Cardamom is indigenous to South India and Sri Lanka. The cardamom of commerce is the fruit (capsule) of the plant ─ Elettaria cardamomum Maton. The genus belongs to the natural order ─ Scitamineae , family Zingiberaceae under monocotyledons. It is basically a psiophytic plant growing under shade in evergreen forests. It is propagated through seeds, suckers, and tissue culture plantlets. Cardamom plants mature in about 20-22 months after planting polybag seedlings or rhizomes. Economic yield starts from 3rd year onwards after planting, and continues up to 8-10 years. The total life span of cardamom plants is about 15-20 years, however, pseudostem is biannual in nature.
Two varieties of cardamom plants are identified, and they are Elettaria cardamomum Maton, variety “Major” ─ comprising wild indigenous types of Sri Lanka, and Elettaria cardamomum Maton, variety “Minor” ─ comprising cultivars like, Mysore, Malabar, and Vazhukka. These types are grown in different tracts and are mostly identified on the basis of nature of panicles, size of plants, and other morphological characteristics. Cardamom varieties are highly location specific.
Various research institutions working on the crop improvement aspects of cardamom have selected a number of elite high yielding clones having an yield potential of above 250 Kg/ha (rainfed) and superior capsule characters. They are being successfully taken up for cultivation in planters’ fields according to their agro-climatic adaptability.