Economic Botany

Category : 12th Class

Cereals : These are the members of family Gramineae and grown for their edible seeds. They are characterised by the presence of caryopsis a type of fruit in which seed wall becomes fused with the ovary to form the husk. The three major cereals are as follows :

(1) Rice (Oryza sativa) : The rice plant is an annual herbs attaining a height of \[24\] feet and produces a panicle, an inflorescence consisting of a number of fine branches; it grows best on damp soils where it can be flooded. Paddy is the term used for rice grain surrounded by husk. Basmati rice is cultivated in U.P. and Haryana. It contains about 90% carbohydrate, 8-10% protein, 1% fat and about 1% mineral. Rice bran yields oil. Rice grains are used as a food after cooking; stem, husk etc., Rice flour is an ingredient of idli and dosa.

(2) Wheat (Triticum aestivum) : Wheat (rabi crop) is an annual grass and the inflorescence is a terminal spike consisting of \[1520\] spikelets. There are two types of wheats, hexaploid, bread wheat, Triticum aestivum and tetraploid durum wheat, Triticum durum. In India, its cultivation is confined to north-west regions. The important varieties of wheat, grown in India are Sonalika, Kalyan sona, Partap, Sharbati, Sonara, Lerma Roja, Sonara 64 etc. However, \[HD-2135\] and \[HD-2189\] are disease resisting varieties. Wheat straw is used in packing and as fodder. Glutellin is stored protein in wheat. It is consumed in three forms of flour-suji, atta and maida.

(3) Maize (Zea mays) : It is the second important cereal crop. Maize is a tall annual grass attaining a height of 4 to 10 feet; plants are monoecious. It is grown in North India and is a kharif or summer crop because maize cannot tolerate frost. In India common varieties grown are Sona, Vijay, Jawahar, Amber etc. The maize grains are very nutritious; they contain high percentage of easily digestible carbohydrates, proteins zein and fats. But lacks two amino acids, tryptophan and lysine. As a result excessive intake of corn causes pellagra-like deficiency disease. The grains are also used in the manufacture of corn starch, glucose and alcohol; also used as a chief food for livestock; the fibre from stem and spathe is used in paper industry. Zein is used for preparation of artificial fibres and as foaming agent in fire extinguishers. 

Millets : These are a group of cereals which have smaller and rounded grains. The millets were the first cereals to be domesticated. These are nutritious but have poor bread making capacity.

(1) Sorghum (Sorghum vulgare) : Sorghum is staple food for millions of peoples in Asia and Africa. The grains are made into flour, often mixed with wheat, forming a nutritious food. The plants are used as fodder, in the manufacture of brushes, syrup and also in the paper industry and preparation of alcoholic beverages and acetone. Important varieties are Maldhani, Ramkal and Aspuri.

(2) Barley (Hordeum vulgare) : Barley is an annual plant attaining a height of 3 feet. The inflorescence is a spike; the grains may be white, purple or red and are covered with husk. Barley is used in the preparation of bread, cakes after mixing it with wheat flour; straw is used as a livestock feed; also used as a source of malt, to be used in the manufacture of beer, whisky, alcohol, etc.

(3) Pearl millet or Bajra (Pennisetum typhoides) : Bajra is a kharif crop of arid areas. The plants attain a height from \[612\]feet and the dark-brown spikes, \[1525\,\,cm\] in length, occur in clusters. It is an important food for poor people in our country; the flour is used for making chapatis; the plants are also used as fodder.

(4) Ragi (Eleusine coracana; finger millet) : It is drought resistant and hardiest of all minor cereals. It is kharif crop of sandy loam soils. It is used in preparation of porridage and beer. Ragi is also used as flour and fodder.

Pulses : These are the members of family Leguminosae which is characterised by a type of fruit i.e., legume. Legumes or pulses are highly proteinaceous; they form excellent green manures as they are having root-nodules for nitrogen fixation. Some of the important pulses are as follows :

(1) Pea (Pisum sativum) : It is grown all over India during winter months. There are two species of pea under cultivation–P.sativum (Garden pea) and P. arvense (Field pea). The plant is an annual herb climbing by means of tendrils. The seeds are eaten after cooking as vegetable; plants are used as valuable fodder.

(2) Chick pea or Gram (Cicer arietinum) : It is grown as rabi crop. India produces about 90% of the world output of chick pea or gram. The plant is a bushy annual and matures in about three months. There are two varieties - Bengal gram (Darker ; smaller) and Kabuli gram (Larger ; light coloured). The seeds are eaten as dal and the flour which is commonly called as besan is used in the preparation of sweets and other foodstuffs; the plants and seeds are also used as cattle feed. Diabetic patients often use gram flour as a substitute for wheat flour.

(3) Khesari Dal or Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus). By consuming seeds of this pulse leads to lathyrism, a crippling disability marked by muscular weakness, tremors and paraplegia. The seeds contain osteotxin, b-amino propionitrile (BAPN) and water soluble neurotoxin, \[\beta -N-\]oxalyl amino alanine (BOAA).

(4) Pigeon pea or Red gram or Arhar (Cajanus cajan) : It is widely cultivated in India and is grown as a pure crop or mixed crop. The plant is a perennial shrub. Dry grains are used as dal; leaves form a valuable fodder; branches are used for making baskets.

(5) Red kidney Bean or Rajmah (Phaseolus vulgaris) : Low temperature cooking or eating raw baked beans can be dangerous due to presence of lectins.  

(6) Ground nut or Moongphali (Arachis hypogea) : The plant is a bushy annual with underground fruits. Groundnuts are very nutritious as they are rich in proteins. Seeds are used after roasting for preparation of peanut butter; groundnut oil is largely used as cooking oil.

(7) Black gram or Urd (Phaseolus mungo) : It is the one of the best pulses grown all over India. The plant is a trailing annual. It is used as dal; flour is used in the preparation of papads and biscuits; seeds and straw form a valuable cattle feed.

