B.N : Elettaria cardamomum Maton.
Family : Zingiberaceae
C.N. : 2n=48.
Origin : Western Ghats of South India.
Common names : Elakkayi (Telugu),
Cardamom is often named as the third most
expensive spice in the world.
Cardamom is therapeutic in nature, broadly used to
treat infections in teeth and gums, digestive
disorders, throat troubles, skin conditions etc.
In South Asia, green cardamom is largely included in
traditional Indian sweets and in the making of tea.
Although India is the largest producer of cardamom,
only a small share of the Indian production is
exported because of the large domestic demand.
The main exporting country is Guatemala, where
cardamom cultivation has been introduced to less
than a century ago and where all cardamom is grown
It is used for flavoring
various food preparations,
confectionary, beverages and
It is also used for medicinal
purpose, both in Allopathy
and Ayurveda systems.
Cardamom seeds are chewed
to prevent bad smell in
It improves eye-sight and
strengthens nervous system.
Cardamom seeds are chewed to prevent bad smell in
mouth , pyrosis and indigestion.
Moisture 7 -10%
crude fibre 6.7-12.8%
Volatile oil 7.4%
Per 100 gram of dried
Active principle: 1,8-cineol.
The history of Indian spices dates back to the beginning of the
human civilization. Spices were the symbols of royalty and luxury in
olden days and also inducements for war, voyages and expeditions
in shaping the course of world events and history.
The world doesn’t know the actual time period when cardamom
originated but it is considered that the cardamom plants firstly
came into existence in the monsoon forests of western ghats in
southern India as wild herbs.
A medicinal literature summary written in between 2nd century
BC to 2nd century AD in India named Charak Samhita provides us
with the first ever written inscriptions about cardamom. . .
Cardamom was written in an article of Greek trade
during the 4th century B.C.
It is also mentioned in Sanskrit texts of the 4th
century B.C. in a treatise on politics called Kautilaya’s
Arthasashasthra and in Taitirriya Samhitha where it is
used in offering during ceremonies.
The Susrutha Samhita, the ancient Indian Ayurvedic
text, written in the post-Vedic period (1400-1600 BC)
make mention of cardamom.
Assyrians and Babylonians were also familiar with the
uses of cardamom.
It says that cardamom is a significant constituent in
many medicines and preparations.
Cardamom has been used as a medicine and in cooking since
ancient times. It enjoys a long and fascinating history dating
back to Vedic times, about 3000 years B.C…
It was used in the manufacture of perfumes during the
Greek and Roman times (Prabhakaran Nair, 2000).
Greeks when initiated their exploration at this time,
started importing cardamom as a digestive medicinal herb. It
started to get used vastly in a number of recipes and drinks
due to its flavour and fragrance.
In the 11th century in Indian cardamom was included in the
list of ingredients for panchasugandha-thambula.
It was brought to an article of international traders like Arab
traders and according to the Portuguese traveller Barbosa, in 1524
the international trade of cardamom was well developed.
Most of the countries started to import this spice from India with
the emergence of 16th century.
The cultivation of cardamom in India was actively taken up by the
Travancore Government in 1823 A.D.
Till 19th century, cardamom grew wild and was searched in the
monsoon forests .
But the British colonies suggested that the establishment of
plantations and domesticate the crop.
Nowadays it is grown as a secondary crop with the coffee
Cardamom is mainly cultivated in warm humid and
high rainfall regions, especially on the slopes of
western ghats of South India at an elevation
ranging from 600 to 1200 m above MSL.
It has been found growing wild in Africa and
induced to West Indies.
Cardamom is a unique cash crop which suits well as
a component of forest ecosystem with least
disturbance to it.
Hot and humid environment prevailing under the
evergreen rain forests of the western ghats is
ideal for this crop because this region receives
heavy rainfall during June to September from
S.W monsoon followed by N.E. monsoon in
The optimum mean annual temperature range for
cardamom is 18 - 23º C.
Above 25ºC the development and ripening of
cardamom capsules are accelerated, often leading
to early maturity.
Continuous exposure to high day time
temperatures, as high as 32ºC, could lead to
complete withering of leaves and young tillers.
Relatively high air temperature during blossoming
(April-May) especially if associated with a
prolonged dry season may cause reduced pollination
and abortion of cardamom flowers.
Air humidity has a significant positive impact on
vegetative and flowering phase of the cardamom.
According to Pruthi (1993) cardamom thrives at an
elevation of 600-1500 m but the most productive range
of elevation is from 1000m - 1800 m.
