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Economic Botany


Academic year: 2023

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Economic Botany


T. R. Sahu Department of Botany

Dr. Hari Singh Gour University Sagar Sagar (M.P.) 470003


i. Spices - Introduction ii. Uses Of Spices iii. The Quest For Spices

iv. Spices From Underground Parts v. Spices From Barks

vi. Spices Obtained From Leaves

vii. Spices Obtained From Flower Buds, Flowers , Fruits & Seeds



Spices have less nutritive value, and they can not be grouped as food. However, by adding good flavour and aroma to food, they greatly enhance the pleasure of eating. In general, all aromatic vegetable products that are used for flavouring foods and drinks are known as ‘spices’. They are characterized by pungency, strong odour, and sweet or bitter taste.Sometimes the terms spices and condiments are used together. Infact it is very difficult to draw a distinction between the two. Spices used, in a pulverized state primarily for seasoning or garnishing foods and beverages. Condiments, on the other hand, are other flavourings materials having a sharp taste and are usually added to food after cooking.

However, when the aromatic vegetables products comes from a temperate plant, it is considered as a culinary herb as in the case of bay leaves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, mustard seeds, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, to mention a few.

Besides imparting flavour to foods and drinks, they also stimulate ‘appetite’ increase the secretion and flow of gastric juices and help digestion because of their carminative properties. For this reason, they are commonly known as ‘food adjuncts’ or ‘food aecessories’. Most of them are used in different medicines. They also play an important part in various industries and are used in perfumery, soaps, incense, dyes etc. The value of the spices is due to mainly to the presence of the essential oils and occasionally to other aromatic principles.

The importance of spices in our daily diet is as follows :

(a) to give an agreeable flavour and aroma to otherwise monotonous or insipid food mainly of starchy grains or roots, thereby adding greatly to the pleasure of eating.

(b) to stimulate the appetite and increase the flow of the gastric juices and for this reason they are often termed as “food accessories” or food adjuncts.

(c) to disguise the slightly unpleasant taste of many dried means.

(d) to increase the rate of perspiration, thus having a cooling effect on the body.

Spices are employed whole or in powdered form depending upon the requirement of the dish. The flavouring, preservative and antiseptic properties of some of these spices are primarily due to the presence of volatile oils, but are occasionally due to other aromatic substances such as alkaloids as pepper.

Uses of Spices

The use and cultivation of spice go back to the beginning of history. Spices have played a prominent part in all the civilization of antiquity in ancient China and India and have promoted international relations amongst the various countries all over the world. Spices in ancient times were so extraordinarily expensive that only wealthy persons could afford them. Spices with strong and pungent flavours have not only been used in cooking, but also


for preserving food. Aroma and flavour have been a part of the magical rites and have been employed for various

‘purification’ ‘ceremonies’ “During the visit of royal guests’’ the streets were often fumigated with spices.

Ancient Egyptians used them to perfume the person and to embalm the dead bodies to preserve from decay.

In the middle age, spices were considered important medicines, but today they are used primarily for imparting a pleasant taste to otherwise disagreeable medicines. A number of spices have antiseptic and carminative properties. Apart from their culinary value, spices are also used as flavouring agent in beverages, as active ingredients in Ayurvedic medicines, as colouring agents for textiles and as important constituents in cosmetics and perfumery products.

In medieval Europe, at one time, customs duties rents, taxes and even court fines were paid in terms of pepper.


The story of spices, condiments and other flavouring materials is one of the most romantic and fascinating chapters in the history of vegetable products as they are connected with many important events in man’s history, including geographical discovery, economic warfare, annexation of territories and all the vices of theft, envy and hatred of which man is capable. The craving for spices has been one of the great factors in human progress, and has done much to change the course of history and geography and to promote international relations. Majority of spices originated in the Asiatic tropics and were among the first objects of commerce between the East and the West. The quest for spices was once a powerful force in world history.

The first traders were the Persians who transported the products of India and the neighbouring Molucca islands by camel caravans and sold them to the Phoenicians who traded them all along the Mediterranean coast from Alexandria to Rome. Indian and Greek traders held the monopoly from the first to the eighth century A.D. The Arabs controlled the traffic in these spices up to the 14th century, selling them to Egyptian, Greek and Venetian traders.

The magic of the spice trade lured adventurers from the Western world to the Indian Ocean Island and brought fame to many of them such as Da Gama, Columbus, Vasco de Gama, and reached India by sea in 15th century.

Following the circumnavigation of Africa, Portuguese gained control of much of the Indian Ocean and extended their trade as far as China, Goa in India.

For 300 years afterwards, the nations of Western Europe (Portugal Spain, France, and Holland & Great Britain) fought wars for spice producing colonies and control of the spice trade. Only in early part of the 18th century, spices were smuggled and planted around the world especially in the West-Indies, Madagascar, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Nowadays, substantial plantations are grown in the America. The best quality cardamoms come from Guatemala, the finest nutmeg and mace from Grenada, black pepper from Brazil. However, the vast majority of spices are still obtained from the tropics chiefly from the smaller islands rather than from the greater land masses.

The United States of America is one of the largest importers, although several other countries like the Soviet Union, Australia, Great Britain, Canada and some European nations also import spices.


Of the hundreds of spices used today some of them are listed in the table and selected are described below under roots, stem, leaves, barks, buds and flowers, fruits and seeds categories.