(8) Soybean (Glycine max) : The seeds of this plant are the protein richest, natural vegetable food known. It is cultivated all over India. The plant is a small, bushy, erect or prostrate annual. It has 30-60% protein and 17.5% fat. Seeds are used green or dry; soya milk, soya cheese etc. are prepared from the seeds; soybean flour is used in bakery, ice cream etc. An anticancer ingredient called genistein is also present. This bean is given to diabetic patients because of its low carbohydrate content.

(9) Green gram or Moong (Phaseolus radiatus) : It is cultivated as an important pulse crop in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Bengal. The green pods are eaten as vegetable and seeds are used as dal. Flour is used to prepare Papad, Kachaury, Bhalla. The entire plant is used as cattle feed.

Oils : Oils are the complex chemical compounds which consists of hydrocarbons, esters, alcohols, aldehydes etc. It is two types :

(1) Edible oils

(i) Groundnut oil : It is obtained from the seeds of Arachis hypogea -family Papilionaceae. Seeds are rich in oil \[(45-50%),\] protein, vitamins A and B complex, calcium and phosphorus. Refined oil is used in cooking and oil is converted into vegetable ghee by dehydrogenation. India is largest producer of groundnut.

(ii) Sesame or Til oil : It is obtained from the seeds of Sesamum indicum - family Pedaliaceae. Seeds are flat and white/black/brown in colour. Oil is used in cooking, medicine, soap etc.

(iii) Coconut oil : It is obtained from the dry Kernel of the seed of Cocos nucifera - family Palmae. Oil is rich in lauric acid (nearly 50%) which has leathering property. Oil is used for cooking, as hair oil, and in the manufacture of soaps, shampoo, cosmetics and shaving cream etc. Coconut oil is solid at or below 23°C.

(iv) Mustard oil : It is obtained from the seeds of Brassica campestris - family Cruciferae. Oil is chiefly used for cooking purposes, illuminant and lubricant, soap and rubber preparation. Oil cake is used as fodder or cattle feed.

(v) Soybean oil : It is obtained from the seeds of Glycine max - family Papilionaceae; Seed kernels are rich in protein and low carbohydrate contents. Raw oil is used in the manufacture of soap, varnishes, paints etc.; refined oil is used for cooking purposes. Soybean flour, mixed with wheat flour is used for making chapatis.

(vi) Linseed oil : It is obtained from the seeds of Linum usitatissimum - family Linaceae; oil is used in making paints, varnishes, soaps etc.

(vii) Sunflower : It is obtained from the seeds of Helianthus annus – family Asteraceae. It is annual crop with capitulum type of inflorescence. Seed contains about 50% oil. It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Seed oil is used in cooking as lubricant, in soap, paint and varnish industries.

(viii) Safflower : It is obtained from the seeds of Carthamus tinctorius - family Asteraceae; Seeds contain polyunsaturated fatty acids i.e., PUFA. Along with sunflower oil, safflower oil helps in lowering the cholestrol. It is good for heart patients.

(2) Nonedible oil

(i) Castor (Ricinus communis ; Euphorbiaceae). Plant has soft and hollow stem. Fruit is regma. Stem pulp is used for paper industry. Seed contains about 55% oil. Oil is purgative. It is used in transparent soap, as lubricant, in paints and varnishes. Oil cake is toxic. However, it acts as good manure.

Sugar : Sugars are the end products of photosynthesis in green plants. Cane-sugar or sucrose is the main commercial sugar used world over for sweetening various food products. Some of the important sugar yielding plants are as follows:

(1) Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) : It belongs to family Gramineae and is the chief source of sugar in India. It is commonly aneuploid. The plant reaches a height of 6 to 12 feet and a diameter 1 to 2 inches; the stem is solid with many fibrous strands and contains juice; the stems are cut close to the ground and are then sent to sugar mills for the extraction of sugar. Juice from canes yield sugar, mainly sucrose. Bye products are mollasses (Juice) and bagasse (crushed canes), Juice is also used in jaggery (Gur) prepartion. Bagasse is used as fuel and in paper industry. Molasses is used in the manufacture of rum and industrial alcohol. Molasses is the mother liquor, left after extraction of sugar crystals. Maximum production is in U.P.

(2) Sugar-beet (Beta vulgaris) : It belongs to family Chenopodiaceae and is the source of sucrose sugar in cold countries. The sugar-beet is a biennial herb with white tap root. Sugar is extracted from the fleshy roots which contain \[1520%\] of sucrose. In India sugar-beet is not much used as a source of sugar but the roots and leaves are used as vegetables.

Fibres : The fibre crops of the world rank second in importance to the food crops. Fibres are thread-like sclerenchymatous tissues obtained from different parts of the plant body. They are usually long with thick walls and pointed ends; the thickening of the walls is either due to the deposition of lignin or cellulose. Some of the important commercial fibres are as follows :

(1) Cotton (Gossypium sp. - family Malvaceae) : The plants are perennial (or annual) shrubs. The fruits are capsules, called balls, with \[3-5\] locules (or locks). Each locule contains about 9 seeds. Epidermal hair from seed surface of Gossypium arboreum, G.herbaceum, G.hirsutum and other species. Epidermal hair present on the seed surface are of two types, extractable lint and nonextractable fluffy or frizzed fuzz. Depending upon fibre length, cotton is of two types, long stapled (narma) and short stapled (desi cotton). Fibres are made of cellulose only. They are ideal for textiles, celluloid, cellophane, rayon and paper pulp. Cotton is a widely cultivated kharif crop. India produces 10% of the world output. Maximum in Punjab state.

(2) Jute (Corchorus capsularis  and C. olitorius - family Tiliaceae) : The plants are slender, tall, annual shrubs, widely cultivated in north-east India. The fibres are pale yellow in colour, silky in luster and often reach upto the length of \[6-8\] feet. It is a very valuable bast fibre and is second in use to cotton. The fibres are extracted by the process of retting in which the branches of plants are dipped in water for few days; after retting fibres are separated. Jute fibres are used for making gunny bags, packing cloth, carpets, cordage, curtains etc. Mostly cultivated in Bengal.

