Grains of Paradise

Grains of Paradise

Aframomum melegueta

Grains of Paradise seeds have a plethora of ethnobotanical uses. They are used as a spice in food industries. For centuries, they have been used as a remedy for treating snakebites, diarrhea, and stomachache.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Melegueta pepper, Alligator pepper, Guinea grains, Pungent seeds of Aframomum melegueta
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Seeds
  • Side Effects: None
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About Grains of Paradise

Grains of Paradise is a herbaceous perennial, native to West Africa, that can grow up to a height of 3-4 feet. It has narrow leaves that resemble bamboo leaves with an extensively vast vascular system. It also gives out gorgeous purple flowers with orange-colored lips. These flowers develop into 5 to 7 cm long pods possessing highly aromatic but small reddish-brown seeds. 

Grains of Paradise seeds have a plethora of ethnobotanical uses. They are used as a spice in food industries. For centuries, they have been used as a remedy for treating snakebites, diarrhea, and stomachache. Nowadays, they are used to soothe gastrointestinal problems, such as ulcers, abdominal cramps, and kill intestinal worms. It has high tannin content which makes it a fruitful disinfectant to help in healing burns and other inflamed injuries. Its phenolic compounds are clinically proven to counter different bacterial strains, especially Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella. Further, its analgesic property makes it favorable to reduce toothache, stomachache, gout, and arthritis. 

Grains of Paradise impart fat-fighting ability, making it beneficial to address obesity. It chiefly contains 6-paradol, 6-gingerol, 6-gingerdione, and 6-shogaol which are held fairly responsible for its sensational medicinal perks. 

 

Growing

Although USDA recommends growing melegueta pepper in zones 9 to 11, they can be started indoors as an annual plant in regions with colder climates. 

Grain of Paradise can be planted during summer in a rich, well-drained soil mix. A combination of peat moss, manure, and compost suits best for the healthy growth of the plant. It requires full sun and water early in the morning or evening when the sunlight exposure is a bit weak and the temperatures comparatively are lower.

Once the seedlings are tall enough to judge their growth status, gently pull out the weak ones to make room for the strong ones to mature.

It takes around 10 to 12 days for melegueta seeds to germinate. This easy-to-grow plant develops very quickly and in no time it can reach a height of 4 feet. It blooms from July to August, giving out amazing purple flowers that are pollinated by bees to undergo fertilization and produce seed pods. 

Each seed pod contains 1200 to 2000 dull seeds that propagate on their own to continue with the life cycle of grains of paradise.

 

 

Harvesting

Grains of Paradise is ready to harvest after 10 months of sowing it. The best judge of harvest marker is the change of pod color, i.e. from green to red.

The pods are harvested and opened manually to expose their seeds.

Grains of Paradise are sensitive to heat. After the harvest, they are stored as a dry spice in an airtight container, either in an intact or ground form. The ground form degrades somewhat quickly while the ground one can last for a year.

 

Usage

Grains of Paradise are used quite extensively in making herbal medicinal preparations. They are available in various dosage forms to treat different ailments.


  • Tincture - The whole plant of grains of paradise can be macerated in alcohol to form its tincture.
  • Tea - Grains of paradise seeds are soaked in a cup of hot boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes to make their tea.
  • Decoction - The whole plant of grains of paradise is decocted in hot boiling water for 30 to 45 minutes to form its decoction.
  • Syrup - Ground grains of paradise leaves are simmered in a sugar solution for a few minutes to formulate their syrup.
  • Salve - Grains of paradise-infused oil is thickened with melted beeswax and congealed to formulate a salve.
  • Infused oil - Grains of paradise are infused in olive oil for 2 to 3 weeks on a sunny windowsill in a glass bottle or use a double boiler to speed up the process and form its oil infusion.