The cardamom plant is a perennial that is part of the ginger family. It is native to southern India. The plant has long leaves, flowers that can range from white to lilac to violet in color and a three-sided yellow-green pod containing several black and brown seeds.
Cardamom was well known in ancient times. The Egyptians used it in perfumes and incense, and the Arabs used it to ground in their coffee. The seeds are an important ingredient in Middle Eastern and Asian cooking.