Some Important Fruit Trees and Shrubs of Hot Arid Regions of Rajasthan State in India, Their Uses and Nutritive Values

Review Article

J Plant Chem and Ecophysiol. 2016; 1(1): 1004.

Some Important Fruit Trees and Shrubs of Hot Arid Regions of Rajasthan State in India, Their Uses and Nutritive Values

Tewari VP*

Himalayan Forest Research Institute, Shimla, India

*Corresponding author: V.P. Tewari, Himalayan Forest Research Institute, Shimla, India

Received: February 16, 2016; Accepted: April 12, 2016; Published: April 13, 2016


The wild plants assume significance as alternative food sources, predominantly in the areas receiving frequent droughts and famine. In many Indian states, majority of forest dwellers depend on forests for their annual food requirements. Cordia myxa, Zizyphus mauritiana, Salvadora oleoides are some of the important fruit bearing plant species found in hot arid region in India that provide food supplement and means of survival during time of hardships. Rural people in Rajasthan state of India have extensive knowledge about use of famine foods. The fruits of many plants are rich sources of protein and energy. For example, Ziziphus mauritiana is richer than apple in protein, phosphorous, calcium, carotene and vitamin C. However, they are often undervalued and underutilized. This article highlights the importance of some of these plants, their various end uses and nutritive values of their seeds and fruits.

Keywords: Alternative food plants; Nutritive values; Arid region; Rajasthan; India


Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) are goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooded land and trees outside forests. Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP), another term frequently used to cover this vast array of animal and plant products, also include small wood and fuel wood [1]. NWFPs constitute an integral component of food for the communities dependent on forests. The role of NWFPs becomes more significant for less agriculture-dependent communities with small landholdings residing in remote forest villages.

Since time immemorial people have been dependent on the forests for various valuable biological resources such as timber, fuel wood, food resources, medicines and other extracts, many of which have no replacement by modern cultivation options. NWFPs play an important biological and social role in local food systems for the people living in and around forests as they depend heavily on forest resources to meet their day-to-day requirements. The communities living in the close vicinity of forests are especially dependent for their livelihood needs and food security. NWFPs are most extensively used to meet dietary shortfalls and to supplement the household income during particularly lean seasons.

Many agricultural communities suffer from seasonal food shortages, generally known as “hunger periods”. These commonly occur at the time of the year when stored food supplies have dwindled and new crops are only just arriving. During this period the consumption of NWFPs increases. In many Indian states, especially Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, 80 percent of forest dwellers depend on forests for 25 to 50 percent of their annual food requirements. Out of the total NWFPs consumed, 49 percent are consumed as fruits, 26 percent as leaves, 16 percent as rhizomes and 5 percent as the entire plant [2].

The importance of wild plants in subsistence agriculture in the developing world as a food supplement and as a means of survival during times of drought and famine has been overlooked. Generally, the consumption of these ‘alternative-food’ has been under-estimated [3]. Rural people in India are endowed with a deep knowledge concerning the use of alternative plants when the staple food is in short supply and alternative food consumption is still very common in rural areas in Rajasthan.

There are about 30 plant species in arid zone known for their edible use and of these about 20 plant species are known for their edible fruits either raw or use as vegetable [4]. However, they are often undervalued and underutilized.

The objective of this article is to briefly summarize the information about the important and underutilized fruit bearing species from arid region of Rajasthan with reference to their uses and nutritional values.


The information presented in this article was collected from literature review and interactions with the local people including women during field visits and surveys in arid districts of Rajasthan (Figure 1). The plant species were identified with the help of plant taxonomist and herbarium sheets. No independent lab work was done to determine nutritional value. The nutritional values reported in this paper (Table 1) have been taken from already published papers and, accordingly, references have been cited.