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  • 這 Publication Issue 用你的語言不存在, 用...查看: English (en), Fran?ais (fr), Espa?ol (es),
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    作者: by Dr. F. W. Martin, Revised 1998 and 2007 by ECHO Staff
    已出版: 2007-01-01


    How to Find the Best Plants for the Small Farm

    Number and Classes of Useful Plants

    TN20 Figure Title pictureIn one attempt to list all of the food plants of the world, Tanaka recorded 10,000 species in a thick volume (Tanaka,T. 1976, Tanaka’s Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World). Others claim that the world may contain 20,000 or even 40,000 edible plants, though these claims are not substantiated. Perhaps with the correct processing, every plant is potentially edible.

    In addition to the edible plants, a very large number of plants are useful to humankind in a wide variety of other ways. Plants may serve as feed for livestock. They may also provide humankind with needed items including shelter, clothes, fibers, pipes, fishing poles, toothpicks, etc. There are also ecologically beneficial plants that protect and improve the soil and that can influence conditions such as light and wind.

    Though nearly all plants are useful in some way, they are not equally valuable. For example, wheat, rice and corn may be considered the most valuable plants in the world based on the vast acreage planted to these crops, their vital role in feeding humankind, and their enormous economic value. Using various criteria, one might consider 10, 25, or even 200 species as the world’s most valuable plants. Yet, under some situations, by some people, or for some special reason, other plants produced and used on a very small scale might be precious and indispensable. The question, “Which are the most valuable plants for the small farm?”, then, becomes breathtaking.

     

    The Problem of Adaptation

    Adaptation as defined here is the range of environmental conditions under which a plant can survive, grow and produce. If a plant is widely adapted, it can be grown under many conditions. This is especially important when one tries to compare plants for their values. A widely-adapted plant is more valuable than one adapted to a narrow range of conditions, even if the use of the narrowly-adapted plant is of great importance. When comparing values of plants, we frequently consider their adaptation to growing conditions on small farms.

    The small farms throughout the world often represent marginal areas not always well suited to agriculture. The best farming areas are frequently in the hands of a few who own or control vast acreages. There is a macrodiversity among small farms, from flat, easy-access terrain to those places where farming is very difficult such as hillsides, swamps, brushlands, extreme altitudes, rocklands and small valleys. In addition, there is a microdiversity that easily occurs within “pockets” of space with their own microclimates. This phenomenon is caused by great variability in factors such as slope, amount of soil and its nature, and the amount of rainfall, humidity, or light received. Plants respond differently to such conditions.

    Now, these differences among small farms increase the problem of choosing the right plants. The problem can be seen in Central America where small farms usually produce the crop(s) necessary for their own household first, then staple foods for marketing as an income source. Often called the basic grains, these staple crops include corn, sorghum, pearl millet, rice, and beans. To this group must be added cassava and potatoes, both of great importance in many regions. The crops that are grown, and the varieties of such crops, are extremely critical, for these crops must be produced under prevailing rainfall conditions. Crops or varieties respond differently to abnormal amounts (too little or too much) and patterns (rainy season constant or intermittent; too long or too short). The problems of producing these life-sustaining crops are so great that farmers may not concern themselves with home vegetable gardens that could balance the diet for their children. On these small farms the right crops or the right varieties may differ radically from one place to another, and it is difficult to accurately predict what crop might do well in a particular location.

     

    Criteria of Value as Defined Here

    Because of the diversity of plants that are useful on the small farm, when thinking of their values it is useful to first classify plants by their uses. For example, in comparing plants for their values it is not reasonable to compare cereal grains to windbreaks. Therefore, all of the discussion that follows is based on the comparison of useful plants within categories as defined by the uses themselves. A very helpful list of plant uses is found as part of the Table of Contents section on the first page of this document. That list serves as an orientation to this publication.

    Nevertheless, the classes of uses themselves are of different values. Judgments have been made of these values, and the categories of useful plants are listed somewhat in the order of importance in the Table of Contents. For example, food crops are listed first, and among the food crops, those great staple foods including the most important of all, cereal grains. The weakness of this classification of uses is seen in the expression, “Humankind does not live on bread alone”. Thus, in some places and under some circumstances the order of values would vary.

    Within each use category, suggested criteria for deciding the value of and selecting a crop are:

    • The wideness of adaptation of the crop.
    • The quality of the crop for the use in question.
    • The useful yield for the use in question.
    • Problems in production.
    • Storage or durability.

     

    Using the Tables of Useful Plants

    For the avid student who wishes to learn about tropical plants and their many uses, there is never enough information. Of the hundreds of species covered by this publication, some are well known and information on them may be available in other literature. Others are inadequately known. By compiling lists of useful species and presenting them in tables, much useful information is lost, and the author apologizes. However, probably no publication can ever be adequate, for agriculture by its nature must always include local trial and learning from experience.

    Information for the various categories of plants is presented in forms of generalities as text, and more specific information is given in the tables. The information in tables always includes one common name and the scientific or species name, and may include other information such as growth habitat, edible parts and uses, principal nutrients, and adaptation in terms of temperature, day length, flooding, drought, or climate region. Sometimes negative factors are mentioned. In addition, the various species are usually rated for their relative values for multiple purposes including food, animal feed, fiber, construction materials, fuel, soil amendment (soil improvement), erosion control, and climatic modification. These uses are more fully discussed in the corresponding portion of the manuscript dedicated to such crops.

     

    Descriptions of Useful Plants Plants for Food: Staple Crops

    Cereal and Non-Leguminous Grains

    TN20 Figure 1

    Figure 1. Rice (Oryza sativa) with maturing heads of grain.

    Three kinds of edible seed from annual plants can be distinguished: the cereal grains from grasses, the pulses from legumes, and a miscellaneous group which, for convenience here, is called non-leguminous grains. All are annuals that are propagated from seeds.

    Cereal grains are the staff of life for most of the people of the world, and wheat is number one. Rice follows, but while extremely important is low in protein. Corn has long been an important life support crop; however, as is the case with other cereal grains, it normally lacks sufficient lysine to fulfill all human dietary protein requirements. However, several high lysine corn varieties have been developed, making this crop the most important member of its class and a potentially useful lifesaver everywhere. The high protein grain triticale also has great promise. Choice of variety suited for the locale is always important for the cereals. Time of planting and harvest may also be critical.

    The non-leguminous grains are an assortment of minor crops having special value in isolated regions. They should be considered as potentially valuable but experimental and only rarely could they replace a cereal grain.

    On selecting a grain crop, familiarize yourself with the grain crops already grown in the region, including the varieties and their problems. Search first for improved varieties. Try to substitute high lysine (high quality protein) varieties of corn for current varieties. Then, add a little additional fertilizer to the soil and you will be repaid with generous yields. All of the grain crops in the following tables are annuals propagated from seed.

     

    Table 1. A Comparison of Grain Crops

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Growth Habit

    Edible Parts and Uses

    Principal Nutrients

     

    Adaptation

     

    Negative Factors

     

    Temp.

