Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 November 2016
India is home to some of the oldest civilizations, during which period the local communities domesticated indigenous plant species for food and agriculture and medicinal uses. In this process, they also bio-prospected and/or absorbed potentially valuable exotic plant species, making them integral part of Indian culture, including the traditional medicinal system, the Ayurveda. The present paper discusses the absorption of 26 plant species of exotic origin, before 8th century, as evidenced by archaeological sculptural or botanical remains and documentation of such plants in Sanskrit, the Vedic language. Occurrence and/or introduction of such plants at such distant places in ancient times is visualized as a result of geographical continental fragmentation followed by drift, natural or man-made transoceanic movement, and cultural and trade exchange of plant material over time and space.
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