Garden affairs

The origin and diversity of cultivated plants


A man from ancient times has learned how to domesticate animals, grow domesticated plants, hunt, understand poisonous bushes, flowers, trees. Currently, thanks to the acquired skills, improvement of technology, we produce various dishes, products, souvenirs, products. In many ways, plants are raw materials from all continents of the planet. Habitual coffee is made from cocoa beans, sugar from cane, wine from various grape varieties. But not all veil of secrets reveals nature. What else did we not know about the foods we eat? We present some interesting facts about cultivated plants.

- Oranges in the Renaissance had an exorbitant price, only knowing could afford to buy them. High pay was due to the fact that the fruit was considered effective against the plague.

- Fresh apples, if they are lowered onto the surface of the water, will not sink, as they contain 25% of air.

- Many are very surprised that a lemon contains more sugar than strawberries.

Also, due to the presence of acid, lemons can be used as a battery / conductor. It is necessary to solder a few wires to a regular light bulb - copper and zinc, and then insert it into a lemon. In this case, the light will come on.

- The magic fruit has such fruits that affect our taste buds. Even after a small piece for a few hours, the perception of everything sour disappears. But if you try to eat a lemon, it will be sweet.

- Papaya has such a juice that it can act on any pollution as the most powerful solvent. He will also be able to remove fingerprints from their pads.

- In some areas, strawberry fruits are positioned as nuts. And in Japan, it is still customary to give the second half of a berry to a guy, and when he eats it, you will definitely fall in love with this girl. Strawberry is the only berry, the seeds of which are located outside, not inside the fruit.

“A banana is a very strong and tall grass, its fruits are berries, not fruits, as many people believe. Extraordinary use for them came up in India. Banana skins are used to lower ships into the water. To do this, drain the surface should be spread with crushed bananas. There are 20 thousand bananas per one average ship.

- Japanese breeders brought a lot of varieties of watermelons of different colors and shapes (square, pear-shaped, heart-shaped, black, with yellow flesh). In 1951, managed to grow watermelons without stones, as many do not like to pick stones. The problem was that due to the lack of seeds it was impossible to continue cultivating this species.

- In the old days, to get gray paint, blueberries were boiled in milk.

- Corn is not able to grow without human help. It does not multiply by self-seeding and cannot run wild at all. If a ripe corn head does not remove a person’s hands, they will simply rot, fall to the ground, and give no offspring. The number of rows of grains on any cob should be even. Typically, this figure ranges from 8 to 22 rows, and each head has about a thousand seeds. A rare element for foods that is found in corn is gold.

- In antiquity - instead of modern lie detectors - rice was used for incrimination in deception. The Chinese were forced to take a whole handful of rice in their mouths and then spit them out. If he remained dry (which indicated that the suspect had a dry mouth), the person was found guilty.

- In some parts of Italy, dried grains of buckwheat are husked in the same way as we are seeds.

- Some Mexican kind shrubs are endowed with jumping beans. The thing is that one of the species of moth lays its larvae inside the seeds. After the larva hatches from the egg, it eats the inside of the bean and forms empty space in it, then attaching itself to the bean itself with a large number of silk threads. If you start to apply heat to the bean (for example, sunlight or the warmth of the hands), then it will bounce. This is due to the jerking of the larvae by the strings. Thus, the larvae are trying to avoid a source of heat that can lead them to death.

- Peanuts are legumes, not nuts. Also, its extract is used to make dynamite.

“Peas are considered to be a shipbreaker because of one surprise. Once he was responsible for the accident of the steamer called "Dnepr" (it happened near the Bosphorus Strait). The steamer had a hole from the reefs and through it the water filled all the holds with dry peas. He began to swell and, in the end, blew the ship from the inside.

It should be remembered that a person interferes with natural selection, allows situations when animals and plants have to reduce or completely change their habitat, adapt to new conditions. Breeding carries both pluses and minuses. A negative factor is the fact that cultivated plants do not always have the right to fight and survive themselves, since their needs change from human care. But on the other hand, by this method it is possible to discover new species and varieties, to improve the survival and resistance of plants to pests and the environment. The main thing is to know the measure and to exist in harmony with nature.

Historical facts

Almost all cultivated plants known today have their historical roots, which determine the centers of their appearance and gradual transformation.

The origin of cultivated plants dates back to 50 000–60 000 years BC. er Until this period, picking up plants was a way of surviving the tribe, which was the responsibility of women. Historical evidence that people began to select large and healthy grains and fruits to grow them near their dwellings are ancient utensils, pots with supplies in graves and their drawings.

