Where does spice come from?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Where does spice come from?”. We will also discuss some of the spices and where they come from.

Where does spice come from?

Spices come from different parts of the aromatic plant species. Different spices are derived from different plant species with their flavors and aroma. Although there might be some similarities in some flavor profiles, each spice has a unique aroma, taste, culinary uses, and origin.

Although this may not cover all spices used in different parts of the world, the majority of them are derived from plant roots, dried stalks, seeds, or dried fruits.

Let us take a look at some of the spices that come from the roots, seeds, bark, fruit, leaf, and flower of the plants respectively:

  • Spices derived from rhizomes or roots of plants: Ginger, Turmeric, and Garlic.
  • Spices derived from seeds of plants: Nutmeg, Coriander, Fennel, Cumin, Mustard, Caraway, Fenugreek, Dill, Angelica, Aniseed, Celery, Annatto, Bishop-weed, etc.
  • Spices derived from the bark of plants: Cinnamon.
  • Spices derived from fruits or berries of the plants: Cardamom, Peppercorns, Vanilla, Allspice, Cassia, Tamarind, etc.
  • Spices derived from leaves of plants: Bay leaf, Curry leaf, etc.
  • Spices derived from flowers of plants: Clove, Saffron, Asafoetida, etc.

Where does turmeric come from?

Turmeric comes from the roots or rhizomes of the Curcuma longa plant from the ginger family called Zingiberaceae. The rhizomes are dried completely before they are turned into an earthy and slightly bitter yellow-colored powder.

Where does cardamom come from?

Cardamom spice comes from the tiny seeds enclosed in a pod. It belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. There are mainly two types of cardamom found in the market: Black cardamom is derived from the variety Amomum subulatum and green cardamom is derived from the variety Elettaria cardamomum. 

The tiny black seeds inside the cardamom pods are the main spices that give the spice its distinct flavors, but they are mostly used in whole forms as they quickly lose their flavors when grounded.

Where does black pepper come from?

Black pepper comes from the fruits of the Piper nigrum plant that are known as black peppercorns; these peppercorns are the tiny black-colored berries grown in the vines of the Piperaceae family. 

Peppercorns can be black, white, green, or red depending on harvest season and processing and different types of peppers are derived from different ways and stages of harvesting. 

Black peppercorns are plucked while they are still green and then fermented and sun-dried until they shrink and turn a brownish-black color for black pepper.

Where does coriander come from?

Coriander spice comes from the seeds of the Coriandrum sativum plant.  It is a member of the Apiaceae family, which is also home to plants like parsley, celery, and carrot. The coriander seeds or coriander powder both are used as spices. 

The coriander plant blossoms and produces small white flowers and clusters of tiny seeds which are then harvested and used for spice while the leaves are mostly used for garnish. For the powder, the seeds are sun-dried, roasted, and ground into a fine powder.

Where do cloves come from?

Cloves come from the aromatic dried flower buds of an evergreen tree native to eastern Indonesia. Their appearance is similar to small pins or nails. Cloves belong to the family Myrtaceae along with allspice and eucalyptus. They can be used whole or ground for culinary purposes, and both kinds of cloves are often used differently.

Where does allspice come from?

Allspice comes from a plant known as Pimenta dioica, which is a member of the Myrtaceae family just like cloves. The berries of the allspice trees are dried and processed to form allspice. They can be used in ground form or whole.

The name might suggest that it’s a spice blend like garam masala or curry powder, but it comes from a single ingredient. The allspice tree is also referred to as Jamaica pepper sometimes as a native of Jamaica.

For more information on allspice plants, please click the link here.

Where does saffron come from?

Saffron comes from the crocus flower from the Crocus sativus plant from the Iris family. Each stigma is handpicked to obtain the saffron threads. Since each crocus flower only has three red stigmas, 170,000 blossoms are required to produce one pound of saffron. The saffron threads are harvested and dried for use mainly as a seasoning and coloring agent in food.


In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “Where does spice come from?”. We have also discussed some of the spices and where they come from.




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