Wednesday, 16 September 2015

An Overview of Grouping of Spices

P. Chhetri*, A.K. Vijayan, S.K. Bhat, B.A. Gudade and S.S. Bora
Indian Cardamom Research Institute,
Regional Research Station, Spices Board,
Tadong, Gangtok, Sikkim-737102


Spices grouping has a broad application prospective in agriculture and medicine and is especially significant to the biology diversity research. As spices are vitally important in medicinal value, it is more important to identify and classify them accurately. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of different system of spices classification.
Keywords: Basis, Classification, Spices


The term spices applies to natural plant or vegetable products or mixtures in whole or ground form, which are used for imparting flavor, aroma and pungency to the food items. Spices are also being used within the country for flavoring foods and in medicines, pharmaceutical, perfumery, cosmetics and several other industries.

It is well known that plants play a crucial role in preserving earth’s ecology and environment by maintaining a healthy atmosphere and providing sustenance and shelter to innumerable insects and animal species. In addition plant has plenty of use in food stuff, botany and many other industries (Metre and Ghorpade, 2013). In the same way spices carry significant information for the development of human society. Hence precise identification of the respective spices is vital.

India is known the world over ‘The Home of Spices’. India has a glorious past, pleasant present and a bright future with respect to production and export of spices. According to International organization for standardization (ISO) there are about 109 spices and India produce as a many as 75 in its various agro climatic regions ( Spices may comprise different plant components or parts such as floral parts (cloves, saffron etc.) or fruits (cardamom, chillies etc.) or berries (all spice black pepper, juniper etc.) or seeds (aniseed, caraway, celery, coriander) or rhizomes (ginger, turmeric etc) or root (angelica, horse radish, lovage etc.) or leaves (bay leaves, mints, marjoram, tejpat etc.) or kernel (nutmeg etc.) or aril (mace), or bark (cinnamon, cassia etc.) or bulbs (garlic, onion etc.) or other part of spices plants (

Different basis of spices classification

A. On the basis of cotyledons

1. Dicotyledoneae: Chilli, paprika, red pepper, sesame, camomile, chicory, tarragon, cubeba, long pepper, pepper, mace, nutmeg, bay leaf, cassia, cinnamon, star-anise, mustard, wasabi, allspice, clove, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, parsley
2. Monocotyledoneae: Garlic, onion, saffron, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, vanilla.

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

B. On the basis of family

1. Zingiberaceae: Large cardamom, small cardamom, ginger, turmeric, greater galanga
2. Solanaceae: Chilli
3. Piperaceae: Pepper, pepper long
4. Apiaceae: Coriander, cumin, fennel, celery, aniseed, ajowan, caraway, dill, garlic, parsely, asafoetida, lovage
5. Fabaceae: Fenugreek
6. Lauraceae: Cinnamon, cassia, tejpat, bay leaf
7. Rutaceae: Curry leaf
8. Clusiaceae: Kokam, camboge.
9. Lamiaceae: Mint, hyssop, marjoram, basil, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme, oregano.
10. Brassicaceae: Mustard, horse radish.
11. Punicaceae: Pomegranate.
12. Iridaceae: Saffron.
13. Orchidaceae: Vanilla.
14. Llliciaceae: Star Anise.
15. Araceae: Sweet flag.
16. Capparidaceae: Caper.
17. Myrtaceae: Clove, allspice.
18. Myristicaceae: Nutmeg, mace.
19.Papaveraceae: Poppy seed.
20. Cupressaceae: Juniper berry.
21. Asteraceae: Tarragon.
22. Caesalpiniaceae: Tamarid.

C. On the basis of Economic importance

1. Major spice: This spice contributes major share to spice trade industry-75-95% of total foreign exchange Ex: Black pepper, chillies, small cardamom, ginger, turmeric
2. Minor spice: Except the above 5 spices all other spices are grouped under minor spices.

D. On the basis of origin & flavour

1. Pungency spice: Pepper, ginger, chillies, mustard, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, onion.
2. Aromatic fruit: Cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, nutmeg.
3. Aromatic bark: Cinnamon & cassia.
4. Phenolic spices: Cloves, allspice.
5.  Coloured spices: Paprika, Saffron, Turmeric.

E. On the basis of degree of taste

1. Hot spices: Capsicum, black and white peppers, ginger, mustard.
2. Mild spices: Paprika, coriander.
3. Aromatic spices: Allspice, cardamom, cassia, cinnamon, clove, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, mace, nutmeg.
4. Herbs: Basil, bay, dill, leaves, marjoram, tarragon, thyme.
5. Aromatic vegetables: Onion, garlic, celery.

F. On the basis of growth habits

1. Herbs: Ajowan, coriander, cumin, tenet, fenugreek, chillies, parsley
2. Shrubs: Rosemary, chillies (perennial chillies), pomegranate
3. Trees: Nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, tamarind, garcinia, Japanese pepper
4. Climbers: Black pepper, tailed pepper, vanilla
5. Perennial herbs/rhizomatous herbs: Cardamom, ginger, turmeric, mango ginger, Japanese ginger, galanga, asafoetida.

G. On the basis of season of growth

1. Annual spices: Spices which complete their life cycle in one growing season are called annuals. Example of this type of spices are coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ajowan and black cumin, aniseed, mustard, chilli.
2. Biennial spices: It needs two growing seasons to complete the life cycle. Examples of biennial spices are onion and parsley.
3. Perennial spices: Perennial spices are those which live for more than two years. Cardamom, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, saffron, clove, nutmeg, asafoetida and cinnamon are example of perennial spices. 

H. On the basis of parts used

1. Leaf: Coriander, Celery, curry leaf, mint, parsley, tejpat, hyssop, bay leaf, lovage, marjoram, basil, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme, oregano, tarragon.
2. Bark: Cinnamon, cassia, tejpat
3. Rhizome: Ginger, turmeric, sweet flag, greater galangal.
4. Fruit: Pepper, cardamom, chilli, coriander, cumin, fennel, celery, aniseed, ajowan, caraway, dill, pepper long, star anise, allspice, tamarind.
5. Seed: Cardamom, fenugreek, mustard, pomegranate, nutmeg, poppy seed.
6. Rind: Kokam, camboge
7. Bulb: Garlic
8. Stem: Celery, lovage
9. Pod: Vanilla
10. Stigma: Saffron
11. Root: Horse radish, angelica, lovage
12. Flower bud: Caper
13. Unopened flower bud: Clove
14. Berry: Juniper berry
15. Aril: Mace
16. Oleogum resin from rhizome and thickened root: Asafoetida


1. Vishakha Metre and Jayshree Ghorpade. 2013. An overview of the research on texture based plant leaf classification. International Journal of Computer Science and Network, Vol 2, pp 2277-5420

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