Table 1 - List of Spices

A. Spices obtained from root & underground stem.

Name Botanical Name Family Plant Uses

Root Angelica

Angelica archangelica

Apiaceae Flavouring food

stuffs & beverages

Heeng (Asafoetida) Ferula asafoetida Apiaceae Flavouring food

stuffs & beverages Horse Radish Armoracia lapathifolia Brassicaceae Used as condiment Rhizome / Bulb

Kulinjan (Galangal) Alpinia officinarum Zingiberaceae Source of essential oil & Flavouring liquors.

Adrak (Ginger) Zingiber officinale Zingiberaceae Source of Essential oil for flavouring

Ban-adrak Zingiber zerumbet Zingiberaceae Source of Essential

oil for flavouring Haldi (Turmeric) Curcuma longa Zingiberaceae To flavour &

Colour Ama-haldi


Curcuma amada Zingiberaceae As spice &


Kachura Curcuma zedoaria Zingiberaceae Medicinal,

perfumery cosmetices Sarsaparilla

Smilax aristolochiaefolia

Liliaceae Medicinal, flavouring Garlic

Allium sativum

Liliaceae Spice, Medicinal

B. Spices obtained from bark

Name Botanical Name Family Plant Uses

Dalchini (Cinnamon) Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Lauraceae Curry powder, medicinal

Sassafras Sassafras albidium Lauraceae Flavouring

C. Spices obtained from leaves

Name Botanical Name Family Plant Uses

Tejpat (Indian Cassia)

Cinnamomum tamala Lauraceae In curries.

Marva (Marjoram) Majorana hortensis Lamiaceae Flavouring food


Name Botanical Name Family Plant Uses stuffs.

Podina (Mint) Mentha longifolia Lamiaceae Flavouring agent Peppermint (Vilayti


Mentha piperita Lamiaceae Flavouring agent

Japanese Peppermint

Mentha arvensis var. piperascens

Lamiaceae As spice

Spearmint Mentha spicata Lamiaceae Ingredient of soup,


Sage Salvia officinalis Lamiaceae Oil used in


Savory (Summer) Satureja hortensis Lamiaceae Culinary product

Thyme Thymus vulgaris Lamiaceae In perfumery.

Sweet Bay Laurus nobilis Lauraceae Flavouring &


Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus Asteraceae Essential oil in

perfumes Parsley

Petroselinum crispum

Apiaceae Flavouring soups, sauces.

Wintergreen Gaultheria fragrantissima Ericaceae Volatile oil for flavouring food stuffs.

Potmarjoram Origanum vulgare Lamiaceae Volatile oil flavour foods, medicinal.

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Lamiaceae Volatile oil in

flavouring food stuffs.

Meethi neem Murraya koengii Rutaceae Flavouring food


D. Spices obtained from-flowers, fruits and seeds

Name Botanical Name Family Plant Uses

Laung (clove) Syzygium aromaticum (=Engenia caryophyllus)

Myrtaceae Culinary, medicinal

Kabra (Capers) Capparis spinosa Capparidaceae In meat, sauces, pickles

Kesar (Saffron) Crocus sativus Iridaceae Dried stigmas

used as spice &

dyestuff Lalmirch (Chilies,


Capsicum frutescens Solanaceae Culinary

Kali mirch (Black Piper nigrum Piperaceae Seasoning freshly


pepper) cooked food Lendi-peepal (Long

Pepper) Pipli

Piper longum Piperaceae In pickles

Vanilla Vanilla planifolia Orchidaceae Confectinary,


Dhania (Coriander) Coriandrum sativum Apiaceae Flavouring food


Saunf (Fennel) Foeniculum vulgare Apiaceae In perfumery, Flavouring

Jira (Cumin) Cuminum cyminum Apiaceae Curries pickles.

Shahjira (Caraway) Carum carvi Apiaceae Condiment,


Saunf (Anise) Pimpinella anisum Apiaceae Flavouring


Ajwain (Ammi) Trachyspermum ammi Apiaceae Curry powder,


Celery Apium graveolens Apiaceae Flavouring,

medicinal Chhoti Elaichi


Elettaria cardamomum Zingiberaceae Culinary,

medicinal Bari Elaichi (Bengal


Amomum aromaticum Zingiberaceae Garam masala

Methi (Fenugreek) Trigonella foenum graecum Papilionaceae Condiment Kali Rai (Black


Brassica nigra Brassicaceae Condiment

Sarson Kali Brassica campestris var.


Brassicaceae Spice, Condiment Sarson Brassica campestris var. sarson Brassicaceae Spice, Condiment Jaiphal (Nutmeg) Myristica fragrans Myristicaceae Flavouring agent

Major spice yeilding families are: Apiaceae, Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Capparidaceae, Ericaceae, Iridaceae, Orchidaceae, Liliaceae, Lamiaceae, Lauraceae, Myrtaceae, Piperaceae, Rutaceae, Myristicaceae Solanaceae, Zingiberaceae.

There are about 70 species cultivated in different parts of the world but nine spices Pepper, Ginger, Cloves, Cinnamon, Cassia, Mace, Nutmeg Pimento and Cardamon account for as much as 90 per cent of the total world trade, pepper being the most important. In India, the major spices produced are pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric and chillies.

Pepper is the most important Indian spice called as the ‘King of Spices’ and also termed as ‘Black gold’ of India. Cardamom is referred as the ‘Queen of Spices’.

In India, spice growing states are Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra-Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan and Bihar. Some of the important spices obtained from roots, rhizome, bark, leaves, buds, flowers, fruits and seeds are described in detail below :-



™ Asafetida ( Hing or Heeng )

Bot. name - Ferula assafoetida Linn.