(3) Sunn hemp (Crotolaria juncea-family Papilionaceae) : The plants are annual shrubs reaching a height of 6 to 12 feet. They are grown as a kharif crop after rainy season. The fibres are bast fibres present in the region of phloem just outside the cambium. The plants are extensively cultivated in India. The long fibrous strands are made up of lignified phloem sclerenchyma cells which are obtained after retting. The fibres are used in the manufacture of ropes, coarse cloth (tat putti) canvas, nets, cordages etc.

(4) Flax (Linum usitatissimum - family Linaceae) : The fibres are very strong, silky, short in length and are formed in the pericycle of the stem. They are made up of pure cellulose. Flax fibres are used in the manufacture of linen cloth, carpets, canvas, cigarette paper, insulating materials etc.

(5) Hemp (Cannabis sativa - family Cannabinaceae) : The fibres are obtained from the pericycle after retting. The hemp fibres are long, strong and durable but lack flexibility. It is used for the manufacture of ropes, cables, nets, canvas etc.

(6) Coir (Cocos nucifera - family Palmae) : It is obtained from the fibrous mesocarp of the fruit; the fruits are dipped in marine water for many months and then beaten to separate the fibres. Coir is used for making brushes, doormats, carpets, sacs, bags, cordage etc.

(7) Rosella (vern, Patsan, Family Malvaceae) : Stem or bast fibres from Hibiscus sabdarifa. Other fibres include Agave/Sisal fibres (leaves of Agave sislana, family Agavaceae) and Abaca/Manila hemp (leaf stalks of Musa textilis, family Musaceae).

Medicinal Plants

(1) Opium (Papaver somniferum - family Papaveraceae) : The plant is an erect herb having large globose capsules. Opium is the latex of unripe fruits. The opium contains several important alkaloids such as morphine, codeine, narcotine, thebaine, neopine etc. The opium has narcotic and sedative effect and is largely used to relieve pain as an intoxicant. Heroine is a derivative of opium (morphine).

(2) Rauwolfia (Rauwolfia serpentina–family Apocyanaceae) : It is an erect, perennial undershrub. The dried roots are an important source of an alkaloid reserpine and other alkaloids are serpentine, serpentinine, rauwolfine etc. The alkaloid reserpine is used in several patent drugs, as it has a depressant action on central nervous system and produces sedation and lowering of blood pressure.

(3) Cinchona (Cinchona officinalis - family Rubiaceae) : It is a famous quinine-yielding plant. Quinine is the most important drug obtained from the bark of this plant and also from other species i.e., C. ledgerina, C. officinalis and C. cordifolia. Bark of these plants contains about 30 alkaloids including quinine, cinchonine, quinidine and cinchonidine, all of which are used in medicine. Quinine has been a great boon to mankind, as it is the only adequate cure for malaria.

(4) Belladona (Atropa belladona - family Solanaceae) : Dried roots, leaves and tops of Atropa belladona and A. acuminata. Yields three drugs - atropine, scopolamine (truth drug) and belladona. The plant is a perennial herb. Belladona is used extremely to relieve pain; besides this leaves contain several alkaloids chief among which is atropine, used to dilate pupil of the eye.

(5) Ephedrine (Ephedra equisetina and E. sinica - family Gnetaceae) : It is small shrub. The stems are the source of famous drug ephedrine. Ephedrine is used to cure asthma, colds and hay fevers.

(6) Aconite (Aconitum napellus - family Ranunculaceae) : Aconite is obtained from the tuberous roots of this plant. Aconite relieves pain due to neuralgia, rheumatism and inflamed joints; it is also used as a tonic and sedative.


Some important Legumes

Common name

Indian name

Botanical name and family

Special features

1. Pigeon pea/Red gram / Congo pea


Cajanus cajan (= C. indicus) (Fabaceae)

Seeds extensively used in the form of split pulse (dal) especially in South India.

2. Chick pea / Bengal gram/ Gram / Garbanzos


Cicer arietinum (Fabaceae)

Seeds eaten raw, roasted, or boiled in the form of dal; Flour called besan, plus ghee and sugar used for making sweets.

3. Cluster bean


Cyamopsis  tetragonoloba (Fabaceae)

Young tender pods used as vegetables.

4. Horse gram


Dolichos uniflorus (Fabaceae)

Poor man's pulse in South India; Often used as feed for cattle and horses.

5. Hyacinth bean


Dolichos lablab (Fabaceae)

Young pods and tender beans used as vegetables

6. Chickling vetch / grass pea

Khesari dal

Lathyrus sativus (Fabaceae)

Cheapest pulse; consumed by poor classes in India. Serious disease Lathyrism (paralysis of lower limbs) results from excessive and prolonged consumption of khesari dal. The seeds contain osteotoxin B?amino propronitrile (BPN) and water soluble neurotoxin B?N?oxalyl amino alamine (BOAA).

7. Lentil

Masoor,                Malka masoor

Lens esculenta/ Lens culinaris (Fabaceae)

Most nutritious of all pulses; Protein content high, proteins easily digestible; unripe pods used as green vegetable.

8. Common bean / French bean / Kidney bean

Vilayati sem

Phaseolus vulgaris (Fabaceae)

Green immature pods used as vegetable. Straw used as cattle feed.

9. Black gram


Phaseolus mungo (=Vigna mungo) (Fabaceae)

Rich in phosphoric acid, used as dal; used with rice for idli and dosa. Chief constituent of Papar and Vari.

10. Green gram / Golden gram


Phaseolus aureus / (Fabaceae)                     P. radiatus (Vigna radiata)

Used as dal; seeds fried and salted used as snacks.

11. Moth bean


Phaseolus aconitifolius (Fabaceae)

Young pods eaten as vegetable. Ripe seeds eaten as dal.

12. Pea


Pisum sativum (Fabaceae)

Seeds used as vegetable after cooking or mixed with various vegetables.

13. Cow pea


Vigna unguiculata  (= V. sinensis) (Fabaceae)

Seed eaten cooked as vegetable; immature pods also cooked as vegetables.

14. Soybean


Glycine max (= G. soja = G. hispida = Soja max) (Fabaceae)

Seeds richest in protein; Grinding boiled seeds with water yields soybean milk (nutritious like cow's milk, fit for infants) Soya?sauce is obtained by fermenting soybean and rice flour with Aspergillus oryzae.