    Day-length

    Flood

    Dry

    Amaranth

    A. cruentis

     

    A.

    hypochondriacus

    rapid, upright, branched

    seed in flour,

    popped

    protein, starch

    warm to hot

    neutral

    no

    some

    tiny seeds, some heads shatter

    Barley

    Hordeum vulgare

    branched grass

    seed in flour, cereal, malt, grits

    protein, starch

    cool to warm

    neutral

    no

    no

     

    Buckwheat

    Fagopyrum esculentum

    herabeous bush

    seed in flour, cereal, green manure

    protein, starch

    warm

    neutral

    no

    no

    high altitude crop

    Corn, Maize

    Zea mays

    upright grass

    cereal, starches, oil, seed in flour

    protein, oil, starch

    warm to hot

    neutral to short

    no

    no

     

    Kañiwa Cañihua

    Chenopodium pallidicaule

    broadleaf herb

    seed in flour

    protein, starch

    warm

    neutral

    no

    some

    small seeds, high altitude

    Pearl Millet

    Pennisetum americanum

    upright grass

    seed in flour,

    cereal

    protein, starch

    warm

    neutral

    no

    yes

     

    Quinoa

    Chenopodium quinoa

    broadleaf herb

    seed in flour

    protein, starch

    warm

    neutral

    no

    some

    tiny seeds, high altitude

    Rice

    Oryza sativa

    branched grass

    seed as staple food, flour, starch

    starch, low protein

    warm to hot

    neutral

    yes

    no

    relatively low protein

    Sorghum

    Sorghum bicolor

    upright grass

    seed as flour,

    cereal

    protein, starch

    warm to hot

    neutral

    no

    some

    birds eat best varieites

    Teff

    Eragrostis tef

    branched grass

    seed in flour, flat bread (injera)

    protein, starch

    cool

    neutral

    no

    no

    small       seed, high altitude

    Triticale

    X Triticum aestivum

    branched grass

    seed as flour,

    cereal, bread

    starch, high protein

    cool to warm

    neutral

    no

    no

    experimental, hard to get

    Wheat, bread

    Triticum aestivum

    branched grass

    seed as flour,

    cereal, bread

    protein, starch

    warm

    neutral

    no

    no

     

    Wheat, pasta

    Triticum turgidum durum

    branched grass

    seed as flour,

    cereal, pasta

    protein, starch

    warm

    neutral

    no

    no

     

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 2. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Use for Selected Grain Crops.

    Common Name

    Other Food Uses

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Amaranth

    edible leaves

    4

    2

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    0

    Cañihua

    edible leaves

    4

    3

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Corn

    fresh seed

    5

    5

    0

    1

    2

    1

    1

    0

    Kiwicha

    edible leaves

    4

    3

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Pearl Millet

     

    4

    4

    0

    1

    1

    1

    1

    0

    Quinoa

    edible leaves

    5

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    0

    Rice

     

    5

    3

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    0

    Sorghum

     

    4

    5

    0

    2

    2

    1

    1

    0

    Wheat

     

    5

    4

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    0

    Pulses (Leguminous Grains):

    TN20 Figure 2

    Figure 2. Pods of Pigeon Pea (Cajanus cajun), a good selection for semi-arid areas.

    Pulses are the dried seeds of leguminous plants and are important as sources of protein for the diet. The same species are often useful for non-dry seeds and pods. As a group, they are limited in production per acre or hectare, but those that excel in protein content are particularly valuable. None are potentially more valuable than soybean with its high yields and content of protein and oil. But, soybean is limited in two ways: (1) it needs inoculation or to be in the presence of a specific bacterium in the soil and (2) it must mature during dry days.

    For pulse crops, the appropriate variety for the locale and date of planting is extremely important, and they often have disease and/or insect problems. People often have very fixed habits with respect to these crops. Convincing them to change a variety may be very difficult. All of these crops are propagated chiefly by seeds.

    Selecting an adequate pulse crop for any given region inevitably involves extensive testing of species and varieties and involving the local people in trials of suitable cooking methods that would be acceptable by the populace. The task of replacing a given pulse or introducing a new one is often quite difficult because of cultural preferences.

     

    Table 3. A Comparison of Pulses (Dried Legumes Used for Cooking)

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Annual/ Perennial

    Growth Habit

    Edible Parts and Uses

    Principal Nutrients

     

    Adaptation

     

    Negative Factors

    Temp.

    Day-length

    Flood

    Dry

    Bambara nut

    Vigna subterranea

    annual

    compact, bushy herb

    seeds ground or boiled, pods boiled

    protein

    hot

    mostly neutral

    no

    no

    hard seed

    Bean, common

    Phaseolus lunatus

    annual

    bushy herb or vine

    boiled seeds, mashing and refrying

    protein, starch

    warm

    mostly neutral

    no

    some

    limited adaptating to the tropics

    Chick pea, garbanzo

    Cicer arietinum

    annual

    bushy herb or vine

    boiled seeds

    protein, starch

    cool to warm

    neutral

    no

    yes

    temperate climate only

    Cowpea

    Vigna unguiculata

    annual

    bushy herb or vine

    boiled seeds, immature pods, leaves

    protein, vit. B

    hot

    mostly neutral

    no

    some

    diseases and insects

    Faba bean

    Vicia faba

    var. faba

    annual

    bush

    boiled seed, roasted, ground meal

    protein, starch

    cool to warm

    mostly neutral

    no

    some

    Fabism (a disease) is linked to this

    Horse gram

    Macrotyloma

    uniflorum

    annual

    bush or weak vine

    boiled seed

    protein, starch, oil

    hot

    mostly short day

    no

    some

     

    Lablab

    Lablab purpureus

    annual

    climbing vine

    boiled seed, mature seeds and pods

    protein, starch

    warm

    short day

    some

    some

    excessive vine growth during long days

    Lima bean

    Phaseolus vulgaris

    annual

    bush or vine

    boiled seed or green pod

    protein, vit. B, starch

    hot

    variable

    no

    some

    foliage contains HCN

    Moth bean

    Bigna acontifolia

    annual

    low trailing vine

    boiled seed, ground or fried forage

    protein, starch

    mostly hot

    neutral, short day

    no

    yes

    difficult to

    harvest

    Mung bean

    Vigna radiata

    annual

    small bush or vine

    boiled and sprouted seed, edible pods

    protein, starch

    cool to warm

    neutral, short day

    no

    yes

    rhizobium inoculation needed in some soils

    Popping bean Nuña

    Phaseolus vulgaris

    annual

    vine

    popped before eating

    protein, starch

    cool to warm

    mostly short day

    no

    some

    adapted to Andes Mtns.

    Pea, garden

    Pisum sativum

    annual

    weak vine

    boiled seed, ground meal

    protein, starch

    mostly hot

    mostly neutral

    no

    no

    temperate climate only

    Peanut

    Arachis hupogaea

    annual

    small bush

    dry nuts, boiled seed

    oil, protein

    hot

    neutral, short day

    no

    some

    diseases

    Pigeon pea

    Cajanus cajan

    annual or weak perennial

    tall bush

    boiled seed, mature seed

    protein

    warm to hot

    neutral, short day

    some

    some

    insect susceptibility

    Rice bean

    Vigna umbellata

    annual or weak perennial

    small vine

    boiled seed, edible pods, leaves

    protein, starch

    warm to hot

    mostly short day

    no

    yes

    poor yields

    Scarlet runner bean

    Phaseolus coccineus

    annual or perennial

    vine

    boiled seed, mature seed, leaves, roots

    protein, starch

    cool to warm

    mostly neutral

    no

    no

    adapted to cool or temperate climate

    Soybean

    Glycine max

    annual

    mostly bushy

    boiled, ground, extracted, processed

    oil, high protein

    hot

    short day

    no

    some

    rhizobium inoculation needed in some soils

    Tarwi Tarhui Chocho

    Lupinus mutabilis

    annual

    bush

    boiled seed

    oil, high protein

    cool to warm

    mostly neutral

    no

    some

    seed contains poisonous alkaloids, must boil seed

    Tepary bean

    Phaseolus acutifolius

    annual

    bush or weak vine

    boiled or ground seed

    protein, starch

    warm to hot

    mostly short day

    no

    yes

    adapted only to desert conditions

    Urd bean

    Vigna mungo

    annual

    bush

    boiled or ground seed

    protein, starch

    very hot

    neutral, short day

    no

    some

    adapted only to dry conditions

    Velvet bean

    Mucuna pruriens var. utilis

    annual or weak perennial

    climbing or trailing vine

    roased seed as coffee sub., or in tempeh

    protein, oil

    warm to hot

    mostly short day

    yes

    some

    seed contains poisonous alkaloids, must boil seed

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 4. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Use for Selected Pulse Crops.

