Botany Photo of the Day
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January 18, 2017: Botany Photo of the Day is being actively worked on. Returning soon!

Sesamum indicum

Sesamum indicum

Thank you to Nagraj Salian@Flickr from Mumbai, India for sharing today's photograph — here's the original via the BPotD Flickr Group Pool. You might like to view Nagraj's photo sets of flowers or his hiking / trekking trips, by the way. Thanks Nagraj – we're always pleased to have a first-time contributor!

If you haven't guessed from the name of the genus, this is the species responsible for sesame seeds and oil. Cultivated since antiquity, its origin is unknown; GRIN (the Genetic Resources Information Network) suggests a possible origin of Sesamum indicum in India or Africa (the Wikipedia entry goes into more details). Its plant family, the Pedaliaceae, has a similar range, i.e., primarily tropical Old World.

Whenever a spice is featured on BPotD, it's a given that we turn to Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages. Once again, Gernot doesn't disappoint. His detailed page on Sesamum indicum is fascinating, particularly the discussion on hot-pressed oils vs. cold-pressed oils (which I now understand). This transitions into a discussion on how sesame seeds are used for culinary purposes in various cultures.

One property of sesame not touched on by Gernot but mentioned on the GRIN page is allergenic responses to the plant, particularly contact dermatitis. The Botanical Dermatology Database goes into detail: Pedaliaceae @ BoDD (scroll down to Sesamum indicum).

On a final note, I see that Gernot is involved in a museum display on spices. If you're in or near Oldenburg, Germany before the end of this year, do visit the Chiles, Devil’s Dung and Saffron exhibition at the Landesmuseum Natur und Mensch Oldenburg.



Excellent, excellent post, as usual. I will enjoy perusing all the suggested links. And thanks to Nagraj for the beautiful photo; I eat sesame seed bagels every day!

Oh, now I really wish I could go home for a visit!! :)
(to Germany that is)
Does anyone know if there are seeds available from anywhere to perhaps grow some as an annual?

Oh, awesome picture, lovely blossoms, and amazing information. I, too, love sasame seeds many ways, and my son (a vegan) uses sesame oil in many of his dishes. He tends to cook a lot of Indian cuisine, curry being favorite.

I had never, in my whole life even THOUGHT about how sesame seeds were made, and I am so pleased to know now. Reminds me of when my 25 year old grandson was shocked to find out that dill pickles were made from cucumbers! Sorry, I had to laugh at that one.

Bad Grandma.

This one was great, thanks!


Thank you very much for appreciating.

Open Sesame.

thank you nagrai lovely picture nice to meet you
we started with hazel nuts and now we have
sesame we are cooking a little it would seem
perhaps i could add a tree from florida
where i live the golden senna or the
scrambled egg tree south florida bahamas
dessert anyone

Wow. Great shot!

How graceful and lovely selative focus photograph. Again I have learned where sesame seed come from. I really look forward each day to a new photograh and learning more as I go.
Thank you for all the great pictures and the chance to learn more each day.
Thank you,

Hi Nagraj Salian,

This image is great! I am a botanist writing a taxonomic article on the genus Sesamum and I was wondering if I could use your image to illustrate it. It will be in a non-commercial scientific journal (Anales del Jardin Botanico de Madrid).
I hope you will grant me permission,

Kind regards,
Maarten Christenhusz

Your photograph is NOT Sesamum indicum (sesamum or gingily). The plant shown in your photo is the wild sesamum, botanically Pedalium murex L.

Lovely flower and gorgeous scene! I would so love to be there!

I'd be interested to hear the verdict on the correct identification of this plant.

Don't be silly, Pedalium murex has yellow flowers. This is Sesamum indicum 'Malabaricum', the black-seeded sesame.

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