Some important Fruits

Common Name

Indian name

Botanical name & Family

Special features

1. Lime

(a)    Kaghzi Nimbu

(b)   Nimbu

Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae)

C. aurantiifolia var. bergamia

Hesperidium; Citric acid in fruits,

Hesperidium; Unripe fruit is digestive,

2. Sour or Seveille orange


Citrus aurantium var. bigardia (Rutaceae)

Hesperidium; Rich in provitamins A and B.

3. Sweet orange


Citrus sinensis (Rutaceae)

Hesperidium; Fruit juice quenches thirst, improves apetite, given to patients;

4. Mandarin orange/ Tangerine


Citrus reticulata (Rutaceae)

Hesperidium; Highly nutritious, rich in calcium;

5.  Shaddock/   Pummelo


Citrus maxima C. grandis (Rutaceae)

Hesperidium; Fruits edible, neither sour nor bitter;

6. Grape fruit


Citrus paradisi (Rutaceae)

Hesperidium; Canned and frozen;

7. Apple


Malus pumila (=Pyrus malus = Malus sylvestris) (Rosaceae)

Pome; Fleshy thalamus edible, Malic acid is chief acid; characteristic smell due to esters and essential oils.

8. Apricot


Prunus armeniaca (Rosaceae)

Drupe, Epicarp and mesocarp edible.

9. Peach


Prunus persica (Rosaceae)

Drupe; eaten raw, also canned

10. Pear


Pyrus communis (Rosaceae)

Pome; rich in sugar, eaten raw and canned

11. Plum

Alucha (Alu-bukhara)

Prunus domestica (Rosaceae)

Drupe; Epicarp and mesocarp edible.

12. Japanese Medlar


Eriobotrya japonica (Rosaceae)

Mesocarp edible, Drupe

13. Mango


Mangifera indica (Anacardiaceae)

Drupe; Fleshy mesocarp edible, eaten raw; pickled, jams prepared, important source of vitamins A.

14. Banana


Musa sapientum = M. paradisiaca (Musaceae)

Berry; good source of vitamins A, C; rich in minerals and sugars

15. Custard apple


Annona squamosa (Annonaceae)

Etaerio of berries, fruit eaten fresh

16. Cherimoya


Annona cherimola (Annonaceae)

Etaerio of berries, fruit eaten fresh

17. Pineapple


Ananas comosus (Bromeliaceae)

Sorosis; fleshy axis, bracts, perianth and seeds edible.

18. Date palm

Pind Khajur

Phoenix dectylifera (Palmae)

Drupe; rich in sugars, a fermented drink (toddy) is prepared from the sap.

19. Grapes


Vitis vinifera


Berry; eaten raw, used for making raisins and wine  sugar-mostly glucose and fructose.

20. Guava


Psidium guajava (Myrtaceae)

Berry cheap and rich source of vitamin C and calcium.

21. Jumbolana


Syzygium cumini (=Eugenia jambolana) (Myrtaceae)

Berry; seeds useful in diarrhoea, dysentry and diabetes.

22. Litchi


Litchi chinensis (Sapindaceae)

One-seeded nut; fleshy aril of seed edible.

23. Mulberry


Morus alba (Moraceae)

Sorosis, juicy inflorescence edible; silkworm reared on leaves.

24. Fig


Ficus carica (Moraceae)

Syconus; fruit edible.

25. Muskmelon


Cucumis melo (Cucurbitaceae)

Pepo; fruit eaten raw.

26. Watermelon


Citrulus vulgaris (Cucurbitaceae)

Pepo; fruit eaten raw.

27. Papaya


Carica papaya (Caricaceae)

Berry; Raw fruit eaten; contains proteins, minerals, vitamins and enzyme papain

28. Pomegranate


Punica granatum (Punicaceae)

Berry; with edible aril, Dried seeds (anardana) used as flavouring substance.

29. Phalsa


Grewia asiatica (Tiliaceae)

Drupe, eaten raw

30. Jujube


Zizyphus mauritiana (Rhamnaceae)

Drupe, eaten raw.

31. Emblic


Emblica officinalis (=Phyllanthus emblica) (Euphorbiaceae)

Rich in vitamin C, used for controlling indigestion.

32. Wood-Apple


Aegle marmelos (Rutaceae)

The ripe fruits is aromatic, used as laxative.


Some common Vegetables

English Name

Hindi name

Botanical name & Family

Special remarks



Root Vegetables





1. Beets


Beta vulgaris (Chenopodiaceae)

Roots and leaves used as salad and vegetables.


2. Carrot


Daucus carota (Umbelliferae)

Used as salad and vegetable, contains carotene (precursor of Vitamin A) and carbohydrate.


3. Radish


Raphanus sativus (Cruciferae)

Used as salad; leaves used as vegetable; Rich In Vitamins A and C. Root contains raphanin which is responsible for pungent smell.


4. Turnip


Brassica rapa (Cruciferae)

It originated in Central West China. Characteristic flavour due to presence of volatile is othiocyanates used as salad and vegetable.


5. Sweet potato

Shakarkand or mitha alu

Ipomoea batatas (Convolvulaceae)

Tuberous root edible, good raw material for industrial alcohol, starch and glucose.


6. Cassava / Tapioca


Manihot esculenta = M. utilissima (Euphorbiaceae)

Tubers rich in calcium and vitamin C alongwith starch source of tapioca starch; staple food of many people; in India concentrated on west coast especially in Kerala.


Underground Stems





1. Garlic


Allium sativum (Liliaceae)

Pungent smell due to allicin-antiseptic and bactericide-used as flavouring vegetables.


2. Onion


Allium cepa (Liliaceae)

Fleshy leaves of bulb rich in minerals and vitamins; eaten raw with meals; added to dals.


3. Potato


Solanum tuberosum (Solanaceae)

Cheap source of starch and minerals.


4. Taro


Colocasia esculenta (Araceae)

Rhizome starchy, tuberous, edible.


5. Artichoke


Helianthus tuberosus (Compositae)

Edible tuberous stem underground; source of levulose-sweetening agent used by diabetics.


