Majority of the population in Kerala are dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihood. The main crops grown in the state are paddy, coconut, pepper, cashew, cassava, and plantation crops like rubber. Kerala is an Agrarian economy. Cash crops, like coconuts, rubber, tea and coffee, pepper and cardamom, cashew, areca nut, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and the like, give the agriculture of Kerala a distinct flavour. It is coconuts which bring the people their principal source of earning in agriculture. Nearly 70% of Indian output of coconuts is provided by Kerala. Cashew is an important cash crop of the state. The state has facilities for converting raw cashew into the dried fruit, salted or plain. Cardamom is another cash crop which gives Kerala a distinctive place in Indian export. Alappuzha, one the district of Kerala known as the 'rice bowl of the state', has a predominant position in the production of rice.
The amount of water, the quality of the soil, the amount of daylight and the gentle winds that are characteristic of this region of Kerala all combine to produce perfect conditions for rice to thrive. A paddy field is a flooded parcel of farmland for growing rice. They can occur naturally along rivers, or can be constructed, often with great input of labor and materials, even on hillsides. They require copious quantities of water for irrigation,. Flooding provides water essential to the growth of the crop.It is cultivated intensively and has a high yield. Paddy occupies the largest area among annual crops. The first crop of paddy is mostly a wetland crop and it covers twice the area under the second crop and the four times the area under the summer crop. Under high yielding variety programme, substantial increase in paddy production has been achieved, even though the percentage of area sown under paddy is decreasing year after year, due to conversion of paddy fields to other purposes.
Next to paddy, coconut is the most important crop in Kerala. The crop is grown over all the state. Most of the Kerala houses also have Coconut palm grown for immediate household needs. The growing of coconuts is by tradition part of the local rural economy rather than a major element of national agriculture. Three- or four-month-old seedlings are usually uprooted and transferred to a much larger field, where they will be planted at least 8-m/26 ft apart. The first flowers appear after five years, and individual fruits require a whole year to ripen. A versatile fruit with many uses, the coconut's outer husk of fibres is used to make matting and rope; the white flesh of the fruit can be eaten raw, or dried to produce copra from which coconut oil is extracted, which in turn is used in the manufacture of soaps and margarine. Kerala cuisines also use coconut as the main ingredient.
The rubber plant is not a native plant of India. Dutch colonialists who also cultivated rubber in their plantations in Indonesia introduced the rubber plant to Kerala, because of its similar tropical climate. The rubber tree may live for a hundred years or even more. But its economic life period in plantations, on general considerations is, only around 32 years - 7 years of immature phase and 25 years of productive phase. The Rubber plant produces sticky, white latex that is collected and processed to produce natural rubber. Latex is obtained from the bark of the rubber tree by tapping. The latex from within the tree seeps to the surface of the cut and trickles down the cut into a container, tied to the tree by the rubber tapper. Every morning the rubber tapper empties the cup tied to each tree, in the area of the plantation that he works in. Rubber is the most important industrial cash crops among the plantation crops. Off late, even other plantations are being converted for cultivation of rubber. Visitors can find rubber plantations in the high ranges of Kerala.
Cashews are one of the few fruit crops normally grown from seed. The Portuguese introduced cashew to the west coast of India and east Africa in the 16th century, shortly after its discovery in 1578. It was planted in India initially to reduce erosion, and uses for the nut and pseudofruit, the cashew apple, were developed much later. The trees were well adapted to the region, and became naturalized. Nut domestication predated the arrival of Europeans to Brazil, although international nut trade did not occur until the 1920s. Native South Americans discovered that roasting nuts in fire would remove the caustic oil, allowing the nut to be cracked and consumed without any ill effects. The roasting practice was either not known or not appreciated outside the native range, and as a result the cashew apple was the first product consumed, with the nut being discarded. Natives also knew of many medicinal uses for the apple juice, bark, and caustic seed oil that were later exploited by Europeans.
India developed more refined methods for removing the caustic shell oil, and this country is given credit for developing the modern nut industry. India led the world in cashew production for many years until just recently, when production in Vietnam surged about 3-fold in a few years. In its native Brazil, cashew nut production ranks in the top 5 of the world, and virtually all cashew apples and juice products come from this country. Preliminary data indicate the cashew nut production surpassed almond in 2003, and thus cashew now claims the title of number one nut crop in the world.
