roughly head-shaped, and have ‘horns’ at the top.

Love-in-a-mist Flower Symbolism

Nigella flowers represent love, tranquility, and the important things in life which stop people from drifting apart.

Nigella Uses

Nigella plants have a lot of medicinal and culinary uses, and we’ve been using them for centuries.

In terms of medicinal purposes, Nigella plants are often used in herbal remedies as they have antifungal, antiparasitic, antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

Some species of Nigella have been used historically to treat skin complaints, nervous system problems, stomach issues, and respiratory diseases.

Dried seed pots are also given to people who have lost their sense of smell, in order to help restore it.

The dried pods can also be used to keep moths away.

The seeds of Nigella sativa are frequently used in the kitchen. You may also know them as black caraway, Roman coriander, onion seeds, or Nigella, used to flavor many dishes. 

In ancient Rome, the seeds were known as git, which gives you some idea of just how long we’ve been using these fabulous plants.

Nigella Growing Requirements

Nigella plants are suitable for USDA zones 2 through to 10, and depending on when you plant them, they may flower from spring all the way through to fall.

The plants themselves may get between 20cm and 3 feet high, depending on what variety you choose.

Nigella plants like plenty of drainage, but the soil doesn’t need to be packed full of nutrients for them to grow.

They do well in full sun or partial shade, and only need an average amount of water. As these plants are annuals, they don’t require a lot of maintenance, either, especially if you’re growing them for their seed pods, as you won’t need to deadhead them.

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