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Bambara nut

    3

    2

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Common bean

    5

    3

    0

    0

    1

    2

    1

    0

    Cowpea

    5

    3

    0

    0

    1

    2

    2

    1

    Lablab bean

    4

    4

    0

    0

    0

    3

    3

    1

    Lima bean

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    2

    1

    1

    Mat bean

    3

    3

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Mung bean

    4

    2

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Nuña

    4

    2

    0

    0

    0

    2

    1

    0

    Peanut

    5

    4

    0

    0

    0

    3

    2

    0

    Pigeon pea

    4

    3

    0

    0

    1

    3

    2

    0

    Rice bean

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Soybean

    5

    5

    0

    0

    1

    3

    1

    1

    Tarwi

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Tepary bean

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Roots and Tubers:

    TN20 Figure 3

    Figure 3. Tubers of Jicama (Pachyrrhizus erosus),well adapted to hot, humid climate.   

    Root and tuber crops throughout the world include: (1) annual, enlarged roots and tubers of little food value and (2) perennial roots and tubers high in starch. These structures are used by the plant for regrowth after an unfavorable season. Roots and tubers are widely used throughout the tropics as staple crops, and indeed are major sources of carbohydrates. Because they are limited in protein, excessive reliance upon them for food may be detrimental to health. It is difficult to pick the best because each has its advantages and disadvantages; however, cassava is the worst because of its low, poor-quality protein. Some people favor the sweet potato because it can be produced in four months, leaving the ground free for other crops. Root and tuber crops are usually widely adapted and easy to grow, but there is frequently a problem of obtaining good varieties.

     

     

     

    Table 5. A Comparison Chart of Roots and Tubers

     

     

     

     

     

    Edible Parts, Uses

     

     

    Adaptation

     

     

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Annual, Bi/ Perennial

    Propa- gation

    Growth Habit

    Principal Uses

     

    Temp.

    Day- Length

     

    Flood

     

    Dry

    Negative Factors

    Beet

    Beta vulgaris

    bi, grown as annual

    seed

    herbaceous

    roots, leaves cooked

    roots- low nutrients

    cool

    neutral

    no

    no

    temperate climate

    Carrot

    Dacus carota

    bi, grown as annual

    seed

    herbaceous

    roots, raw or cooked

    high in vit. A

    cool / warm

    neutral

    no

    no

    temperate climate

    Cassava

    Manihot esculenta

    per. grown as annual

    cutting

    bush

    tuberous root, leaf, cooked

    starch

    hot

    short day

    no

    no

    some var. poisonous untreated

    Dasheen

    Colocasia esculenta

    per. grown as annual

    offshoot

    herbaceous

    corm, cooked

    starch, vit. C

    hot

    short day

    some

    no

     

    Edible Canna

    Canna edulis

    per. grown as annual

    offshoot

    upright herbaceous

    rhizome, cooked

    starch

    hot

    neutral

    some

    no

    poor quality vegetable

    Jícama

    Pachyrrhizus erosus

    weak per. used as annual

    seed

    vining

    tuberous root, cooked

    starch, protein

    hot

    neutral

    no

    some

    pods, leaf poisonous

    Potato

    Solanum tuberosum

    per. grown as annual

    tuber cutting

    herbaceous

    tuber, cooked

    starch, vit. C

    cool / warm

    neutral

    no

    no

    not tropical

    Sweet Potato

    Ipomea batatas var. batatas

    per. grown as annual

    cutting

    trailing vine

    vine tips &

    tuberous root, cooked

    starch, vit. C, maybe A

    hot

    mostly short day

    no

    no

    insect problems

    Tanier

    Xanthosoma spp.

    per. grown as annual

    offshoot

    herbaceous

    corm, cooked

    starch

    hot

    mostly short day

    some

    no

    disease problems

    Taro

    Colocasia esculenta

    per. grown as annual

    offshoot

    herbaceous

    corm, cooked

    starch, vit. C

    hot

    mostly short day

    yes

    no

    needs paddy culture

    Yam

    Dioscorea spp.

    per. grown as annual

    tuber cutting

    climbing vine

    tuber, cooked

    starch, protein

    hot

    mostly neutral

    some

    no

    very seasonal

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 6. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Use for Selected Root and Tuber Crops.

    Common Name

    Food Uses

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    African Yam Bean

    root, fresh dried seed

    4

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    0

    Ahipa

    root

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    2

    1

    0

    Arrowroot

    rhizome

    3

    2

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Cassava

    root, leaves

    4

    4

    0

    1

    1

    0

    1

    0

    Edible canna

    corm

    2

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Potato

    tuber

    5

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Sweet potato

    root, leaves

    5

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    2

    0

    Tannier

    corm, leaves

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Taro

    corm, leaves

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Yam

    tuber

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    2

    1

    Yam bean

    root

    4

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    0

     

    PLANTS FOR FOOD: VEGETABLE CROPS

    Leguminous Vegetables:

    TN20 Figure 4

    Figure 4.  Winged Bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) pods- may be eaten fresh when young and flexible. 

    Legumes are excellent providers of at least some of most nutrients. However, they are subject to many disease and insect problems. The challenge with these crops is to find those that are well suited to a particular area and that will produce a crop throughout the year. This is a difficult, but all can be produced from seeds. Winged beans may also be propagated by tubers. Some produce a crop in winter and some in summer. Therefore, developing a selection of leguminous vegetables for a farming area requires careful trials of both species and available varieties, with attention to seasonal parameters for optimal production. Generally, several selections are desirable to assure year-round production.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Table 7. A Comparison of Leguminous Vegetables.

     

     

     

     

    Edible Parts, Uses

     

     

    Adaptation

     

     

    Common Name

     

    Species Name

    Annual/ Perennial

    Growth Habit

    Principal Nutrients

     

    Temp.