Medicinal uses of cashew bark, leaves, and apple juice are plentiful, and were well known prior to recorded history in the native region of Brazil. Bark teas were used for diarrhoea, and the caustic shell oil was used to treat skin infections, warts, worms, and botfly larvae beneath the skin. Teas and fruit juices are known to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, hypoglycaemic, and other medicinal properties. The active principles are thought to be tannins, anacardic acid, and cardol.
The red apples have higher tannin content than the yellow. Modern uses of shell oil and fruit juice include facial peels and scalp conditioners and shampoos. Clinical studies have documented the anti-inflammatory properties of tannins, and the antimicrobial properties of anacardic acid against several species, including Escherichia coli and Helicobacter pylori. Leaf extracts show hypoglycaemic activity in rodents, and a reduction in artificially induced diabetes. Cashew apples contain up to 5 times the amount of vitamin C as citrus and strawberries, and higher amounts of some minerals than other fruits.
Cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) is sandwiched in a honeycomb layer of tissue between the two walls of the nutshell. Industrial uses include automobile brakes, adhesives, paints and varnishes, insecticides, electrical insulation, and anti-microbial. The shell oil is highly caustic, causing moderate to severe skin irritation. When wood is burned or nuts roasted, contact with or breathing of the fumes can cause skin and eye irritation, inflammation, and poisoning. In addition to CNSL, resins and gums from fruit stems or bark is used as a varnish for books, wood, and flooring to protect from ants and other home-invading insects.
An important cash crop grown in the district is cashew nut. The district plays a unique role in its cultivation and production. The vast stretche of suitable wastelands with low fertility status extends scope for expansion of cashew cultivation and its allied industries.
The banana plant grows as a series of suckers from a rhizome. Each stem gradually swags downwards and produces at its tip the male flowers, which are sterile. The female flowers, which produce the edible fruit without fertilization, are found further along the stem. After a stem has produced a crop of fruit, it dies and is replaced by a new stem from a bud further along the rhizome. A banana plant may live for over 60 years. They are picked and exported green and ripened aboard refrigerated ships. The plant is destroyed after cropping.
Banana is one of the common agricultural item in rural India. Throughout the country one can taste the different variety of Banana. The taste also varies from the Northern states to the South and from the East to the West. A special variety of Banana is cultivated in the Kerala soil, which is a part of the daily menu of the people of the state. This variety of banana is a part of the Onam Sadya during the Onam festival in the month of September.
The cassava plant belongs to the spurge family. Native to South America, it is now widely grown throughout the tropics for its starch-containing roots, from which tapioca and bread are made. (Manihot utilissima, family Euphorbiaceae.) Cassava is grown as a staple crop in rural India, especially in the southern states like, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Cassava is the food of the common class people of Kerala. Altogether, it provides a staple crop for approximately 200 million people. The root cells contain the poison cyanoglucoside (converted to hydrogen cyanide in the body) but the plant's latex (milky fluid) contains enzymes that break down the poison. During the processing of cassava the two must mix; the commonest method is by fermentation, although some poison may remain. Tapioca is basically a root starch derived from the cassava, or yuca plant. It's often used to thicken soups and sweeten the flavour of baked goods, and it makes a dandy pudding.
Tea requires a moderately hot and humid climate. Climate influences yield, crop distribution and quality. Therefore, before cultivating tea in a new area, the suitability of the climate is the first point to be considered. Tea grows best on well-drained fertile acid soil on high lands. Tea drinking originated in China and the word tea is derived from t'e of the Chinese Fukien dialect. The leaves are picked by hand, principally during flushes (periods of active growth), the most desirable being those near the growing tip. Prepared by withering, rolling, and firing (i.e., heating) Tea has a special status in the tropical society.
The many kinds of tea are usually named for their colour and grade (the best teas using only the two terminal leaves) or for their district of origin, e.g., Darjeeling and Lapsang.
Tea is sometimes scented by exposure to fragrant flowers, e.g., jasmine. Brick tea is made from tea dust or inferior tea pressed into blocks. Black teas (e.g., pekoes, souchongs, and congous) differ from green teas (e.g., imperials, gunpowder, and hyson) in having been fermented before firing; oolongs, intermediate in colour and flavour, are partially fermented. Green teas are produced chiefly in China and Japan; black teas in China, Java, India, and Sri Lanka; and oolongs in Taiwan.
