Horticulture is very important branch of plant science which accounts for food from three major sources: vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Horticultural crops are very diverse that’s why plant classification is very important tool in horticulture. Classification deals with the taxonomical aspects of classifying the crops: their morphology, economical parts and agro-botanical characters. It aids in determining the cultural requirement of plants, in predicting graft compatibility or in formulating hybridization program for horticultural crops. Furthermore, it aids in man’s search for new plants of horticultural importance.

Horticultural crops have been classified into various groups depending on their growth habits, cultivation requirements, climatic needs and uses.

Purpose of classification

Classification of plants means the grouping of different plants having some characteristics in common. Classification of plants is a relatively dynamic process and undergoes change with change or increase in knowledge.

  • For easy and quick cultural operations.
  • For breeding purpose and to evolve new varieties.
  • For facilitating propagation of crops.
  • For effective control of pest and diseases.
  • For cultivating crops suitable to different climatic conditions.

Objective of classification

Horticultural crops are popularly classified into the 3 broad divisions of fruits vegetables and flowers. However, following points are considered to be most important basis for classification of the crops.

  • To get acquainted with the different horticultural crops
  • To identify and classify these different horticultural crops
  • To know their economic value and importance
  • To determine their adaptability to local environment.

Horticultural plants are classified on following basis:

  • On the basis of duration of life/life span.
  • On the basis of climatic requirements.
  • On the basis of growth habit and physiological characters.
  • On the basis of plant parts used for consumption.
  • On the basis of whether leaves are shed during the year.
  • On the basis of pollination type.
  • On the basis of longevity.
  • Botanical classification.
  • On the basis of rate of respiration
  • On the basis of Photoperiodic responses

On the basis of duration of life/life span

  1. Annuals:Plants which complete their life cycle in one season or one year are called as annuals. e.g., Tomato, Balsam, Marigold etc.
  2. Biennials:Plants which complete their life cycle in two seasons or two years are known as biennials. e.g., Onion, Cabbage, Tuberose, Sweet William, holly hock, Gladiolus etc.
  3. Perennials:Plants which require more than two years completing their life cycle are called perennials. The perennials necessarily do not die after flowering, e.g., Mango, Citrus, Drumstick (moringa), Asparagus (shatawari), Pointed gourd (parwal), Chrysanthemum, philodendron, Aster, Gerbera, Tulip
    Woody perennials: These plants have hard and fibrous trunk and branches. e.g., Bahuma sp., Mango etc.
    Herbaceous perennials: These plants have soft succulent stems. e.g., Banana, Chrysanthemum etc.

On the basis of climatic requirements

  1. Temperate Horticultural crops:In temperate regions, the temperature in winter season falls below freezing point. The crops shed their leaves and go into rest. These chilling temperatures help the plants to put forth new growth. Flowering and fruiting start with the onset of spring. e.g.,
    Fruits:  Almond, Walnut Raspberry, Black berry, grape, straw berry Pomes, apple, pear, Peach, plum, apricot, Almond, Chestnut, Pecan, Pistachio
    Spices: Saffron, Kalajira, Asafoetida etc.
    Vegetables: Cabbage, Cauliflower, European varieties of carrot and radish. These vegetables can be grown in sub-tropical regions; however, they require temperate climate for seed production.
  2. Sub-tropical Horticultural crops:In sub-tropical climate, the summer are hot and dry and winter are less mild. e.g.,
    Fruits: Citrus, Guava, Pomegranate, Fig etc.
    Spices: Turmeric, Ginger, Onion, Garlic etc.
    Vegetables: Tomato, Brinjal, Chilli, Okra, Potato etc.
  3. Tropical Horticultural crops:The climatic conditions in such areas are hot and humid in summer and mild in winter. e.g.,
    Fruits: Mango, Banana, Pineapple, Sapota etc.
    Spices: Black pepper, Turmeric, Ginger, Cloves etc.
    Plantation crops: Coconut, Arecanut, Cocoa etc.
    Vegetables: Tomato, Brinjal, Chilli, Onion etc.

On the basis of growth habit and physiological characters

  1. Trees:Trees are the plants which have a distinct stem or trunk which may be woody or herbaceous.
    Woody trees: These plants have hard and fibrous trunks and branches. e.g., Apple, Citrus, Guava, Mango etc.
    Herbaceous trees: These have soft succulent stems and having upright growth e.g., Banana, Pineapple and prostrate growth e.g., Strawberry.
  2. Shrubs / bushes:Shrubs or bushes produce a large number of branches and are smaller in size than trees. e.g.,
    Fruits: Phalsa, Coffee etc.
    Ornamental shrubs: Acalypha etc.
  3. Climbers: These plants attach themselves to supports such as trellis, arches or lives plants. e.g.,
    Fruits: Grapes, Passion fruit etc.
    Spices:Black pepper (live support) etc.
    Ornamental climbers: Allamanda, Antignon etc.

