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The Mishna Berura 453:13 lists two spices that should be avoided on Pesach because they (used to) grow close to wheat fields and are difficult to clean: anise and kimmel. There is a doubt as to what exactly is "kimmel", possible candidates are caraway (Kümmel), cumin (Kreuzkümmel), or fennel (Fenchel). Possibly in the same category fall fenugreek (Bockshornklee), coriander, dill seeds and cardamom seeds (Star-k: Kitniyos By Any Other Name, R. Blech: Kitniyos in the Modern World, OU: What is Kitniot, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 453:1, Rema 453:1, Taz 462:3, Taz 453:1, Taz and Magen Avraham 453:3.).

Let’s see some pictures of the seeds. The four first look very similar to each other, coriander is more round, dill is a bit more flat, cardamom is much bigger than the others. Fenugreek in my opinion looks more like maize (I only know this picture, never seed it).

Anise seeds
Anise seeds, photo (c) David Monniaux
Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds, photo (c) Howcheng
Caraway seeds
Caraway seeds
Cumin seeds
Cumin seeds
Fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek seeds
Coriander seeds
Coriander seeds, photo (c) Novalis, David Turner
Dill seeds
Dill seeds, (c) Reaperman
Cardamom seeds
Cardamom seeds, (c) Didier Descouens

Botanically speaking, most of these are flowers from the Apiaceae family (carrot or parsley family). The two exceptions are Cardamom which is from the Zingiberaceae family (ginger family) and Fenugreek which is from the Fabaceae family – closely related to beans, they are from the subfamily Faboideae of the same family.

The OU article makes a special point that these spices are not kitniot, they just need to be checked for traces of chametz – which I thought was part of the definition why something might be kitniot (What is Kitniot). Rabbi Dovid Cohen from the CRC explains that fenugreek and other spices should technically be included in the definition of kitniot because they are "foods where just the seed is consumed" – but the minhag is to eat them on passover because spices are rarely eaten by themselves and thus sufficiently different from grain (Fenugreek for Pesach).

So now let’s look at the lists. The lists contain notes as follows:
* "The following are not considered Kitniyot, but may require special checking." – The OU certifies aniseed and coriander for Pesach, they don’t say what is with coriander.
** "Should be avoided on Pesach."

OU Star-k Kashrut.com Herbspices.com cRc Guide
Anise* Anise** Anise Anise Seeds Anise
Caraway Caraway Seeds** Caraway Caraway Seeds Caraway
Cardamom
Coriander* Coriander** Coriander Coriander Seeds Coriander
Cumin* Cumin** Cumin Cumin
Dill Seeds
Fennel Fennel** Fennel Fennel Seeds Fennel Seeds
Fenugreek Fenugreek** Fenugreek Fenugreek Seeds
Kimmel Kimmel

For some of the plants, leaves or roots are used as well as the seeds. The kitniot concerns apply in every case only to the seeds, other parts may be used without problem. I am not sure about alcohol made out of the seeds (e.g., Kimmel or Ouzo), maybe that is what the "kimmel" in the above lists refers to. I could also imagine it is ok following a reasoning similar to soy derivatives.

  • Danger of chametz traces: Don’t think so.
  • Danger of confusion with chametz (raw): No.
  • Danger of confusion with chametz (processed): No.
  • Botanical categorization: Apiaceae / Zingiberaceae / Faboideae
  • Known in 13th century: Partly.
  • Verdict: Not kitniot.
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