    Day- Length

     

    Flood

     

    Dry

    Negative Factors

    Bean, Common

    Phaseolus vulgaris

    annual

    vine or bush

    pod, dry seed

    general nut., starch

    warm

    mostly neutral

    no

    no

     

    Chickpea, Garbanzo

    Cicer arietinum

    annual

    bush

    undried and dry seed

    protein, starch

    cool to warm

    mostly neutral

    no

    some

     

    Cowpea

    Vigna unguiculata

    annual

    bush or vine

    undried and dry seed

    protein, starch

    hot

    mostly neutral

    no

    some

     

    Faba bean

    Vicia faba

    annual

    bush

    pod, dry and undried seed

    protein, starch

    warm

    mostly neutral

    no

    some

    consumption related to a disease

    Jack bean

    Canavalia ensiformis

    annual

    mostly bush

    small young pod

    protein, starch

    hot

    neutral

    /short day

    some

    no

    poisonous and risky to use when older

    Lablab

    Lablab purpureus

    weak perennial

    vine or bush

    dry and undried seed, pod

    protein, starch

    hot

    short day

    some

    some

    excessive vining in summer

    Lima bean

    Phaseolus lunatus

    annual

    vine or bush

    undried seed

    protein, starch

    warm to hot

    mostly neutral

    no

    no

     

    Pea

    Pisum sativum

    annual

    weak vine

    pod, dry, undried seed

    protein, starch

    cool to warm

    Neutral

    no

    no

    strictly temperate

    Peanut

    Arachis hypogaea

    annual

    Bush

    dry and undried seed

    oil, high protein

    hot

    mostly neutral

    no

    some

    wet seeds become poisonous

    Pigeon Pea

    Canjanus cajun

    weak perennial

    tall bush

    dry and undried seed

    protein, starch

    hot

    neutral

    /short day

    no

    no

     

    Soybean

    Glycine max

    annual

    bush

    dry and undried seed

    oil, starch, high protein

    warm to hot

    short day

    no

    no

    often needs rhizobium inoculant

    Sword Bean

    Canavalia gladiata

    annual

    vine

    young pod

    protein, starch

    hot

    Neutral

    no

    no

    pods and beans may be slightly poisonous

    Winged Bean

    Psophocarpus tetragonolobus

    weak perennial

    vine

    young pod, leaf, root, flower

    oil, starch, high protein

    hot

    neutral/ short day

    yes

    no

     

    Yardlong Bean

    Vigna unguiculata ssp. sesquipedalis

    annual

    vine

    pod

    general nutrients

    hot

    mostly neutral

    no

    no

     

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 8. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Selected Leguminous Vegetables

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Basul

    4

    3

    0

    2

    3

    4

    2

    2

    Common bean

    5

    3

    0

    0

    1

    2

    1

    0

    Cowpea

    5

    3

    0

    0

    1

    2

    2

    1

    Horse bean

    1

    3

    0

    0

    0

    2

    2

    1

    Inga

    2

    2

    0

    2

    2

    2

    1

    1

    Lablab bean

    4

    4

    0

    0

    0

    3

    3

    1

    Lima bean

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    2

    1

    1

    Mat bean

    3

    3

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Mung bean

    4

    2

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Paterno

    2

    2

    0

    2

    3

    2

    2

    1

    Peanut

    5

    4

    0

    0

    0

    3

    2

    0

    Pigeon pea

    4

    3

    0

    0

    1

    3

    2

    0

    Rice bean

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Soybean

    5

    5

    0

    0

    1

    3

    1

    1

    Tarwi

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Tepary bean

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Sword bean

    2

    2

    0

    0

    0

    2

    2

    1

    Winged bean

    4

    3

    0

    0

    0

    3

    2

    1

    Yardlong bean

    5

    2

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    Non-Leguminous Fruit Vegetables:

    TN20 Figure 5

    Figure 5. Tropical Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) fruits.

    Fruit vegetables are a miscellaneous classification that includes some produce with very excellent and some with practically no food value. There are many hundreds in the tropics, yet a relatively small number, as listed here, are proven favorites almost everywhere. Some favor the tropical pumpkin because of its high nutritive value and the many ways it can be prepared for food. The pepper and the tomato, in spite of differences in appearance and use, have much the same nutritive value. Cucumber, eggplant, melon and watermelon are interesting and entertain the palate, but they have low food value. Most are propagated by seeds, and some can also be propagated by cuttings. Except for okra, a summer vegetable, they can be produced at any time of the year. Variety is almost always important when selecting a fruit vegetable. Finding an appropriate variety may require extensive search and trial.

     

     

    Table 9. A Comparison of Fruit Vegetables.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Annual/ Perennial

    Growth Habit

    Edible Parts, Uses

    Principal Nutrients

     

    Adaptation

     

    Negative Factors

    Temp.

    Flood

    Dry

    Angled loofa

    Luffa

    acutangula

    annual

    climbing vine

    young fruit

    low nut. value

    hot

    no

    no

    poisonous seeds

    Bitter gourd

    Momordica charantia

    annual

    climbing vine

    young fruit

    vit. C

    hot

    no

    yes

    very bitter

    Bottle gourd

    Lagenaria siceraria

    annual

    climbing vine

    young fruit, seed

    low nut. value, seed high in oil & protein

    warm / hot

    no

    no

    low nut. value

    Cucuzzi, Italian

    Lagenaria siceraria

    annual

    climbing vine

    young fruit, seed

    low nut. value, seed high in oil & protein

    warm / hot

    no

    no

    low nut. value

    Chayote

    Sechium edulis

    perennial

    climbing vine

    mature fruit, vine tips, roots

    tips high in vitamins, minerals

    warm

    some

    no

    needs cool nights

    Eggplant

    Solanum melongena

    weak perennial

    bush

    young fruit

    low nut. value

    warm / hot

    no

    some

    low nut. value

    Okra

    Abelmoschus esculentus

    annual

    bush

    young fruit, dried seed

    fair source of most nutrients

    hot

    no

    some

    summer only

    Pepper

    Capsicum annuum

    weak perennial

    bush

    young/mature fruit, leaves

    vit. A & C

    warm / hot

    no

    some

    virus susceptible

    Pumpkin tropical

    Cucurbita moschata

    weak perennial

    trailing vine

    young/mature fruit, seeds, vine tips

    vit. A & C, seed high in oil & protein

    hot

    some

    no

    mildew

    Snake gourd

    Trichosanthes cucumerina

    annual

    climbing vine

    young fruit

    low nut. value

    hot

    no

    no

    poor quality

    Sponge gourd

    Luffa

    cylindrica

    annual

    climbing vine

    young fruit, mature sponges

    low nut. value

    hot

    no

    no

    low nut. value

    Tomato

    Lycopersicon esculentum

    annual

    / weak perennial

    bush or weak vine

    young/mature fruit

    vit. A & C

    warm

    no

    no

    many diseases

    Wax gourd

    Benincasa hispida

    annual

    climbing vine

    young fruit, seed or oil

    low nut. value, seed high in oil & protein

    hot

    no

    no

    low nut. value

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 10. Uses and Rating (0-5) of Uses for Selected Tropical Fruit Vegetables.

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Bitter gourd

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Chayote

    2

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    2

    1

    Melon

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Okra

    4

    1

    0

    0

    2

    0

    1

    0

    Pepper

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Pumpkin

    5

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    Tomato

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Leafy Vegetables:

    TN20 Figure 6

    Figure 6. Highly nutritious leaves of Drumstick (Moringa oleifera) tree.  Source: Tim Motis.

    As a rule, leaves have high value as food, especially the dark green leaves, but always contain too much fiber and often contain various antinutrients such as oxalic acid. Leaves as a part of the diet can eliminate blindness in children caused by a lack of sufficient vitamin A in their diet. There are many leafy vegetables to choose from. A good rule is to vary them in the diet. A half-cup of cooked leaves every day is a good amount to consume.

    Most of the typical tropical leafy vegetables do not have varietal names, but all of them are highly adapted to tropical conditions.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Table 11. A Comparison of Leafy Vegetables.

