Useful plants are wild and cultivated plants that are used, among other things, as food , luxury goods or medicinal plants , as fodder or for technical purposes ( renewable raw materials ). Ornamental plants, on the other hand, form a separate category.
Plants have always made up a large part of human nutrition. They have also been used as luxury goods , intoxicants and medicinal plants for a long time. They also provide fibers, dyes, wood and many other materials from which objects can be made. Originally, all useful plants were collected in nature. The transition to agriculture took place in several stages. Initially, people temporarily settled where there were large natural stocks of usable fruits, such as beechnuts or chestnuts in Europe , and began to store them. A further stage was the semi-culture, in which natural plant stocks were carefully harvested and their regeneration was promoted through artificial reproduction.
The real cultivation of food crops began around 15,000 years ago with hacking in the tropics. In the occupation economy that is common among hunters and gatherers , a person needs an area of about 20 square kilometers in which to roam in search of food. On the basis of regular arable farming, a good 6,000 people can live in the same area. This major turnaround is known as the Neolithic Revolution . The first advanced civilizations were made possible by the development of irrigation in large river valleys and the domestication of domestic animals such as cattle and horses .
In the Middle East ( Fertile Crescent ) the wild grain Einkorn and Emmer were cultivated 8,000 to 10,000 years ago , from which spelled and wheat later emerged. Barley is one of the oldest cereals in this region . Rice was domesticated in China at around the same time , and maize appeared in Mexico at the same time .
Since famine could not be prevented with traditional cultivation methods, research and teaching institutes for crop science were established from the 18th century . Since then, the annual yields of crops have been secured and increased through systematic plant cultivation , plant protection and plant breeding .
Genetic engineering has also been used to support plant breeding since the 1980s . The cultivation of GMOs -Nutzpflanzen takes place in the US to more than 100 million hectares (2006). In Europe, on the other hand, GMO cultivation is controversial and legally restricted.
Currently (as of 1999) around 20,000 species, i.e. a good 5% of the total number of species described, are used by humans. Of these, about 4900 species are cultivated. Around 150 species are of particular importance because together they cover around 90% of the food needs of the world population.
- Bernd Andreae : Global economic plants in competition: economic scope within ecological limits. A product-related crop geography. De Gruyter, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-083977-7 .
- Joachim Breschke (Ed.): Useful plants. Moewig, Rastatt 1991, ISBN 3-8118-8379-8 .
- Ilse Esdorn, Helmut Pirson: The useful plants of the tropics and subtropics in the world economy. Fischer, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 978-3437300158 .
- Walter Hondelmann: The cultivated plants of the Greco-Roman world. Herbal resources of the ancient world. 2002, ISBN 978-3-443-01045-4 .
- Udelgard Körber-Grohne: Useful Plants in Germany. Cultural history and biology. 2nd Edition. Theiss, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-8062-0481-0 .
- Reinhard Lieberei, Christoph Reisdorff, welcomed by Wolfgang Franke : Nutzpflanzenkunde. 8th edition. Thieme, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-13-530408-3 .
- Ghillean Prance (Ed.): The Cultural History of Plants. Routledge, New York 2005, ISBN 0-415-92746-3 .
- www.nutz Pflanzenvielfalt.de - Association
- www.arche-noah.at - Society for the Conservation of Cultivated Plants Diversity & Their Development
- Horst Reinbothe, Claus Wasternack: Man and Plant. Cultural history and interaction. Licensed edition Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg / Wiesbaden 1988, pp. 27–30.
- Werner Sombart : The order of economic life. ; Reprint of the 2nd edition from 1927 in Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg / Wiesbaden 2007, p. 21, ISBN 978-3-540-72255-7 ; Bernd Andreae: Global economic plants in competition: economic scope within ecological limits. A product-related crop geography. De Gruyter, Berlin 2016, p. 67, ISBN 978-3-11-083977-7 .
- Horst Reinbothe, Claus Wasternack: Man and Plant. Cultural history and interaction. License edition Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg / Wiesbaden 1988, p. 29f.
- Lexicon of Biology : Useful Plants . Spectrum, Heidelberg 1999.