Herbage Vegetables





1. Cabbage

Band Gobhi

Brassica oleracea var. capitata (Cruciferae)

Vegetative bud consisting of compaction of leaves edible eaten raw or cooked.


2. Cauliflower


Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (Cruciferae)

Inflorescence comprises hypertrophied flower stalks and abortive flowers eaten after cooking.


3. Lettuce


Lactuca sativa (Compositae)

Leaves eaten as salad; rich in vitamins A and E.


4. Spinach


Spinacea oleracea (Chenopodiaceae)

Compact rosette of leaves eaten cooked; rich in vitamin A and minerals.


5. Celery

Ajmud, Karas, Salari

Apium graveolens var. dulce (Umbelliferae)

Leaf stalks contain good quantities of starch, used in salads, stews and soups.


6. Asparagus


Asparagus officinale (Liliaceae)

Shoots (Cladodes) consumed green; rich source of vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.


Fruit Vegetables





1. Tomato


Lycopersicon esculentum (= Solanum lycopersicum) (Solanaceae)

Salads and cooked vegetables; Rich in Vitamin C, A, B, B2


2. Brinjal/Egg plant


Solanum melongena (Solanaceae)

Fruit is berry with white violet or green colouration. It is good for diabetic patients. Fruit cooked as vegetable; rich in iodine.


3. Lady's finger/Okra


Abelmoschus esculentus

= Hibiscus esculentus (Malvaceae)

Unripe fruit cooked as vegetable.


4. Cluster bean


Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (Papilionaceae)

Immature green pods seeds edible; guar gum from seed.


5. Hyacinth bean


Lablab purpureus (=Dolichos lablab) (Papilionaceae)

Green pods and seeds eaten as vegetable.


6. Wax or white gourd


Benincasa hispida (Cucurbitaceae)

Confectionery and vegetable.


7. Squash melon


Citrullus lanatus var. fistulosus (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked as vegetable.


8. Snapmelon

Phoot, kachra

Cucumis melo var. momordica (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked as vegetable.


9. Long melon or Snake cucumber

Kakri or Tar

Cucumis melo var. utilissimus (Cucurbitaceae)



10. Cucumber


Cucumis sativus (Cucurbitaceae)



11. Winter squash

Vilayati Kaddu

Cucurbita maxima (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked vegetable.


12. Pumpkins

Halwa Kaddu or Kanshiphal

Cucurbita moschata (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked vegetable and sweet.


13.Summer squash or Marrow

Chappan kaddu

Cucurbita pepo (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked as vegetable.


14. Bottle gourd or Calabash

Lauki, ghia

Lagenaria siceraria (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked vegetable and containers.


15. Ridged or Ribbed sponge gourd, dishcloth gourd

Kali tori

Luffa acutangula (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked vegetable.


16. Smooth sponge gourd or Loofah

Ghia tori

Luffa cylindrica (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked vegetable and sponges for bath.


17. Bitter gourd or balsam pear


Momordica charantia (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked vegetables and pickles.


18. Pointed gourd

Parwal, parmal

Trichosanthes dioica (Cucurbitaceae)

Cooked vegetable.



Some important Nuts

Common name

Hindi name

Botanical name (Family)

Special features

1. Cashewnut


Anacardium occidentale (Anacardiaceae)

Kidney - shaped seeds present in kidney shaped nuts (cashew nut) borne on juicy pear-shaped fruit (cashew apple). The seed eaten raw or roasted. Cashew apple juice fermented to make cashew wine.

2. Walnut


Juglans regia (Juglandaceae)

(a)    Kemels eaten as such or added to confectionary and ice creams, custards etc.

(b)   Tree bark used as dundasa for cleaning teeth.

3. Almond / Sweet almond


Prunus dulcis (= Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis) (Rosaceae)

Edible part is seed inside drupe fruit added to confectionary, custard etc. Badam roghan - an oil extracted from sweet almond is medicinally important.

4. Bitter almond

Karua badam

Prunus amygdalus var. amara (Rosaceae)

Contain bitter poisonous glucoside-amygdalin.

5. Pistacia nut/ Green almond


Pistacia vera (Anacardiaceae)

Kernels eaten salted, roasted used for decorating and flavouring confectionary, ice creams etc.

6. Coconut


Cocos nucifera (Palmae)

Kernel called copra; yields coconut milk; food and oil from kernel.

7. Pine nut


Pinus gerardiana (Pinaceae)

Edible part is kernel.


Some important Essential oils

Common Name

Hindi name

Botanical name

Special features

1. Jasmine oil


Jasminum auriculatum (Oleaceae)

Fragrant flowers yield jasmine oil used in perfumed oils and attars.

2. Khas Khas oil

Khus Khus

Vetiveria zizanioides (Gramineae)

Roots yield a khus khus oil used in perfumes, soaps, sharbets; roots used for mats for air coolers.

3. Lavender


Lavandula officinalis (Labiatae)

Flowers yield oil for perfumes, toilet soaps, toilet ponders, Lavender water etc.

4. Rose oil


Rosa damascena (Rosaceae)

Petals yield oil or roses, used in rose water attar; petals used for gulkand.

5. Sandalwood oil


Santalum album (Santalaceae)

Heartwood yields oil, roots also are rich source of oil; oil used for toilet soaps, face creams, perfumery and also religious ceremonies.

6. Camphor


Cinnamomum camphora (Lauraceae)

Wood yields camphor (camphor gum) used in perfumery and medicines.

7. Lemongrass oil


Cymbopogon citratus (Graminaee)

Leaves yield oil which contain citral; used in manufacturing perfumes (lonone), soaps, cosmetics etc.

8. Eucalyptus oil


Eucalyptus globosus (Myrtaceae)

Dried leaves yield oil used for perfumery, treatment of asthma and bronchitis.

9. Cedarwood oil


Juniperus macropoda (Pinaceae)

Heart wood yields oil used for perfumery, clearing agent in the preparation of microscopic slides.

10. Peppermint oil


Mentha piperita (Labiatae)

Leaves yield oil used in perfumery.

11. Champaca oil


Michelia champaca (Magnoliaceae)

Flowers yield oil used in perfumery.

