- Pepper originated in the tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. The Malabar coast of India was the centre of pepper trade fro time immemorial. Black pepper was essentially a minor forest produce in the past. Domestication of pepper appears to be a much later event. The history shows that Arabs, followed by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British traders took pepper to all over the world and spread its use and cultivation.
- Initially black pepper was taken from the Malabar Coast to the Indonesian islands, and then it spread to various pacific islands, South East Asian countries and later to tropical Africa and America. Currently pepper is grown in about 26 countries, major being India, Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia and Srilanka. In India pepper is grown mainly in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and to a little extent in Goa, Orissa, Assam and Andaman group of islands. Kerala is the original home of pepper. The state accounts for 95% of country’s area and production.
- Cardamom is indigenous to the evergreen forests of Western Ghats of South India. It is grown extensively in hilly regions of south India at elevations of 800- 1300m as an under storey crop in forest lands. Cardamom is also grown in Srilanka, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Guatemala. Kerala is the major cardamom growing state in India. Cardamom is mainly grown in Idukki district, known as Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR). Cardamom growing regions of South India are Idukki and Wayanad in Kerala, Coorg, Chikmagalore and Hassan districts in Karnataka and Pulney and Kodai hills of Tamil Nadu.
- Ginger originated in south- East Asia, but under cultivation in India as well as in China from ancient times. Main ginger growing countries are India, China, Jamaica, Taiwan, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Fiji, Mauritius, Indonesia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Srilanka, Thailand, Trinidad, Uganda, Hawaii, Guatemala and many pacific ocean islands.
- Ginger was grown on west coast of India from time immemorial and later on its cultivation spread to various other parts mainly to Bengal and North Eastern India. It was the Arabs, Portuguese and the Dutch who took it to western world. Apart from India, south East Asia is major ginger producing region. Ginger production in this region comes mainly from China, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam, China being the largest producer.
- Turmeric, the sacred spice of Asian countries is a herbaceous perennial native to Indo Malayan region. Turmeric is essentially a tropical crop grown in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, China, Srilanka, Africa and Central America. It is the third important spice crop of India, next to chilies and black pepper. India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric contributing about 80% of production and 45% of export. The crop occupies major share of area in Andhra Pradesh followed by Orissa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
- It is native to Moluccas, so they called “spice islands” in Indonesia and was first introduced in India around 1800 A.D. by the East India Company in their “Spice garden” in Courtallam, Tamil Nadu. Major clove producing countries are Indonesia, Zanzibar, and Madagascar, Zanzibar being the biggest producer. Importing countries are India, USA, Germany, France and Singapore.
- Native of Indonesia, nutmeg tree grows there abundantly and is now naturalized in West Indies, Srilanka, India, Philippines, Tropical America and Pacific Islands. In India the plant is grown in certain pockets of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, North East India and Andaman. It is also grown in a small scale in Srilanka, Trinidad, China, Tobago, Zanzibar and Mauritius.
- The genus, a native of South- Western tropical India and Srilanka, consists of more than 250 species distributed in South East Asia, China and Australia. Seychelles and Malagasy Republic are the major producing countries of Cinnamon besides Srilanka. In India cinnamon is mainly cultivated in Kenmore, south Karana, Nilgiris, Lower Pulneys, Courtallam and Kanyakumari in India.
- It is one of the most important indigenous tree spices mainly grown in the South Konkan region of Maharashtra, Western Ghats, Coorg, Wayanad, Goa, evergreen forests of Assam, Khasi and Jantia hills, West Bengal and Gujarat. Kokum plant grows widely in the tropical forests of Western Ghats of India, where it has originated.
- It is native of Atlantic coast from Mexico to Brazil. Cultivation of vanilla spread after discovery of America by Columbus. History of introduction of vanilla into India appears to be obscure. Documentary evidences reveal that this crop was experimentally introduced to West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Karnataka, Kerala and Assam only 100 years ago. Vanilla is one of the most expensive spices traded in the global market.
- Major Vanilla growing countries are Madagascar, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Comoros and Reunion. It is also grown to a lesser extent in French Polynesia, Tonga, Guadeloupe and Zimbabwe. Indonesia is the largest producer in the world and together with Madagascar contributes nearly 90% of the world production. Vanilla produced in Madagascar is called bourbon vanilla and this fetches the highest price in International market.
- It is considered as a native of Eastern Tropical Africa. India is one of the largest producers of tamarind in the world and it is the only country which produces a commercial crop Tamarind. Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka are the major Tamarind growing states.
- It is native of Mediterranean region. India, Morocco, Former USSR, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, France, Guatemala, Mexico, Argentina and USA are important countries where coriander is grown commercially. In India coriander is grown in most of the states and constitutes an important subsidiary crop in black cotton soils of Deccan and South India under rain fed conditions and in rich silt loams of North India under irrigated conditions.
- It is native of Egypt and Syria Turkestan and Eastern Mediterranean region. The plant is grown extensively in Iran, India, Morocco, China, Southern Russia, Southern Europe and Turkey. India ranks first in the world in area and production of cumin. India is also the largest consumer of cumin and exports hardly four per cent of its total production. Major types of cumin in the international trade are Iranian cumin, Indian cumin, Egyptian cumin and Turkish cumin. In India, cumin is extensively grown in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra.
- It is native of the Mediterranean region. It is widely cultivated in India at altitudes up to 1825 m, Gujarat and Rajasthan are the major fennel growing states. Major types of fennel seed in the world market are Indian fennel, Egyptian fennel and Chinese fennel.
- Originated in the Mediterranean region and Asia, fenugreek is among the oldest of medicinal herbs. India is one of the major producer and exporter of fenugreek. It is grown on an extensive scale in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.