Daucus carota L. (Carrot)

Daucus carota (family Umbelliferae) is one of the most commonly used plant materials in tissue culture studies. Although various aspects of growth and organization have been extensively studied, relatively few attempts have been made at in vitro production of specific plant ingredients in carrot cells. Carrot root is characterized by its high content of carotenoid pigments. Carotenoids are also found in petals, seeds, and fruits of various plant species. Many of the yellow, orange, and red colors seen in these plant organs are often due to the presence of these compounds. The distribution of carotenoids in higher plants has been summarized by Goodwin () and Spurgeon and Porter (). However, their occurrence is not restricted to those storage organs but includes all parts of the plant. They serve as light-harvesting molecules in photosynthetic organelles and also play a role in protecting prokaryotes from the deleterious effects of light. Carotenoids are also essential for vision. The light-absorbing molecules of the visual system in many organisms, 11-cis-retinal, is derived from β-carotene. Carotenoids have been shown to be anti-carcinogenous in rats and mice, and it also appears to be the case in humans (). Although Read more […]

Artemisia: Plant Cultural Techniques

Plant Establishment Natural stands In China Artemisia annua traditionally has been harvested from wild natural self seeded stands. Although no specific crop production statistics are available, because of a confidentiality policy of Chinese authorities, it is believed that the bulk of Chinese production still comes from wild stands. These stands are the source of much of the artemisinin derived drugs used in China and probably the bulk of those drugs exported elsewhere (WHO, 1994) although some selected lines of Artemisia annua are cultivated as a row crop in Szechwan Province (). Ideally the harvesting of raw material for medicinal drug production from wild stands is not a good policy (). The plant material in wild stands is typically very variable in its content of the required medicinal constituents and this has an impact on the economics of drug extraction. Added to this the continual encroachment and elimination of wild stands will ultimately limit the source of genetic variability which is vital to the development of improved seed lines (). Another negative factor against utilisation of wild stands is that transport distances often become uneconomic with a crop such as Artemisia annua with a relatively low artemisinin Read more […]

Large Cardamom: Harvesting and Post Harvest Technology

First crop comes to harvest about 2–3 years after planting of sucker or seedling. However stabilized yields are obtained only from the 4th year up to 10–12 years. Sustainable yield depends on proper plantation management like regular rouging coupled with replanting, weeding, mulching plant bases, winter/summer irrigation, shade regulation etc. Harvesting season starts in August/September in low altitudes and continues up to December at high altitudes. Usually harvesting is done in one round and hence the harvested produce often contains capsules of varying maturity. Harvesting is done when the seeds of top capsules in the spike attain dark gray color. A special type of knife, locally known as Elaichi chhuri is used for harvesting. The stalk of the spike is cut very close to the leafy shoot. After harvest, individual capsules are separated manually. Capsules after harvest are cured to reduce moisture level to 10–12 per cent. The traditional curing is called Bhatti curing system (direct heat drying). Large cardamom is also cured by flue pipe curing system (indirect heat drying). Bhatti system Drying of cardamom is generally done in kilns locally called Bhatti. A Bhatti consists of a platform made of bamboo mats/wire Read more […]

Neurotransmitters Involved with Cannabinoid Action

Cannabis is a complex mixture of cannabinoid molecules (over 61 have been identified) and other chemicals (of which 400 have been identified); with THC as the main active cannabinoid responsible for the psychotropic effects. All these chemicals may have a wide variety of mechanisms of action and that of their metabolites may well be different again. So far, studies have concentrated on THC and a number of synthetic analogues, revealing a number of possible mechanisms of action. The central nervous system (CNS) transmitters that modulate the perceptions of pain include noradrenaline, serotonin (5HT), acetylcholine, GABA, the opioid peptides and the prostaglandins. Reports suggest that the analgesic effects seen with the cannabinoids involve prostaglandins, noradrenaline, 5HT and the opioid peptides, but not GABA or acetylcholine. The involvement of the prostaglandins is complex. The cannabinoids are stimulators of phospholipase A2, promoting the production of prostaglandins, but also inhibitors of cycloxygenase therefore also inhibiting production. The scene is further complicated by the fact that prostaglandins oppose pain centrally but cause pain at peripheral sites (). This may explain why in some tests involving Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Major Opium Alkaloids

 The latex obtained by the incision of unripe seed capsules of Papaver somniferum and which is known as opium is the source of several pharmacologically important alkaloids. Dioskorides, in about AD 77, referred to both the latex (opos) and the total plant extract (mekonion) and to the use of oral and inhaled (pipe smoked) opium to induce a state of euphoria and sedation. Since before the Christian era the therapeutic properties of opium were evident, with the first written reference to poppy juice by Theophrastus in the third century BC. Powdered opium contains more than 40 alkaloids which constitute about 25% by weight of the opium and are responsible for its pharmacological activity. In 1803 the German pharmacist Sertiirner achieved the isolation of morphine as one of the active ingredients of opium. Morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverine, narcotine and narceine are the most important bases, with many of the remaining (minor) alkaloids occurring only in traces. Morphine Morphine has long occupied an eminent position on the list of useful drugs. As a pure alkaloid, it has been employed for over a century and a half and, as the most important constituent of opium, it has contributed to the comfort of the human Read more […]

Elettaria cardamomum Maton (Cardamom)