Today, of the most popular 640 species of cultivated plants, it is known that about 400 of them came from South Asia, 50 from Africa, more than 100 from South and North America, and the rest from Europe.

Interesting facts about a cultivated plant, such as wheat, say that cereals were the first species that people began to consciously grow near houses. This statement is confirmed by the most ancient mortars and pestles found on the places of settlement of cave people.

Plant Cultivation Centers

In the 20th century, scientists were able to more fully determine where modern species of cultivated plants came from. NI Vavilov also divided the geography of plant growing into 7 zones:

  1. Thus, South Asia became the progenitor of 33% of domesticated species. Cultivated plants (examples can be found in the works of Vavilov), such as rice, sugar cane, cucumbers, eggplants, and many others, came to us from there.
  2. East Asia gave us 20% of cultivated species, such as soybean, millet, cherry, and buckwheat.
  3. South-West Asia is home to wheat, rye, legumes, turnips, which is 4% of the plants.
  4. The Mediterranean part owns 11% of the known cultivated plants. These are garlic, grapes, carrots, cabbage, pear, lentils and others.
  5. Ethiopia has become the birthplace of 4% of species, which include chickpeas, barley, coffee tree.
  6. Central America gave the world corn, pumpkin, tobacco, cocoa.
  7. South America owns potatoes, coca, oki, quinine tree.

Wild relatives of all these plants can be found so far. At this interesting facts about the cultural plant does not end there.

Breeding in ancient people

It is hardly possible to call cavemen or later types of human development breeders, but they had some skills in the selection and cultivation of plants.

Archaeologists have concluded that farming and sedentary life as a means of survival became applicable 10,000 years ago. This period is considered the beginning of the cultivation of plants. In fact, cultivated plants (examples of which archaeologists find in the places of ancient sites) began to be bred long before that.

As scientists assume, harvested wild grains, stone berries and other plant species grew near the sites of ancient people when they spilled grain or threw stones together with scraps. Women of the tribe were taken to pick up weeds near such "plantations" that survived to this day.

Gradually, people began to select the roots, grains and bones of the most delicious and large fruits and purposefully planted them near their homes. Thus, agriculture was born, which gave impetus to a new level of human development.

The variety of cultivated plants in our days

In our time, breeding has become a science that works not only on the yield of cultivated plants, but also on their taste and increased survival. Virtually all types of vegetables, fruits and grains that modern humans eat are hybrid, that is, artificially derived.

Interesting facts about a cultivated plant that has been subjected not only to selection, but to interbreeding with other species - this is what a completely new organism turns out to have, which has no analogues in nature.

Hybrids, artificially bred in laboratories, are disposable inoculum, but thanks to them the number of tasty, giving high yields of cultivated plants has increased hundreds of times.

Today, hybridity has affected both grain crops and fruits, and well-known vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and many others.

Cultivated cucumbers

Cultivated plant cucumber is so familiar on our table, both fresh and canned, that we don’t ask ourselves: “where did he come to us from?”.

It turns out that the path of the cucumber to our table was rather big, since its homeland is India and China. Even 6,000 years ago, this vegetable was domesticated, although its ancient relatives still grow in Indian forests like creepers, twisting around tree trunks, and also they are used for gardening fences and fences.

On the frescoes in ancient Egypt, and then of ancient Greece, this vegetable was depicted on the tables of rich people and for a long time was available only to high-ranking individuals.

The cucumbers were brought to Europe by the Greeks, and their distribution became rapid due to their taste and the ability to salt for future use. Today this vegetable is available to everyone and everywhere. Each gardener considers it his duty to grow a good crop of cucumbers, for which both his varietal and hybrid varieties are used.

The cultivation of indoor plants

People appreciated the plants not only for the opportunity to eat them, but also for medicinal properties, as well as beauty. Interesting facts about the cultivated plant, which from a wild state has become the standard of beauty and tenderness, relate to roses.

The rose has become a symbolic flower in many nations in antiquity. Thus, according to Indian legends, Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty, was born in the rosebud. She was devoted to poems by poets in various countries and at all times, and her native land was tropical Southeast Asia. It was from there that the rose cultural plant moved to Ancient Greece, where it was called the flower of Aphrodite. In ancient Rome, they even set up greenhouses for roses to bloom all year round.

Today, there are hundreds of varieties of this plant, bred for plant growers around the world.

Modern roses are grown in open field, in pots on window sills, in greenhouses and winter greenhouses. Of them prepare tasty and healthy jam, and rose oil is considered one of the most expensive, since 500 kg of petals are used to produce one kilogram.

