One longs for more

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Wednesday 15 February 2006

-- Seed Album of Some Medicinal Plants of India by Anant Kumar Joshi, Sanket K. Joshi and Tarun Prajapati Asian Medicinal Plants and Health Care Trust Jodhpur Rajasthan 2005

It can be frustrating to have a seed and not be able to identify it. This is exactly where this album under review would be of help. Using this, you can identify those medicinal plants that you could reach only after the seeds have set, or if you have only the seeds available. There are books on medicinal plants focus on the use of leaves and flowers for identification. There are albums on seeds, as well, but this is the only one on seeds of medicinal plants.

The book describes the fruits and seeds of 276 medicinal plants. Coloured photographs of the seeds with information on their size aid the reader. The botanical and common name, family, a brief description of the seed and propagation techniques has been provided for most of the plants. Information on the plant's medicinal use is also given. The authors hope that the book would be of help to people wanting to cultivate medicinal plants and also those using the seeds as raw material for medicines.

But this book is not likely to help beginners. For one, isolated information on the seed is not likely to help identify a medicinal plant. The book does not even tell if the plant in question is an herb or a tree. It would have helped if a description of the plant were given. The book also does not follow a similar pattern for all the plants included. In some, the common names are missing and in others, the propagation techniques have not been provided. In places, an excessively technical language mars the readability of the book. The photographs are not likely to help identify small seeds.

Despite these drawbacks, the book provides an interesting overview of the morphology of the seeds and makes an interesting reading. People using these seeds at home or in manufacturing medicines would find it a useful reference book.

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