Cultivated plants of Cuba (Hammer et al., 1992)

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Cultivated plants of Cuba (Hammer, Esquivel & Knüpffer, 1992)
Cultivated plants of Cuba (Hammer et al., 1992)

This set of pages has been extracted, with the authors' agreement, from the following publication :

  • Hammer Karl, Esquivel Miguel & Knüpffer Helmut (eds), 1992-1993. "...y tienen faxones y fabas muy diversos de los nuestros..." Origin, evolution and diversity of Cuban plant genetic resources. Gatersleben, Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung. 3 vol. vol. 1 : 212 p. vol. 2 : pp. 213-454. vol. 3 : XVIII p.+ pp. 455-824.

Volumes 1 and 3 contain monographies. The inventory and indices form Volume 2 and Chapter 14.

Appendices 14.1, 14.2 and 14.3 have not been reproduced. The chapter has been divided into :

Inventory of the Cultivated Plants
M. Esquivel, H. Knüpffer & K. Hammer
pp. 213-218


Cultivated plants have been the main target of our research activities in Cuba. Following the Gatersleben tradition (Schultze-Motel 1986a) we concentrated our studies on the non-ornamental plants.

However, the fraction of plant genetic resources neglected by us is also of great importance. Weeds, for example, play an important role in the evolution of crops (Hammer 1988) and have therefore been occasionally included in exploration programmes on plant genetic resources (Kühn et al. 1980, Müller et al. 1989). We particularly appreciate a continuation of these studies in Cuba with a first review on weeds and ruderal plants (Gutte, Chapter 15). The wild plants as relatives of crops (Rodríguez et al., Chapter 17) and as useful medicinal plants (Fuentes, Chapter 16) could also be considered. Shortcomings arise in the ornamental plants, where we can only present some preliminary ideas (Arias et al., Chapter 29); however, data gathering for a checklist of ornamental cultivated plants has already started. For the forest plants a recent review (Betancourt 1987) will be cited here.

Collecting missions

In 1982 the Instituto de Investigaciones Fundamentales en Agricultura Tropical "Alejandro de Humboldt" in Santiago de las Vegas (INIFAT), started a programme of expeditions to explore and collect plant genetic resources in Cuba. In 1986 the Zentralinstitut für Genetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung in Gatersleben (ZIGuK), nowadays Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung (IPK), joined the programme. Up to now more than 30 short missions have been carried out, seven of them jointly, and more than 2,000 accessions have been collected. The explorations covered large areas of Cuba. Some highlights of the missions are demonstrated by photos. A first review was presented by Esquivel et al. (1987) and other summaries by Esquivel et al. (1989a) and Esquivel & Hammer (1990). The further work was documented by Esquivel et al. (1990b), Hammer & Esquivel (1991) and Hammer et al. (1991). Collecting activities are still in progress and the last joint mission was carried out in February/March 1992.


Checklists are often used to catalogue the flora of specific areas. Cultivated plants are rarely included. Few efforts to compile checklists exclusively for cultivated plants are known (e.g. García 1986, 1988), largely because cultivated plants are usually neglected by botanists; collectors of crop genetic resources also tend to focus narrowly on particular species and are less interested in the wealth of species. We first considered the usefulness of a checklist for cultivated plants in 1983 when we had an opportunity to collect in the Ghāt oases of Libya (Perrino et al. 1984). The large number of plant species together with the low probability that we would revisit the sites, led to an intensive collection of both plant genetic resources and relevant information about them. This compilation could be best done with a handwritten list produced for that purpose. Later on, the list became more elaborate, supplemented with data from literature, and it was published to inform the germplasm community (Hammer & Perrino 1985). The publication received much attention and a checklist for the cultivated plants of Libya was therefore compiled (Hammer et al. 1988).

Table 14.1

Checklists of cultivated plants by areas

Area:"Number of cultivated species "Number of collecting missions'+ Cuba)"1029)" 7 South ItalyP" 522P""10) Koreaw " 515w " 5'7P Libya " 279 " 37w