Family - Apiaceae

Source - Root exudates Native place - Iran & Afghanistan Cult. in India - Punjab & Kashmir

Taxonomic details : It is a perennial herbs. Heeng is a gum resin (milky, juice, exudates) obtained from the fleshy thick cortex of roots during rainy season. The crown of the roots is cut off and protected from the sun. The gum resin gradually collects on the surface in the form of tears. Masses of tears form a thick gummy greyish or reddish matrix after drying, called heeng.

Uses : Heeng has a powerful foul odour and a bitter acrid taste due to sulphur compounds present in essential oil. It is used for flavouring sauces, curries, and other food products. It has many valuable medicinal properties and used in the treatment of cough, asthma, and other nervous afflictions. It is also used as an aid to digestion and metabolism.

(Source: http//www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/asafe070.html)


™ Angelica

Bot. name - Angelica archangelica Linn.

Family - Apiaceae

Source - Root

Native place - Syria

Cult. in India - Kashmir

Taxonomic details : The Angelica plant is a stout perennial herb, leaves pinnately compound, flowers small, greenish white arranged in terminal compound umbels

Uses : Almost all parts of the plant emit pleasing odour. The roots are dried and used for flavouring foodstuffs and beverages.

™ Horse Radish

Bot. Name - Armoracia lapathifolia Galib.

Family - Brassicaceae

Source - Root

Native place - Europe

Cult. in India - Northern India & Hill stations of South India.

Taxonomic details : It is a tall hardy herb with glossy green, toothed leaves and group of small white flowers. Roots are large, fleshy and cylindrical.

Uses : Either fresh or preserved roots are used as valuable condiment. The pungent taste is due to a sinigrin glucoside. It improves digestion and prevent scurvy.

™ Greater Galangal (Kulinjon)

Bot. Name - Alpinia galanga (Linn.) Willd.

Family - Zingiberaceae

Source - Rhizome

Native place - Java, Malaya and Indonesia

Cult. In India - Cultivated in E. Himalayas & S.W. India

Taxonomic details: It is a perennial herb with a raceme of showy flowers and beautiful foliage.

Uses : The reddish brown rhizome are used or a condiment for flavouring purposes. It is also a source of essential oil. It gives a pungent taste like a mixture of pepper and ginger. The seeds are also used as spice.

™ Ginger (Adarak)

Bot. Name - Zingiber officinalis Rosc.

Family - Zingiberaceae

Source - Rhizome

Native place - South East Asia

Cult. in India : Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

Taxonomic details : The plant is an erect perennial herb with thick scaly rhizome that branches digitately and called ‘hands’ by which


it is propagated. The central stem reaches a height of 3 feet and remains surrounded by leaf sheath. The flowers are arranged in a spike the rhizomes are pale yellow in colour externally and a greenish yellow inside. Rhizome contains starch, gums oleoresin and an essential oil. The immature and dried rhizomes constitute the ginger of commerce.

Uses : Ginger is used more as a condiment than as a spice. The aroma of ginger is due to essential oil

‘ginger oil’ whereas the pungent taste is due to the presence of the non volatile oleoresin, ‘gingerin’.

Gingerin contains gingerol, zingerone and shogaol compounds. Ginger oil, obtained as a result of steam distillation, is increasingly used in recent years in man’s toilet lotions. Oleoresin is mainly used to flavour soft drinks.

Essential oil and resin are distributed, throughout the rhizome but more in the epidermal tissue. It is because of this unpeeled ginger is found to be best for extraction of oil. In market, ginger is available in two forms namely Powder dry ginger, and Dry ginger. Former is an important component of curry powder, whereas latter is used for manufacturing of several byproducts such as ginger oil, ginger essence,

ginger oleoresin, tinctures and vitaminised effervescent ginger powder used in soft drinks.

Ginger is popular for flavouring beverages such as ‘ginger beer’, ‘ginger wine’ and

‘ginger malt’. It is also used extensively in culinary preparations such as soups, puddings, pickles, and ginger bread. It is also used as ingredient of all curries. The rhizomes are also used in medicine as carminative and digestive stimulant.


™ Turmeric (Haldi)

Bot. Name - Curcuma longa Family - Zingiberaceae

Source - Rhizome

Native place - Southern Asia

Cult. in India - Maharashtra, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa.

Taxonomic details : Perennial herb with stout stem and tufted leaves, flowers are pale yellow in dense spikes topped by pinkish bracts. Main rhizome is thickened bearing a number of cylindrical primary, secondary or even tertiary rhizomes called ‘fingers’. A warm, humid climate is required for turmeric. Well drained fertile sandy and clayey, black, red rich in humus soil is suitable for turmeric cultivation. Heavy manuring is required for turmeric.

Curing : For curing, first of all green rhizomes are boiled in water. This is continued until white fumes appear. The boiled rhizomes are then dried in the sun for 10-15 days, The fully dried rhizomes rubbed against hard drying floor, to remove scales and root bases. Finally big and small pieces of rhizome are separated.

Uses : Turmeric has a musky odour, and a pungent bitter taste. Turmeric is also considered as one of the most important colouring materials of India. The natural dye is orange red or reddish brown. It is much used to impart a yellow colour to cloth and foods such as curries. Turmeric also serves as a chemical indicator as it changes colour depending on the presence of alkalies or acids. The colouring is due to curcumin and the characteristic musky odour is due to the presence of essential oils of which the main constituents are : d- -phellandrane, zingiberene, d-sabinene, cineol, borneol and sesquiterpenes. A fine


yellow powder obtained by grinding rhizomes combines the properties of a spice and brilliant yellow dyestuff. Turmeric is used as a colouring matter in pharmacy, confectionery and food industry.

