Origin and Introduction of plants, Domestication of plants, Basis of plant domestication
Posted on : 02-01-2019 Posted by : Admin

Origin and introduction of plants

Human beings are heteroptops. They derive their nutrition from plants and animals. But man has evolved from herbivorous ancestors. About two million years ago, the early Palaeolithic man started using weapons for hunting.

Later he began eating fruits and roots of wild plants. Much later, man started cultivating plants and raising animals and started a settled life.

The earliest settlements have been found to be located in the river valleys and plains of northern India. In these areas, the soil was fertile; plenty of water was available so, it was easy to cultivate crops. As a result of successful and plentiful agriculture production, people became self-sufficient and built great civilizations.

Agriculture originated about 7000-13000 years ago, somewhere in the then well watered highlands of the Indus, Euphrates and Nile and Tigris rivers. Some other prehistoric sites of ancient agricultural activity are Tehuacan valley in modern Mexico and banks of Yellow river in modern China.

South East Asia was ideal for agriculture beginning because of its diverse vegetation to support a stable human population. In these areas, planting of vegetative parts like rhizomes, tubers or bulbs which is simpler than ploughing of seeds formed the basis of agriculture.

But, it was seed-planting that led to more profound changes in the life of man. All early civilizations whose diets were known to us were based on seed reproducing plants such as wheat, maize or rice.

The agriculture originated independently in several parts of the world. The first conscious act of civilization was based on finding seeds and twigs struck into the ground. When a plant is raised consciously it is called cultivation. First, those plants were brought into cultivation that grow rapidly and produce crop within a season which include the present day cereals.

Cereals were originally weeds which grew in mountain areas of Asia, Europe and Africa (Old world) and North and South America (New world)


Domestication of plants

The domestication of plants is the starting step in the direction of a full-fledged agricultural economy. A plant is termed as domestic when its natural characteristics are so much improved that it cannot grow and reproduce without human involvement.

Domestication is thought to be the result of the development of a symbiotic relationship between the plants and humans, called co-evolution, because plants and human behaviours evolve to suit one another.

Humans harvest a plant selectively based on specific characteristics like taste of the fruits, size of the flowers, colour of the flowers and fruits and so on. Humans use the seeds of these specific plants for further growth.

Plant name Domesticated at Domesticated in
Fig tree Near East 9000 BC
Rice East Asia 9000 BC
Barley Near East 8500 BC
Einkorn wheat Near East 8500 BC
Emmer wheat Near East 8500 BC
Chick pea Anatolia 8500 BC
Bottle gourd Asia 8000 BC
Potato Andes mountain 8000 BC
Squash Central America 8000 BC
Maize Central America 7000 BC
Broomcorn millet East Asia 6000 BC
Bread wheat Near East 6000 BC
Cassava South America 6000 BC
Avacado Central America 5000 BC
Cotton Southwest Asia 5000 BC
Chilli Peppers South America 4000 BC
Water melon Near East 4000 BC
Olives Near East 4000 BC
Cotton Peru 4000 BC
Pomegranate Iran 3500 BC
Hemp East Asia 3500 BC
Cotton Meso America 3000 BC
Cocoa South America 3000 BC
Squash North America 3000 BC
Sunflower Central America 2600 BC
Sweet potato Peru 2500 BC
March Elder North America 2400 BC
Sorghum Africa 2000 BC
Sunflower North America 2000 BC
Pearl millet Africa 1800 BC
Chocolate Mexico 1600 BC
CHenopodium North America 1500 BC
Egg Plant Asia 1st century BC
Vanilla Central America 14th century AD


Basis of plant domestication

Majority of the plants were cultivated first during historical times and hence have very poor evidence. The paleontological data is usually entirely unavailable for cultivated plants and archaeological data is very poor and fragmented.

In the beginning of nineteenth century the origin of most of the cultivated species was not known.  No species was common to the tropical regions of the two hemispheres before cultivation.

Strawberry, chestnut and mushrooms were common to northern regions of the world. A great number of species originated in Europe, India, West Asia, Brazil, Colombia,

In short the original distribution of the cultivate species was very unequal. There was no proportion with the needs of the man and the number of plants cultivate.

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