As we embarked on further collecting missions in other areas, new checklists were compiled as tools to facilitate field work (Korea: Baik et al. 1986, South Italy: Hammer et al. 1990b). A first checklist of the cultivated plants of Cuba appeared in 1989 (Esquivel et al. 1989a) and was twice supplemented (Hammer et al. 1990a, 1992). The results are summarized in Table 14.1 in comparison with the other areas studied. The conclusions are that the number of cultivated plants in tropical areas is high (Hammer 1990) and that a checklist is a useful tool for compiling and handling the wealth of information about cultivated plants in those areas (Hammer 1991). The first checklists (Libya and Korea) were compiled using traditional methods, whereas for the later ones (Italy, Cuba) a database was developed (see Knüpffer, Chapter 13) which allows easier handling of the large amount of information. The results are presented in the following inventory which contains 1,045 taxa belonging to 1,029 different species, 531 genera and 117 botanical families. In comparison with the previous three publications, 103 taxa, 102 species, 37 genera and 6 families were added. The families with the highest number of cultivated plant species in Cuba are the Leguminosae (164 species), Gramineae (95 species), Rutaceae (55), Compositae (44) and Myrtaceae (41). 30 taxa belong to the genus Citrus, followed by Brassica (17 taxa), Desmodium (14 taxa), Vigna (14 taxa) and Erythrina (12 taxa). For more detailed information about the families and genera, see Appendix 14.1. and Tables 13.2 and 13.3 in Chapter 13. 432 taxa are used as medicinal plants, 262 for fruits, 173 as fodder crops, 99 as vegetables and 60 as spices (cf. also Table 14.2 and Appendix 14.2). A total of 727 synonyms (Appendix 14.3) and 1671 folk names (Appendix 14.4) are compiled in their respective indexes.

Table 14.2

Uses of Cuban cultivated plants (for explanation of abbreviations, see text)

Use:"Number of taxa C. 9 Fi. ?44 Fo. 173 Fr. 262 I. ?41 M. 432 N. ?22 Oi. ?24 Pu ?23 Sp. ?60 St. ?31 V. ?99 aromatic 5 grafting stocks ?27 green manure/soil improvement ?36 hedges/living fences ?61 magic ?25 shade tree ?46 soil erosion control/sand dune fixation/ground cover 137 wind break 137


As in the checklists, the descriptions of taxa in the inventory consist of a nomenclatural part, folk names, details of plant uses, origin, additional remarks and references to relevant Cuban literature, including our own results.

The taxa are presented in alphabetical order of the accepted botanical names. Synonyms for each taxon (including the basionyms), mainly those used in the Cuban botanical and agronomical literature, are given in chronological order. To find the accepted name for a given synonym, Appendix 14.3 can be used. The nomenclatural part for each entry is terminated by the plant family given in brackets.

The Cuban folk names are given in alphabetical order in the next line. They were extracted mainly from literature sources, others were added on the basis of information gathered during our expeditions. Some folk names have different spelling variants, because there are groups of consonants with similar pronunciation in the Spanish spoken in Cuba (see note in Appendix 14.4).

The different uses of the plants are indicated in the order of their importance. The parts used are given in brackets. The are applied for the most common uses and plant parts are given in the box on the next page. In many cases specific uses are described. A group of plants called "magic" is included. Usually it shows close connections to folk medicine. An index of plants classified according to their uses is provided in Appendix 14.2.

The origin, often the centre of domestication, but also the region from where the particular plant was introduced to Cuba, is indicated, often based on Zeven & de Wet (1982), Schultze-Motel (1986a), León (1987) and Wiersema et al. (1990).

Additional information is provided for some species, especially in cases where no detailed treatment could be included into the book. They concern the range of the species variation in Cuba, nomenclatural notes, specifications of the use, history of introduction to Cuba, lists of old and recent cultivars, references to figures, etc.


C. cereals Fi. fibre crops Fo. fodder crops Fr. fruits I. industrial crops M. medicinal plants N. nuts and related Oi. oil crops Pu. pulses Sp. spices and condiments St. starch plants, excl. cereals V. vegetables

Used parts

(b.) bulbs (ba.) bark (fl.) flowers (fr.) fruits (h.) herb (l.) leaves (r.) roots, rhizomes (s.) seeds (st.) stem (w.) wood

Predominantly Cuban literature references conclude the articles for the taxa. They are given in alphabetical order of first authors. Several references with the same first author appear in the following order: (1) two authors (e.g. Hammer & Esquivel), (2) several authors (e.g. Hammer et al.), (3) one author.

Four appendices provide indexes which allow one to access the information in the main list by other criteria, e.g., by family or synonym. An index to families and genera is given in Appendix 14.1. The genera are sorted alphabetically within the families. In Appendix 14.2 the taxa are grouped according to their uses. Considering that many botanical names reported in the literature are synonyms, an aid to locating the accepted name for a given synonym is necessary. Therefore, an index of synonyms (including basionyms) with references to the accepted names is provided in Appendix 14.3. Appendix 14.4 is an index of the folk names with reference to the accepted botanical names.