Medicinally it is used to aid digestion, as a tonic and as a blood purifier, Boiled with milk and sugar, it is taken as a remedy for the common cold and bone fracture Turmeric powder is used in cosmetics, to suppress the unwanted growth of hairs on ladies skin. It is also used on auspicious occasions in Hindu religious rituals. Kum-Kum a popular house hold item of ladies in India, is a byproduct of turmeric.

™ Garlic (Lashun)

Bot. Name - Allium sativum L.

Family - Liliaceae

Native place - India

Cult. in India - Throughout India

Tax. details : It is a strong smelling glabrous bulbous, perennial herb. The bulbs are short compressed, beaking up at the tip, 10-12 bulbils in each bulb surrounded by a few, dry membranous scales, Leaves are cylindrical.

Uses : The bulbs, after removing the membranous or scaly structure, are used as condiment like onion.

They are also used as a flavouring substance for preparation of vegetables and for meat.



™ Cinnamon ( Dalchini )

Bot. Name - Cinnamomum zeylanicum Garc. ex Blume.

Family - Lauraceae

Source - Bark (Dried inner bark) Native place - Ceylon

Cult. in India - Nilgiri, Malabar, Assam,

Tax. Details : It is an evergreen tree up to 8-12 meters height. Leaves are highly aromatic, 12-17 cm long, dark glossy green above and dull grey-green beneath. Flowers yellow, numerous, inconspicuous berries, blackish, one seeded. Plants are generally raised from seeds but can also be propagated from cutting.

The Cinnamon of commerce is the dried inner bark of branches and young shoots of the plant. For taking out bark, longitudinal slits are made in the several shoots, and bark is peeled off with the help of specially designed tools. The bark is then firmly tied together in bundles and left for 24 hours to ferment.

The outer corky layer of the bark is then carefully scraped off and allowed to dry, which makes it contract and curves inwards in the form of hollow tube like structures,- “the quills of commerce”. After final drying the smaller quills are inserted into the longer quills, forming compound quills. Good quality quills are about 1 cm wide and 4 mm thick. Uses : Cinnamon has a pleasing, fragrant odour and a warm, sweet aromatic taste and is generally used as one of the ingredients of curry powder and similar preparation for flavouring foods. It is also used in candy, gum, incense, dentrifrices and perfumes. Volatile oil obtained from the bark is commonly used in confectionery and liquors for imparting flavour to them. The oil is used in medicine as a carminative, antiseptic and astringent. It is also used in bowel complaints. Powder cinnamon is a reputed remedy for diarrhoea, dysentery and vomiting.



The aromatic and sweet smelling leaves of many plants belonging to families Lauraceae, Apiaceae, Lamiaceae etc. have long been used for flavouring materials and also for their medicinal value. Details of some important spices yielding plants are given below.

™ Indian Cassia ( Tejpat )

Bot. Name - Cinnamomum tamala Nees & Eberm

Family - Lauraceae

Source - Leaves (mature)

Native place - India

Cult. in India - Hills of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal.

Taxonomic details : A small tree with leathery leaves having prominent ribs.

Leaves are harvested from tree at the age of 10 yrs. old.

Uses : Leaves are famous for their pungency and are used as condiment in curries. Leaves are stimulant, carminative and used in rheumatism, colic, diarrhoea and in scorpion sting. Leaves yield an essential oil.

™ Balm

Bot. Name - Melissa officinalis Linn.

Family - Lamiaceae

Source - Leaf

Native place - Southern Europe Cult. in India - Warmer Parts of India.

Taxonomic details: It is a perennial herb.

Uses : The Leaves are used for flavouring soups, stews and salad.

The essential oil obtained from leaves is used in beverages and in perf et Marjoram


™ Swe ( Maria )




owers are used

Bot. Name -

Family - Lamiaceae

Source - Leaves

egion Native plac - Mediterranean r Cult. in India - Throughout India Taxonomic deta s : It is a sacred herb

Uses : The leaves , tender twigs and fl

for flavouring syrups , stews and sauces. The essential oil is used in perfumery in soap industry. Dried leaves and flowering tops are used medicinally as carminative and stimulant.


™ Mint ( Podina )

- Mentha longifolia ( L .)Huds.

Family - Lamiaceae


ia rashtra, Uttar


t is a

agent . They are

™ Sag

t. Name - Salvia officinalis Linn.

Family - Lamiaceae


ia a

ail ,

leaves has long been used as

™ Spe

e - Mentha spicata Linn.

Family - Lamiaceae

e nd Asia

ia Mahrashtra

ils : It is a aves found commonly in wet places. Leaves are

d leaves are used for mint- sauce and jelly and to flavour soups, stews,

™ Pep na )

ntha piperita Linn.

Family - Lamiaceae


hmir, Punjab

ails : It is n moist

places. Leaves are thick aromatic with prominent veins.

Bot.l Name

Source - Leaves

Native plac - Europe & Asia Cult. in Ind - Kashmir, Maha Pradesh, Punj

Taxonomic details : I n aromatic herb.

Uses : The leaves are used as a flavouring

also used for making chatni. The dried leaves are used as carminative and stimulant.

e Bo

Source - Leaves

Native plac - Mediterranean region Cult. in Ind - Throughout Indi

Taxonomic det s : It is a shrubby herb with greyish green hairy aromatic leaves.