Today tea is consumed by more people and in greater quantity than any beverage except water. The flavour of tea is due to volatile oils, its stimulating properties to caffeine, and its astringency to the tannin content (reduced in black teas by the fermentation process). In all parts of the world, tea like beverages (sometimes called tisanes) are made from the leaves or flowers of a wide variety of other plants, often for their medicinal properties. The tea plantations in Kerala are a beautiful sight as the green tea bushes cover the gentle hill slopes and forma green mantle over the surface of the hills.
Introduced in India by the British during colonial times the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) has acquired a special place in Indian homes. The bush has shiny green leaves with pointed ends and has a pleasant aroma. Take a deep breath as you walk through a tea plantation in Kerala and you can feel the fragrance of tea invigorate you. Tea bushes will grow to tree height in the wild. On plantations however tea bushes are maintained at waist height so the leaves can be plucked easily. Tea picking is carried out by hand, usually by groups of women. Their agile fingers pick only the bud and first two leaves of each shoot and place them in a basket slung behind their backs. The women often sing as they work to help them sustain a rhythm as they move along the rows of tea bushes. The tealeaves are processed after plucking and sorted into categories based on fermentations and other processing treatments. The three broad classifications of tea are - Green Tea, Oolong Tea and Black Tea.
Apart from tea bushes other plants grown on tea plantations include pepper, cardamom, cashew, and areca nut. The shade trees grown to shelter tea bushes are also harvested for their fruit. You can see the see the process of tea picking and processing on tea plantations in Kerala, while on nature tours in Kerala with Kerala Backwater.
The coffee plant is an evergreen shrub which an grow to 20 feet in it's natural state. The tree is regularly pruned to 6 feet for production uses to keep the nutrients from going to the tee rather than the beans. The coffee plant used to produce coffee beans is by nature, a tree. When managed properly and increasing enormously its fruit bearing possibilities, the plant resembles a bush. The coffee bean consists of three species: Arabica, Liberica, and Robusta. When the coffee beans are a rich, red colour, they are ready for harvesting. Only then are the berries picked individually. Favourable climate, fertile soil, scientific cultivation and stringent quality control, all contribute to producing the finest mild coffee in the world today - rich, smooth and full of flavour. The coffee plant Coffea arabica is a small tree, but is pruned into a large bush to make harvesting easier. It produces sweet-smelling white flowers; green berries, which turn red when ripe, follow these. Each berry contains two seeds, which are processed to make coffee for drinking.
Indian coffee is the most extraordinary of beverages, offering intriguing subtlety and stimulating intensity. India is the only country that grows all of its coffee under shade. Typically mild and not too acidic, these coffees possess an exotic full-bodied taste and a fine aroma. India cultivates all of its coffee under a well-defined two-tier mixed shade canopy, comprising evergreen leguminous trees. Nearly 50 different types of shade trees are found in coffee plantations. Shade trees prevent soil erosion on a sloping terrain; they enrich the soil by recycling nutrients from deeper layers, protect the coffee plant from seasonal fluctuations in temperature, and play host to diverse flora and fauna.
It is a nonwoody perennial vine, climbing up trees or other supports for its existence. The history of vanilla dates back to early sixteenth century. It was Bernal Diaz, an Officer under Hernando Cortez, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, who is believed to be the first European to recognize the flavour and immense value of vanilla, when the Aztec ruler, Montezuma offered him the vanilla flavoured cocoa beverage. Vanilla flavour was first introduced to France and England during the early part of the seventeenth century. The cultivation of vanilla started in Mauritius in 1827 and in Madagascar in the year 1848. Even though, vanilla originated in Mexico, now the major producing countries are Madagascar and Indonesia. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice traded in the world market.
Vanillin is mainly responsible for the fragrance, flavour and aroma of vanilla essence. It is used in the preparation of ice creams, chocolates, cakes, pastries, puddings, soft drinks, pharmaceuticals, liquors, perfumery, and nutraceuticals. At present, synthetic products such as ethyl vanillin and synthetic vanillin are used for the above purpose. But discerning customers world over is rejecting such synthetic products, and there is an increasing demand for natural vanillin. Vanilla thrives well in warm and moist climatic conditions with well distributed annual rain fall of 150- 300 cm and a temperature with range of 25- 32° C. Land with gentle slope, light porous soil and good drainage is preferred. Forest soil rich in humus is ideal. The crop requires a dry spell for uniform flowering but very high temperature; strong wind and dry weather are not good for vanilla. It grows well up to 3000 feet above sea level.
