When and why does cilantro bolt?

I didn't really know what cilantro was until I had a Chipotle burrito for the first time. Once I found out that distinct taste in the rice was a combination of a little oil, salt, lime juice and cilantro, I declared a love affair with cilantro.

Fast forward a few years and we move to Pennsylvania and are introduced to stink bugs. Nasty little buggers that have sheilds on their backs and a stink in their bellies. Dive bombing, clumsy, LOUD bugs that live up to the moniker of BUG!!! Squeeze them to kill them and you will wish you hadn't. Trap them on sticky traps and you'll be smelling it for weeks.  Attempt to watch TV in the month of October and the bugs will craw all over the character's faces.

(The only thing I've found to help is a little jar of windex. Just hold it under the bugs and they stupidly fly straight into it and death is pretty much instant.) 

They are bad now, but the worst is in the fall when they are clamoring to come indoors for the winter. Houses are literally covered from ground to roof on the sunny side.  Luckily, they don't bite or harm your house, but man do they STINK! Can you imagine if they were harmful??  UGH!

What does this have to do with cilantro??? Well, some folks think stink bugs smell like cilantro. I thought they were crazy. I hate stink bugs. I love cilantro. There is no way they smell the same. Right? Nope. They were right. Raw cilantro leaves growing on a plant smell JUST like the stinkbug stench. Perhaps the smell dissipates after cutting....I'll have to experiment...but for now, sadly...the stink bugs have ruined my cilantro. I can't handle putting it in my food with that smell.  UGH!!!

So the bolting?? If you have grown cool seasons edibles, you might have noticed they start to taste bad when the weather warms up. The plants start to grow quickly and begin to flower and your great tasting lettuce, or spinach, or cilantro starts tasting bitter. Your plant has officially bolted and there is nothing you can do about it. If you want to try again, you can cut the plant back and it might produce another crop if the weather cools down (sometimes in fall!). Otherwise, you can let your plant go to seed and collect the seeds for your fall crop or spring sowing next year. Pf course, in cilantro's case, the seeds are actualyl corinader, so I might try using them as a spice. Hopefully the seeds don't smell like stink bugs...

Cilantro plant flowering in late spring


Oh that is horrible that the wretched stink bug has ruined a perfectly good love affair. I hate those dern bugs. They ate through all of my butternut squash last year! It is also very fortuitous that you wrote this post about bitter lettuce. Hubs was just asking me why our lettuce got bitter all of the sudden and now I know the answer. Thanks for making me look smart. I really appreciate it, LOL!
LisaWeidknecht said…
Bolting cilantro, eh? Two words I never thought I'd hear together. Now, bolting and stink bugs, yes. LOL
Becky Jane said…
Ugh! We have them too but not that bad...my kids have learned to stay away from them.

Visiting from Twisted Scavenger…a new TWIST on blog hopping!
Thanks, Becky Jane
grace said…
My husband likes cilantro but I do not.
He eats it in his salads. I know how you feel about the association of things. I use to love Rhubarb and it grew wild on our farm. I boiled it down once and it looked like snot and after that i could not bare to even thing about eating it.
Jori said…
You are so clever,thanks for the tip. My mom said I ate a stink bug when I was two. ewwwwwww!
Unknown said…
Thank you for this! I googled "flower that smells like stink bugs" and found your article. I got a bunch of flowers from the Farmer's Market, and OMG one of them smells awful. It matches your photo of cilantro with little flowers on it. I KNEW it wasn't my imagination.
Glad to help :) I've since used cilantro in cooking again...it seems to mellow out under heat.

...and the seeds are fabulous! Just throw them in a pepper grinder and add a little burst of citrusy brightness to fish, chicken and veggie dishes!