Category Archives: Crops

Community Open Event May 2013

On Monday 20th May we held what might be considered the official opening of the Tropical Biodiversity Glasshouse.  The University of Reading community open event provided a means for both the Harris Garden and our greenhouse to be shown to … Continue reading

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Piperaceae – the Pepper family

Introducing Piperaceae Piperaceae is commonly known as the pepper family.  The name Piperaceae comes from the Sanskrit ‘pippali’ which also gave rise to the Greek ‘peperi’, the Latin ‘piper’ and the English ‘pepper’. Originally this referred to Piper longum, the … Continue reading

Posted in Crops, Palaeotropics, Species | 1 Comment


Cannaceae is one of the monocot families that is easy to recognize. this family is represented by one genus, which is Canna, and 10 species. This family is one of the plants with a long history of human cultivation. Records that go back to … Continue reading

Posted in Americas, Asia, Australia, Crops, Monocots, Species | 1 Comment

Musaceae – GIANT HERBS not trees!

When we talk about plants and people, the “Banana family” or Musaceae is one of the prominent ones. Although it has a long history and prominent role in human and wildlife diet, the puzzle of the origin and evolutionary theory … Continue reading

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Camellia sinensis: A Blood Boiling and Tea Stained History

Family, Genus and Species Limits Commonly known in the West as ‘Tea’, Camellia sinensis (L) O. Kuntze is an evergreen shrub assigned to the family Theaceae. The most recent circumscription of this family includes 3 sub-families: Theeae, Gordonieae and Stewartieae, … Continue reading

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Pandanus amaryllifolius – The only Pandanus with fragrant leaves

P. amaryllifolius is one of the plants that is capable of evoking nostalgic memories of South-East Asian life solely by its scent. Pandanaceae is a paleotropical monocot family that comprises 4 genera (ie. Pandanus, Freycinetia, Martellidendron and Sararanga). Pandanus is … Continue reading

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Ipomoea batatas – Sweet Potato or When is a potato not a potato?

Many of you will be familiar with the knobbly, red-skinned, orange-fleshed, vegetable known as sweet potato but you might be surprised to learn that it is more closely related to the parasitic thread-like dodders than it is to our familiar … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Americas, Asia, Australia, Crops, Species, Students | 2 Comments

 Cyperus papyrus L., post 2 of 2, taxonomy and distribution

Cyperus papyrus is a tall and graceful plant.  It looks stunning in the Tropical Greenhouse with a tropical blue sky behind it, which, even in October, Reading obligingly provided, to prove the point.  It’s up to 5m tall, with almost globular … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Crops, Madagascar, Pond, Species, Students, Water Plants | 1 Comment

Cyperus papyrus L., post 1 of 2, value and uses

The one thing that most people know about this plant is that it was the source of paper for  ancient Egyptians.  They started to use it for writing on circa 5000 years ago, and carried on up until the 8th or … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Countries, Crops, Madagascar, Pond, Species, Water Plants | 4 Comments

Manihot glaziovii & Manihot esculenta – Two shrubs with history

There are 98 known species of Manihot which are native to the neotropics, between Arizona and Argentina according to Rogers and Appan (1973). Manihot (often referred to as Cassava) are in the Euphorbiaceae family, also known as the spurge family, which contains 300 genera, and … Continue reading

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