Uses : The aromatic sage

spice for use in making stuffing for fowl, meats, and sausage. It is considered one of the most important culinary herbs. Oil of sage is used in perfumery.

ar Mint Bot. Nam

Source - Leaves

Native plac - Temperate Europe a Cult. in Ind - Punjab, U.P., &

Taxonomic deta small herbs with aromatic le longer and lighter in colour.

Uses : Fresh as well as drie sauces and beverages.

permint ( Vilayaiti Podi Bot. Name - Me

Source - Leaves

Native plac - Europe

Cult. in India - Mahrashtra, Kas

Taxonomic det a perennial herb found wild i


Uses : The leaves are used for flavouring foodstuffs. Peppermint has a refreshing odour and a persistent cooling taste. Oil obtained by stream distillation, is widely used to flavour gum, candy,

™ Sum

ot. Name - Satureja hortensis Linn.

- Lamiaceae

e ia

used for flavouring food products. It is used in

™ Thy

is Linn.

ily - Lamiaceae


ia ir to Kanya Kumari

tai plant. The dried leaves and tender tops make

e . The t in sauces, dressings and gravies

dentifrices and various pharmaceutical preparations. It is also used as carminative, stimulant and for allaying nausea, sickness and vomiting. It is also used in perfumes and soap industries.

mer Savory B


Source - Leaves

Native plac - Mediterranean region

Cult. in Ind - Kashmir

Uses : Leaves are strongly aromatic with bitter taste dressings sauces and culinary products.


Bot. Name - Thymus vulgar Fam

Source - Leaves

Native plac - Mediterranean region Cult. in Ind - Himalayas from Kashm Taxonomic de ls : It is a perennial , aromatic garden

thyme of comm rce fresh and dried leaves are used as condimen

.Greeks used thymes as an incense in their temples whereas Roman used in cooking. “Thymol” a derivative of the oil is of medicinal importance and used as antiseptic used in mouth washes, tooth pastes ,as fungicides and as an internal medicine it is used effectively against hookworm.



™ Clove ( Laung )

Bot. Name - Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & Perry (Eugenia caryophyllus)

Family - Myrtaceae

Part - Flower Bud

Native place - Moluccas (Spice Island in Indonesia) Cult. in India - Tamilnadu (Nilgiri) Western Ghat, Kerala The name clove comes from French word used for nail i.e. ‘le clou’.

Taxonomic details : A medium sized evergreen tree with grayish bark and dark shining green, aromatic leaves. Flower buds (unopened) have, cylindrical base called hypanthium with 4 toothed triangular calyx lobes, four crimson unopened petals, numerous stamens. The hypanthium contains number of oil glands at the base that impart a characteristic odour.

Clove is a plant of tropical region. It requires soil with rich loam having humus content and good drainage. Clove is propagated by seeds. A tree starts producing clove from the 7 or 8 years after planting.

The yield is rather low until tree are at least 20 years old. Buds are harvested before they open and colour of their turning green to pinkish tinge. The clove tree thrives best in deep volcanic, loamy soil and warm humid climate with annual rain fall of 150 to 250 cm. and mean temperature from 16-380 C.

Curing of buds is done by spreading evenly on mats or cemented floor, for 4 –5 days. During night , they should be covered to check re-absorb of moisture. After this they are heated in zinc trays over a regulated fire.

For some time cloves were a Portuguese monopoly and later a Dutch monopoly. Nowadays it is cultivated in Zanzibar, Indonesia, Mauritius and the West Indies is going on. In India, it is cultivated largely in South India. In Eastern Indonesia, volcanic island – Moluccas which is called ‘Spice Island’ is supposed to be the native place of clove plant. The Portuguese controlled trade of clove till 16th century.

Later on the Dutch government through East India Company employed rigorous and repressive measures to maintain complete monopoly of the clove trade during the 17th & 18th centuries. The clove were then


grown successfully in Reunion and Mauritius from where cloves were introduced into many tropical countries. U.S.A., India, West Germany, France and the Soviet Union are the major importers of cloves.


• Crisp colour dark brown.

• 1Kg. contain 8000-10000 clove buds.

• Full and Plump crown

• Rough to touch and without wrinkles.

• Should not contain more than 12% moisture.

• Fine aroma and flavour.

• Readily exude oil when peduncle is pressed by finger nail.

Uses – Cloves are put to a variety of uses either whole or in a pulverised state. Cloves are one of the most important and useful of the spices. It is of common use in India for flavouring pickles, curries, sauces and ketchups. In Java, clove cigarettes are prepared with tobacco leaves and cloves. It is one of the ingredients of spice mixture i.e. Garam Masala. Cloves are used for perfuming toothpastes and mouth washes. Clove have stimulating properties and are one of the ingredients of betel nut chew. Clove oil has antiseptic and antibiotic properties. Chief constituent of clove Eugenol, is used as an imitation carnation in perfumes. The clove is considered a remedy for indigestion, nausea, colic flatulence and diarrhoea.

Clove oil is also very important for relieving toothache. In ancient China it was customary for court officials to sweeten their breath with clove before addressing their emperor.

™ Saffron ( Kesar, Zaffron )

Bot. Name - Crocus sativa Linn.

Family - Iridaceae

Source - Stigmas of flowers

Native place - Europe

Cult. in India - Kashmir


Taxonomic details : A very small perennial herb cultivated for saffron obtained from flowers. It has a underground corm, 6 or more narrow, linear radical leaves. Flowers are single violet, funnel shaped. Orange red tripartite stigmas are used in the spice trade. Saffron plants are propagated vegetatively by planting young cormlets.