12. Clove oil


Syzygium aromaticum (Myrtaceae)

Unopen flower buds yield oil used in perfumes and medicines.

13. Geranium oil


Pelargonium graveolens (Lamiaceae)

Oil from leaves used in perfumery.


Some Fatty oils yielding plants

Common name

Hindi name

Botanical name

Special features

1. Coconut


Cocos nucifera (Palmae)

Endosperm yields coconut oil used as cooking oil, hair oil, etc.

2. Mustard


Brassica campestris var. sarson (Cruciferae)

Oil from seeds used in cooking, pickes; oil cake used as cattle feed.

3. Ground nut


Arachis hypogea (Papilionaceae)

Seed (cotyledones) yield non-drying oil used as cooking medium; large quantities used for manufacturing vegetable ghee; oil cake used as cattle feed.

4. Safflower


Carthamus tinctorius (Compositae)

Seed oil edible, rich in PUFA (poly unsaturated fatty acid), prescribed for heart patient, for it does not increase cholesterol; flowers yield dye used to colour foods and cloth.

5. Sesame, Gingelly


Sesamum indicum (Pedaliaceae)

Seed oil used as cooking medium; oil cake used as cattle feed; defatted seeds are rich source of protein.

6. Soybean


Glycine max (Papilionaceae)

Seed oil is edible; germinated seeds rich in vitamin C, Soymeal rich in proteins; lecithin-a, by-product of oil industry, used as stabilising agent in cosmetics, medicines, plastics etc.

7. Sunflower


Helianthus annuus (Compositae)

Seeds yield an oil; used as cooking medium; oil cake used as cattle feed.

8. Oil palm/African oil palm


Elaeis guineensis (Palmae)

The fleshy mesocarp of the fruits yields edible oil which is also used in the manufacture of soaps, candles, lubricants as well as a fuel for internal combustion engines.

9. Castor


Ricinus communis (Euphorbiaceae)

Seeds yield oil used as purgative lubricant and in soap industry.

10. Cotton


Gossypium sp. (Malvaceae)

Seeds yield oil used for cooking.

11. Linseed


Linum usitatissimum (Linaceae)

Seeds yield oil forming a tough elastic film on oxidation; used for making paints and printing inks.

12. Olive


Olea europea (Oleaceae)

Fruits yield edible oil.


Some more Fibre-yielding Plants

Common name

Hindi name

Botanical name and Family

Special features

1. Flax


Linum usitatissimum (Linaceae)

Pericycle fibres : soft/bast, used for bags, ropes, carpets paper.

2. Sunn hemp


Crotalaria juncea (Leguminosae)

Fibres from region outside cambium used for canvas, rope, nets.

3. Hemp


Cannabis sativa (Cannabinaceae)

Fibres from bark; used for brush, ropes, carpets, cordage, sacks, bags.

4.  Munja


Saccharum munja (Poaceae)

Fibre from stem and leaves, lower part of stem used for making furniture; upper part for cordage, baskets.

5. Coir


Cocos nucifera (Palmaceae)

Fibrous mesocarp - Hard fibre used for coir, rope, mats, carpets. India principal producer (Mainly Kerala).

6. Kenaf/Deccan hemp/Java jute


Hibiscus cannabinus (Malvaceae)

Fibres from lower part of the stem; used for bags, sacks, cordage, nets, substitute for jute.

7. Ramie/China grass


Boehmeria nivea (Urticaceae)

Toughest, longest, strongest most durable fibre present in secondary phloem; used for brush, ropes, carpets, cordage bags, chinese linen.

8. Abaca /Manila hemp


Musa textilis (Musaceae)

Strongest of all structure fibres. Leaf sheath contains fibres, used for marine cordage, fishing industry.

9. Sisal


Agave sisalana (Agavaceae)

Leaves contain fibres; used for carpet backing bags, industrial fabrics.

10. Kapok


Ceiba pentanra (Bombacaceae)

Inner wall of fruit contains fibres; used for stuffing mattresses, pillow, cushions, life belts, life jackets.

11. Red silk cotton


Salmalia malabarica

Seed hairs, substitute for kapok.

12. Cotton


Gossypium sp. (Malvaceae)

The bulk of cotton production is consumed in the manufacture of woven goods alone or in combination with others fibres.

13. Jute


Corchorus capsularis,    C. olitorius (Tiliaceae)

Jute is used chiefly for rough weaving.

14. Broomcorn


Sorghum vulgare var. technicum (Poaceae)

It is used for brush making.


Some important Commercial woods

Common Name

Hindi name

Botanical name and Family

Special features

1.Sisso/Indian redwood


Dalbergia sisso, D. latifolia (Papilionaceae)

Finest wood for cabinet and furniture, used for railway sleepers, musical instruments, tobacco pipes, and also for charcoal making.

2. Ebony


Diospyrous ebenum (Ebenaceae)

For decorative work, piano keys, handles of cutlery, chess pieces, walking sticks, flutes etc.

3. Sal


Shorea robusta (Dipterocarpaceae)

Ranks second to teak; used for construction work, eminently suited for sleepers.

4. Mahogany


Swietenia mahagoni (Meliaceae)

Light reflecting quality; used for furnitures, aeroplane propellers; ship building.

5. Teak


Tectona grandis (Verbenaceae)

Railway carriage, House construction, ships, bridge, Toys, Plywood, Boats etc.; extremely durable and hard.

6. Cedar


Cedrus deodara (Pinaceae)

Most strong Indian soft wood, Railway sleepers, doors, windows.

7. Pinewood


Pinus roxburghii, Pinus sp.

Packing cases, Railway sleepers, Match industry.

8. Birch


Betula alnoides (Betulaceae)

Plywood, furniture.

9. Balsa


Ochroma pyramidale

Lightest commercial wood, used as sandwitch material for gliders, etc.

10. Sandalwood


Santalum album (Santalaceae)

Boxes, toys, religious ceremonies.


Some important Resin-yielding Plants

Common name

Botanical name

Special features

1. Kala damar

(a)    Shorea tumbuggaia (Dipterocarpaceae)

(b)   Canarium sirictum (Burseraceae)

Resin from stem; used for incense.