     

     

     

     

     

    Edible Parts, Uses

     

     

     

    Adaptation

     

     

    Common Name

     

    Species Name

    Annual/ Perennial

    Propa- gation

    Growth Habit

    Relative

    Yield

    Relative

    Quality

     

    Temp.

    Day- length

     

    Flood

     

    Dry

    Negative Factors

    Amaranth

    Amaranthus gangeticus,

    A. tricolor A. hypochondriacus

    annual

    seed

    herb

    leaf, whole plant, cooked

    high

    high

    hot

    mostly short day

    no

    some

    short life span, insects

    Belembe

    Xanthosoma brasiliense

    perennial

    off-

    shoot

    herb

    leaf and stem, cooked

    low

    very high

    hot

    neutral

    yes

    no

    low production

    Bok choi

    Brassica rapa subsp. chinensisis

    annual

    seed

    herb

    leaf, head, raw or cooked

    med

    med

    cool to warm

    neutral

    no

    no

     

    Bush okra

    Corchous olitorius

    annual

    seed

    herb

    leaf and hoot, cooked

    high

    med

    hot

    neutral

    no

    some

    weedy

    Cassava

    Manihot esculenta

    perennial

    cutting

    bush

    leaf and shoot, cooked

    med

    med

    hot

    neutral

    no

    some

    needs cooking or is toxic

    Chaya

    Cnidoscolus chayamansa

    perennial

    cutting

    bush

    leaf and shoot, cooked

    very high

    high

    warm to hot

    neutral

    some

    some

    somewhat toxic

    False roselle

    Hibiscus acetosella

    weak perennial

    seed

    bush

    leaf and shoot, cooked

    med

    med

    warm to hot

    short day

    no

    some

    weedy nature

    Horseradish tree

    Moringa oleifera

    perennial

    seed, cutting

    tree

    leaf, young fruit, flower, root

    very high

    high

    hot

    neutral

    no

    some

    too vigorous

    Indian lettuce

    Lactuca Indica

    annual

    seed, cutting

    tall herb

    leaf, raw

    high

    high

    warm to hot

    short day no

    no

    very tall

     

    Kai choi

    Brassica juncea

    annual

    seed

    herb

    leaf, head, raw or cooked

    med

    high

    warm

    neutral

    no

    no

     

    Kale, Ethiopian

    Brassica carinata

    annual

    seed

    herb

    leaf, raw or cooked

    high

    med

    warm

    neutral

    no

    no

     

    Katuk

    Sauropus androgynus

    perennial

    seed, cutting

    bush

    shoot, cooked

    med

    high

    hot

    neutral

    no

    no

     

    Lagos spinach

    Celosia argentea

    annual

    seed

    herb

    leaf and shoot, cooked

    high

    med

    hot

    short day

    no

    no

    weedy

    Lettuce

    Lactuca sativa

    annual

    seed

    herb

    leaf, head, raw

    medium

    medium

    cool to warm

    short day

    no

    no

     

    Spinach, Malabar

    Basella rubra

    perennial

    seed, cutting

    climbing vine

    leaf and shoot, cooked

    high

    low

    hot

    short day

    no

    no

    fruits during short days

    Spinach,

    pacific

    Abelmoschus manihot

    perennial

    cutting

    tall bush

    leaf and shoot, cooked

    high

    medium

    hot

    short day

    no

    no

    slimy when cooked

    Spinach, water

    Ipomea aquatica

    perennial

    cutting seed

    trailing vine

    leaf and shoot, cooked

    high

    low

    warm to hot

    short day

    yes

    no

    weedy in canals

    Sweet potato

    Ipomea batatas

    perennial

    cutting

    trailing vine

    shoot, cooked

    medium

    medium

    hot

    short day

    no

    no

    weevils

    Table 12. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Selected Leafy Vegetables.

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Amaranth

    5

    1

    0

    0

    1

    0

    0

    0

    Belembe

    5

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Cassava

    5

    5

    0

    1

    1

    0

    1

    0

    Ceylon spinach

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    Chaya

    4

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Horseradish tree

    5

    3

    0

    0

    1

    1

    2

    2

    Indian lettuce

    4

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Indian mustard

    5

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Kangkong

    5

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    Katuk

    5

    2

    0

    1

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Leucaena

    4

    4

    0

    2

    4

    4

    3

    2

    Okinawa spinach

    3

    2

    0

    0

    0

    1

    2

    0

    Pacific spinach

    5

    2

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Lagos spinach

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Sissoo spinach

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    3

    0

    Sweet Potato

    5

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    3

    0

    Watercress

    5

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Miscellaneous Vegetables:

    TN20 Figure 7

    Figure 7. Egusi Melon (Citrullus lanatus) fruit

    Some of the very best of the tropical vegetables do not conveniently fit into any other category. The edible part is highly variable, and production is often inefficient (however, water chestnut is very highly productive). Most of these species are perennials. Almost all are of high quality. Taken as a group, they are highly valuable, gourmet species. Few of these vegetables have selected varieties.

    Many are easy to grow and successful almost everywhere. They are all worth trying where space permits. In some cases, the production technology and markets for these crops has already been developed.

     

     

     

     

    Table 13. A Comparison of Miscellaneous Vegetables.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Annual/ Perennial

    Propa- gation

    Growth Habit

    Edible Parts, Uses

    Principal Nutrients

     

    Adaptation

     

    Negative Factors

    Temp.

    Day- Length

    Flood

    Dry

    Asparagus

    Asparagus

    officinale

    perennial

    seed

    offshoot

    bush, large rhizomes

    young tender shoots, cooked Pickled

    vit. C

    cool to warm

    neutral

    no

    some

     

    Buffalo

    gourd

    Cucurbita foetidissima

    perennial

    seed

    bush / vine

    seed for oil

    and flour

    oil, high protein

    warm to hot

     

    no

    yes

     

    Bunching onion

    Allium

    fisulosum

    perennial

    seed

    offshoot

    herb with bulb

    entire plant as condiment

    vit. C

    cool to warm

    short day

    no

    no

     

    Chinese chives

    Allium tuberosum

    perennial

    offshoot

    herb

    green foliage as spinach

    vit. A & C

    warm to hot

    short day

    no

    no

     

    Coconut sprout

    Cocos nucifera

    perennial

    seed

    tall tree

    root ball after germination

     

    hot

    neutral

    some

    some

     

    Egusi

    Citrullus lanatus

    annual

    seed

    trailing vine

    roasted seed as snack or ground

    high protein

    warm to hot

     

    no

    yes

     

    Izote

    Yucca spp.

    perennial

    seed cutting

    large woody bush

    mature bud and flower raw or cooked, heart must be cooked

    flower-vit. C, heart- calcium

    warm to hot

    neutral

    no

    no

    chiefly for other uses, inefficient production

    Onion

    Allium cepa

    perennial

    seed bulbs

    herb

    bulb as a condiment

    vit. C

    warm

    short day no

    no

    specific varieties & planting dates

    Pitpit

    Setaria palmifolia

    perennial

    cutting

    large grass

    bottled

    up flower cooked as vegetable

    protein

    hot

    short day

    some

    no

    inefficient

    production

    Rhubarb

    Rheum rhaponti

    annual in tropics

    seed

    offshoot

    large herb

    petioles cooked

    vit. C

    cool to warm

    neutral

    some

    no

    mostly temperate

    Roselle

    Hibiscus

    sabdariffa

    annual

    seed

    large woody herb

    calyxes of pod as fruit

    vit. C

    warm

    short day no

    some

     

     

    Sweet Corn

    Zea mays

    annual

    seed

    tall herb

    immature ear

    carbo- hydrate, P, niacin

    warm

    short day to neutral

    no

    no

     

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 14. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Miscellaneous Vegetables.

