The superficial appearance of Black Seed (nigella sativa) to several other types of seeds resulted in it being called black cumin in English. Others mistake Black Seeds for caraway seeds, onion seeds or coriander seeds, as well as black sesame seeds (Sesamum Indicum L). Black Seeds are not related to any of these.
The tiny, hairy Black Seeds grow from the 12- to 18-inch fennel flower plant, nigella sativa. White or bluish purple flowers bloom and ripen into fruit capsules that open, exposing the seeds to the air, at which point they turn black.
Originating in the Mediterranean, Black Seed has also been cultivated on the Arabian peninsula and in northern Africa and Asia.
Physicians in the ancient world prescribed Black Seed to treat so many diseases that it was called in Arabic "habbatul barakah" or "the seed of blessing."
Modern alternative health practitioners offer both Black Seeds and their pressed oil as health tonics, including immune system enhancers.