On the basis of plant parts used for consumption

  1. Fruits: (Edible Part)
  • Apple (Pome)= Fleshy thalamus
  • Banana (Berry)= Mesocarp and endocarp
  • Cashew nut (nut)= Peduncle and cotyledons
  • Coconut (Fibrous drupe) = Endosperm
  • Custard apple (Etaerio of berries)=Fleshy pericarp of individual berries
  • Fig (Syconus)=Fleshy receptacle
  • Guava (Berry)=Thalamus and pericarp
  • Grape (Berry)=Pericarp and placentae
  • Mango (Drupe)=Mesocarp
  • Orange (Hesperidium)=Juicy placental hair
  • Papaya (Berry)=Mesocarp
  • Pineapple (Sorosis)=Fleshy thalamus
  • Pomegranate (Pome)= Aril
  1. Plantation crops and spices: (Name Edible Part)
  • Coconut (Fibrous drupe)=Endosperm
  • Arecanut (one-seeded ovoid drupe)=Seed (Fresh and dried)
  • Cocoa (5-ribbed drupe)=Beans (Seeds)
  • Coffee (Fleshy Drupe) = Seed (Bean)
  • Black pepper (One-seeded spherical dupe)=Dried wrinkled fruit
  • Clove (Fleshy drupe) = Unopened flower bud
  • Cinnamon (Fleshy berry)=Bark
  • Chilli (berry)= Fruit and seeds
  • Turmeric=Rhizome
  • Ginger (Capsule)=Rhizome
  • Onion=Leaves and Bulb
  • Garlic=Cloves

Vegetables: (Name Edible Part)

  • Radish, Carrot, Turnip, Beetroot, Sweet potato= Roots
  • Knolkhol, Potato =Stem
  • Palak, Methi, Amaranthus =Leaf
  • Cauliflower, Broccoli =Flower
  • Tomato, Brinjal, Okra, Cucurbits =Fruit
  • Beans and Pea =Pod
    Onion =Blub

On the basis of weather leaves are shed during the year

  1. Deciduous:the plants that are leafless or which shed their leaves during winter are referred to as deciduous. e.g., Apple, Fig, Grape etc.
  2. Evergreen:The plants whose leaves persist the year round or grow continuously all the year round are known as evergreen. The evergreens actually lose their leaves annually but not until a new set of
    leaves are developed. e.g., Arecanut, Coconut, Banana, Mango, Sapota etc.

Classification on the basis of pollination type

  1. Self-pollinated crops: Pollination in which pollens are transferred from anther to stigma of same flower e.g., Grape, Sapota, Citrus, Peach, Tomato, Orchids, peas, sunflowers.
  2. Cross pollinated crops: Pollination in which pollens are transferred from anther to stigma of other flowers or cultivar or species. e.g., Banana, Jackfruit, Walnut, Date palm Grape, Papaya, cucurbits.
  3. Often cross-pollinated crops: In some crop plants cross-pollination often exceeds 5 per cent and may reach 30 per cent. Such species are generally known as often cross-pollinated crops e.g., Okra, brinjal.


On the basis of longevity

The longevity of trees is very variable and plants can be classified on the basis as under;

Life span: Plants

  • 1000 years:sweet chestnut.
  • 100-300 years:
  • 50-100 years:Persimmon, Avocado.
  • 30-70 years:Apricot, Fig.
  • 20-40 years:Peach, Plum, Pomegranate.
  • 25-30 years:Currant, Gooseberry and Raspberry.
  • 4-5 years:

Botanical classification

  • Vegetables:


  • Areaceae– Colocassia.
  • Alliaceae– Onion, Garlic.
  • Diascoreaceae– Yam


  • Chenopodiaceae– Spinach.
  • Cruciferae– Cole crops, Turnip, Radish.
  • Leguminosae– Pea, Beans, Fenugreek.
  • Euphorbiaceae– Tapioca
  • Malvaceae– Okra.
  • Umbelliferae– Carrot.
  • Convolvulaceae– Sweet potato.
  • Solanaceae– Tomato, Brinjal, Chilli, Potato.
  • Cucurbitaceae– Gourds, Melons, Pumkin
  • Compositae– Lettuce
  • Fruits:


  • Musaceae– Banana.
  • Bromeliaceae– Pineapple.
  • Dicot:
  • Rhamnaceae– Ber.
  • Sapotaceae– Chiku.
  • Rutaceae– Nagpur Santra, Sweet Orange, Acid lime
  • Annonaceae– Custard apple, Bullock’s heart.
  • Moraceae– Fig, Jackfruit.
  • Vitaceae– Grape.
  • Myrtaceae– Guava.
  • Apocynaceae– Karonda.
  • Anacardiaceae– Mango, Cashew nut.
  • Caricaceae– Papaya.
  • Punicaceae– Pomegranate
  • Plantations and spices:


  • Arecaceae (Palmae) – Coconut.
  • Arecaceae (Palmae) – Arecanut.
  • Alliaceae – Onion, Garlic.
  • Zingiberaceae – Turmeric, Ginger.


  • Lauraceae – Cinnamon.
  • Mytraceae – Clove.
  • Piperaceae – Black pepper.
  • Rubiaceae – Coffee.
  • Solanaceae – Chilli.
  • Sterculiaceae – Cocoa.

Classification based on Rate of Respiration

  1. Climacteric: Sharp rise in respiration after harvesting, e.g., Mango, Banana, Sapota, Guava, Papaya, Apple, Fig, Peach, Pear, Plum, Annona etc. Climacteric fruits produce much larger amount of ethylene than non-climacteric fruits.
    *Highest ethylene production: Apple- (25-2500L/L), Passion fruit (466-530 L/L).
  2. Non-climacteric: Steady respiration at the time of harvesting, e.g., citrus, Grape, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Litchi, Ber, Jamun, Cashew, Cherry, Strawberry etc

Classification based on Photoperiodic responses

  1. Long day plant: Passion fruit, Banana, Potato, Onion, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Radish, Lettuce, Spinach, Palak, Turnip, Carrot, Beet.
  2. Short day plant: Strawberry, Apple Pineapple, Sweet Potato, Indian spinach, Dolichos Bean, Cluster Bean, Winged Bean, Coffee.
  3. Day neutral plant: Papaya, Guava, Banana, Brinjal, Chilli, Okra, Cucurbits, Amaranths, French Bean, Cowpea, Sweet pepper.


See also…
Job opportunities in Horticulture
Horticulture One Linear Part-I



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