Sesame ( Sesamum indicum ) is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum . The precise natural origin of the species is unknown, although its closest relatives occur in Africa. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions, mostly in India, China, Mexico, and Sudan. It is primarily cultivated for its edible seeds. It is an annual plant growing to 50-100 cm tall. The flowers are white to purple, tubular, 3-5 cm long, with a four-lobed mouth.
Sesame seeds are believed to be one of the first condiments as well as one of the first plants to be used for edible oil. The seeds contain about 50% of a fatty oil, which is characterized by a two lignanes, sesamin and sesamolin.
Sesame is grown primarily for its oil-rich seeds, which come in a variety of colors, from cream-white to charcoal-black. Sesame seeds are small, thin, tear-shaped black or tan seeds with a pleasing nutty flavor that is intensified by toasting. Black and tan sesame seeds are similar in flavor, while white sesame seeds are more delicate. Used as a seasoning and for their oil, they are about 50 percent oil by weight.