Orto Botanico di Napoli

Research Centre of the University of Naples Federico II

Via Foria 223 - 80139 Napoli - Tel.:0812533937 - fax: 081295351 - email: robnap@unina.it

Display Area of “Useful” Plants

This recently created area is characterized by small paths of stone that are subdivided into sections, each one following a particular theme.
Numerous species are exhibited, easily visible going along each path and grouped together according to their purpose as in the following sections.

Starch Plants
In every country various vegetal species are cultivated as a source of alimentary starch in the form of flour and potato flour. In the section dedicated to the cultivation of starch plants there are examples of cereals that are very widespread in the Mediterranean area  (for example Triticum aestivum and Triticum durum) and in other geographical areas  (for example Oryza sativa and Zea mays). There are, however, species that are not cereals and  are used in various tropical and subtropical countries such as Colocasia esculenta (taro), Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato), Helianthus Tuberosus (Jerusalem Artichoke), and Manihot esculenta (manioc).

Oil Plants
Oils and fats originating from vegetables are extracted from the fruit of some perennial species, for example Olea europaea (olive), Elaeis guineensis (palm oil) or otherwise extracted from the seeds of perennial plants such as the Cocus nucifera (coconut) or from annual plants like Arachis hypogaea (peanut), Zea mays (corn), Helianthus annus (sunflower), and Glycine soja (soya). The majority of these products are used for alimentary purposes, others however are used in the preparation of colours, paints, lubricants and in the pharmaceutical industry. In this section  are cultivated  species which are used mainly in this field.

Fibre and Paper Plants
There are numerous plants that produce fibre which can be used both commercially and by craftsmen in the making of fabrics. There are also lots of species used in the making of paper.
Among the plants to be recalled that are on show in this sector are the Gossypium arboreum (cotton), Chorisia insignis (false kapok), Linium usitatissimum (linen), Agave sisalana (sisal), Boehmeria nivea (ramie), Corchorus olitorius (lute) and Cyperus papyrus (papyrus) and Tetrapanax papyrifera (rice paper).

Fodder Plants
In this collection there are some of the principal species used in the alimentation of livestock such as the Medicago sativa (lucerne), Sorghum vulgare (sorghum) and Hedysarum coronarium (French honeysuckle).

Medicinal Plants
The species that are renowned for their pharmacological use that are listed in the Official Pharmacopoeia of each nation are over a hundred. However, numerous other plants are used in popular medicine in various countries. Lots of the medicinal species are characterized by the specific epithet “officinalis” as they were the ones mainly used in the old pharmacies known by the name of  “officine”.
In this sector there are consequently examples of species with the epithet officinalis belonging to numerous genera such as Asparagus, Hyssopus, Calendula ,and Symphytum as well as some species that recently are mainly used in phytotherapy for example Silybum marianum, Hypericum perforatum, Ginkgo biloba, Melaleuca alterifolia and Catharanthus roseus, Tussilago farfara.