Members of Solanaceae provide a variety of culinary, medicinal, and ornamental values. In terms of culinary value, the most important species of this family for the global diet is the potato or Solanum tuberosum, whose carbohydrate-rich tubers have been a staple food in many times and places, and which is one of the most grown crops today. In many genera, the fruits are the desirable item, for example, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, uchuva, and peppers, such as chili pepper.
Medicinally, as well as in terms of poisoning and psychotropic effects, members of Solanaceae have been prized for their alkaloid content and used throughout history (NHM 2008). Important drug plants include deadly nightshade or belladonna (Atropa belladonna), jimson weed (Datura stramonium), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger), and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) (NHM 2008).
Mandrake, the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora, contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids such as hyoscyamine and the roots sometimes contain bifurcations causing them to resemble human figures, leading to this plant being used in magic rituals and neopagan religions such as Wicca. As ornamental plants, the genera Petunia, Schizanthus (butterfly flower), Salpiglossis (painted or velvet tongue), and Browallia (Bush violet, Jamaican forget-me-not) are well-known (NHM 2008).
Some plants also are the focus of extensive biological study as model experimental organisms, including the petunia, tobacco plant, tomato, and potato (NHM 2008). While very popular, some people experience sensitivity or allergy-like symptoms in response to nightshade plants. USES OF LILIACEAE Lilies are highly prized as house and garden ornamentals, and many of the most beautiful of these belong to the genus Lilium, the namesake of the family Many lilies have enchanting fragrances that are sometimes extracted for use in perfumes.
There was a hysterical rush to raise and breed new and rarer varieties of tulips. Speculators invested the equivalent of thousands of dollars for a single bulb, and some people sold their houses to invest in the tulip market. In 1630 one bulb of a rare variety sold for the equivalent of $10,000. Tulip mania reached its peak between 1634-1637, forcing the Dutch government to step in and regulate the industry. The Netherlands remains the single largest producer of tulip bulbs, although Japan and the state of Washington are now important producers.
The economically important genus Allium is widely cultivated for its strong odor and flavor A number of other members of the lily family are of economic importance for a variety of reasons. A large number of lilies other than those described above are also important ornamentals. Fritallarias are popular ornamentals, with few to many leaves arranged either alternately or in whorls on the stem, and large, showy, bell-like flowers that are usually nodding. Many species of Fritallaria are of ornamental interest because the flowers are one basic color, checkered with another color.
Fritallaria meleagris from central and southern Europe is purplish with white checkering, and F. aurea from Turkey is yellow and checkered. In the wild, many of the fritillarias appear to be pollinated by queen wasps Lily-of-the-valley is frequently planted for its beautifully scented spike of flowers that are commonly used in wedding bouquets and for perfumes. Other commonly grown ornamental lilies are hyacinths, grape hyacinths, and scillas. The young shoots of asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) are an important cash crop, and A. lumosus is the asparagus fern (though not a fern) used by florists as lacy greenery in bouquets. Wild sarsaparilla (Avalia nudicaulis) has long been an ingredient of soft drinks. Aloe (Aloe vera) once provided needles for early phonographs and remains important today as a salve in the treatment of burns and in cosmetics. Meadow saffron or fall crocus (Colchicum autumnale) was used to treat gout (a painful disease of inflamed joints), and is still much used in research.
Cochicine is extracted from the plant and used to prevent spindle formation during mitosis, so that replicated chromosomes do not split apart. This produces a polyploid, that is, a double (or more) of the normal chromosome number. Dragon’s blood, the resin of Dracaena, the dragon tree, was once collected and used as a finish for the great Italian violins of the eighteenth century. USES OF FABACEAE: The family of considerable importance as a source of high-protein food, oil and forage as ornamentals and other uses.
Food The pulses, belonging to this family, are used as food, some important and common species of pulse yielding plants are: Gram, Pea, Bean. These pulses are rich in protein contents. Forage of Fodder crop: Medicago sativa Alfafa is one of the worlds best forage crop for horses, Vicia, Melilotus and Trifolium are also cultivated as main fodder crops. Timber Many trees of this family provide excellent timber for building, furniture and fuel. Main timber plants are Butea, Dalburgia. Edible oil The seeds of Arachis hypogea peanut are edible and also used for extraction of peanut oil hich after hydrogenation is used as a vegetable oil. Indigo dyes Indigo dyes are obtained from Indigofera tinctoria and Butea monosperma, yielding yellow dye from flowers. Medicines Many plants of this family are important for medicines e. g. , Glycyrrhiza glabra for cough and cold, Clitoria ternateaused against snake bite. Weights The red and white seeds of Abrus precatorious are used by jewelers as weights called “ratti”. Ornamental plants Some important ornamental plants include Lathyrus, Lupinus, Clitoria, Butea etc