According to Santiago (1967) an average rainfall of
1500 mm - 2500 mm is ideal for cardamom growth and
Korikanthimath (1987) studied the rainfall data
recorded during the period from 1961 to 1985 at
Coorg district, Karnataka and its impact on cardamom
He noticed that the meagre rainfall received from
January to April in 1964, 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1983
resulted in lesser crop yields.
The unprecedented drought during 1983 caused a great
setback on the growth and yield of cardamom in Coorg
district and the same trend prevailed in other
cardamom growing tracts of India.
Khader and Syed (1977) reported that an
unfavourable microclimate changes, which in turn
influences the release of N, P and S from organic
matter. It also affects nitrification and absorption
of P and K by the plants.
Experiments were conducted by Gurumurthy and
Hegde (1987) to find out causes of low germination
of cardamom seeds in winter season at Regional
Research Station, Mudigere (mean maximum
temperature 30°C and mean minimum temperature
10°C) and Agricultural Research Station, Ullal
(mean maximum temperature 33.7°C and mean
minimum temperature 18.8°C).
They observed that germination was significantly
correlated with minimum and maximum
John (2003) reported that the temperature was in the range of
18°C to 24°C in the cardamom tracts of Guatemala.
Rao and Korikanthimath (1983) revealed that yield of cardamom
was influenced more by distribution of monthly rainfall rather
than the total rainfall and number of rainy days.
It is very sensitive to moisture stress and performs better in
It is highly susceptible to drought, frost and hailstorms and
also to wind. Hence, in selecting a site for cardamom cultivation
gentle slopey (10-30%) lands facing an eastern or northern
aspect is preferred.
Deforestation and resultant changes in ecology of western ghats
have become threat to cardamom industry.
Due to this reason the Mysore variety is becoming extinct now.
Soil with good drainage and rich in organic
matter is most suitable for cardamom cultivation.
Cardamom generally grows well in forest loamy
soils that are acidic in nature, the preferable pH
In a comparison made between healthy plantation
and those where a decline in yield was noticed,
the analysis of plant leaves showed a higher
content of P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, and Cu in
leaves of cardamom plantations, which coin a
situation where soil nutrient factors are
responsible for decline in yield.
The low productivity is mainly attributed to poor
soil fertility, imbalanced manuring, poor
management practices and disease incidences.
Further, it is a shade loving plant (40-60%) and is
commonly cultivated as mixed cropping along with
plantations like arecanut, coffee and black pepper.
But too much shade also retards the metabolic
activities and yield.
Shade regulation studies on cardamom productivity
revealed that one third of-incident sunlight (15.20 K
Lux) in the form of filtered light is optimum for
growth and production.
Studies at RRS Mudigere, revealed that shade trees
in cardamom plantation play an important role in
nutrient recycling through leaf fall.
Terminalia catapa and Artocarpus integrifoiia,
produced more biomass around 950 g/ m2/year.
Jack tree is found to recycle maximum NPK
(63.9kg/10 tonnes biomass).
Though cardamom soils in India are rich in organic
matter, they are in general, acidic, low in phosphorus
,potassium and zinc status. So use of lime is
recommended in such areas to increase the PH.
Besides, the rate of decomposition of organic matter
and there by release of nutrients in cardamom soils
is much slower due to association of forest/shade
trees and consequent low mean annual temperature.
Map showing the study area of Cardamom Hill Reserves (shaded) in Indian
Cardamom Hills, Kerala.
This paper examines the interactions between
climate parameters and cardamom capsule yield
and its sustainability in Indian cardamom hills.
Climate warming was significant in the recent
decades in the Indian Cardamom Hills, which is
recognized as one of the ecologically sensitive
and biologically diverse areas.
Considerable and significant spatial and
temporal variations have occurred in the main
climatic elements like air temperature, rainfall
and relative humidity in the hill region.
Significant increasing trend was also observed
in minimum temperature than maximum
temperature and this had caused decline in
Winter and summer monsoon rainfall as well as
high relative humidity had a positive influence
on the yield of cardamom.
However, the variability in these two types of
rainfall was high for the entire region and the
trend is negative.
The sustainable yield of cardamom may be
possible only when the winter and summer
rainfall variabilities were minimal.
Increasing trend of soil temperature from 0-10
cm depth was recorded, greater variations in
soil temperatures occurred in the top 5 cm soil
layer than the layers beneath it. Minimum
variations were noticed for 15 cm soil depth for
the entire period of study.
Difference in soil temperature values (seasonal
mean) between summer months and rainy
months was of the order of 6ºC.
Soil temperature values decreased with
increasing the depth.
