Sesame: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on sesame

Sesamum indicum is a flowering plant of the Pedaliaceae family.

This annual plant grows roughly 1 1/2 to 3 feet in height. Its opposite, broad lanceolate leaves are 1 1/2 to 5 1/2 inches long with an entire margin. They are roughly 2 inches wide at the plant's base, narrowing to all the way down to a little under 1/2 inch wide on the flowering stem.

The flowers are yellow to white, blue, or purple, and tubular with a four-lobed mouth, and approximately 1 to 2 inches in length.

Sesame fruit is a typically grooved capsule, with a short triangular beak and 4 to 12 loculi. It is normally pubescent, and rectangular in section, with a varying length of 2-8 cm and width of .5-2 cm. Seeds are released from the fruit naturally as it opens (dehisces) by splitting along the septa from top to bottom—or by means of two apical pores, depending on the varietal cultivar. Of importance in breeding for mechanized harvesting is the degree of dehiscence, as is the insertion height of the first capsule.

Sesame seeds are small; though their size, form and colors vary with the thousands of varieties now known. Typically, the ovate seeds are about 3 to 4 mm in length, 2 mm wide, and 1 mm thick. The seeds are slightly flattened and somewhat thinner at the eye of the seed (hilum) than at the opposite end. The weight of the seeds is between 20 and 40 milligrams. The seed coat (testa) may be smooth or ribbed.

As mentioned, sesame seeds come in many colors depending on the cultivar harvested. The most frequently sold variety of sesame is an off-white color; however other common colors include buff, tan, gold, brown, reddish, gray and black.

common names & nomenclature
The name sesame is from the early 15c., probably from Middle French sisame and directly from Latin sesamum from Greek sesamon meaning "seed or fruit of the sesame plant," a very early borrowing via Phoenician from Late Babylonian shawash-shammu (Assyrian shamash-shammu, literally meaning "oil-seed").

Also known as:
sesame seeds

Sesame, the plant containing food for a thousand and one nights
Sesame: Where in the World
habitat and range for sesame

Sesamum indicum is native to Africa and India, and is now widely cultivated in many tropical areas.

Sesame: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting sesame

Sesame grows in sunny tropical and in warm temperate areas. However it worth noting sesame is typically grown in cultivated beds rather than in the wild.

Sesame requires a well-drained porous soil.

Sow sesame seed in a greenhouse in early spring. Transplant out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. In warm temperate zones, where frosts are very rare and light (or even non-existent), one can sow the seed directly in the garden in the spring or autumn seasons.

Since sesame is a small flat seed, make it difficult to dry the seed after it has been harvested; air doesn't circulate well due to its size. Therefore, the seeds are best harvested when they are as dry as possible and then should be stored at 6 percent moisture or less. The seed will heat up and become rancid quickly if it is too moist. Once harvested, the seeds are usually cleaned and hulled, and sometimes sorted by color.

Store dried sesame seeds in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

Sesame: The Rest of the Story
sesame history, folklore, literature & more

sesame seeds—more than a snack
Sesame seeds are a popular snack and garnish for meals and they provide delicious flavor to many Asian dishes. But what you may not know is that they can also provide some pretty remarkable health benefits for the body. They’re typically found in cuisine—and have been for centuries. As long ago as ancient Egypt, sesame seeds were a vital part of the diet. However, you may find that these tiny little seeds can pack a big punch when it comes to your health.

Sesame seeds actually work to improve the way your digestive system functions. They can help you to digest your food more easily and can allow you to have more regular bowel movements. When your digestive system functions properly, you’ll get more benefits from your nutrition.

When it comes to your blood sugar, sesame seeds help to regulate sugar levels and keep them healthily low. This is great news for people who want to prevent diabetes or who are living with it now. It’s a great food to add to your daily diet.

If you experience ringing in the ears, you may be surprised to find that sesame seeds can be a remedy. This condition, called tinnitus, can be virtually eliminated in many cases just by adding this to your regimen. People who suffer from anemia often have to deal with fatigue. But they also have to deal with problems such as blurred vision. If your vision is affected by anemia, you may find that it can be greatly improved using sesame seeds.

For women, sesame seeds have a special use. They can help nursing mothers to experience better flow of milk. This is especially important for women who are having trouble breastfeeding or are suffering from mastitis. Sesame seeds will help you to function normally while nursing.

Sesame seeds may be eaten in their natural, raw form. However, you can also grind them into powder, create a paste or poultice with them, and you can even use the oil of the seeds for medicinal purposes.

The next time you have a sesame seed covered bun or sesame chicken, remember that you’re experiencing the huge health benefits that come from the seeds. If you want to have even more benefits try adding sesame seeds to your diet every day. This will insure that you have good health and enough energy to get through any kind of stress you may experience.