- Position: full sun or partial shade
- Soil: any moist but well-drained soil
- Rate of growth: average
- Flowering period: June to September
- Hardiness: hardy annual
Dainty white summer flower-heads, which look like fine lacework, hover in a frothy haze above the finely cut, green foliage. Often used by florists to add an ethereal, romantic feel to bouquets, the flowers are also loved by many beneficial insects including butterflies and hoverflies. Finches will also find the autumn seed heads attractive. This annual also looks a delight in the garden, and has quite an architectural feel. Stake plants as they start to shoot upwards with twiggy hazel stems for support.
Winner of an Royal Horticultural Society, Award of Garden Merit for reliability and good performance.
Part of the seed range produced by Mr Fothergill’s Seeds in partnership with the RHS.
Bishop’s weed essential oils have insecticidal activity against Japanese termites.45
A combined herbal extract containing bishop’s weed seeds inhibited the developmental stages of Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, the common cattle tick, which is capable of transmitting viral diseases and can cause anemia in cattle.46
The seeds also contain 6-O-beta-glucopyranosyloxythymol, a glucoside.10 Several other chemical studies have reported 69% carvacrol in bishop’s weed14 and a yield of 25% oleoresin containing 12% volatile oil (thymol, gamma-terpinene, para-cymene, and alpha- and beta-pinene).10 The principal oil constituents of bishop’s weed are carvone (46%), limonene (38%), and dillapiole (9%).15 The essential oil obtained by steam distillation of the fruits of Trachyspermum copticum yielded thymol (61%), para-cymene (15%), and gamma-terpinene (12%).16
Data are lacking concerning specific drug interactions. Potentiation of the effects of antibiotics and antiplatelet medications39 could be theorized.
Bishop’s weed is toxic in high doses and can result in fatal poisoning.10 The essential oils isolated from bishop’s weed seeds showed cytotoxic activity against P388 mouse leukemia cells.47 Avoid use during pregnancy due to documented adverse effects.2
Bishop’s weed is commercially available as a single entity or herbal blend in numerous dosage forms including capsules, liquids, and powders. Internet sources list the product primarily marketed as “ajwain” and as an overall panacea. One herbal blend prescribes 1 or 2 capsules (200 mg/capsule) with a full glass of water for GI discomfort. The prescription drug methoxsalen, as documented by various Internet resources, was developed from bishop’s weed (Ammi majus Linn) and is used to treat several skin conditions. Use of a 10% topical cream twice daily has been supported by a clinical trial in adults with neuropathic pain.48
In vitro studies document the spermicidal activity of bishop’s weed essential oil by inhibiting sperm motility and damaging membrane integrity and DNA of human spermatozoa.3, 44
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