Percentage Capsule Set and Yield of Cardamom
The highest capsule set was reported for the month of November (84.4%)
followed by September (84.1%) and August (83.1%). The lowest capsule set
percentage was recorded for the month of January (51.1%).
Capsule set was higher for the monsoon months (south west and north
Cardamom can be propagated by seeds, suckers
(vegetative) and tissue culture.
Being a cross pollinated crop, seedling population
Hence, vegetative propagation is normally
adopted in case of elite clones.
Vegetative propagation can be either through
rhizome bits (suckers) or by micro propagation
In order to raise a cardamom plantation,
seedlings or suckers of high yielding varieties are
a. Site selection
b. Selection of seeds
c. Pre sowing Seed treatment
a. bed nursery
b. poly bag nursery
a. Site selection:
Select nursery sites on gentle sloppy area and
preferably near to a perennial water source.
Clean the area from all existing vegetation, stumps,
roots, stones etc.
In the cleared area, beds can be prepared with one
meter width, 20 cm height and required length.
Jungle top soil can be spread to a thickness of 2 to 3
cm on the beds.
Fumigate the beds with 2% formalin which will help in
eliminating the pathogens, nematodes and other soil
The beds should be made air tight by covering with
polythene sheets and the fumigant is allowed to
penetrate into the soil for two or three days.
Later the treated beds should be kept open for
another week before taking up sowing.
Fully ripened bold capsules from high yielding and
disease-free seeds are to be selected for seed
Seeds after extraction should be washed with
water to remove the mucilage.
It is then mixed with wood ash and dried in shade.
Storage of seed is not advisable for longer period,
because it is experimentally proved that 15 days of
storage decreased germination for about 20% and 3
to 5 months storage decreased germination up to
Sowing in September is the best for good
On an average, 1 kg fruits contain 900-1000 capsules with
10-15 seeds per capsule and 1 kg of seed capsules are
required to get about 3000-5000 seedlings. To plant 1
acre, 1/2 kg seed capsules are required to raise nursery.
Seed collection from mother plant having:-
High % of fruit set
Free from pests and diseases
More no. of tillers
c. Pre sowing treatments of seeds :
Cardamom seeds possess a hard seed coat that
delays its germination.
Various studies have been undertaken on the effect
of pre-sowing treatments of seeds to overcome
this delay in germination.
After picking capsules are immersed in water.
Seeds are wash in water to remove mucilage.
Seed are smeared with wood ash and shade
Acid treatment is done for better germination.
Treatment Mode Duration
(increase or decrease over control)
Con. Nitric acid Soaking five minutes nine per cent increase
Conc. Hydrochloric acid Soaking five minutes Increased germination
25 per cent Nitric acid Soaking 10 minutes 55 per cent increase (fresh seeds) 25 per cent
increase (six to eight months old seeds)
25 per cent Acetic acid
25 per cent Hydrochloric
25 per cent Nitric acid
Soaking 10 minutes 90 per cent germination
Acetone Soaking 10 minutes Increased germination
Table: indicates that soaking cardamom seeds in dilute or concentrated
acid for 5-10 minutes increases the germination percentage.
Source : Technical bulletin, propagation techniques in
IISR, Cardamom Research Centre Appangala, Madikeri.
In addition, soaking seeds with GA3 and ethrel solutions was
found to enhance germination, while kinetin did not.
Germination was also enhanced by treating seeds with GA3
100 ppm and planofix 75 ppm.
Temperature has greater influence on germination:
Apart other factors, ambient temperature also plays a role
in germination. Low temperature reduces germination as well
as delays it.
Low temperature was significantly correlated with maximum
and minimum temperature prevalent in the area.
The cardamom seeds failed to germinate at temperature less
than 15 oC and greater than 35 oC Germination was optimum
at 30oC (70.9-73.0%).
Seeds are sown in lines usually not more than 1 cm deep. Rows
are spread 10 cm apart and seeds are sown 1-2 cm apart within
a row. Deep sowing of seeds should be avoided for better and
Seed rate is 30 to 50 g per 6 x 1m size bed. After sowing,
beds are covered with a thin layer of sand and mulch such as
potha grass or paddy straw.
Germination will commence in about 20-25 days after sowing
and may continue for a month or two.
The mulch is removed soon after the commencement of
The young seedlings are to be protected against exposure to sun
and rain by providing shade over the seedbeds.
Mulching of seedbeds influences germination.
The beds covered with paddy straw recorded highest
germination (40%), when seeds were sown in September
and was on par with dry leaves of rose wood (37%), goose
berry (37%) and wild fern (38%).
Some reports revealed that mulching with coir dust,
paddy straw or goose berry leaves enhances germination.