Planting Materials: Vanilla is found to be amenable to both sexual and asexual methods of propagation. The seeds of vanilla are very small like sand particles and production of planting materials through seed germination is not found practical. Hence stem cuttings propagate vanilla.
In India, Pepper is commonly cultivated as "homestead cultivation" growing it as a secondary crop interspersed with several other crops. Cultivation of pepper as a pure crop is also practiced though it is becoming rare. It is more so in Kerala State, which accounts for 97.4 per cent of the total area under the crop in the country. It is a plant of humid tropics, requiring 2000-3000 mm of rainfall, tropical temperature and high relative humidity with little variation in day length throughout the year. Black pepper does not tolerate excessive heat and dryness.
Pepper plant is essentially a crop of the wet tropics. It requires a moderate well-distributed rainfall with high temperature for better performance. Studies carried out in pepper growing areas identified specific cultivars/varieties suitable for different agro ecological regions as well as for growing under different cropping systems. In general, light showers during May-June are considered beneficial for fruit set. Pepper plant starts flowering during May -June with the onset of the southwest monsoon and harvesting is usually in November-January. Among spices, pepper occupies an important place covering an area of 217,235 hectares. Pepper is mostly grown as an intercrop with coconut, arecanut and various fruit trees. In the hilly areas of the district, the inter-cultivation is done with rubber and cashew. It is also grown in the homestead of marginal farmers.
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamom Maton) the "Queen of Spices" enjoys a unique position in the international spices market, as one of the most sought after spices. From time immemorial, India is known as the home of cardamom. Cardamom is indigenous to the evergreen forests of Western Ghats in South India. Till recently India was the main producer and exporter of this commodity. Of late Guatemala has emerged as a keen competitor to Indian cardamom in the international market. The total area under cardamom is estimated as 81,113 hectare.
Cardamom is used for flavouring various food preparations, confectionary, beverages and liquors. It is also used for medicinal purpose, both in Allopathy and Ayurveda systems. In the Middle East countries, cardamom is mainly used for preparation of 'Gahwa' (cardamom flavoured coffee).
Cardamom is indigenous to South India and Sri Lanka. The cardamom of commerce is the fruit (capsule) of the plant, Elettaria cardamomum Maton. The genus belongs to the natural order Scitaminae, family Zingiberaceae under Monocotyledons with diploid chromosome number of 2n=48. It is basically a pseophytic plant growing under shade in evergreen forests. It is propagated through seeds, suckers and tissue culture plantlets. Cardamom plants mature in about 20-22 months after planting polybag seedlings or rhizomes. Economic yield starts from 3rd year onwards after planting, and it continues up to 8-10 years. The total life span of cardamom plants is about 15-20 years; however pseudostem is biannual in nature. A mature cardamom plant may measure about two to four meters in height. It is a shallow rooted plant.
Chilli has two important commercial qualities. If some varieties are famous for red colour because of the pigment casanthin, others are known for biting pungency attributed by capsaicin. Chilli imparts pungency and colour to the dishes. It is an important ingredient in day-to-day curries, pickles and chutneys. It is also a rich source of Vitamin A, C and E and assists in digestion. It also prevents heart diseases by dilating blood vessels.
Chilli requires warm and humid climate for its best growth and dry weather during the maturation of fruits. It grows in wide range of altitudes ranging from sea level unto nearly 2100 m above MSL. It is generally a cold weather crop but can be grown throughout the year under irrigation. Black soils, which retain moisture for long periods, are suitable for rain fed crop whereas well drained chalka soils and sandy loams are good under irrigated condition.
It is one of the ancient valuable spices of the orient, holding a unique position in the international trade. The East India Company in its 'spice garden' in Courtallam, Tamil Nadu, first introduced clove to India around 1800 AD. Induced by the success of its introduction, cultivation of clove was extended during the period after 1850 AD to Nilgiris (Burliar), southern region of the erstwhile Travancore State and the slopes of Western Ghats. The important clove growing districts in India now are Nilgiris, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamilnadu; Kozhikode, Kottayam, Kollam, and Thiruvananthapuram Districts of Kerala and South Kanara district of Karnataka. As per the estimates for 1988-89, the total area of 1855 hectares under clove cultivation in India spreads over 951 hectares in Kerala, 660 hectares in Tamil Nadu, 181 hectares in Karnataka and 63 hectares in Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Clove is a tropical plant and requires warm humid climate. Clove plantations in India are reported to have originated from a few seedlings obtained originally from Mauritius. The germplasm collections made from within the country have not therefore given appreciable variability in yield and growth factors.