Flowering period ranges from October to November.

Uses : Stigmas (dried) along with top portion of styles are used as spice and dyestuff. It possess a sweet/pleasant aroma used as a flavouring material. It is an ingredient of many continental dishes. Saffron cakes are very popular in some parts of England. It is also used in preparation of sweet dishes. It is taken along with milk as an stimulant tonic and stomachic.

Saffron is one of the oldest and certainly among the world’s most expensive spices. The finest quality of saffron called ‘Shahi Zaffron’ is obtained from the red tips of the stigmas. Remaining part of the stigmas along with top portion of styles are considered Saffron of inferior quality.

In markets some other Saffron are also traded, but they are obtained from different plants and used as substitute for genuine Saffron.

™ Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale)

Safflower or bastard Saffron (Carthamus tinctorius)

About one and a half million flowers are required to make 1 kg of crude Saffron. Being an expensive spice, it is often adultered by various cheap substitutes such as coloured parts of marigold petals, styles of maize (cornsilk), Saffflower flowers etc.

™ Pepper or Chillis or Bird Chillies ( Lal – mirch ) Bot. Name - Capsicum frutescens Linn.

Family - Solanaceae

Source - Fruit


Native place - West Indies & Tropical America Cult. in India - Throughout India

Taxonomic details : A herb of 2-3 feet in height, leaves ovate, flowers white with rotate corolla.

Capsicum are grown all over the world.

Uses : This is a most familiar condiment, obtained from the fruits of several plants all belonging to the genus Capsicum.

Fruits in both condition unripe (green) or ripe (crimson red) are used as condiment.

Fruits are dried in sun and used whole or in powdered form. They are used in pickle.

Peeper sauce is made by extracting pulp by pressure and pickling in strong vinegar.

The ground ripe fruits constitute the red pepper of commerce. India is one of the worlds largest exporter of chillies.

Chillies are good source of vitamin ‘C’. A Hungarian scientists Dr. Szent-Gyorgyi was awarded Noble Prize in 1937 for the isolation of Vitamin ‘C’ in paprika. Vitamin ‘A’ and ‘E’ also occur in ripe fruit of chillies. The colouring matter of the ripe fruit consist of several compounds such as capsanthin, capsorubin, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, lutein, & carotenes and xanthophylls. Capsaicin, a pungent material of Capsicum fruits is used in the manufacture of ‘ginger ale’ and ‘ginger beer’.

The long period of cultivation has resulted in many varieties differing in habit and in the size, shape, colour and the pungency of the fruits. All these varieties are considered derivatives of a single species,whereas other taxonomists considered that these varieties belong to different species i.e.

Capsicum frutescens or C. annuum.

™ Black Pepper ( Kali Mirch )

Bot. Name - Piper nigrum Linn.

Family - Piperaceae Source - Fruit

Native place - Malabar coast

Cult. in India - Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu

Taxonomic details : A climbing perennial shrubby, vine found cultivated in hot and moist parts of India, Ceylon and tropical countries, branches stout , trailing and rooting at nodes. Leaves generally ovate entire, shiny dark green, glaucous beneath, fruiting spikes with very small flowers in catkins. The fruits are small ovoid, globose one seeded berry like drupes about 50 on a catkin. The crop begins to yield in 2


or 3 years and reaches full bearing in 7 years. Propagation is done by seeds or cutting from the tips of the vines, or the runner to the base of the vines.

The pepper vine thrives well in moist, hot climate with evenly distributed annual rainfall of about 250 cm. The crop ripens five to six months after flowering. There are two grades of pepper recognized in spice trade i.e. black pepper and white peeper. For black pepper, the berries are picked at immature stage when they are green in color whereas in latter type berries are plucked when they are fully ripened and yellowish green or nearly red in color. Black pepper is more pungent than white pepper.

Curing – The freshly harvested spikes are spread on floors dried in the sun for about a week. During drying the green or red fruits gradually change in colour to dark brown or almost black and ultimately skin becomes tough and wrinkled.

Uses : Black pepper is used for seasoning freshly prepared food. In many western countries , they are employed for preserving meats. The bulk of the product is generally ground before use. Pepper is an indispensable item in the preparation of sauces, soups, curry powder and pickles.

Pepper stimulates the flow of saliva and the gastric juices has a cooling effect. The aromatic odour of pepper is due to a volatile oil chiefly present in pericarp, while the pungent taste is caused by an oleoresin which have bacteriostatic and fungistatic properties. An alkaloid piperine is also present.

Pepper has some medicinal uses also. In modern Indian medicine, it is much employed in the treatment of cholera, weakness after following fevers, coma etc. as stomachic in dyspepsia , as an anti-periodic in malarial fever.

Pepper pulp is used for flavouring tinned foods. Because of its cooling

effect it is commonly employed as an ingredient for the preparation of refreshing drinks in India.


™ Long Pepper ( Piple, Lendi Peepal or Peeplamul ) Bot. Name - Piper longum Linn.

Family - Piperaceae Source - Fruit

Native place - India, Ceylon, Philippines

Cult. in India - Western Ghats, Khasi Hills,C.Himalayas, W.Bengal

Taxonomic Details : A slender climbing herbs with perennial woody roots occurring in hotter parts of India. The tiny fruits are fused into cylindrical spikelets. These are collected when unripe and are dried quickly in the sun or over fires.

