Classification of Spices
Indian spices can be classified in different ways depending on the plant parts used, the economic importance, climatic requirements, origin and flavour, requirement of season, and botanical description.
I. Classification based on plant parts used
a) Seed: Cumin, black cumin, fenugreek, coriander, fennel, ajowan, poppy, aniseed, and mustard.
b) Bulb: Onion, garlic
c) Bark: Cinnamon
d) Fruit: Chilli, cardamom, allspice and kokam
e) Leaf: Curry leaf, Tejpata rosemary
f) Rhizome: Turmeric, ginger
g) Pod: Vanilla and tamarind
h) Kernel: Nutmeg
i) Floral part: Saffron
j) Bud: Clove
k) Latex: Asafoetida
I) Aril: Mace and anardana
m) Berry: Black pepper, juniper and allspice
II. Classification based on economic importance
On the basis of the economic importance of the spices grown in India, they can be grouped into two viz, major and minor spices.
- Major spices
- The spices which contribute a major share in the spice trade industry of the world are called major spices.
- The spices that come under this group are small cardamom, black pepper, chili, turmeric, and ginger.
- These spices contribute about 75-90% of the total foreign exchange earned through spices.
- Minor spices
- Excluding all these five major spices, all others are called minor spices. Minor spices are further divided into five subgroups. They are mentioned hereunder:
- Seed spices: – Coriander, cumin, black cumin, fennel, aniseed, celery, mustard, poppy and caraway.
- Bulbous spices: – Garlic, onion, leek and shallot
- Aromatic spices: – Clove, cinnamon, allspice, aniseed and nutmeg
- Leafy spices: – Curry leaf, mint, rosemary, bay leaf, and parsley.
- Acidulent tree spices: –Tamarind, kokam and anardana
III. Classification based on the climate requirement of the crop
Depending on suitable climatic conditions like temperature, sunlight, humidity, and air of a particular climatic zone, spices are grouped into three categories.
- Tropical spices
- Spices of this category need high temperatures and abundant humidity.
- They are easily damaged by low temperatures.
- Tropical spices are ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, kokum, galangal, small cardamom, and clove.
- Subtropical spices
- The sub-tropical climate is found where three distinct seasons winter, summer, and monsoon are found.
- Low temperature occurs in winter and high temperature during summer.
- Most of the spices require relatively low temperatures during their vegetative or early growth stage and high temperature in the reproductive stage.
- The examples of sub-tropical spices grown in winter are cumin, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, onion, and garlic.
- Sub¬tropical spices grown during summer are turmeric and ginger.
- Temperate spices
- Spices of this type can withstand low temperatures and frosty weather but are damaged easily in hot weather.
- Examples of temperate spices are thymes, saffron, savoy, caraway seed, and asafoetida.
IV. Classification based on origin and flavour
Depending on the origin and flavour content of the spices, they can be classified as follows:
- Aromatic spices: Cardamon, aniseed, celery, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and cinnamon.
- Pungent spices: Ginger, chilli, black pepper and mustard
- Phenolic spices: Clove and allspice
- Coloured spices: Turmeric, saffron, and paprika
V. Classification based on season of growth
According to the requirement of the season of growth, spices are grouped into the following three classes:
- Annual spices: Spices that complete their life cycle in one growing season are called annuals. Examples of this type of spices are coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ajowan, and black cumin.
- Biennial spices: It needs two growing seasons to complete the life cycle. Examples of biennial spices are onion and parsley.
- Perennial spices: Perennial spices are those which live for more than two years. Black pepper, saffron, -clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are examples of perennial spices
VI. Classification based on botanical description
Leaf and the seed
Leaf, Fruit, Stem
Brassica juncea, B. nigra
Leaf and stem bark