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Shades of Sesame Sesamum indicum


A grex; inter-breeding population of black to white seeds.

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The Shades of Sesame Sesamum indicum. A grex; inter-breeding population of black to white seeds.

Shades of Sesame Sesamum indicum

Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum, also called benne. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods or “buns”. The world harvested 4.2 million metric tonnes of sesame seeds in 2013, with India and China as the largest producers.

Sesame seed is one of the oldest oil seed crops known, domesticated well over 3000 years ago. Sesame has many species, most being wild and native to sub-Saharan Africa. Sesame indicum, the cultivated type, originated in India and is tolerant to drought-like conditions, growing where other crops fail.

Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich, nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Like other nuts and foods, it can trigger allergic reactions in some people.

The word “sesame” is from Latin sesamum or Greek sésamon – “seed or fruit of the sesame plant”.

From the roots above, words with the generalized meaning “oil, liquid fat” are derived. Sesame names vary among numerous languages.


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