If you are interested in the diversity of plant resources South Asia has to offer this is the place to look. We've divided the list to give you a selection of books that cover South Asian plants in general and those that deal with specific plants.
Gupta, S.M. 2001. Plant myths and traditions in India. New Delhi:
Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 139 p.
An account of the historical and current traditions and myths surrounding many of India's plants.
Watt, G. 1889. Dictionary of the economic products of India. Calcutta: published under the authority of the Government of India, Department of Revenue and Agriculture, 6 volumes.
This is a monumental piece of work published in several volumes. It alphabetically lists raw and manufactured products from plant, animal and mineral resources.
Smith, C.W. and Cothren, J.T. (eds). 1999. Cotton: origin, history, technology and production. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 850 p.
Written as a series of rather academic but informative papers, this comprehensive book covers the global cotton industry. It includes information on cultivation, botany, history, production, marketing and trade.
Balfour-Paul, J. 1998. Indigo. London: British Museum Press, 264 p.
This beautiful book will interest anyone who wants to know more about indigo dyeing. From early use to the current day it is packed full of valuable information.
Budhwar, K. 2002. Romance of the mango: the complete book of the king of fruits. New Delhi:
Penguin Books, 290 p.
A well-written and easy-to-read book on mangoes and the special place they hold in the hearts of the people of India. From their influence on art, literature, science and diet to ecology and botany. This book is full of engaging stories.
Nair, P.T. 1996. The mango in Indian life and culture. Dehra Dun: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, 681 p.
This book highlights the importance of the mango in Indian life. From medicine to religion and art, it describes its influence throughout history.
Hanes, T.W. and Sanello, F. 2003. The opium wars: the addiction of one empire and the corruption of another. London: Robson Books, 334 p.
This book describes the political and moral war throughout history surrounding opium production between China and the West.
Hamilton, R.W. 2003. The art of rice: spirit and sustenance in Asia. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum, 552 p.
Exploring the beliefs and practices surrounding rice, this beautifully illustrated book celebrates the role rice plays in Asian art, ceremonies and everyday life.
Owen, S. 1993. The rice book: the definitive book on the magic of rice cookery. London: Doubleday, 402 p.
As well as being a cookbook with over 200 recipes, this publication also describes the many varieties of rice, its nutrition, history, cultivation and cultural importance.
O'Connell, S. 2004. Sugar: the grass that changed the world. London: Virgin Books, 246 p.
This book tells the fascinating story of sugar from discovery and early use to production the slave trade and its effects on economies and our health.
Macfarlane, A. and Macraflane, I. 2003. Green gold: the empire of tea. London: Ebury Press, 308 p.
This book describes the history of tea, its production and its effects on society, particularly for those living and working in tea plantations.
Moxham, R. 2003. Tea: addiction, exploitation and empire. London: Constable & Robinsons, 271 p.
An historical account of Britain's fascination and passion for tea over four centuries. This book recites facts and stories about tea production from cultivation to cup.
Donkin, R.A. 2003. Between East and West: the Moluccas and the traffic in spices up to the arrival of Europeans. Philadelphia: Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society for promoting useful knowledge volume 248, 274 p.
This relatively academic book doesn't focus exclusively on South Asia or on species from the Plant Cultures website, but it does have a very informative chapter on India's influences on the Southeast Asian spice trade. It features the Plant Cultures species sandalwood in great depth.
Norman, J. 2002. Herb & spice. London: Dorling Kindersley, 336 p.
A colourful reference on how to add exotic flavours to your food. From where herbs and spices come from to how to select, store, prepare and cook them.
Turner, J. 2004. Spices: the history of a temptation. London: HarperCollins, 407 p.
Well written and researched book on the history of the spice trade and its effects globally. This is an easy to read book full of fascinating facts and anecdotes.