Cultivated fruits

As well as grains and vegetables, fruits have become the object of cultivation in ancient people. The beneficial properties of berry and fruit plants, as well as the ability to save them in dried or soaked form, made them permanent objects of storerooms. The most famous of the fruits are apples, the wild relatives of which are found in the layers of the Cretaceous period, and dates. Today, many fruit trees, which 200–300 years ago were considered foreign, grow habitually in gardens on private plots.

The future of cultivated plants

Breeders around the world are still working in their laboratories to create new crops that can survive in unusual conditions for them and produce unprecedented yields.

Thanks to their efforts, cultivated plants better tolerate changes in climate, depletion of the soil layer of the Earth and at the same time yield good yields.

Many cultivated plants began to produce two harvests a year or per season, as they received hybrid hardening. This gives hope that in the future, our tables will include fresh vegetables and fruits, whose homeland has long ceased to be separate countries, and the whole world has become.

Answer or solution 1

For cultural plants include, for example, fruit. Here are some interesting facts about them:

  • For example, oranges in the Renaissance stood simply fabulous money. They were available only to people sufficiently secured.
  • Well, the well-known lemon contains many times more sugar than, for example, strawberries.
  • But exotic papaya has a rather caustic juice, it can be used as a very strong solvent.

Also cereal crops are referred to cultivated plants. For example, corn cannot grow without human help.

2) Wheat, corn and other cereals

The grains are known to people for a very long time, and it was from the cultivation of wheat, barley and other grains more than 10 thousand years ago that the Neolithic revolution began. The homeland of wheat and barley is the Middle East, their cultivation began probably in the territory of modern Iraq and Turkey.

Wild species differed noticeably from modern cultural ones. They had smaller grains and a smaller number in the ear. But the main disadvantage was that the ripened seeds immediately crumbled to the ground, so it was very difficult to collect them. Only with time were the varieties that were convenient to collect were harvested - to reap whole ears of corn with grains, and then thresh them.

American Indians started growing corn more than 5,000 years ago. The exact ancestor of modern maize has not been established, but the closest to it of the wild plants - teosinte - looks like this:

Not only does he have few grains and they are small, and these grains still have a fairly solid shell.

Banana we know as a soft and sweet fruit of yellow color. But the wild ancestors of bananas were very different. These were small, green and hard fruits, in addition filled with seeds.

Nevertheless, people have found something useful in this fruit. A few thousand years ago, people began to grow bananas in Southeast Asia, and then they gradually spread throughout the world.

Banana selection took quite a long time. The Spanish conquerors, who brought bananas to America 500 years ago, considered them food for slaves and animals. At this time, bananas were still inedible raw, they had to be boiled or fried. Only by the end of the 19th century were modern varieties of bananas bred, which quickly became one of the favorite foods of the inhabitants of the United States and Europe.

Wild carrots have long been grown in the vast territories of Eurasia. People used the roots of this plant for food, but they are bitter and tough in wild carrots, so this vegetable was not popular. Carrots were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, but in the era of the Middle Ages, it was forgotten.

Carrots returned to Europe from the East. It is believed that the place where modern varieties of carrots come from is the territory of modern Afghanistan, it was here that around the 10th century carrots were grown on purpose. In the 12-13 centuries, carrots again hit Europe. At this time, the carrots were different colors - from white to purple. Only in the 16-17 centuries in Holland were we found the usual orange varieties of carrots with thick sweet root vegetables.

The homeland of watermelons is South-West Africa. The wild ancestors of modern watermelons still grow in the Kalahari Desert.

Wild watermelons in the desert

The fruits of wild watermelons are small - no larger than 10 cm in size and bitter in taste. Even 4000 years ago, they were discovered by the ancient Egyptians and began to grow, however, not for human consumption, but to obtain oil from seeds. The ancient Romans began to pickle watermelons and make jam from it.

Gradually, watermelons began to grow in different countries. They became bigger and sweeter, but still in the 17th century. Watermelons were quite different from modern ones:

Watermelons in the painting of the 17th century Italian artist

A notable contribution to the selection of watermelons was made by Russia, where the watermelon fell back in the 13th century. After the fall of Astrakhan, the Caspian steppes became one of the main centers for the cultivation of watermelons, where large, sweet and drought-resistant varieties were bred.

