Why is it called coriander?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “Why is it called coriander?” We will also discuss the origin as well as the introduction and spread of coriander throughout the world. Furthermore, we will also describe if coriander is the same as cilantro and why coriander is called cilantro in some places.

Why is it called coriander?

The name coriander comes from the Greek word “koriannon” which is a combination of two Greek words; “koris” which means a stinking bug and “annon” meaning fragrant anise. The stinking bug reference is likely due to the strong pungent aroma given off by the coriander plant leaves. 

It is also derived from the French word “coriandre”. This name is adopted all over the world. However, in North America, fresh coriander leaves are generally known as “cilantro” which is the Spanish name for coriander leaves.

It is believed that the popularity of the herb gradually increased in the US with the introduction of Mexican cuisine and its growing use in Mexican cooking, which is why the Americans adopted the Spanish name for coriander leaves (cilantro). However, this was not the case for the rest of the world where it is widely known as coriander.

Where did coriander originate from?

Coriander herb, which is now native to Southern Europe, was imported from the east by the Romans. Coriander originated from Italy but today it has spread out to different parts of the world. 

It is widely cultivated in the Netherlands, Central and Eastern Europe (including Russia and Hungary), the Mediterranean (including Morocco, Malta, and Egypt), North Africa, China, India, and Bangladesh.

How was coriander introduced and spread throughout the world?

Coriander is one of the oldest herbs known to mankind. It has been cultivated and used for different purposes since ancient times. It was said to be cultivated by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, incorporated in Hippocratic medical cures and even used to describe the flavor of manna in the Bible’s Book of Exodus; the earliest archaeological remains date to around 6000 BC in Israel.

Since then different types of coriander have been spreading throughout the world like wildfires. Coriander entered the South-East Asian market via two routes: forms with ovoid fruits arrived from India, while forms with small, globular fruits arrived later from China. Forms with enormous, globular fruits were just recently imported from the Mediterranean or Europe.

It was said that the Romans introduced the species into Britain where it was used for different culinary as well as medical purposes. Likewise, it was already introduced to the French people by the 17th century. 

Is cilantro the same as coriander?

No, cilantro and coriander are not the same. This can be a common debate since they are both products of the same plant. 

Cilantro refers to fresh coriander leaves, and when we hear the word coriander, it is understood as coriander seeds or coriander powder.

Unlike the difference between coriander powder and dried coriander seeds, the difference between cilantro and ground coriander is huge. Not only do they smell different but their flavors are also completely different from one another.

If we’re talking about cilantro then the opinions are always divided. Many people hate its strong pungent aroma. Some even say it smells like soap. However, like I said the opinion is divided so the people who love it, love it anyway. 

Why is coriander called cilantro?

The word “cilantro” comes from the Spanish word for coriander. It is believed that Cilantro was introduced to the Americas by Europeans hundreds of years ago. 

Coriander’s widespread use in Mexican cuisine has resulted in the use of the Spanish term cilantro throughout North America.

The term cilantro is used to refer to the herbaceous leaves of coriander plants in most North American countries like the US and Canada. 

The Americans use the term cilantro for the fresh coriander leaves while the spice is known as coriander seeds or ground coriander. Find some tasty American recipes that use cilantro here.

Other FAQs about Herbs that you may be interested in.

Is coriander in hot water good for you?

Can coriander cause an upset stomach?

Does coriander cause acid reflux?


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “Why is it called coriander?” We have also discussed the origin as well as the introduction and spread of coriander throughout the world. Furthermore, we have also described if coriander is the same as cilantro and why coriander is called cilantro in some places.