23. Oryza sativa L. GRAMINEAE
Rice; Hindi: dhan, धान, chaval, चावल; Bengali: chal
The grain of this cereal grass is the major carbohydrate source throughout tropical Asia. Cultivated for at least 4000 years, it was possibly derived from Oryza rufipogon a species occurring wild in North-East India, where it was discovered by William Griffith in 1835 during the trip on which he was looking for wild tea. The cultivated varieties were probably selected from plants that occurred as weeds in fields of taro (the aroid Colocasia esculenta). The lowland forms are grown in seasonally flooded paddy fields, but in the Himalayas ‘dryland’ strains are grown up to an altitude of about 2500 metres, without irrigation.