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Bamboo

    3

    2

    0

    4

    3

    0

    4

    4

    Coconut sprout

    5

    4

    3

    4

    2

    2

    4

    4

    Izote

    2

    1

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Pacaya

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Palm hearts

    3

    1

    1

    3

    2

    2

    1

    1

    Pitpit

    2

    2

    0

    0

    0

    1

    2

    0

    Sweet corn

    4

    2

    0

    1

    1

    0

    1

    0

    Water chestnut

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Plants for Food: Fruit and Nut Crops

    Basic Survival Fruits:

    TN20 Figure 8

    Figure 8. Fruit of a FHIA (Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research) banana (Musa spp.) variety with resistance to the fungal disease, Black Sigatoka.

    The banana, plantain, breadfruit, and coconut are basic survival foods with much in common with the root and tuber crops. However, they are high in carbohydrates and low in protein. These crops can be grown on most farms in the tropics. They produce a lot of food for the efforts necessary to grow them. They might be seasonal, however, and by themselves they are not a complete diet. It is very difficult to add even one more species to this short, valuable list. These fruits probably occur already in every region where climate and soils permit. If not, they need introduction. These common fruits are often unappreciated for their fine qualities.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Table 15. A Comparison of Basic Survival Fruits.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Propagation

    Growth Habit

    Edible Parts, Uses

    Principal Nutrients

    Adaptation

    Temp.

    Flood

    Dry

    Banana/ Plantain

    Musa spp.

    offshoots

    large herb

    fruit, raw, cooked

    starch

    hot

    some

    little

    Breadfruit

    Artocarpus altilis

    root cuttings

    med. tree

    fruit cooked

    starch

    hot

    some

    some

    Coconut

    Cocos nucifera

    seeds

    tall palm

    fruit, many uses

    protein, oil

    hot

    some

    some

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 16. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Basic Survival Fruits.

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Banana

    5

    4

    1

    1

    0

    1

    1

    1

    Plantain

    4

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    2

    0

    Breadfruit

    4

    3

    0

    1

    1

    1

    2

    2

    Coconut

    5

    4

    3

    4

    2

    2

    4

    4

    High Value Fruits:

    TN20 Figure 9

    Figure 9. Atemoya (Annona cherimola X A. squamosa), a delicious dessert fruit. Source: Tim Motis

    The tropics are rich in highly varied, delicious and nutritive fruits. Of the hundreds that exist, only a few of the most superb and easy-to-grow (e.g. prickly pear) fruits are listed here. Fruits that are high in nutritive value, easy to grow, and versatile in their use will be especially beneficial on the small farm.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Table 17. A Comparison of Selected Tropical Fruit Crops.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Propagation

    Growth Habit

    Edible Parts, Uses

    Principal Nutrients

    Adaptation

     

    Negative Factors

     

     

     

    Temp.

    Flood

    Dry

    Atemoya

    Annona hybrid

    grafts

    small tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. C

    warm

    no

    some

     

    Avocado

    Persia americana

    seed, grafts

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

    oil

    warm to hot

    no

    some

     

    Banana

    Musa spp.

    offshoots

    large herb

    fruit, raw, cooked

    starch

    hot

    some

    little

     

    Black sapote

    Diospyros digyna

    seed, graft

    med. tree

    fruit, cooked

    carbohydrate

    hot

    some

    no

     

    Breadfruit

    Artocarpus altilis

    root cuttings

    med. tree

    fruit, cooked

    starch

    hot

    some

    some

     

    Canistel

    Pouteria campechiana

    seed, grafts

    small tree

    fruit, raw, processed

    starch, vit. A & C

    hot

    no

    some

     

    Carambola

    Averrhoa carambola

    seed, grafts

    small tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. C

    hot

    some

    no

     

    Cherimoya

    Annon cherimola

    seed, grafts

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. C

    hot

    no

    no

     

    Citrus

    Citrus spp.

    grafts

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. A & C

    warm to hot

    no

    some

     

    Coconut

    Cocos nucifera

    seed

    tall palm

    fruit, many uses

    protein, oil

    hot

    some

    some

     

    Date

    Phoenix dactylifera

    seed,

    offshoots

    tall palm

    fruit, dried

    carbohydrate

    very hot

    no

    yes

     

    Durian

    Durio zibethinus

    seed, grafts

    large tree

    fruit, raw

    protein, carbohydrate

    hot

    some

    no

    odor of fruit

    Guava

    Psidium guajava

    seed, airlayers

    small tree

    fruit, raw, cooked

    vit. C

    hot

    some

    some

     

    Jaboticaba

    Myrciaria

    cauliflora

    seed, grafts

    small tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. C

    warm

    some

    no

    needs cool winter

    Jackfruit

    Artocarpus heterophyllus

    seed, grafts

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. A & C

    hot

    some

    no

     

    Lansium (Langsat)

    Lansium domesticum

    seed

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

     

    hot

    some

    no

     

    Lychee

    Litchi chinensis

    seed, airlayers

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. C

    warm

    no

    no

    needs cool winter

    Loquat

    Eriobotrya japonica

    seed, grafts

    med. tree

    fruit, raw, cooked

    vit. A & C

    warm to hot

    no

    no

     

    Mango

    Mangifera indica

    grafts

    tall tree

    fruit, raw, cooked

    vit. A & C

    hot

    some

    some

     

    Mamey sapote

    Pouteria sapote

    seed, grafts

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. C

    warm to hot

    no

    some

     

    Mammy apple

    Mammea americana

    seed, grafts

    large tree

    fruit, raw, cooked

    vit. A & C

    hot

    some

    some

    somewhat poisonous

    Papaya

    Carica papaya

    seed

    large tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. A & C

    hot

    some

    some

    fruit too soft

    Passion fruit

    Passiflora

    edulis

    seed, cuttings

    vine

    fruit, raw juice

    vit. A & C

    warm to hot

    some

    some

     

    Rambutan

    Nephelium lappaceum

    seed, grafts

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. C

    hot

    some

    no

     

    Salak

    Salacca zalacca

    seed, grafts

    small palm

    fruit, raw

     

    very hot

    yes

    no

     

    Tamarind

    Tamarindus indica

    seed,

    offshoots

    large tree

    fruit, raw juice

    vit. C

    hot

    no

    yes

     

    White sapote

    Casimiroa edulis

    seed, grafts

    med. tree

    fruit, raw

    vit. C

    warm

    no

    some

     

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 18. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Selected High Value Fruits

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Avocado

    5

    1

    0

    1

    1

    2

    1

    2

    Canistel

    4

    0

    0

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    Citrus

    5

    2

    0

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    Date

    5

    4

    3

    3

    2

    1

    1

    3

    Durian

    3

    1

    0

    3

    3

    2

    1

    3

    Guava

    5

    3

    0

    0

    3

    2

    1

    0

    Mango

    5

    3

    0

    3

    3

    3

    1

    4

    Papaya

    5

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    0

    Passion fruit

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    2

    1

    Peach palm

    4

    3

    0

    2

    1

    2

    1

    1

    Pineapple

    4

    2

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Prickly pear

    3

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    Outstanding Nuts:

