Cardamom pods are produced by several varieties of perennial plants, which are native to India, and belong to the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). Cardamom plants are sometimes called cinnamon palms and Cardamom. Most commercially available cardamom spice is a variety of two species’, Elettaria cardamomum, or Amomun kravanb. The cardamom plants can grow to be large bushes consisting of long, straight, slender stems with numerous symmetrical, dark green, pointed leaves.
The cardamom plant has a thick, fleshy root called a rhizome, or an underground stem from which shoots emerge. Cardamom produces beautiful little, lightly colored flowers that appear most of the year and produce the green cardamom fruits. These green pods are picked before reaching maturity and usually contain approximately 12 cardamom seeds.
Many “wild” kinds of cardamom grow in its native region, but they are not considered a substitute for true cardamom. Black cardamom is one of these wild relatives that became popular in its own right in certain cooking styles.