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Home » Resources » Online Resources on Useful Plants

Unfortunately much literature on useful plants has been produced prior to the emergence of the Internet and some more recent publications are behind paywalls or are not available in digital form. Here, we list important online resources on useful plants that have no access restrictions. If you know about other sources that should be included here, please do let us know by all means by writing to our webmaster.

Global
Advances in New Crops. Proceedings of US New Crops Symposia (1993-2007).
AgroForestree (AFT) Database. A species reference and selection guide for agroforestry trees.
CropReference. A collection of crop monographs compiled by the Center for New Crops & Plant Products of Purdue University.
Famine Foods Website. Comprehensive and searchable global inventory of famine species, i.e. mostly wild plants used in times of food shortages, compiled by Robert L. Freedman.
Food Plants International. A database of useful information on over 18,000 edible food plants
Fruits of warm climates 2003. Classical source by J.F. Morton for major and minor tropical fruits.
Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages. Essential information on the history, chemical constituents, and the etymology of 120 spice species, predominantly from Asia.
Listing of Interesting Plants of the World (Australian New Crops Website). Searchable by scientific and common names, with bibliographic references.
Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database. Extensive database on common names of useful plants in many languages and different scripts.
Plants For A Future. A database which currently consists of approximately 7000 species of plants

Publications of Bioversity International (formerly IPGRI) on underutilised crops:

The Plant List. A working list of all plant species, which allows you to ascertain the accepted (valid) scientific name of a useful plant.
Underexploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value. A classical 1975 publication of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Underutilized and Underexploited Horticultural Crops – Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Vol. IV (partial view in Google Books)
Useful Plants of the Mediterranean Region Network (MEDUSA). The MEDUSA database contains information collected by scientists around the Mediterranean region supplemented by information from the scientific literature. Click onto the “query” tab to enter the database.
Africa
AJFAND Special issues devoted to African Leafy Vegetables – Vol. I, Vol. II
Lost Crops of Africa. Three volumes available as free pdf: grains (vol. 1), vegetables (vol. 2) and fruits (vol. 3). Available in partial view on Google Books.
Plant Resources of Africa. Illustrated multi-volume encyclopedia of the useful plants of tropical Africa, texts retrievable via PROTA4U.
Americas
Fruit trees and useful plants in Amazonian life. This book features the indigenous knowledge and folklore on fruits and useful plants of the Amazon forest. Published by FAO.
Lost Crops of the Incas. An influential 1989 book, available as free pdf, on “little-known plants of the Andes with promise for worldwide cultivation”. Also downloadable from Google Books.
Neglected crops: 1492 from a different perspective. Edited by Bermejo and Leon in 1994, this book deals with crops from South America.
New World Fruits Database. Compilation of over 1200 species (in approx. 300 genera and 70 families) used for their edible fruits in North and South America, providing basic information nomenclature, taxonomy, common names, fruit and plant uses, distribution and origin, with links to additional information, such as experts working on the different species, references and URLs (compiled by Bioversity, CIRAD and CIAT).
Plantas cultivadas y animales domésticos en América equinoccial. Although published back in the 1960s, this seminal series of monographs on “cultivated plants and domesticated animals in tropical America” has not been superseded.
Asia, Pacific and Oceania
Nutritious leafy vegetables in the Pacific. A series of fact sheets on the “top 10″ nutritionally rich leafy vegetables in the Pacific region identified by an ACIAR-funded study.
Plant Resources of South-East Asia (PROSEA). A monumental series of 19 printed volumes of useful plants, searchable at E-PROSEA, some volumes available in partial view on Google Books.
Specialty Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry. Monographs of crops for use in the Pacific including native species such as aroids, breadfruit and kava.
Underutilised Tropical Fruits of Thailand. A record of current knowledge on the common names, centers of origin, botany, agronomy, uses, and development prospects of 35 species of underutilized tropical fruits in Thailand.