    TN20 Figure 10

    Figure 10. Guinea Peanut (Pachira glabra) fruit, similar to Malabar Chestnut (P. aquatica). Fruits split open when ripe, revealing seeds used as nuts.   Source: Tim Motis

    Nuts are concentrated packages of high nutritional value, almost always protein, oil, and B and E vitamins. Most can be stored. All are good foods, and some are of gourmet quality. They are often not widely adapted but always worth producing on the small farm. In selecting nut crops for the small farm, special attention should be given to size of the tree and years to maturity. Most of the nut species (except macadamia) are not found as named varieties. Generally, special technologies for producing these species have yet to be developed. However, this does not make them less valuable.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Table 19. A Comparison of Nut Crops.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Propagation

    Edible Parts,and Uses

    Principal Nutrients

    Adaptation

     

     

     

    Flood

    Dry

    African breadfruit

    Treculia africana

    seed

    seed

    protein

    yes

    no

    African walnut

    Coula edulis

    seed

    seed

    protein

    yes

    some

    Basul

    Erythrina edulis

    seed

    seed, foliage

     

     

     

    Betelnut

    Areca catechu

    seed,offshoots

    none

    alkaloids

    yes

    no

    Breadnut

    Artocarpus altilis

    seed,offshoots

    seed

    carbohydrate

    yes

    no

    Canary nut

    Canarium indicum

    seed

    seed

    protein

    no

    yes

    Cashew

    Anacardium occidentale

    seed, grafts

     

    protein

    no

    yes

    Coconut

    Cocos nucifera

    seed

    seed, other

    protein

    yes

    no

    Guiana-chestnut

    Pachira aquatica

    seed

    seed

    oil

    yes

    no

    Jackfruit

    Artocarpus heterophyllus

    seed, grafts

    seed, pulp

    carbohydrate

    yes

    no

    Macadamia

    Macadamia spp.

    seed, grafts

    seed

    protein

    some

    some

    Mamey sapote

    Pouteria sapota

    seed, grafts

    pulp, seed

    protein

    no

    some

    Mexican breadnut

    Brosimum alicastrum

    seed

     

     

    yes

    no

    Okari nut

    Terminalia kaernbachii

    seed

    seed

    protein, oil

    yes

    no

    Paradise nut

    Lecythis zabucaja

    seed

    seed

    protein

    some

    no

    Paterno

    Inga jinicuil

    seed

    seed

    carbohydrate

    no

    some

    Peach palm

    Bacrtis gasipaes

    seed,offshoots

    seed, pulp

    carbohydrate

    yes

    no

    Pili nut

    Canarium ovatum

    seed, grafts

    seed, pulp

    protein

    yes

    no

    Spanish joint fir

    Gnetum genemon

    seed

    seed

    protein

    some

    no

    Tahiti chestnut

    Inocarpus fagifer

    seed

    seed

     

    some

     

    Tropical almond

    Terminalia catappa

    seed

    seed

    protein, oil

    yes

    no

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 20. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Some Selected Nuts.

     

    Common Name

     

    Food

     

    Feed

     

    Fiber

     

    Construction

     

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Modify Climate

    Breadnut

    4

    2

    0

    2

    2

    2

    1

    3

    Cashew

    4

    0

    0

    0

    0

    2

    3

    1

    Coconut

    5

    4

    3

    4

    2

    2

    4

    4

    Indian almond

    3

    1

    0

    3

    3

    2

    1

    3

    Jackfruit

    4

    2

    0

    3

    3

    0

    0

    3

    Joint fir

    4

    2

    1

    2

    2

    2

    1

    2

    Macadamia

    5

    0

    0

    1

    1

    2

    1

    1

    Malabar chestnut

    5

    2

    0

    2

    1

    2

    1

    2

    Paradise nut

    3

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Pili nut

    5

    3

    0

    2

    2

    2

    1

    2

    Tahiti chestnut

    3

    2

    0

    2

    2

    3

    1

    2

    Plants for Food: Beverages, Oil, Spices, and Sugar

    TN20 Figure 11

    Figure 11.  Nuts of African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis). Source: Tim Motis

    The beverage crops, by themselves, are highly appreciated as stimulants but have little nutritional value. There are many good species of oil palms, particularly in South America, but the African Oil Palm continues to dominate the world’s markets. The oil from palms contains more than desirable amounts of the saturated fatty acids and is not as desirable in the diet as that of other oil sources including corn, soybean, and olives.

    Spices are delightful to grow but are priced low in world markets and have little food value. Condiment herbs are useful on any small farm. Each has its special needs and its particular adaptations.

    Sugarcane continues to be a common and easily grown source of sugar. Starch can be extracted from root and tuber crops, but is especially abundant in sago palms.

    The production and marketing of specialty food crops is usually associated with definite regions and established markets. Some of these crops, however, may be suitable for small-scale use on the small farm.

     

    Table 21. A Comparison of Some Specialty Crops.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Annual/ Perennial

    Growth Habit

    Temp.

    Adaptation

     

    Other uses

     

    Day-length

    Flood

    Dry

     

    BEVERAGES

    Cacao

    Theobroma cacao

    perennial

    small tree

    hot

    neutral

    no

    no

    household

    Coffee

    Coffea arabica C. robusta

    perennial

    small tree

    hot

    neutral

    no

    no

    household

    Tea

    Camellia sinensis

    perennial

    shrub

    warm

    neutral

    no

    no

    household

    OIL

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Coconut

    Cocos nucifera

    perennial

    tall palm

    hot

    neutral

    some

    some

    multiple

    Oil palm

    Elaeis guineensis

    perennial

    palm

    hot

    neutral

    some

    some

     

    Olive

    Olea europaea

    perennial

    tree

    warm to hot

    neutral

    no

    yes

    many

    Peanut

    Arachis hypogaea

    annual

    herb

    hot

    long day

    no

    some

    as food

    Sesame

    Sesamum indicum

    annual

    herb

    warm

    short day

    no

    some

    as food

    Soybean

    Glycine max

    annual

    herb

    hot

    short day

    no

    some

    as food

    Tung

    Vernicia spp.

    perennial

    tree

    hot

    neutral

    no

    some

     

    SPICES

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Cloves

    Syzygium aromaticum

    perennial

    small tree

    hot

    neutral

    some

    no

     

    Nutmeg & Mace

    Myristica fragrans

    perennial

    tree

    hot

    neutral

    some

    no

     

    Pepper

    Piper nigrum

    perennial

    vine

    hot

    neutral

    some

    no

     

    Vanilla

    Vanilla fragrans

    perennial

    vine

    hot

    neutral

    some

    no

     

    SUGAR

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Sugar cane

    Saccharum

    officinarum

    perennial

    grass

    hot

    neutral

    yes

    some

    food

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 22. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Some Specialty Food Crops.