Ginger is used in different forms such as raw ginger, dry ginger, bleached dry ginger, ginger powder, sliced ginger, ginger oil, ginger oleoresin, and ginger in brine etc. It has usage in foods, beverages, preservatives, medicines and perfumery industries. Ginger grows in warm and humid climate. It is mainly cultivated in the tropics from sea level to an altitude of above 1500 MSL. Ginger thrives best in well-drained soils like sandy or clay loam, red loam or lateritic loam. Friable loamy soil rich in humus is ideal.
The best time for planting ginger is during the first fortnight of May with the receipt of pre -monsoon showers. Under irrigated conditions, it can be planted well in advance during the middle of February or early March. The land is ploughed 4-5 times to bring the soil to fine tilth. Weeds, stubbles, roots etc. are removed. Beds of about one metre width, 15 cm height and of convenient length are prepared at a spacing of 50 cm between beds. In case of irrigated crop, the ridges are formed 40 cm apart.
Ginger is commonly rotated with other crops such as tapioca, chillies, paddy, gingelly, ragi, groundnut, maize, vegetables, red gram, castor, etc. Ginger is also grown as intercrop in coconut, arecanut, coffee and orange plantations. The crop is ready for harvest in about eight month's time when the leaves turn yellow and start drying up gradually. The clumps are lifted carefully, with a spade or digging fork and the rhizomes are separated from the dried up leaves, roots and adhering soil. The average yield of fresh ginger varies from 15-25 tonnes per hectare depending upon the varieties.
Kerala State is located in the Southern part of India with a total geographical area of 38.85 thousand square kilometres. The climate is humid tropics with an annual rainfall of 307 cm, distributed in two main monsoons namely, Southwest monsoon and North- East monsoon. Mango is not considered as a commercial crop of Kerala, but mango trees are inevitable components of homesteads of the state. The total estimated area under mango cultivation is 75,911 hectares with an annual production of 323,517 tones. Commercial orchards of mango are being established in the Palakkad district, where the climatic conditions are more suitable for mango trees.
A detailed survey was attempted to collect all the details of mango cultivation in the Palakkad district, which represents the commercial mango production in Kerala state. The mango population consists of both seedling and grafted trees but the commercial orchards are of grafted trees only. The cultivated varieties include Alphonso, Bennet Alphonso, Bangalora, Banganapally, Neelum, Kalapady, Guddadat and Prior.
The main feature of Kerala's mango production is the earliness. The first mango fruits of the season come to the Indian markets from Kerala. The flowering commences by November-December and the harvesting starts by March-April, which helps to fetch the maximum price for the fruits to the growers due to the high demand for the fruits in the main markets in the other parts of the country. The details collected during the survey included the nature of mango orchards, the distribution of different varieties in these orchards, the cultivation practices followed by the growers, the fruiting and yielding behaviour of the varieties, the marketing system prevailing, the problems and prospects of mango cultivation in Kerala.
West Indian cherry, also known as Barbados cherry is the richest source of vitamin C. It is a medium sized shrub, which thrives well in tropical climate. It is best suited as a homestead fruit crop and prefers a rich well drained soil. West Indian cherry is usually raised from seedlings. Seeds are sown in well-prepared beds and when the seedlings are about 2-4 months old, they are ready for planting. Vegetative propagation by means of hardwood cuttings along with leaves is feasible, though the percentage of rooting is very low. Air layering is highly successful when treated with IBA. Layers strike roots within 3-4 weeks. When the roots peep out though the ball of moss or coir pith, the stem may be severed in stages. The rooted shoot is potted after removing the polythene film and kept in shade till new flushes appear. Plants may be hardened in full sunlight prior to transplanting. Chip budding, shield budding, side grafting and veneer grafting are also successful to a limited extent.
Two distinct types of cherries are seen in Kerala; the pink flower types
(flowers are pink and are born in clusters in leaf axils. Fruits are large in size about 6 g) and the white flower types in which the flowers are white and are born in clusters in leaf axils. Fruits are small (about 1 g) and orange coloured when fully ripe.
