Rice Plant Info: What Is The History Of Rice Plants

By Bonnie Grant | August 23, 2018
Image by TChareon
by Bonnie Grant
August 23, 2018

Although no one is sure, the history of rice plants may have started as long as 5,000 years ago. One thing is indisputable. Rice is among the three leading crops of the world, which include corn and wheat. It is the most important food in many countries and is a staple in half the global population. It is really just a grass seed but, when cooked, transforms into a fluffy, nutritious, filling food.

Rice Cultivation History

As studies of the history of rice plants progress, archaeologists discovered rice in India which possibly dates to 4,530 BC. Very early records of rice cultivation exist that indicate a strain came from a domestication 8,200 years ago. Our modern rice is the result of hybridization from the wild rice Oryza rufipogon. From this, humans have derived indica and japonica, the main subspecies today. Indica is found in tropical areas while japonica grows in more temperate zones. Rice plant info indicates the upper Huai and middle Yangtze rivers as initial cultivation points.

There are both highland and lowland rice strains. Highland rice is cultivated on irrigated soil while lowland rice is typical of the paddy type cultivation. While rice cultivation history began in China, it rapidly spread to India and Sri Lanka. Soon it was growing in the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and eventually was brought to the New World. Many varieties of rice can grow in desert conditions while others require wetland conditions.

As the history of rice cultivation continued, the uses expanded. Rice can be fermented into a drink, used in desserts, puffed, steamed and roasted. Rice flour and starch are used in many countries. It is an integral part of many cultures common recipes and is also featured in ceremonial uses. In many of those countries, rice availability means food security and is closely allied with political stability. Low rice production has led to civil unrest in areas that rely upon this staple. Rice production needs have increased over the years. Rice plant info estimates that for every 1 billion people, 100 tons of rice need to be produced annually. Medieval Islamic texts also indicated several medicinal uses for rice.

The rice plant is in the grass family, Poaceae. It is generally considered an annual but in some regions can be grown perennially. Plants grow 3.3 to 5.9 feet (1 to 1.8 m.) tall. Leaves are slender and the arched inflorescence is green turning to tan when ripe. The flowers are wind pollinated and develop into the seeds, which are the edible part of the plant. Seeds may be white, brown, red, or black with many subtle variations.

While the majority of rice production comes from Asia, many countries have successful cultivation. In Africa it has been cultivated for 3,500 years and helped derail the 1203 famine. Today, rice is grown in Australia, all the Americas, Europe, across Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and temperate Europe. China leads production with India close behind. New methods of growing and harvesting rice are underway in an effort to minimize global environmental impact. Rice uses 1/3 of the earth’s fresh water and causes 11% of human caused methane admissions.

No matter where in the world you live, rice is probably featured on the menu. This important economic and sustenance crop feeds billions of people across the globe. Its importance cannot be diminished and its history stretches throughout the world.

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  • Andrew Wray
    Comment added August 26, 2018Reply

    I read in " Rice plant info estimates that for every 1 billion people, 100 tons of rice need to be produced annually "
    100 tons of rice would probably fill 3 40 foot lorries
    I have my doubts that the rice load of 3 40 foot lorries will feed 1 billion people for a year
    I eat lots of Tilda Basmati brown rice which I cook in olive oil then I add twice the volume of water and simmer for 25/30 mins and in which I often infuse garlic and ginger that I have diced then mashed in my pestle
    I do like your web-site which I will visit regularly
    I now live in UK to which I returned recently after 25 yearts in West Cork on an old Irish acre of very fertile farmalnd
    My plant growing is now only in pots and containers
    One of my sons grows Jersey potatoes in Jersey on land that we know has not had any artificial fertilser applied for at least 75 years
    I find it very distressing that the urbanisation trend is ever upward and yet is so destructive of what we human animals require to maintain our sense of wellbeing
    The family of one of my sons-in-law his selling 300 acres in Devon and he commutes to the City as a director of a major bank
    He says he does not want to be on call to a bunch of cows for up to 18 hours a day 24/7/365 yet it is OK for him to commute to the City from Surrey while on call for 12 hours a day 24/7 for 5 days a week
    My maternal grandmother was a herbalist and I remember shelling peas in her kitchen as my grandfather had a larg e vegetable garden and they never bought tinned food
    The only tinned food I eat is Heinz Baked Beans
    I eat lots of tomatoes much of which I make into a thick tomato sauce in my Thermoix food processor. I can use this tomato sauce in so many ways
    I buy all my fresh food and veg from Taj in Brighton which must be one of the best fresh food shops in UK

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