is a genus of approximately 20 species in the flowering plant family Pedaliaceae
. The plants are annual or perennial herbs with edible seeds. The best-known member of the genus is sesame
, Sesamum indicum
(syn. Sesamum orientale
), the source of sesame seeds. The species are primarily African, with some species occurring in India, Sri Lanka, and China. The origin of S. indicum
is uncertain as it is widely cultivated and naturalized in tropical regions. The genus is closely related to the strictly African genus Ceratotheca
and is itself probably African in origin.