There are two methods of raising seedlings in
secondary nursery viz., bed and poly bag
A. Bed nursery
B. Poly bag nursery
Prepare beds as in primary nursery. A layer of cattle manure
may be spread on the bed and mixed with soil.
Seedlings of 4-5 leaf stage from the primary nursery beds can
be transplanted in the secondary nursery at a distance of 20-25
Rate of mortality was higher when transplanting was done in the
2 leaf stage. It can be minimized by transplanting at 4-5 leaf
In Karnataka, where seeds are sown during August-September,
transplanting takes place in November- January.
In Kerala and Tamil Nadu states, seedlings from primary beds
are transplanted to secondary nursery beds at a spacing of 20 x
20 cm during June-July.
It was observed that application of 45 g N, 30 g P2O5 and
60 g K2O per bed of 2.5 x 1m size in 3 equal splits at an
interval of 45 days resulted in better growth and higher
number of tillers.
First dose of fertilizer may be applied 30 days after
transplanting in the secondary nursery.
Regional Research Station, Mudigere, recommends NPK
mixture at the rate of 160 g per bed 1 month after planting.
This is to be increased by 160 g every month until a maximum
of 960 g per bed is reached.
The proportion of NPK is 1 part urea, 2 parts superphosphate
and 1 part murate of potash.
Poly bag nursery
Polythene bags of 20 x 20 cm size and thickness of 100
gauge with 3-4 holes at the bottom can be used for this
Fill the bags with potting mixture in the ratio of 3:1:1 jungle
top soil, cowdung and sand.
Seedlings at 4-5 leaf stage can be transplanted into each
bag (one seedling per bag).
Adequate space in between the bags may be provided for
The advantages of raising seedlings in poly bags are:
a) Seedlings of uniform growth and tillering can be obtained.
b) Nursery period can be reduced to 5-6 months after
transplanting the seedlings as against 10-12 months in the
c) Better establishment and growth of seedlings in the main
Cardamom plants from secondary nursery or poly bags can be
transplanted to the main field during last week of May after
receipt of pre-monsoon showers or the first week of June
soon after commencement of south west monsoon.
Suckers from elite clones can be used for establishing
plantations capable of higher productivity.
Plants raised from suckers come to bearing earlier than
Suckers should not be used in areas where katte and other
viral diseases (such as Kokkekandu and Nilgiri necrosis) are
Vegetative propagation can be adopted both by using tillers
(suckers) and micropropagation by tissue culture.
Rhizomes of cardamom
Rapid clonal propagation
High yielding varieties/selections are generally
multiplied in isolated clonal nurseries.
Virus free high yielding plants are selected and sub
cloned for further multiplication.
High yielding plants free from pest and diseases, with
characters like bold capsules with green colour are to be
selected from plantations.
Part of the clump has to be uprooted for clonal multiplication leaving the
mother clump in its original place to induce subsequent suckers for
The minimum planting unit consists of a grown up sucker (rhizome) and
a growing young shoot.
Trenches having width and depth of 45 cm and convenient length have
to be opened, filled with jungle soil, compost and topsoil.
The rhizomes (planting unit) are placed at a spacing of 1.8 m x
0.6 m in trenches, thus accommodating 9259 plants/ ha of clonal
Pandal protection, regular watering (once in a week during
November to May) and chemical manure @ 48:48:96 g NPK/
plant have to be applied in 2 splits.
On an average 32-42 suckers will be produced after 12 months of
planting per planting unit.
Drenching the trenches with cowdung slurry and 2 kg of nutrient
mixture (19:19:19 NPK) per 200 L of water increases sucker
production and growth.
In an area of 1 ha clonal nursery, 1,48,144 to 1,94,439 planting
units can be produced after 12 months.
Clones thus produced should be free from virus, rhizome rot and root
“… the art and science
of multiplying plants in
Cardamom is the first crop where commercialization of
micro propagation has been achieved.
Use of biotechnology in crop improvement programmes
began in 1983, with the rapid clonal multiplication of
cardamom at the Central Plantation Crops Research
‘Katte’ disease caused by virus is one of the major
production constraints in cardamom.
Production of virus-free planting material is considered
to be the most important input in disease management
High rate of multiplication coupled with additional
advantage of obtaining uniform and disease free
planting material makes micro propagation a preferred
method over the conventional method.
Micro propagation technique in cardamom was
standardised by many scientists.
The approaches used were (1) through callusing,
(2) through adventitious bud formation and (3)
through enhanced axillary branching.
Cost effective commercial micro propagation
technology developed at ICRI, Spices Board.