Uses : Long pepper contains the same principles as black pepper, but is very aromatic and sweeter.

Alkaloid piperine and piplartine are present in the fruits. It is almost a forgotten spice, except in tropics, where it is extensively used in pickles, preserves and curries.

™ Vanilla

Bot. Name - Vanilla planifolia Andr.

Family - Orchidaceae

Source - Fruits (Bean)

Native place - Tropical America Cult. in India - Nilgiris, Karnataka, M.P., Kerala

Taxonomic details : A tall climbing perennial vine with fleshy adventitious roots, leaves large succulent stem, flowers greenish yellow. Fruits are long, thin, pod like, capsules known as Vanilla beans.


Curing : The unripe fruits are exposed to the sun during morning and then covered by blankets in the afternoon, during night they are placed in air tight boxes . The flavour and aroma develop only after curing of fruits. During curing process a glucoside is changed by enzymes action into a crystalline substance Vanillin which possesses the characteristic odour.

™ Coriander ( Dhania )

Bot. Name - Coriandrum sativum Linn.

Family - Apiaceae Source - Fruits

Native place - Mediterranean region Cult. in India - All over India

Taxonomic details : Plant is small aromatic annual herb with dimorphic leaves. The lower leaves are segmented whereas upper ones are narrow. Flowers are white or pinkish in colour arranged in umbel or compound umbel inflorescence. Fruits small, cremocarp with two of mericarps attached to carpophore.

The dried fruits are nearly globular and yellowish brown bearing the remnants of the calyx and stylopodium at the apex. The outer surface of fruits shows 5 indistinct ridges and 5 furrows are called costae and valleculae respectively. Through each ridge a fibro-vascular bundle runs , where as in furrow vittae (oil cavity) are found.

Uses : The pleasant delicate aroma and the taste of the fruit is due to an essential oil present in vittae. The chief constituent of coriander oil is corindrol. The fruits are used for flavouring freshly prepared food stuffs, curries, soups and curd.


Powder of fruits is also used for flavouring confectionary and liquors. Oil is used as vermicides against hook worm. It is also widely used in perfumes, soaps and medicines.

The fruits are also used as stimulant , stomachic carminative and emmenagogue. The leaves of the plants are also used for flavouring foodstuff and making chatni. Leaves are diuretic.

™ Fennel ( Saunf )

Bot. Name - Foeniculum vugare Mill.

Family - Apiaceae Source - Fruits

Native place - Mediterranean region

Cult. in India - Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujrat, Karnataka

Taxonomic details : Fennel is a tall aromatic herb with finely divided leaves and yellow flowers, seeds are oval and greenish or yellowish brown. Propagation is commonly done by seeds. Harvesting of the crop is done before the fruits are fully ripe. Plants are then spread in the sun to dry. After 4-5 days, threshing is done and the fruits are cleaned. They are schizocarpic, splitting at maturity into two each with one seeded mericarp.


Uses : All parts of the plants are aromatic. Dried fennel seeds are important ingredients of curry powders and are often used for flavouring soups, meat, dishes, sauces, pastries, liquors, confectionary and also in the manufacturing of pickles. The pleasant delicate aroma and taste of the fruits is due to an essential oil.

The fennel oil is used in perfumery. Fruits are also used as a masticator either as such or with betel leaf.

Pharmacologically fennel oil is used as a stimulant and carminative , often used in infantile colic and flatulence and also as good vermicide against hook worms.

™ Cumin ( Jira )

Bot. Name - Cuminum cyminum Linn.

Family - Apiaceae Source - Fruits

Native place - Mediterranean region Cult. in India - Punjab, U.P.

Taxonomic details : Cumin is a low growing annual herb, 0.3 m in height having a much branched angular stem. Leaves are much divided into long narrow segments, flowers white or pinkish in terminal compound umbels. Fruits are typical umbelliferous




Uses : The dried fruit commonly called cumin seed has a strong distinctive pleasant odour and a warm

Seeds are also considered as stimulant, carminative and stomachic.

™ Ca way ( Shah Jira )

Carum carvi Linn .

e and West Asia - har, O

l to 1 m high with thick tuberous roots and compound e

Uses : Caraway seeds are widely used for culinary some what bitter taste due to the presence of volatile oil. Cumin is an important ingredient in curry powder and is used mainly for flavouring soups. sausages, pickles, cheese , meat dishes, bread, and cakes.


Bot. Name -

Family - Apiaceae Source - Fruits Native place - Europ

Cult. in India Bi rissa , Punjab, A. P.

Taxonomic detai s : Plant is a biennial herb, up

leaves. Segments narrow, flowers small white arranged in a dense terminal compound umbel. Fruits ar oblong,laterally compressed, typically umbelliferous.

purposes and flavouring bread, biscuits, cakes, cheese, and cookies. They are important ingredients of sausages and pickles. Caraway seed oil is chiefly employed today for flavoring sausages, meat, canned goods, perfumes, mouth preparation and liqueurs. Oil is also used in flavouring soap because of antibacterial properties. Caraway seeds act as a mild stomachic and carminative.


™ Ammi ( Ajwain )

- Trachyspermum ammi Sprague.

Family - Apiaceae uits

nean region hout India

eta th round small size grayish-brown seeds.

Bot. Name Source - Fr

Native place - Mediterra Cult. in India - Throug

Taxonomic d ils : An aromatic herb wi

Uses : Fruits are used as spice and preservative. They are also used medicinally as carminative,

™ An

Pimpenella anisum Linn.