Used in preparing varnishes and medical plasters.

2. White damar

Vateria indica (Dipterocarpaceae)

Resin from trunk used as an incense, and in paints and varnishes.

3. Lacquer

Rhus vernicifera (Anacardiaceae)

Applied as varnish.

4. Asafoetida (Hing)

Ferula asafoetida (Umbelliferae)

Powerful, pungent odour, bitter taste, used in perfumery and as flavouring agent, antihelmintic.

5. Turpentines

Pinus roxburghii (Pinaceae)

Varnishes, paints etc.


Common beverages

Common name

Source Plant and Family

Special features

Alcoholic Beverages



1. Beer (From barley malt)

Hordeum vulgare (Gramineae)

Barley malt used; alcohol 3?6%.

2. Brandy (From wine grapes)

Vitis vinifera (Vitaceae)

Fermented and distilled juice; alcohol content 60?70%.

3. Rum (From molasses, sugar cane juice)

Saccharum officinarum (Gramineae)

A distilled beverage; alcohol content about 40%.

4. Whisky (From malted or unmalted cereals or potatoes)


Distilled alcohol, alcohol content about 50%. Most famous is scotch.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages



1. Cocoa

Theobroma cacao (Sterculiaceae)

Seeds used for non-alcoholic beverage; butter from seeds used for making chocolates.

2. Coffee

Coffea arabica (Rubiaceae)

Dried beans (seeds) roasted, ground and brewed to make stimulating beverage; caffeine is main alkaloid. It is grown in South India with 80% in Karnataka. (i) Coffea arabica (ii) Coffea canephora (instant coffee). The beverage is got from cured and powdered seeds.

3. Tea

Camellia sinensis = (Theaceae) (Thea sinensis)

Cured leaves used as beverage; it contains  theine (alkaloid). Maximum tea is produced in Assam and Darjeeling (of West Bengal). India is the largest producer of Brown Tea while Sri Lanka is the largest producer of Green Tea. In tea, aroma is due to theol, stimulant is thein and bitterness is due to tannins.

4. Cola

Cola nitida (Sterculiaceae)

It is obtained from seeds of Cola nitida. Cola contains caffeine.


Important Spices and Condiments

Common name

Hindi name

Source Plant and Family

Special features

1. Black pepper

Kali mirch

Piper nigrum (Piperaceae)

Fruits used as condiments; also used medicinally as stimulant, carminative and stomachic.

2. Caraway


Carum carvi (Umbelliferae)

Fruits used as condiment, medicinally as stomachic and carminative.

3. Cardamom

Chhoti elaichi

Elettaria cardamomum (Zingiberaceae)

Dried fruits used as condiment, in paan; as flavouring agent; in medicine as stimulant and carminative.

4. Cardamom

Indian Bari elaichi

Amomum aromaticum (zingiberaceae)

Seeds used as flavouring agent; seed oil stimulant and stomachic.

5. Cassia


Cinnamomum tamala (Lauraceae)

Dried leaves used as condiment; leaves are carminative and used in colic and diarrhoea.

6. Chillies, Red pepper

Mirch, Lal mirch

Capsicum annuum (Solanaceae)

Fruits green and ripe used as condiment; fruits used as pickle, powerful stimulant and carminative. Good source of vitamin A, C and E.

7. Cloves


Syzygium aromaticum (Myrtaceae)

Dried (unopened) flower buds used as spice; clove bud oil useful in tooth pain; also as clearing agent in biology laboratory.

8. Coriander


Coriandrum sativum (Umbelliferae)

Fruits and leaves are used as condiment; used as flavouring agent also.

9. Cinnamon


Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Lauraceae) (=C. verum)

Dried inner bark used for its delicate fragrance and sweet taste.

10. Ginger


Zingiber officinale (Zingiberaceae)

Rhizomes used as pice and condiment as well in medicine.

11. Nutmeg


Myristica fragrans (Myristicaceae)

Nutmeg (kernel) and mace (aril) used as colouring and flavouring agents.

12. Saffron

Kesar, Jaffran

Crocus sativus (Iridaceae)

Stigmas and tops of styles are used as colouring and flavouring agents.

13. Turmeric


Curcuma domestica (Zingiberaceae)

Rhizomes used for seasoning of food and as condiment; medicinally used as stomachic, tonic, blood purifier and antiseptic; also used as colouring agent.

14. Fennel


Foeniculum vulgare (Umbelliferae)

Used as flavouring agent for soups, confectionaries; fennel oil used in infantile colic, flatulence; good vermicide.

15. Vanilla


Vanilla planifolia (Orchidaceae)

Characteristic flavour due to vanillin, flavouring agent for ice creams, soft drinks, confectionary.

16. Asafoetida


Ferula asafoetida (Apiaceae)

Gum resin from roots is used. It is used for flavouring food products. It is also used in medicines in the treatment of asthma, cough and indigestion.


Some important Fumitories and Masticatories

Common name

Hindi name

Source Plant and Family

Special features

1. Tobacco


Nicotiana tabacum (Solanaceae)

Leaves contain nicotine; mild stimulant, causes lung cancer and atherosclerosis of coronoary arteries; accelerates heart beat, increases hypertension and bronchial cough.

2. Cola


Cola nitida (Palmaceae)

Seeds used as masticatory, contain glycoside kolanin and alkaloid caffeine.

3. Areca nut


Areca catechu l Betel nut palm (Palmaceae)

Endosperm of the nut used as masticatory alongwith betal (paan); used as vermifuge for tapeworm in veterinary practice.

4. Betal


Piper betel (Piperaceae)

The leaves provide famous pan.

5. Cocaine


Erythroxylon coca (Erythroxylaceae)

Leaves contain cocaine; it is chewed with morphine or heroin called speed ball; acts on central nervous system causing psychic exaltation; reduces apetite; physical and mental deterioration leads to death.

6. Hemp Indian

Ganja, Bhang

Cannabis sativa (Cannabinaceae)

Female flowers used for extraction of hallucinogenic narcotics-hashish, charas, marijuana, bhang, ganja, etc. alter thoughts, feelings and perceptions; causes addiction.

