Topic 2 Classification of Spices

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Classification of Spices

Spice Crops

Indian spices can be categorized on the basis of useful parts, depending on economic importance, depending on climate, on the basis of taste, weather.

I) Classification based on plant used parts:-

  1. Seed: Cumin, black cumin, fenugreek, coriander, fennel, ajowan, poppy, aniseed and mustard.
  2. Bulb: Onion, garlic
  3. Bark: Cinnamon
  4. Fruit: Chilli, cardamom, allspice and kokam
  5. Leaf: curryleaf, tejpata rosemary
  6. Rhizome: Turmeric, ginger
  7. Pod: Vanilla and tamarind
  8. Kernel: Nutmeg
  9. Floral part: Saffron
  10. Bud: Clove
  11. Latex: Asfotida
  12. Aril: Mace and anardana
  13. Berry: Black pepper, juniper and allspice

II) Classification based on economic importance:-

On the basis of economic importance of the spices grown in India they can be grouped into two viz, major and minor spices.

a) Major Spices: – 

  • The spices which contribute major share in the spice trade industry of the world are called major spices.
  • The spices come under this group are small cardamom, black pepper, chili, turmeric and ginger.
  • These spices contribute about 75-90% of the total foreign exchange earned through spices.

b) Minor spices

Excluding all these five major spices, all other are called minor spices. Minor spices are further divided into five sub groups. 

  1. Seed spices: – Coriander, cumin, black cumin, fennel, aniseed, celery, mustard, poppy and caraway.
  2. Bulbous spices: – Garlic, onion, leek and shallot
  3. Aromatic spices: Clove, cinnamon, allspice, aniseed and nutmeg
  4. Leafy spices: – Curryleaf, mint, rosemary, bayleaf, and parsley.
  5. Acidulent tree spices: –Tamarind, kokam and anardana


III) Classification based on climate requirement of the crop:-

a) Tropical Spices:-

    • Spices of this category need high temperature, and abundant humidity.
    • They are easily damaged by low temperature.
    • Tropical spices are ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, kokam, galangal, small cardamom and clove.

b) Subtropical Spices:-

    • Sub-tropical climate is found where three distinct seasons like winter, summer and monsoon are found.
    • Distinct summer and winter is present in this type of climate.
    • Most of the spices are require relatively low temperature during their vegetative or early growth stage and high temperature in reproductive stage.
    • Examples  cumin, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, onion and garlic.
    • Sub-tropical spices grown during summer are turmeric and ginger.

c) Temperate Spices:-

    • Spices of this type can withstand low temperature (below 50C) and frosty weather but are damaged easily in hot weather.
    • Examples of temperate spices are thymes, saffron, caraway seed and savoy.


IV) Classification based on origin and flavour:-

  1. Aromatic spices: Cardamon, aniseed, celery, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and cinnamon.
  2. Pungent spices: Ginger, chilli, black pepper and mustard
  3. Phenolic spices: Clove and allspice
  4. Coloured spices: Turmeric, saffron and paprika

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V) Based on life cycle :-

  1. Annual Spices: Spices that complete their life cycle in a single  or one season.

Examples: Coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek celery etc.

  1. Biennial spices: Spices that complete their life cylce in two seasons

Examples: Onions, Parsle etc.

  1. Perennial spices: The spices that complete their life cycle in more than two seasons.

Examples: Black pepper, saffron, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon


VI) Botanical Classification of Spices:-

Name Botanical name Family Parts used
Cumin  Cuminum cyminum Apiaceae Fruit
Coriander  Coriandrum sativum Apiaceae Leaf and the seed
Fennel  Foeniculum vulgare Apiaceae Fruit


Pimpinella anisum Apiaceae Fruit
Celery Apium graveolens Apiaceae Leaf, Fruit, Stem
Mustard  Brassica juncea, B. nigra Brassicaceae Seed


Tamarindus indica Caesalpiniaceae Fruit
Fenugreek  Trigonella foenum-graecum Fabaceae Seed
Saffron  Crocus sativus Iridaceae Stigma
Mint  Mentha piperita Lamiaceae Leaf
Tejpat Cinnamomum tamala Lauraceae Leaf
Cinnamon  Cinnamomum verum Lauraceae Leaf and stem bark
Nutmeg Myristica fragrans Myristicaceae Seed
Clove  Euginia caryophylus Myrtaceae Flower bud
Black pepper  Piper nigrum Piparaceae Fruit
Chilli  Capsicum annum Solanaceae Fruit
Small cardamom Elettaria cardamomm Zingiberaceae Fruit
 Large Cardamom Amomum subulatum Zingiberaceae Fruit
Turmeric Curcuma longa Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Ginger  Zingiber officinale Zingiberaceae Rhizome