Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods.
Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known, domesticated well over 3000 years ago. Sesame has many species, most being wild and native to sub-Saharan Africa. Sesame indicum, the cultivated type, originated in India. Sesame is highly tolerant to drought-like conditions and grows where other crops may fail.
Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich, nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Like other nuts and foods, it can trigger allergic reactions in some people.
The world harvested about 4.8 million metric tonnes of sesame seeds in 2013. The largest producer of sesame seeds in 2013 was Myanmar. The world’s largest exporter of sesame seeds was India, and Japan was the largest importer.