Economically useful plants – Cashew Nuts, Sugar cane, Palmyra

Nuts

Nuts are simple dry fruits composed of a hard shell and an edible kernel. They are packed with a good source of healthy fats, fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Cashew nut

Botanical name : Anacardium

occidentale Family: Anacardiaceae

Origin and Area of cultivation

Cashew has originated in Brazil and made its way to India in the 16th century through Portuguese sailors. Cashew is grown in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Orissa.

Uses

Cashews are commonly used for garnishing sweets or curries, or ground into a paste that forms a base of sauces for curries or some sweets. Roasted and raw kernels are used as snacks.

Sugars

We experienced sweetness while eating the stems of sugarcane, roots of sugar beet, fruits of apple and while drinking palmyra sap. This is due to the different proportions of sugars found in it. Sugar is the generic name for sweet tasting soluble carbohydrate, which are used in foods and beverages. Sugars found in sugarcane and palmyra make them ideal for efficient extraction to make commercial sugar.

Sugarcane

Botanical name : Saccharum

officinarum Family : Poaceae

Origin and Area of cultivation

The cultivated Saccharum officinarum has evolved by repeated back crossing of S.officinarum of New Guinea with wild S.spontaneum of India to improve the quality. All districts except Kanyakumari and Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu cultivate Sugarcane.

Uses

Sugar cane is the raw material for extracting white sugar. Sugarcane supports large number of industries like sugar mills producing refined sugars, distilleries producing liquor grade ethanol and millions of jaggery manufacturing units. Fresh sugarcane juice is a refreshing drink. Molasses is the raw material for the production of ethyl alcohol.

Palmyra (State tree of Tamil Nadu)

Botanical name : Borassus flabellifer

Family: Arecaceae

Origin and Area of cultivation

Palmyra is native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and New Guinea. Palmyra grows all over Tamil Nadu, especially in coastal districts.

Uses

Exudate from inflorescence axis is collected for preparing palm sugar. Inflorescence is tapped for its sap which is used as health drink. Sap is processed to get palm jaggery or fermented to give toddy. Endosperm is used as a refreshing summer food. Germinated seeds have an elongated embryo surrounded by fleshy scale leaf which is edible.

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