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Uses

Toxic parts

The seed contains 1% saponins[1]. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].

Edible uses

Notes

Seed - cooked or sprouted and eaten raw[2][3][4][5]. It has quite a strong spicy flavour, not unlike lovage or celery[3][6]. When ground into a powder, the seed is a principal ingredient of curries and mango chutney[7], it is also used in pickles and spice mixes, as a flavouring in bread etc[3][6][8]. The seed is usually lightly roasted before use in order to reduce the bitterness[8]. The seed is about 3mm long, about 10 - 20 seeds being produced in each pod[3]. A good source of many essential elements such as iron, phosphorus and sulphur[7], the seed contains about 6% moisture, 23% protein, 10% carbohydrate, 8% fat, 10% fibre and 4.3% ash[9]. The ground seeds are used to give a maple syrup flavour to foods[6]. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for 3 - 5 days[7]. These sprouted seeds have a spicy flavour and can be added to salads or cooked[238, K].

An essential oil obtained from the seed is used as a food flavouring in imitation maple syrup, vanilla compositions, liquorice, pickles etc[6]. It also has medicinal virtues[10]. The ground up seeds can also be used as a substitute for maple syrup[3]. Leaves - raw or cooked[2][3][11][5]. Very aromatic, in small quantities they can be added to salads, otherwise they are used as a potherb, a flavouring for root vegetables, an ingredient of curries etc[6][8]. Seedpods - cooked[12]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[2][13][6].

A soothing tea is made from the leaves and the seed[4][6].

Unknown part

Leaves

Seedpod

Material uses

An essential oil is obtained from the seed - used as a food flavouring and medicinally. The dried plant has a strong aroma of hay[3].

The crushed seed, mixed with oil and massaged into the scalp, is recommended for glossy hair[7]. An infusion of the seed, used as a skin lotion, is said to be good for the complexion[7]. A good green manure crop, it is fast growing and vigorous[14], producing a lot of bulk and fixing a large quantity of atmospheric nitrogen[15].

A yellow dye is obtained from the seed[9].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Fenugreek is much used in herbal medicine, especially in North Africa, the Middle East and India. It has a wide range of medicinal applications[16]. The seeds are very nourishing and are given to convalescents and to encourage weight gain, especially in anorexia nervosa[16]. The seeds should not be prescribed medicinally for pregnant women since they can induce uterine contractions[8][16]. Research has shown that the seeds can inhibit cancer of the liver, lower blood cholesterol levels and also have an antidiabetic effect[16].

The seed and leaves are anticholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, carminative, demulcent, deobstruent, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, galactogogue, hypoglycaemic, laxative, parasiticide, restorative and uterine tonic[3][11][4][17][18][19][8]. The seed yields a strong mucilage and is therefore useful in the treatment of inflammation and ulcers of the stomach and intestines[3][16]. Taken internally, a decoction of the ground seeds serves to drain off the sweat ducts[11]. The seed is very nourishing and body-building and is one of the most efficacious tonics in cases of physical debility caused by anaemia or by infectious diseases, especially where a nervous factor is involved[11][7]. It is also used in the treatment of late-onset diabetes, poor digestion (especially in convalescence), insufficient lactation, painful menstruation, labour pains etc[8][7]. The seeds freshen bad breath and restore a dulled sense of taste[16]. Externally, the seeds can be ground into a powder and used as a poultice for abscesses, boils, ulcers, burns etc, or they can be used as a douche for excessive vaginal discharge[3][7][16]. The leaves are harvested in the growing season and can be used fresh or dried[8]. The seeds are harvested when fully ripe and dried for later use[8].

Compounds extracted from the plant have shown cardiotonic, hypoglycaemic, diuretic, antiphlogistic and hypotensive activity[20]. One of its constituent alkaloids, called 'trigonelline', has shown potential for use in cancer therapy. The seed contains the saponin diosgenin, an important substance in the synthesis of oral contraceptives and sex hormones[7], whilst saponins in the plant have been extracted for use in various other pharmaceutical products[8].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Green manure


Nitrogen fixer

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Trigonella foenum-graecum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[21], preferring a well-drained loamy soil in full sun[14]. Requires a warm, sheltered position in Britain[7].

Plants are hardy to about -15°c[8]. Fenugreek is widely cultivated for its edible seed in warm temperate and tropical regions, there are some named varieties[6]. Seed production is more problematic in Britain due to the cooler and moister summers. The seed is ripened intermittently over a period of some weeks making harvesting more complicated[15]. Plants take about 16 weeks to mature in warmer climes, probably about 4 weeks longer in Britain[14].

This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[14]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Trigonella foenum-graecum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Trigonella foenum-graecum.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Trigonella foenum-graecum
Genus
Trigonella
Family
Leguminosae
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
6
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type

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    References

    1. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.12.22.3 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    3. ? 3.003.013.023.033.043.053.063.073.083.093.103.113.12 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.14.24.34.4 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.2 Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press (1975-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.26.36.46.56.66.76.8 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    7. ? 7.007.017.027.037.047.057.067.077.087.097.107.117.12 Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    8. ? 8.008.018.028.038.048.058.068.078.088.098.108.11 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.19.29.3 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    11. ? 11.011.111.211.311.411.5 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.114.214.314.414.5 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.115.2 Woodward. L. Burge. P. Green Manures. Elm Farm Research Centre. (1982-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.116.216.316.416.516.616.7 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    18. ? 18.018.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    19. ? 19.019.1 Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    21. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    22. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-50

    "image:Illustration Trigonella foenum-graecum0.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    Facts about "Trigonella foenum-graecum"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyLeguminosae +
    Belongs to genusTrigonella +
    Functions asGreen manure + and Nitrogen fixer +
    Has binomial nameTrigonella foenum-graecum +
    Has common nameFenugreek +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partUnknown part +, Leaves +, Seed + and Seedpod +
    Has edible useCoffee +, Condiment +, Unknown use + and Tea +
    Has fertility typeInsects +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has growth rateVigorous +
    Has hardiness zone6 +
    Has imageIllustration Trigonella foenum-graecum0.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typeAnnual +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useCosmetic +, Dye +, Essential + and Hair care +
    Has mature height0.6 +
    Has mature width0.4 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAnticholesterolemic +, Antiinflammatory +, Antiphlogistic +, Antitumor +, Cardiotonic +, Carminative +, Demulcent +, Deobstruent +, Diuretic +, Emollient +, Expectorant +, Febrifuge +, Galactogogue +, Hypoglycaemic +, Hypotensive +, Laxative +, Parasiticide + and Restorative +
    Has primary imageIllustration Trigonella foenum-graecum0.jpg +
    Has search nametrigonella foenum-graecum + and fenugreek +
    Has shade toleranceNo shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameTrigonella foenum-graecum +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum +, Trigonella foenum-graecum + and Trigonella foenum-graecum +