Category : 12th Class
Out of about 3,50,000 known plants at this time, a few i.e., about 100. Scientists are in search of less known and underutilized crop plants, which can be used for food and other purposes and thus exploitation of traditional plants can be reduced. Such under-utilized and under-exploited plants are known as new crops.
Some of these new and underutilized crops are as follows :
(1) Triticale : Triticale is the first man made cereal or crop, which has been produced by intergeneric hybridization between common wheat (Triticum aestivum) and European rye (Secale cereale) with a view to combine characters of these two parent plants. Triticale is hexaploid, i.e, \[2n=6x=42\] (tetraploid Durum wheat × diploid Rye) or octaploid, i.e., \[2n=8x=56\] (hexaploid Bread wheat × diploid Rye). Triticale is the first new man-made plant to join the rank of cereals which have long evolutionary plants are being used for fulfilling man's daily requirements history. Triticale or triticosecale is not suitable for purpose of bread making due to low gluten content, but it is a good forge crop. Triticale is grown all over world, mainly in USSR.
(2) Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus family Leguminosae) : This is a herbaceous plant, which has capacity of nitrogen fixation. The tuberous roots, leaves, shoots, long pods with prominent wings and seeds are highly nutritious due to rich source of proteins and edible for humans as well as livestock. When green, the pods, leaves and shoots are used as vegetables, unripe seeds may be used as soups and ripe seeds can be roasted. The ripe seeds contain about 34% proteins and 18% oils (similar to soybean). Further this plant can be used as a green-manure plant, fodder plant and also as a cover crop.
(3) Jojoba or Hohoba (Simmondsia chinensis) : This is a shrub, which is native of Mexican deserts. It is important drought desert plant, because it can survive under poor soil and low moisture conditions and hence is being grown in deserts. The seeds of this plant contain about 50% liquid wax, which is similar to sperm whale oil (spermaceti). This liquid wax was originally used in cosmetics, but now is also being used in high performance lubricants.
(4) Guayule (= Wayule, Parthenium argentatum family Asteraceae) : It is commonly known as carrot grass or congress grass. This is native of America and nowadays it is most troublesome terrestrial weed in India and is present in almost all states of India. The roots of this plant secret transcinnamic acid, which inhibits the growth of other plants (allelopathy). This is a shrub and can grow on poor desert soils. This plant is nowadays used in obtaining rubber, which is called guayule rubber, which is similar to para rubber or hevea rubber. The body of this plant contains caotchouc granules, which are ingredient of rubber. The plant contains 12- 20% rubber on dry wt. basis. This plant can be a natural source of rubber in future.
(5) Leucaena or Subabul/Loo-See-na/Loo-kee-na (Leucaena leucocephala family Leguminosae) : This is a fast growing small tree and is native of central America. This plant is nowadays being planted on a large scale under social-forestry. These plants are used as wind breaks, fire breaks, cover plant for deforested tropical regions, leaves as fodder, wood as fuel and in charcoal formation, paper pulp, rayon and timber. It is also used as shade and cover plant in coffee, tea and rubber plantations. Leucaena is a nitrogen fixing plant and leaves are good sources of green manure. It can grow on poor and worn out marginal lands.
(6) Oil plant : Some potential oil yielding plants are there, which provide edible and non-edible oils after suitable treatments. Some potential oil plants are as follows :
(i) Margosa or Neem : Azadirachta indica (family Meliaceae). It is native of Burma (Myanmar) and is widely grown tree in India. Seeds are source of margosa or neem oil with bitter taste, used in soap making.
(ii) Indrayan or colocynth : Citrullus colocynthis (family Cucurbitaceae). It is a perennial trailer area with medicinal. Roots used in curing jaundice and urinary disease. Fruit pulp is used medicinally as purgative and bacteriocidal. Seeds have oil.
(iii) Mahua : Madhuca indica, seeds give oil used in soap making and also in cooking purposes.
(iv) Buffalo or Wild gourd : Cucurbita foetidissima, it can tolerate heat and drought. Its fruit is employed as a soap substitute. The seeds are oily and edible. The underground storage roots of the plant are source of industrial starch.
(v) Mustard tree or Kharjal : Salvadora perisca, seeds provide oil which is used commercially.
(vi) Sal : Shorea robusta, trunk yields oleoresin, which is source of 'chua oil' on distillation, which is used in perfumes.
(7) Fodder trees : Some important fodder trees are :
(i) Kikar or Babul (Acacia nilotica) : Foliage and pods are widely used for feeding goats and sheeps in arid regions of India. Leaves and twigs of A. senegal provide fodder also.
(ii) Siris (Albizzia lebbeck) : Young foliage contain about 20% protein and are fed to livestock
(iii) Peepal (Ficus religiosa) : The leaves are lopped for elephant and cattle fodder.
(iv) White mulberry (Morus alba) : The leaves which are avidly browsed by goats, cattle and sheep are deliberately lopped for fodder.
(v) Basna (Sesbania grandiflora) : Cattle relish the fleshy, feathery leaves and long pods in the tropical parts of India.
(8) Non-alcoholic beverages (Less-known) : Generally, non-alcoholic beverages are obtained from coffee, tea and cocoa, but there are other sources of less known beverages plants. Some of them are :
(i) Caltha edulis or Arabian tea : A decoction from its leaves known as khat. Leaves and buds on chewing have stimulating effect.
(ii) Cola nitida or Cola : A beverage 'cola' is obtained from seeds in Africa.
(iii) Ilex paraguariensis (Mate) : It is source of Paraguay tea.
(iv) Paullinia cupana or Guarana (Yaco) : Guarana seeds used as beverage in South America.
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