Cardamom is a polymorphic species of the monotypic genus Elettaria. True cardamom or lesser cardamom is a monocot belonging to the family Zingiberaceae under the natural order Scitaminae. The varietal status of true cardamom has been designated as Elettaria cardamomum var. cardamomum (syn. var. minor Watt; var. minuscula Burkhill, Purseglove 1975). The seeds, contained in the dried fruits (capsules) and possessing a characteristic pleasant aroma, are the cardamom of commerce. Rosengarter () ranked cardamom as the third costliest spice in the world. In India it is the second most important spice next to black pepper (). The plant is a tall perennial shrub (), the aerial part of which consists of 10-20 erect, leafy shoots (pseudo-stem), 2-5.5 m tall and made of leaf sheaths. The shoots and the panicle emerge from a horizontal subterranean woody rhizome. Each panicle bears numerous small, white or pale-green flowers characterized by a conspicuous labellum with violet streaks radiating from the center. The flowers are hermaphrodites. The ripe fruit () is an ovoid trilocular capsule containing 15-20 aromatic seeds. Cardamom cultivation is mainly concentrated in the southern states of India, i.e., Kerala, Karnataka, Read more […]

Caraway: Soil requirements, sequence in crop rotation and fertilization

Caraway as a plant of high soil requirements grows and yields best on deep and warm soils, rich in humus and nutrients. The most suitable are fen soils, loess, chernozem, limestone soils and deep but not too heavy clays (). The best forecrops for caraway are considered root and vegetable plants previously supplied with a full rate of farmyard manure (20–40t/ha). Suitable are also clover, lucerne and other mixed papilionaceous crops. Besides, plants ploughed-in for green manure could also be recommended. In contrast, cereals are considered the least suitable forecrops for caraway. On the other hand caraway itself performs well as a forecrop for cereals, by leaving a field almost weed-free, and above all, due to its early harvesting there is enough time to conduct all pre-sowing agricultural practices, so essential for cereals (). Caraway is highly sensitive to soil water, considering the level of that underground and soil-bound. Too high water table and stagnant water in particular are dangerous especially in spring and may cause mass wilting of the plants. A relatively high, stable soil moisture is necessary for the adequate development of caraway since it originates from wet meadows. According to Buszczak Read more […]

Turmeric as Spice and Flavorant

  Spices are the plant products or a mixture thereof free from extraneous matter, cultivated, and processed for their aroma, pungency, flavor and fragrance, natural color, and medicinal qualities or otherwise desirable properties. They consist of rhizomes, bulbs, barks, flower buds, stigmata, fruits, seeds, and leaves of plant origin. Spices are food adjuncts, which have been in use for thousands of years, to impart flavor and aroma or piquancy to foods. They are used to prepare culinary dishes and have little or no nutritive value, but they stimulate the appetite, add zest for food, enhance the taste, and delight the gourmet. As there is a need to reduce the fat, salt, and sugar used in food preparation for health reasons, it becomes critical to pay attention to alternative ways to enhance the natural flavors of foods. Value can also be added to meals by enhancing and improving presentation and by using appropriate garnishes. The primary function of a spice in food is to improve its sensory appeal to the consumer. Food presentation is the arrangement of food on a plate, tray, or steam line in a simple appetizing way. This is generally accomplished by imparting its own characteristic color, flavor, aroma, and Read more […]

Uses and Economic Importance of Vetiver

For centuries vetiver has been used in India both as an aromatic plant and for medicinal purposes, and as a plant used for soil conservation. The scented roots are used directly in the making of mats, baskets, fans, bags, curtains, etc., or indirectly by extraction for the distillation of the essential oil. From India the vetiver spread throughout the Tropics. One particular impetus for the spreading of the plant proved to be the Colonial Period, during which it spread both as an aromatic plant and as a hedge plant. After the Second World War and the subsequent end of colonialism, vetiver declined in importance in many countries. Erosion control Recently, many projects have been launched with the aim of increasing the use of vetiver in erosion control. Given its morphological, physiological, and ecological characteristics, as discussed in the previous chapters, it is particularly suited to the formation of hedges with a deep root system. In these countries vetiver is used to slow the run-off of the torrential rains (monsoons) and to slow and stop topsoil erosion, but only in the last decade have such farming practices been seriously considered to the point of study and a clearer definition of both the botanical and Read more […]

Ammi majus L. (Bishop’s Weed)

Distribution and Importance Ammi majus L. (Bishop’s weed) is a subtropical species belonging to the family Apiaceae. It is a widely distributed species in the Mediterranean region, from the Canary Islands to Iran. Its range covers North Africa (Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia) and all of southern Europe. The species also occurs on other continents linder similar climatic conditions: in Argentina, southern United States, and less commonly in Australia and New Zealand. Ammi majus L. is regarded as the richest, natural source of linear furanocoumarins called psoralens. These compounds are found mostly in the fruits of this species. The psoralens are successfully applied in photochemotherapy of numerous dermatological diseases, e.g., in treating vitiligo, psoriasis, mycosis fungoides, atopic eczema, pityriasis lichenoides, urticaria pigmentosa, alopecia areata, and others. The therapy mostly makes use of photosensitizing and antiproliferating properties of psoralens. These properties are particularly enhanced in the presence of long-wavelength UV, called UV-A (λ = 320-400 nm), hence the treatment is often referred to as PUVA therapy (psoralens + UV-A). The use of fruits of Ammi majus in treating vitiligo has a long Read more […]