This article throws light upon the seven types of plant species of natural vegetation. The types are: 1. Roots and Tubers 2. Rhizomes 3. Foliage 4. Flowers and Buds 5. Fruits 6. Seeds 7. Fresh Fruits.
Type # 1. Roots and Tubers:
The roots of Asparagus sp. (Satavar), Butea sp. (Dhak palas) and Bombax sp. (Semul) and generally boiled or roasted and eaten with spices. Tubers of Portulaca sp. (Safed mushali) are eastern raw after extracting from the ground.
Type # 2. Rhizomes:
The rhizomes of Cyperus sp. (Motha) are dug out from ground, boiled, peeled off and eaten with salt or/and spices.
Type # 3. Foliage:
Indian arid zone has a large proportion of annual herbaceous vegetation. Most of the eatable foliage plants develop around the village and cultivated fields. Leafy greens with tender shoots are boiled in water, squeezed and cooked with salt and condiments and taken along-with the bread (chapati).
The most common plants used for edible foliage are Amaranthus sp. (Cholai), Trianthenui sp. (Safed Sata) and Boerhaavia sp. (Lal sata), Portulaca sp. (Jangli Kulfa), Celosia sp. (Kulmurgi), Gisekia sp. (Morang), Digera sp. (Lalaroo), Achyranthus sp. (Unda-Kanta), Acalypha sp. (Khokta), Cleorne viscosa (Bagro) and Solatium nigrum (Makoi), Chenopodium (Bathua and Goila), Launea sp. (Pathri) and Leucas cephaiotus(Gom&), Ocimum sp. (Marua), Euphorbia caducifolia (Thor), Moringa sp. (Sainjna) and Tamarindus sp. (Imli).
Type # 4. Flowers and Buds:
The floral buds and flowers of Calligonum polygonoides (Phog) and Moringa sp. (Sainjna) are utilised as vegetable.
Type # 5. Fruits:
The unripe fruits of Capparis decidua (Kair) and Prosopis cineraria (Khejari) are harvested, dried and used as vegetable. The fruits of kair are used for making pickles. The fruits of Cucumis sp. (Kachra and Kachar) and Citrullus lanatus (Metera) are consumed raw or used for vegetable.
Type # 6. Seeds:
The seeds of Cenchrus sp. (Bhurut), Panicum sp. (Murut), Lasiurus sp. (Sewan), Dactyloctenium sp. (Ganthi) and Eleusine sp. (Tantia), Citrullus colocynthis (Tumba) and C. lanatus (Matera), Echinochloa sp. (Soma), desert trees, i.e., Acacia sp. (Babul), Acacia Senegal(Kumut), Acacia leucophloea (Rheonja), Tamarindus (Imli) are boiled, sundried and stored. Stored seeds are used during famine.
The seeds are fried and eaten raw or mixed-with bajra and jowar grains to increase the bulk. There are very few desert shrubs and undershrubs which contribute negligible seeds for direct consumption. Seeds of Haloxylon sp. (Lana), Sesbania sp. (Daincha or Ikar), Sida sp. (Bala), Abutilon sp. (Tara Kanchi) are collected only during famine years. They are either mixed with other cereals or roasted and eaten raw. The seeds of Ocimum sp. (Bapchi) and Sisymbrium irio (Asalia) are used for making cool and refreshing drinks.
Type # 7. Fresh Fruits:
The fresh fruits of Cordia sp. (Gunda), CordiagharafiGundi), Salvadora sp. (Pillu, Mithajal), Pithecelobium sp. (Jangal Jalebi), Azadirchta sp. (Nimboli), Ficus spp. (Bar, Pipal, Gular) are freshly consumed.
“Pachkutta” is a mixture of dry fruits of Capparis decidua (Kair), Prosopis cineraria (Sangri, Khejri), Cucumis sp. (Kachra or Kachri) Cordia myxa (Gunda) and seeds of Acacia sengal (Kumut). The mixture is cooked with oil and spices. This is a highly nutritious vegetable of arid zone people. They relish it very much.
Khejri or Mesquite:
King of hot arid zone trees.
Prosopis cineraria is one of the most important, prized and conspicuous tree of Indian arid zone. This is widely distributed leguminous tree.
It is the state tree of Rajasthan.