Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), Anethum graveolens L.
Modified from: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker.
1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific
Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants
of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Dill, Anethum graveolens L., an annual or biennial aromas
herb native to Europe, is naturalized to North America and the
West Indies. Also known as common dill, American dill, European
dill, and Danish dill, this widely cultivated species has sometimes
been classified as Peucedanum graveolens (L.) C.B.
Clarke. Principal dill production areas are India and Pakistan,
but Egypt, Fiji, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United States, England,
Hungary, Germany, and Holland also have commercially productive
areas. The plant grows erect and can reach a height of one meter.
It is characterized by hollow stems, blue-green leaves, and yellow-flowering
compound umbels, which produce a dried ripe fruit canmonly called
The reported life zone is 6 to 26 degrees centigrade with an annual
precipitation of 0.5 to 1.7 meters and a soil pH of 5.3 to 7.8
(4.1-31). The hardy plant requires long days and cool weather,
and is sensitive to environmental stresses, such as low moisture,
hail, high temperatures, strong winds, and hard rains during the
flowering and seed maturation period. The plant grows best in
deep, fertile loam soils.
Grown best as an annual crop, timeliness of harvest is crucial
to maximize seed yield, because seeds tend to ripen at different
times and seed shattering is a potential problem. Generally, harvesting
for dill weed or the essential oil of dill weed is done before
the plant flowers. Harvesting for seed is initiated when the bulk
of the seed crop is physiologically mature. Plants used for essential
oil production are steam distilled on the day of harvest to minimize
The essential oils of dill differ in flavor and odor depending
upon whether they are obtained from mature seed or dill weed.
The seed oil resembles the essential oil of caraway because of
the high carvone content (reaching 50 to 60 percent) in mature
seeds (14.1-9). Dill seed oil includes d-carvone, d-limonene,
d-phellandrene, -pinene, diterpene, d-dihydrocarvone,
-phellandrene, -pinene, 1,8-cineole, -myrcene,
para-cymene, and -thujone (3.3-44, 14.1-7). Dill
herb oil contains d--phellandrene, terpinene, limonene,
carvone, dillapiole, isomyristicin, and myristicin (3.3-44, 14.1-9).
The quality of dill oil can fluctuate greatly, depending on the
percentage of seed oil, the physiological maturity of the seeds
used for oil. The time of harvest may also be significant, because
carvone is synthesized during the day from -phellandrene
breakdown (4.6-97). Dill herb oil is sometimes adulterated
with terpenes from other sources (14.1-9).
Dill seeds are used whole or ground as a condiment for flavoring
meats, sauces, stews, breads, vinegars, pastries, and vegetable.
Dried and fresh leaves are used in sauces, salads, soups, stews,
and vinegars. Dill is an important flavoring agent in the pickling
of cucumbers. Some dill oil is used in cosmetics and perfumes.
Dried dill foliage is commonly called dill weed.
As a medicinal plant, dill has been used as an antispasmodic,
carminative, diuretic, stimulant, and stomachic. It has also been
used as a remedy for colic and insomnia and as a stimulant for
lactation. The name 'dill' may come from the Norwegian word dill
(to lull), referring to the plant's alleged carminative properties
(11.1-50). Dill will provoke photodermatitis and contact
dermatitis in humans (11.1-96). Myristicin, apiol, and dillapiol
present in dill oil are effective naturally occurring insecticides
(1.8-90). Myristicin is also known to be responsible for
psychoactive and hallucinogenic properties in some other plants,
and the apiol content may be responsible for diuretic properties
Indian dill or East Indian dill, Anethum sowa Roxb., is
a perennial herb grown and utilized similarly to dill. Indian
dill has a higher specific gravity than common dill, attributed
to the presence of dillapiole and a lower carvone content (14.1-9).
The high dillapiole content may make Indian dill a source of pyrethrum
Dill and Indian dill are generally recognized as safe for human
consumption (21 CFR sections 172.510, 184.1282 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997