Economic Importance of Gymnosperms (Short Notes)


economic importance of gymnosperms

Economic Importance of Gymnosperms

The Gymnosperms are with high economic importance to mankind. For easy understanding, the economic importance of Gymnosperms can be categorized in the following heads:

(1).      Food Value

(2).      Medicinal Value

(3).      Timber Value

(4).      Source of Oil

(5).      Industrial Value

(6).      Ornamental Value

(7).      Other Uses

gymnosperms economic aspects

(1). Food Value

Ø  Cycads are a good source of Starch.

Ø  ‘Sago’ is a starch obtained from the pith and cortex of the stem of Cycas revolute and Cycas rumphi.

how sago is prepared

Ø  ‘Seed starch’ is obtained from the seeds of Cycas rumphii and Dioon edule. It is prepared into flour and cooked before eating.

Ø  Seeds of Pinus gerardiana are edible and are commonly known as chillgoza.

Ø  ‘Kaffir bread’ is a type of bread prepared from the stem pith of Encephalartos.

what is chilgoza

Ø  Young leaves of Cycas are cooked as vegetables in some parts of the world.

Ø  The seeds are Gnetum is also edible.

(2). Medicinal Value

Ø  Paclitaxel (PTX), an anticancer drug sold under the trade name ‘Taxol’ is an alkaloid extracted from the bark of Taxus bervifolia. Taxol is a spindle fibre inhibitor, which prevents the progression of cell division. It is used in the chemotherapy of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer and pancreatic cancer.

what is paclitaxel

Ø  Ephedrine, an alkaloid extracted from the Ephedra is used in the treatment of asthma, cough, cold, bronchitis etc. The decoction of Ephedra is a cardiac stimulant.

uses of ephedrine

Ø  Juice of the young leaves of Cycas revoluta is used for curing blood vomiting.

Ø  Cycas-gum: an antidote against snake bite and it is also used against malignant ulcers.

(3). Timber Value

Ø  Gymnosperms are a good source of Timbers. Gymnospermic woods are called Softwood. They are very useful in making furniture and for other construction purposes.

uses of gymnospermic wood

Ø  Coniferous wood is resistant towards insects and fungus.

Ø  These woods also have good durability and are of lightweight.

Ø  Agathis australis is the largest timber producing tree in the world.

Ø  Some gymnosperms produce scented woods such as Cedrus deodara.

Ø  The wood of Pinus is used for making doors, poles, beams, railway wagon flooring etc.

Ø  Plywood is prepared from the wood of Podocarpus.

(4). Source of Oil

Ø  Edible oil is extracted from the seeds of Cycas revoluta, Macrozamia riedlei, Pinus cembra and Cephalotaxus drupacea.

Ø  Red cedar wood oil extracted from the heartwood of Juniperus virginiana is used in oil immersion microscopy.

Ø  Oils obtained from Cedrus deodara, Ciyptomeria japonica and Cupressus sempervirens are used in preparations of perfumes and soaps.

(5). Industrial Value

Ø  Tannins: Tannins extracted from the bark of Araucaria, Pinus and Sequoia are used in the leather industry.

Ø  Canadabalsam is a resin obtained from Abies balsamea and used as a mounting medium in biological preparations. Canadabalsam have same refractive index as that of glass.

uses of canadabalsam

Ø  Amber (fossil resin) is obtained from Pinus succinifera. It is used for making jewellery, pipes and cigar holders.

Ø  Papers industry:  Newspaper, writing and printing papers are prepared from the wood pulp of Pinus, Picea and Abies

how amber is formed in pinus

Ø  Gum-Cycas is used as adhesive.

Ø  Leaves of cycads are used for preparing baskets, mats, hats, brooms etc.

Ø  Fibres obtained from the leaves of Cycas and Macrozamia are used for stuffing pillows and cushions.

Ø  The wood of Taxus is used for making Pencils.

Ø  Pinus roxburghii produce oleorosins and gum-rosin which are brittle and aromatic solids used to manufacture soaps, varnishes and printing inks

(6). Ornamental Value

Ø  Many gymnosperms are grown as ornamental plants:

gymnosperm floricultureØ  Example:

o   Cycas: Leafy ornamental

o   Zamia: leafy ornamental plant

o   Araucaria: Avenue tree

o   Thuja: Small shrub

o   Podocarpus: Small tree

o   Juniperus: small tree, as bonsai

o   Pinus: avenue tree, as bonsai

o   Ginkgo: Leafy ornamental, Sacred

best gymnosperms for bonsai

(7). Other Uses

Ø  The strong root system of gymnosperm prevents soil erosion.

Ø  Few gymnosperms are ‘Living Fossils’ (Cycas, Ginkgo) they provide important scientific knowledge about the past flora of earth.

Ø  The bark of Gnetum gnemon and G. ula is used to obtain Fiber for making fishing nets and ropes

Ø  Some Gymnosperms, particularly Conifers, are good sources of fuel-wood.

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