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Oryza sativa (rice)

One of the world's most important staple crops and a major part in the diet of more than half the world’s population, rice also has many medicinal uses.
Oryza sativa grass

Oryza sativa (Photo: Damien Boilley)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Oryza sativa L.

Common name: 

rice, paddy rice, chowdhury rice (English); dhanya, vrihi, nivara, syali (Sanskrit); dhan, chaval (Hindu); chal (Bengal); dangar, choka (Gujarat); nellu, arisi (Tamil).

Conservation status: 

Widespread in cultivation.


Commonly in river valleys and other areas where water is abundant, but also cultivated in some dryland areas.

Key Uses: 

Food, medicine, cosmetics, crafts.

Known hazards: 

Rice can accumulate arsenic if this is present in high levels in irrigation water.


Genus: Oryza

About this species

Rice is the most widely grown tropical cereal, and over 400 million tonnes of milled rice is produced each year. The importance of rice has been recognised for many centuries - in India it was once known as 'dhanya' meaning 'the sustainer of the human race'. Rice is a staple food of South Asia and a vast number of people are employed in its cultivation.

Not only is rice used in a variety of ways as a foodstuff, but it is also an ingredient in medicines and cosmetics, and has a role in crafts and religious ceremonies.


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