Dill's name is derived from the Norse word dylla, "to lull",
and, in fact, dill was used for centuries to promote restful sleep. People of
the Middle Ages used dill to ward off the evil eye and witches' spells. The
herb was held an honored place in ancient Athens and Rome, where it
was woven into garlands for war heroes. Today dill is an important
medicinal and culinary herb that soothes indigestion, cramps and gas.

There are two species in this genus, widely distributed in warm parts of Eurasia. Dill (A. graveolens) resembles fennel but is a more slender plant with a single, easily uprooted stem, and a matte, rather than shiny, appearance. Its gray-green leaves have a strong parsley-caraway smell. Dill has been an important medicinal herb in the Middle East since Biblical times; the Talmud (ancient Jewish law) records that is was subject to a tithe. Numerous uses were described by Pliny (CE23-79), and various European writers from the 10th century onward. According to CUlpeper (The English Physician Enlarged, 1653), "It stays the hiccough, being boiled in wine … and is used in medicines that serve to expel wind, and the pains proceeding therefrom". Dill also has a long history of both culinary and medicinal use in India. Indian dill, or satapashpi, formerly classed as a subspecies of A. graveolens, is now considered a separate species, A. sowa. It is slightly taller than dill, reaching 1.2m (4ft), and has a white stem and very finely divided leaves. Containing less carvone, it also differs in flavor. The leaves are used to flavor rice and soups, and the pungent seeds are an ingredient of curry powder.

Annual or biennial, with usually only one upright, hollow stem, and glaucous leaves, to 35cm (14in) long, divided into thread-like segments. Umbels of tiny yellow flowers are produced in summer, followed by oval, flattened, aromatic seeds.

Common Name:
Botanical Name:
Anethum graveolens syn. Peucedanum graveolens
Native Location:
Mediterranean Region, Europe, Spain, Portugal, Italy, SW Asia, naturalized in Mediterranean regions and parts of N America.
Plant Facts:
Dill is an annual plant belonging to the Umbelliferae family, which also includes carrots and parsley. The hollow, ridged stems bear fine, feathery leaves that end in yellow flower umbels. Dill grows to a height of 3-4 feet and has a sweet, pungent flavor that is often used as an ingredient in pickling spices.
Well-drained, neutral to slightly acid soil in sun. Dill bolts (flowers prematurely) if overcrowded or in poor dry soil. It should not be grown near fennel because the two may hybridize, producing plants intermediate in flavor or appearance. Dill reputedly has an adverse effect on carrots, but it is beneficial to cabbage if planted nearby. The flowers attract many beneficial insects that prey on aphids.
By seed sown in spring or summer, thinned to 20cm (8in) apart. For a regular supply of leaves, make successive sowings every 3-4 weeks from early spring to mid-summer.
Leaves are cut in spring and summer for using fresh or dried. Seeds are gathered in summer and dried for making infusions and concentrated dill water. They are also ground into powder, and distilled for oil.
Dill is originally from the Mediterranean region of Europe—Spain, Portugal, and Italy—and is also now cultivated in many temperate regions of the world.
60-90cm (24-36in)
15-30cm (6-12in)
Has a bushy habit, blue-green leaves and compact prolific seed heads. Widely considered the best for seed production.

Is vigorous and slow to bolt, with finely flavored, blue-green leaves.

is dwarf and well-branched, with luxuriant, dark blue-green foliage. It is slow to bolt; excellent for containers.
Height: 45cm (18in)
Weight: 15-30cm (6-12in)

Has abundant, flavorful, long-lasting foliage.
Height: 1-1.2m (3-4ft)

Is vigorous, with relatively few, rather green leaves. It quickly runs to seed, with large seed heads; considered best for pickling.
Height: 60-90cm (2-3ft)
Width: 15-30cm (6-12in)
Parts Used:
While dill leave are used fresh or dried as both a medicinal and culinary herb, the seeds ten to be favored for their stronger medicinal effect.
Leaves, seeds, oil
A pungent, cooling, aromatic herb that calms and tones the digestive system, controls infection, and has diuretic effects.
Dill's leaves have volatile oil, terpinene, pinene, coumarins, dillapiole, vitamins, and myristicin. The volatile oil contains limonene, carvone, and phellandrene. The seeds contain protien, phenolic acids, coumarin, mucilage, vitamins, minerals, kaempferol, flavonoids and fats.
Dill is primarily used to relieve numerous digestion problems, including abdominal and intestinal cramps, belching, flatulence, nausea and hiccups. The herb also promotes lactation and is recommended for nursing mothers with infants suffering from colic and gas, since the gentle medicinal effects are passed on via the mother's milk. Dill also stimulates the appetite, alleviates insomnia and is mildly diuretic. The herb's antibacterial properties are used to treat urinary-tract infections, coughs, colds and flu. Chewing the seeds also improves bad breath.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for digestive disorders, including indigestion, colic, gas (especially as an ingredient of gripe water for babies), and hiatus hernia.
Culinary Uses:
Both seeds and leaves are widely used in cooking, especially in Scandinavian cuisine, with eggs, fish, seafood, and potatoes. Sprigs of dill are added to pickles and vinegar; chopped dill is the main flavoring in gravlax (preserved salmon).
Extra Tip:
Dill is very easy to grow. Sow seeds in a prepared garden bed in spring and keep the area free of weeds. Harvest the leaves throughout the growing season. Gather the seed umbels when they turn golden brown.
Economic Uses:
Oil is used in commercial medicine, soaps, detergents, and for flavoring in the food industry.
Methods of Administration:
  • Tea:
    For indigestion, cramps and gas, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp. of seeds, 2tsp. of dried leaves or 1 tbsp. of fresh leaves. Steep 5-10 min., strain. Drink 1 cup after meals or 20 min. before bed, up to 4 times daily.

  • Water Extract:
    To ease a child's colic or to promote lactation, put 1 tbsp of crushed dill seeds in *#189; cup of boiling water; steep 5-8 hr. Pour off liquid and add 1 tbsp. of honey. Give children 1 tsp. 10-15 min. before meals. Nursing mothers may use 1 tbsp. 15 min. before breastfeeding.

  • Gargle:
    For throat irritation and bleeding gums, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 tsp. of dill seeds. Steep 3 hr.; strain. Gargle with ¼ cup, 3-4 times daily.

  • Bath:
    For cramps, hemorrhoids and stomachaches, pour 2 qt. of boiling water over ¼ cup of dill seeds. Steep 30-45 min.; strain. Add the liquid to a warm bath, and soak 10 min. up to 3 times daily.

The Complete Guide to Natural Healing Copyright © 1999 International Masters Publishers AB™ Group 1 Card 84
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pp. 121-122