Coriander (aka cilantro) is an annual herb, indigenous to areas spanning southern Europe and north Africa to southwestern Asia.
The plant has been cultivated in Greece at least since the 2nd century bce. The Romans popularized coriander, spreading it throughout its empire.
Coriander was one of the first spices cultivated by settlers of the British colonies in America: brought to North America in 1670.
All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves (cilantro, Chinese parsley) and crushed seeds for a spice are most commonly eaten.
Coriander roots have a more intense flavor than the leaves. They feature in Thai dishes, including soups and curry pastes.
Coriander and cumin are used to spice Indian masala and in curries. Outside Asia, coriander seeds are widely used in pickling vegetables. Coriander appears in beer, sausage (Germany and South Africa), and rye bread (central Europe and Russia).
Coriander, like many spices, is an antioxidant. It also detoxifies, has antimicrobial effects, and is beneficial to the cardiovascular system.