Uses of Plants
Uses of Plants
Some Medicinal Plants
In the primitive ages, man was dependent on plants only for the food, but as he became more civilized and developed, he started using plants for constructing houses, making clothes, generating energy and making weapons. Today, we get the following substances from the plants.
Persons living near seashores use algae for food. Sargassum and Batrachospermum vagia are the main algae used as food. In addition to this, chlorella is used as proteinic food. It gives us water and oxygen also. This alga is used by astronauts during space flights.
Some kinds of fungi are also used as food in India, France, USA, etc.
From the flowering plants, we get cereals, pulses, vegetables and fruits. Apart from these, we get sugar from sugarcane, sugar beet, palm, maple, etc. glucose is obtained from grape juice. Different oils are obtained from edible seeds like mustard, groundnut, coconut, cottonseed, castor seeds, etc.
Volatile oils used in perfumes are obtained from the flowers of rose, sandal, jasmine, lavender, rosemary, etc.
Different condiments are obtained from the different parts of various plants. India, Sri Lanka, java, Africa, Madagascar are famous all over the world for spices. These enhance the taste of the food. Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cassia, cloves, saffron, cumin seed, pepper, cardamom, mustard seeds and caraway are some important condiments obtained from the plants.
Many beverages are also obtained from plants. For example, we get tea leaves from the tea plant camellia sinensis. Tea leaves contain an alkaloid called caffeine. This substance stimulates the heart and makes it more active. Tea also contains tannin. The red color of the tea is due to resin India, Bangladesh. Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Indonesia, etc. are major tea producers. About half the people of the world drink tea every day.
Coffee powder is made from the seeds of a plant called coffee Arabica. Its green seeds contain 11 percent protein and 8 percent glucose. Therefore people who are used to taking coffee regularity do not suffer form the disease pellagra. Brazil is the leading producer of coffee.
Coca is obtained from the sees of the theobroma cacao plant. A single fruit contain 40 to 60 seeds. Cocoa powder is prepared by drying and roasting these seeds. These seeds contain 50 to 57 percent of cocoa butter. Alkaloids like caffeine and Theo bromine are also found in cocoa.
Among the many beverages, only cocoa is the one which contains nutrients in it. It is also used in making chocolates. India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Ghana, Brazil, Mexico, etc. are its main producers.
Many alcoholic beverages like beer, brandy, rum, whisky, etc. are prepared by the distillation of alcoholic liquor or by fermentation of glucose.
String or threads for clothe are prepared from various kinds of fibers. Cotton fiber is obtained from the cotton plant and jute fiber from jute stems. The flax plant gives flax fiber. The hemp plant produces the sun fiber. Coir is obtained from fruits of the coconut plant. Sometimes, the fibers of trees are used to manufacture paper in industries.
Drugs obtained from a few plants are very important in the field of medicine. A fungus called penicillium notatum is used to prepare penicillin. Similarly, claviceps is another fungus used to make ergot. The bark of the cinchona plant is used to prepare quinine. The stem of ephedra geraradiana is used to prepare ephedrine for the treatment of asthma. From the leaves and roots of atropa belladonna, a medicine called atropine is prepared. Cocaine is extracted from leaves of erythroxylum cocoa. Morphine is prepared from palpaver somniferum. From the fruits of Strychnos nux-vomica, a medicine called strychnine is prepared. In India, there are about 4,000 species of medicinal plants. Turmeric (haldi), ginger (adrak), garlic (lahsun), onion (pyaj), etc. are also used in preparing medicines.
Plants also give us various kinds of dyes and colors. From the plants tissues, indigo is prepared. Haemotoxylon is a black color obtained from an American tree. Yellow and brown colored fastic dyes are also obtained form American plants. The colors of saffron and chlorophyll are used in food and medicinal preparations. Organgeish yellow color is prepared form the palas flowers.
The plant hevea Brazilians produces milky liquid called latex. Latex contains an organic substance which becomes hard upon coming in contact with air and becomes a flexible solid. This is called rubber.
Resins and Gums
We also get resins and gums form the plants. Asafetida is a kind of resin use din manufacturing paints and varnishes. They are also used in medicines. Turpentine oil and spirits are also obtained from these plants.
Gum is formed due to destruction of the cellulose of cell wall. This is soluble in water. Gum is used as adhesive and also to prepare drugs.
Wood is used as a fuel and also as building material. Paper is also prepared form wood. Wood is used to make methyl alcohol. Various types of boards are also made form sawdust.
Several kinds of acids, acetone, pitch, tar, oil, cosmetics, balsams, etc. are all gifts of plants only. Coal is also obtained from plants. This raw coal is used after keeping it for a few months. Coal is used to prepare a number of products such as paints, useful chemicals, etc.