7. Opium


Papaver somniferum (Papaveraceae)

Latex from unripe capsules yields alkaloid morphine.


Some important Medicines and their source plants

Common name

Hindi name

Source Plant & Family

Special features

1.Quinine, Cinchona


Cinchona officinalis (Rubiaceae)

Bark of trunk is a source of quinine used for treatment of malarial fevers.

2. Wormseed


Artemisia maritima (Compositae)

Flower heads yield santonin used to expel threadworms and roundworms.

3. Withania, Asgand, Punir


Withania somnifera (Solanaceae)

Roots used for general weakness and rheumatism, it is diuretic and promotes urination; roots and leaves antibacterial.

4. Belladonna, Night shade

Sag-angur Angurshefa

Atropa belladonna (Solanaceae)

Leaves used as tonic, antispasmodic and sedative, atropine- an alkaloid obtained from leaves is used in eye-testing and treatment.

5. Malabar nut


Adhatoda vasica (Acanthaceae)

Fresh/dried leaves constitute the drug vasaka used in bronchial troubles. Active principle ? vascin.

6. Camphor


Cinnamomum camphora (Lauraceae)

Wood yields camphor used in inflammations, rheumatic pain and sprains; and internally in diarrhoea; and as cardiac stimulant.

7. Foxglove


Digitalis purpurea (Scrophulariaceae)

Dried leaves yield glucoside digitoxin useful for regulating tone and rhythm of heart, used in ointments for application of burns and wounds.

8. Ephedra


Ephedra gerardiana (Ephedraceae)

Dried stem yields ephedrine useful against asthma, cold, inflamation of mucous membrane; also used as cardiac stimulant and against allergenic rashes.

9. Aconitum; Monks hood


Aconitum napellus (Ranuculaceae)

Roots yield the drug `aconite' used for rheumatism and as nerve sedative externally for rheumatism and internally to relieve pain cough, asthma and fever.

10. Garlic


Allium sativum (Liliaceae)

Used in intestinal disorder, cough, lever, in colitis and dilation of coronary arteries.

11. Gingseng


Panax schinseng (Araliaceae)

Gingseng root is used as stimulant and stomachic, it reduces high blood pressure and raises low blood pressure.

12. Ipecae


Cephaelis ipecacuanha (Rubiaceae)

Annulated rhizomes yield cephaeline used as emetic and expectorant, also in treatment of amoebic dysentery and pyrrhoea.

13.Licorice, Liquorice


Glycyrrhiza glabra (Papilionaceae)

Glycyrrhizin, a glycoside in root used for treating gastric ulcers, cough and sore throat.

14.Nuxvomica/ Strychnine Kuchla


Strychnos nuxvomica (Loganiaceae)

Seeds yield a drug nux-vomica, used in low doses as tonic stimulant and in treatment of paralysis and nervous disorders. Higher doses used for killing stray dogs and pets.

15. Psyllium, lsabgol


Plantago ovata  (Plantaginaceae)

Tasteless substances in seeds acts as a mild laxative; used in the treatment of dysentery and other disorders of digestive system.

16. Opium

Afeem (Afim)

Papaver somniferum (Papaveraceae)

Milky latex from capsule yields alkaloids especially morphine used to reduce blood pressure, bleeding; to treat diarrhea vomiting; and in cough medicines.

17. Rauwolfia


Rauwolfia serpentina (Apocynaceae)

Roots bark yield alkaloid reserpine-used for treatment of schizophrenia and other mental disorders; widely employed for treating high blood pressure.

18. Ironwood


Mesua ferrea (Guttiferae)

Flowers used for cough; buds in dysentery.

19. Indian Aloe


Aloe barbedensis (Liliaceae)

Leaves use in fever, enlargement of liver, skin disease, piles, jaundice.


Some other useful plants

English /Common name

Botanical name



1. Para rubber

Hevea brasiliensis


Widely utilized in manufacture of tyres, tubes and other articles, used in sports, medical instruments, agriculture, etc.

2. Indian rubber

Ficus elastica


Used for manufacture of various articles.

3. Chickle

Achras sapota


Used in chewing-gum.

4. Babul (Kikar)

Acacia nilotica


Gum edible and used in medicines, printing, paints, etc; wood is used as fuel.

5. Catechu  (Kathha)

Acacia catechu


Tannin obtained from heart wood and bark used in paan (betal); and for dyeing cloth.

6. Cork oak

Quercus suber


Cork used as bottle stoppers, soles for shoes, insulating material; for manufacture of linoleum.

7. Henna  (Mehndi)

Lawsonia inermis


Leaves yield dye used as mehndi

8. Indigo (Nil)

Indigofera tinctoria


A source of indigo

9. Orchill

Rochella tinctoria


Source of orcein stain, used for cytological work.

10.Logwood (Patang)

Haematoxylon campechianum


Heartwood yields a dye hematoxylin; used to dye cloth; also useful as nuclear stain in biological laboratories.

11. Sugarcane (Ganna)

Saccharum officinarum


Cane juice is used for preparing gur and jaggery, sugar, etc; baggase used as fuel and in the manufacture of paper.

12.Beet root (Chukandar)

Beta vulgaris


Roots are source of sugar; tops and pulps are used as stock feed.

13. Neem tree

Azadirachta indica


The fresh Juice of the leaves is given for the treatment of intestinal worms with honey the Juice is used for Jaundice and skin diseases. Its leaves are used as an antiseptic.

14. Tulsi

Ocimum sanctum


The leaves are aromatic their decoction is given in malaria gastric diseases of children check vomiting.

15. Ammi (Azwain)

Trachyspermum ammi


It is used in gastric trouble bronchitis, as purgative etc. 

16. Chembalic Myrobalan (Harra)

Terminalia chebula


As a constituent of ?Trifla?.


Petroleum and oil producing plant : Melvin Calvin was first to identify few petroleum plants - the plants whose products can be used in place of petrol and oil. Most of such plants belong to families Asclepiadaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Apocynaceae. These plants are able to convert a substantial amount of hydrocarbons into latex. Euphorbia lathyrus contains a mixture like terpen which can be converted into gasoline. Oil is also extracted from Xanthagnum..

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