As the name implies, peaches came to Russia and Europe from Persia. However, China is the birthplace of peaches, and here these fruits began to grow more than 4,000 years ago.

something like the wild ancestors of the peach

Учёные склоняются к тому, что современные персики являются результатом гибридизации нескольких видов, однако дикие предки персика были очень маленькими с большой косточкой и солоноватым вкусом, а их размер был всего 2-3 см. Современный персик примерно в 60 раз (по весу) больше своих диких предшественников.

Огурцы начали выращивать в Индии очень давно, около 4-6 тысяч лет назад. Древние греки и римляне выращивали огурцы в большом количестве и считали их очень полезным для здоровья продуктом. Details of the selection of cucumbers are unknown, but wild cucumbers still grow in large numbers in India.

Wild cucumbers are small, bitter and very prickly. Locals use their thickets to decorate fences and walls.

Cabbage is one of the few cultivated plants, which comes not from some remote places, but from the territory of Europe.

Also, wild cabbage is quite edible and has a taste reminiscent of the usual cultivated varieties of white cabbage. True, the leaves of this cabbage tighter and, of course, do not form heads.

Cabbage began to grow in southern Europe more than 4 thousand years ago. The ancient Greeks and Romans loved cabbage very much and believed that it cured many diseases. Since ancient times, they grew cabbage and Slavs, in which it was one of the main vegetable crops.

What is the result? Sometimes there is the opinion that selection and artificial selection is something resembling the methods of modern genetic engineering. Not really. Our ancestors, engaged in breeding cultivated varieties, did not interfere in the genotype and only closely related species crossed together. So rather the opposite - the above examples are examples of the success of traditional breeding methods, showing what can be achieved without the use of GMOs.

The most unusual trees

  • Most likely, everyone heard about the baobab. This tree stands out for its unusual appearance. And also it lives for a long time. As a rule, baobab lives in the savannas of Africa. The usual height of this tree is about eighteen to twenty-five meters. And the average length of the pillar circumference is more than ten meters. In rare cases, this figure can reach fifty meters. Baobab lives from one thousand to five and a half thousand years.
  • Another unusual vegetable - this is a mad cucumber. It grows among the shores of the Black and Mediterranean Seas and belongs to a variety of pumpkin. Mad cucumber is so called due to the fact that its seeds are spread in a special way.
  • Next on the list is bamboo. It grows in eastern and southern Asia. In one day, this plant adds to a height of from seventy to ninety centimeters.
  • The very first on Earth appeared algae, which grow in the sea. Their age is about one thousand million years.

The largest flower on the planet

  • Rafflesia Arnoldi is the largest flower on Earth. It grows in the forests of Malaysia. The flower is considered to be parasites. The mass of rafflesia reaches seven kilograms, and its diameter is up to one hundred centimeters. The flower stinks of rotten meat, so it attracts flies.
  • A rather remarkable tree of our planet is the well-known Pirangi cashew. It grows in Brazil in an area of ​​about two hectares. Cashew exists for one hundred and seventy seven years. In one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, an ordinary fisherman landed this plant. He did not know that if the branches of this tree touch the ground, they will take roots and grow further.
  • The nettle tree of New Zealand is very dangerous. He is able to destroy even an animal like a horse. This plant introduces the strongest poison under the skin of the victim.
  • In Brazil, there is another interesting plant. This tree, which is popularly known as the nipple. Such a plant can give up to four liters of milk at a time. This milk can be drunk, but before that it needs to be boiled and mixed with water.
  • An unusual tree grows in the tropics of Brazil. Its juice can be used instead of diesel fuel. For the year you can get up to fifty liters of diesel. Industrial extraction of fuel from wood is not profitable, but if an entrepreneur lands several such trees, he will be able to recoup some of the costs.
  • Australia is an unusual monument, erected in honor of the moth. It was set up when a lot of cactus grew on the mainland. It was the mole that was able to defeat this harmful plant.
  • The most ancient plant on earth is pine. It has existed for four and a half thousand years.
  • Sweden has a very old root system. It has existed for nine thousand years and continues to grow.
  • In Bahrain there is a tree of life. And also it is the longest plant on earth. The tree grows in the desert, at the highest altitude. Professionals think that the roots of the plant have grown to very great distances to the layers of water. It is impossible to say exactly how long the tree lives, but scientists think that the tree is over four hundred years old. People who live nearby consider this place a paradise garden, so there are quite a lot of tourists here.
  • The next unusual plant is Siberian Hogweed. As it turned out, before such a word as “borsch” was applied exclusively to this tree. This plant was a component for the preparation of the well-known soup. After some time, the plant was no longer called borscht and this word began to be applied to dishes.