Family - Apiaceae uits

nean region b , U.P., Assam, Orissa

il ith simple basal leaves and pinnately dissected

They are used for flavouring food, confectionary, bakery products,

™ Dil

ot. Name - Anethum graveolens L.

Family - Apiaceae


antispasmodic, stimulant and in the treatment of colic, diarrhoea, cholera and dyspepsia.

ise ( Vilayati Saunf ) Bot. Name - Source - Fr

Native place - Mediterra Cult. in India - Punja

Taxonomic deta s : An annual herb of 2 feet height, w

upper leaves. Fruits are small, greyish-brown and covered with short hairs. Fruits typical umbelliferous.

Seeds possess a sweet aromatic taste.

Uses : Fruits are used as condiment .

beverages, etc. Fruit is mild expectorant, carminative and diuretic.

l B

Source - Fruits

Native place - Eurasia

Cult. in India - Jammu & Kash


Taxonomic details : A small herb light green leaves and yellow flowers. Fruits are oval light brown and compressed.

Uses : Fruits are used as spice and also as condiment. It is widely used in soups, sauces, salads, processed meat, sausages and for other culinary purpose. Dill oil and leaves are also used for flavouring purpose. Both the seeds and oil are used in medicine for treatment of flatulence and colic . The leaves are used as flavouring substance.

™ Ca amom ( Chhoti Elacichi )

taria cardamomum (L.) Maton ngiber

im, Assam,T.N.

Taxonomic details : A perennial herb, with


major-wild variety ed rd

Bot. Name - Elet

Family - Zi aceae

Source - Seed

a Native place - Indi


Cult. in India Kerala, Karnataka, Sikk

branched rhizome and long lanceolate sheathed leaves. Leaves are distichous, dark green. Flowers borne on long panicles that originate directly from the rootstock.

There are two types of varieties o E.cardamomum i.e.

E. cardamomum var.

E. cardamomum var.minor –cultivat variety


Fruits are creamy-white oblong –ovoid 8-15 mm long , shortly beaked three sided capsule with a papery, membranous and longitudinally wrinkled pericarp. The

es. Cheaper substitute for true Cardamom are obtained from the following species :- um (Bengal Cardamom), A subulatum ( Nepal Cardamom ) , A.xanthioides (Malabar Cardamom).

™ Fen

um L.

details : An annual herb with trifoliate leaves, slender pod with a pronounced beak. Each pod with 10-20 hard, yellowish brown seeds. Each seed grooved across one corner and has pleasantly bitter taste and order

seeds are light reddish-brown to dark reddish brown. The seed coat is transversely wrinkled and is covered by a very thin membrane ‘aril’. Seed consists of white perisperm starchy in nature enclosing the endosperm and embryo.

Uses : For better flavour, seeds are kept in the fruit until needed. Caradamoms are used in curries, sweets, meats, cakes, pastry, pickles and for other culinary purposes.

Seeds have a pleasing aroma and characteristics warm, slightly pungent taste. This is due to presence of volatile oil (Cardomom oil). Cardamom seeds whole or in powdered form are still regarded as one of the most valuable Indian spice. In India cardamom seeds are chewed after meals or taken along with ‘pan’. It is also used for flavouring coffee, tea, liquors and tobacco. Cardamom oil is used as a condiment and for flavouring beverag

Amomum aromatic

ugreek ( Methi )

Bot. Name - Trigonella foenum-graec Family - Papilionaceae Source - Seeds

Native place - South Europe and Asia Cult. in India - North India Taxonomic



Uses : The seeds are used as spice and condiment. The seeds are also used medicinally as carminative and tonic. Seeds soaked in water over night are taken to reduced sugar level in diabetes patients.

™ Black Mustard ( Kali Rai or Sarson )

Bot. Name - Brassica nigra (L.) Koch.

Family - Brassicaceae Source - Seeds

Native place - Eurassia

Cult. in India - Punjab , U.P., W.B.

Taxonomic details : A fast growing annual herb, with yellow flowers. Flowers are closely appressed to

the inflorescence axis.

Uses : Seeds are round and dark brown- blackish in colour, pungent, aromatic odour and flavour of seeds is due to presence of sulphur in volatile oil. Ground mustard is used as a condiment and in preparing curries, pickles, salad dressing etc. It has a stimulating effect on the salivary glands and also increases the peristaltic movements of the stomach. Seeds of Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) are used as a condiment in pickles. Seed oil is mainly used for cooking purposes.


™ Nutmeg ( Jai- phal )

Bot. Name - Myristica fragrans Houtt.

Family - Myristicaceae

Source - Seed

Native place - Moluccas Island

Cult. in India - Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, Tamil Naidu

Taxonomic details : A handsome, dioecious evergreen tree with dark greenleaves and small pale-yellow flowers. Ripe fruits are plum or apricot like and golden-yellow in colour. The fruit when ripened, the husk splits open revealing the shiny brown seed, with a bright red branching aril The kernel of the seed makes nutmeg of the commerce whereas the aril is the source of Mace. Nutmeg tree needs a hot moist climate thrives basalt near the sea. Indonesia is the largest exporter of nutmeg and


Uses : Nutmeg (kernel) and mace (aril) are used as spice and condiment. Nutmeg seeds are used for flavouring sweet dishes especially milk, pies, meat and vegetables dishes. Oil of nutmeg is used for flavouring food products and liquor. Nutmeg seeds are carminative, aphrodisiac, stomachic useful in flatulence, nausea and vomiting.


Table 1 - List of Spices


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