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    BEVERAGES

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Cacao

    1

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    Coffee

    1

    2

    0

    1

    2

    1

    2

    Guarana

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    Mate

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    Tea

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    2

    OIL

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    African oil palm

    2

    0

    0

    2

    1

    1

    3

    American oil palm

    2

    0

    0

    2

    1

    1

    1

    Coconut

    5

    3

    3

    4

    1

    1

    1

    Peanut

    5

    4

    0

    0

    1

    2

    1

    Soybean

    5

    3

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    SPICES

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Allspice

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    1

    Black pepper

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    Clove

    0

    0

    0

    0

    1

    2

    1

    Nutmeg, mace

    0

    0

    0

    1

    1

    2

    1

    Vanilla

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Sago

    0

    0

    0

    1

    0

    0

    0

    SUGAR

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Sugar cane

    3

    3

    0

    2

    1

    1

    3

    Sugar palm

    3

    0

    0

    2

    1

    1

    1

    PLANTS FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES

    There are a very large group of plants that are used for all kinds of medical purposes in the tropics. Several problems exist in the use of such plants including the validity of the usages, the presence of a mixture of substances, the variation from plant to plant, and the difficulty of adjusting dosages. While recognizing the importance of such plants, they are far beyond the scope of this publication.

     

    PLANTS FOR FEEDING ANIMALS

    Feed Grasses:

    The tropics are favored by many excellent grasses for forage and for cut feed. The grass selected will depend on many factors, including the level of management to be given. The literature on this subject is very extensive. Introduction of an improved grass variety and good pasture management can greatly improve animal production.

     

    Table 23. A Comparison of Some of the Species of Grass Used for Animal Feed.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Annual or Perennial

    Propagation

    Growth Habit

    Adaptation

    Temp.

    Flood

    Dry

    Bermuda

    Cynodon dactylon

    perennial

    cuttings

    spread grass

    hot

    no

    some

    Guinea

    Panicum maximum

    perennial

    seed, cuttings

    clump grass

    hot

    some

    some

    Kikuyu

    Pennisetum clandestinum

    perennial

    cuttings

    spread grass

    cool to warm

    no

    some

    Napier

    Pennisetum purpureum

    perennial

    seed, cuttings

    tall grass

    hot

    yes

    no

    Pangola

    Digitaria eriantha

    perennial

    cuttings

    spread grass

    hot

    some

    some

    Star

    Cynodon nlemfuensis

    perennial

    cuttings

    spread grass

    hot

    no

    some

    Sudan

    Sorghum bicolor subsp. drummondii

    annual

    seed

    tall grass

    hot

    no

    some

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 24. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Selected Grass Species.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Bermuda

    Cynodon dactylon

    0

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    4

    Guinea

    Megathyrsus maximus

    0

    4

    0

    1

    0

    0

    2

    Kikuyu

    Pennisetum clandestinum

    0

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    4

    Napier

    Pennisetum purpureum

    0

    5

    0

    2

    1

    0

    4

    Pangola

    Digitaria eriantha

    0

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    4

    Star

    Cynodon nlemfuensis

    0

    5

    0

    0

    0

    0

    4

    Sudan

    Sorghum bicolor subsp. drummondii

    0

    5

    0

    2

    1

    0

    1

     

    Feed Legumes:

    TN20 Figure 12

    Figure 12.  Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum), useful for forage.  Source: Tim Motis

    Legumes are especially valuable for feeding animals because of their high nutritional value. They are seldom used alone but in mixtures with grasses. Such mixed pastures are often used in the temperate zone to increase the nutritional value of grass diets for animals. In the tropics, however, it is especially difficult to establish stable mixtures. Indeed, it has often been said that the tropics lack a good clover or equivalent. There are some special exceptions to this rule, and perhaps the best of these are leguminous, nitrogen fixing trees, often of but not confined to desert regions. Some of these trees are weedy and their introduction can have widespread ecological effects.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Table 25. A Comparison of Tropical Feed Legumes.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Annual/ Perennial

    Propagation

    Growth Habit

    Adaptation

    Temp.

    Flood

    Dry

    Apple ring acacia

    Faidherbia albida

    perennial

    seed

    tree

    hot

    no

    some

    Centro

    Centrosema pubescens

    perennial

    seed

    vine

    hot

    no

    some

    Jack bean

    Canavalia ensiformis

    annual

    seed

    bush

    hot

    no

    some

    Leucaena

    Leucaena spp.

    perennial

    seed

    tree

    hot

    no

    yes

    Mesquite

    Prosopis spp.

    perennial

    seed

    tree

    hot

    no

    yes

    Mother-of-cacao

    Gliricidia sepium

    perennial

    seed, cuttings

    tree

    hot

    some

    some

    Prickly sesban

    Sesbania bispinosa

    perennial

    seed

    shrub

    hot

    no

    some

    Spanish tick-clover

    Desmodium uncinatum

    perennial

    seed

    vine

    hot

    no

    some

    Tropical kudzu

    Pueraria phaseoloides

    perennial

    seed

    vine

    hot

    some

    some

    Umbrella thorn

    Acacia tortilis

    perennial

    seed

    tree

    hot

    no

    yes

    0=none of the characteristic; 5=the maximum expression of the characteristic

    Table 26. Uses and Ratings (0-5) of Uses for Selected Legumes.

    Common Name

    Food

    Feed

    Fiber

    Construction

    Fuel

    Soil Amend.

    Erosion Control

    Apple ring acacia

    0

    5

    0

    3

    3

    4

    3

    Centro

    0

    4

    0

    0

    0

    4

    4

    Jack bean

    1

    3

    0

    0

    0

    2

    2

    Leucaena

    4

    4

    0

    2

    4

    4

    3

    Tropical kudzu

    0

    4

    0

    0

    0

    3

    4

    Mesquite

    2

    5

    0

    3

    4

    3

    4

    Mother-of-cacao

    2

    3

    0

    3

    3

    3

    3

    Prickly sesban

    2

    3

    0

    3

    3

    3

    3

    Spanish tick- clover

    0

    4

    0

    0

    0

    4

    4

    St. John’s bread

    4

    5

    0

    2

    4

    2

    2

    Umbrella thorn

    0

    4

    0

    4

    4

    4

    4

    Other Feed Plants:

    TN20 Figure 13

    Figure 13.  Apple Ring Acacia (Faidherbia albida), often intercropped with grain crops.  Source: Tim Motis

    The number of other feed plant species in the tropics is very high but few if any of these can compare to grasses or legumes in forage value.

     

    Plants for Supplemental Human Needs

    Fibers:

    Few tropical small farms will produce their own fiber, but many will produce fiber as a crop to sell. There are many good fiber crops available. Some weeds are used as fibers.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Table 27. A Comparison of Fiber Crops.

    Common Name

    Species Name

    Annual or Perennial

    Growth Habit

     

    Adaptation

     

    Other Uses

    Temp.

    Day- Length

    Flood

    Drought

    Cotton

    Gossypium spp.

    annual

    large herb

    hot

    neutral

    no

    no

    stuffing

    Hemp

    Cannabis sativa

    annual

    large herb

    warm-hot

    neutral

    yes

    no

    yes

    Jute

    Corchorus capsularis

    annual

    herb

    hot

    neutral

    no

    no

    cord

    Kapok

    Ceiba pendandra

    perennial

    tree

    hot

    neutral

    no

    no

    stuffing

    Kenaf

    Hibiscus spp.

    annual

    herb

    hot

    longday

    no

    no

    cord, leaves

    Mahoe

    Hibiscus tiliaceus

    perennial

    tree

    hot

    neutral

    yes

    yes

    no

    Abaca

    Musa textilis

    perennial

    large herb

    hot

    neutral

    some

    no

    cord

    Ramie

    Boehmeria nivea

    annual

    herb

    hot

    longday

    no

    no

    cord

    Sisal

    Agava sisalana