The tree is handsome and stately, 30 to 70 ft (9-21 m) tall, with evergreen, alternate, glossy, somewhat leathery leaves to 9 in (22.5 cm) long, oval on mature wood, sometimes oblong or deeply lobed on young shoots. All parts contain sticky, white latex. Short, stout flowering twigs emerge from the trunk and large branches, or even from the soil-covered base of very old trees.
The Asian tropics have long fascinated western fruit enthusiasts. This most unusual of fruit is a member of the mulberry family, although its outward appearance would not suggest the relationship. The fruit can weigh upwards of 30 or 40 pounds, with an unusual, spiky green skin. Inside there are hundreds of large, starchy seeds surrounded by a sweet and aromatic flesh, all attached to a central core. The aroma of the ripening fruit is extremely sweet, with a distinctive flavour reminiscent of bananas and 'Juicy Fruit' gum. In South India, the jackfruit is a popular food ranking next to the mango and banana in total annual production. There are more than 100,000 trees in backyards and grown for shade.
There are around 500 varieties of mammals, 2000 species of birds and 30,000 types of insects and a wide variety of fish, amphibians and reptiles are found in India according to the latest census estimate. Popular mammals include the Elephant, the famous white lions and some common lions, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Rhinos, Wild Bisons some varieties from the cat family, deer, monkeys, wild goats, etc. Elephants are found in the sparsely populated hill areas of Karnataka, Kerala and Orissa.
Lions are found in the rocky hills and forests of the Gir area of Gujarat, Tigers in the Sunderbans and the Brahmaputra valley. The famous Project Tiger is a scheme financed by the government of India to safeguard the tiger in its habitat in nine selected reserves. Indian Fauna also include the wild ass of Rajasthan, Nilgiri Langur, Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri mongoose and Malaber civer of the southern hills and the spotted deer. Leopards are found in many forests, Wolves roam the open country. Cheetahs are found in the Deccan plateau.
A huge number of snake varieties, lizards and crocodiles account for the reptile count. Snakes include the deadly King cobras to the equally poisonous Kraits.Scorpions and insects are aplenty in this country. Disease carrying mosquitoes and destructive locusts are to be found. Useful insects include the bees, silkworms and the Lac insect. Bird-Life in India is rich and colourful. The birds include the beautiful Peacock to the Parrots, and thousands of immigrant birds. Other common Indian birds are pheasants, geese ducks, mynahs, parakeets, pigeons, cranes, and hornbills. India now maintains 80 national parks, 441 wildlife sanctuaries and 35 zoological gardens.
The wide range of climatic conditions is the reason for India's rich variety of vegetation that no other country in this world can boast of. According to the distribution of the flora, India can be classified into, Western Himalayas, Eastern Himalayas, Assam, Indus Plain, Ganga Plain, Deccan, Malabar and the Andamans.
Indian flora varies from the Western Himalayan and Assamese, from the species of the Indus Plain to those of the gangetic plain, from the Deccan and Malabari to the vegetation of the Andamans. The floral wealth ranges from the Alpine to the temperate thorn, from the coniferous to the evergreen, from scrubs to deciduous forests, from thick tropical jungles to cool temperate woods. The Western Himalayan region is abound in Chirpine and other conifers deodar, blue pine, spruce, silver fir, and junipers. The Eastern Himalayan region consists of oaks, laurels, maples, rhododendrons, alder, and birch and dwarf willows. The Assam region is full of evergreen forests with lots of bamboo and tall grasses.
The Indus plain supports very scanty vegetation and the Ganges Plain is under cultivation. The Deccan region is full of scrubs and mixed deciduous forests. The Malabar region is under commercial crops like coconut, betel, pepper, coffee and tea. Andaman region is abounding in evergreen and mangrove forests. India's original vegetation was mainly deciduous forest because of her tropical location. It is unfortunate that the forest cover has been reduced to 13% of the total surface area.
Of the deciduous trees Sal and Teak are the most important. Sal is found in eastern India and it is used for buildings because it is resistant to termites and fire. Deodars, Pines, cedars, firs ands spruce are found in the foothills of the Himalayas. Sandalwood is found in Karnataka and TamilNadu. Coconut palms are dominant in Kerala.