Young sprouting tillers of 8 to 10 cm length were
found as the best explants for tissue culture of small
Time of collection of the explants is also very
important for success of tissue culture of small
Collection of explants between March to May is ideal.
Media were supplemented with various growth
regulators such as BAP, KN, IAA etc.
Plantlets were generally allowed to acclimatize in
nursery for two to three months till they reached a
height of 20-30 cm before transplanting either to
poly bags or directly to field.
Hardening of tissue-cultured plantlets was done in
sand filled cups under a mist chamber with 80 %
relative humidity at a temperature not exceeding
Preparation of media(Schenk & Hidebrandt Medium)
Transplant of explant in media
For shoot induction , addition of BAP, KN & Coconut milk each @ 0.5mg/l and
also IAA 2mg/l growth factors D- Biotin and calcium pantothenate @ 0.1mg/l
The bud elongation takes place on M1medium
Transfer of shoots in fresh medium after every 5 weeks
Primary culture is transferred to shoot multiplication medium M2
Achieve a ht of 30-40 mm in 12 weeks
White’s rooting medium used for rooting and further shoot
Rooting percentage 86-93%
4-5 cm rooted shoots transferred for hardening
Planting medium:- sterilized top soil and compost
Plantlets are acclimatized in nursery for 2-3 months
transferred to main field at stage of 20-30 cm ht
Source : Technical bulletin, propagation techniques in
IISR, Cardamom Research Centre Appangala, Madikeri.
The Achievements :
Clonal multiplication in cardamom:
Protocol for clonal multiplication from vegetative buds
in small cardamom has been standardized.
An average of 6 axillary shoots could be produced
within 30 days of culture.
This method is extensively used for raising clones of
the high-yielding Coorg cardamom 'Selection l' for the
production of 'katte disease-free-nucleus-planting
Immature inflorescences could also be used to multiply
cardamom clones, by converting the floral buds into
Regeneration of plantlets from callus:
The protocol for organogenesis and plant regenerations
from vegetative-bud-derived-callus cultures is endowed
with an excellent regeneration system, that at present is
used for large-scale production of soma clones and
isolation of useful types from them.
A method for micropropagation of large cardamom (Amomum
subulatum) is reported.
Rhizome buds were activated to grow in Murashige and Skoog
basal medium supplemented with 3% sucrose and 0.5 mg/l
The sprouted buds were multiplied at the rate of 5-10 shoots
per culture in Murashige and Skoog medium supplemented with
1.0 mg/l benzylaminopurine and 0.5 mg/l indole- 3-butyric acid.
The shoots rooted in the same medium. The in vitro
regenerated plantlets could be established in the soil with 90
per cent success.
Babu, K., Geetha, S. P., Manjula, C., Ravindran, P. N. and Peter, K. V., 1994,
Medium term conservation of cardamom germplasm, An in vitro approach.
Proceedings of the second Asia-pacific conference on agricultural
biotechnology., 12(1): 57.
Gurumurthy, B. R. and Hegde, V. M., 1987, Effect of temperature on
germination of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum (L) Maton) seeds. J.
Plant. Crops., 15(3): 5-8.
Kumar, K. B., Kumar, P. P., Balachandran, S. M. and Iyer, R. D., 1985,
Development of clonal plantlets from immature panicles of cardamom. J.
Plant. Crops., 13(1): 31-34.
Khader, K. B. A. and Syed, A. A. M., 1977, Fertilizing cardamom- its
importance. Cardamom., 9(1): 13-14.
Korikanthimath, V. S., 1987, Impact of drought on cardamom. Cardamom.,
Murugan, M., Shetty, P. K., Anandhi, A. and Ravi, R., 2012, Present and
future climate change in Indian cardamom hills: Implications for cardamom
production and sustainability. British Journal of Environment & Climate
Change., 2(4): 368-390.
Murugan, M., Shetty, P. K., Ravi, R., Subbiah, A. and Hiremath, M. B.,
2011, Environmental impacts of intensive cardamom (small) cultivation in
Indian Cardamom Hills: the need for sustainable and efficient practices.
Rec. Res. Sci. Tech., 3(2): 9-15.
Prabhakaran Nair, K. P., 2000, The agronomy and economy of cardamom
Elettaria cardamomum: The queen of spices. Indian Council of Agricultural
Research, New Delhi, India.
Parthasarathy, V. A., Chempakam, B. and Zachariah, T. J., 2008,
Chemistry of Spices. United Kingdom, CABI publisher.
Pruthi, J. S., 1993, Major Spices of India - Crop Management, Post Harvest
Technology. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi., p.156.
Santiago, E., 1967, Hints for selection of site for cardamom plantations.
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