Oryza sativa subsp. japonica is one of three major subspecies of rice, the others being indica and javanica. Oryza sativa subsp. japonica is short-grained and high in amylopectin so that the grains stick together when cooked, which distinguishes it from subsp. indica which is long grained and not sticky.
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Oryza sativa (rice) is a monocotyledonous flowering plant of the family Poaceae and is one of the most important crop plants in the world, providing the principal food source for half of the world’s population.
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Oryza sativa subsp. japonica is grown in dry fields, mainly in temperate or colder climates such as Japan.
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Pressed and dried specimens of rice are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. Details, including images, of some of these specimens can be seen online in Kew’s Herbarium Catalogue.
Laboratory studies have shown that rice products may have anti-cancer properties and the potential to treat other conditions such as diabetes, kidney stones and heart disease.
To grow rice from seed at Kew, the seed is collected in August when it is brown and dry. It is then cleaned, with the husk retained, and used within one year. It has been observed that the rate of seed germination drops rapidly as the seed ages. In the Tropical Nursery at Kew, the seed is sown onto a mix of loam, coir and Silvafibre and covered with vermiculite. The seed can be sown quite thickly. After this, the pot is placed in a water-bath at 22°C. The application of bottom heat at 24°C speeds up germination. Germination then takes about a week, after which the plants can be thinned out if necessary.
There are many cultivar groups of Oryza sativa of which the two most important are O. sativa ‘Indica’ and O. sativa ‘Japonica’.
Domestication of rice
In some parts of the world, the husks and grains of rice are used for bedding, fuels and building board. Rice can be charred as filtration material or for charcoal briquettes. Bran oil is used in cooking, and has anti-corrosive properties. It is also used as a textile and leather finisher. India is one of the main rice bran processors. Rice straw is used for animal feed and bedding, and can be made into paper and board pulp. It is also used in horticulture as a mushroom growing medium, organic manure and a mulch. More rarely it has been used for rope and thatch.
After being harvested, rice is de-husked to remove the inedible hull. The resulting grains are usually eaten as white, polished rice from which the bran has been removed. Whole ‘brown’ rice is mainly popular as a ‘health food’ in western countries.
The history of rice domestication is not fully understood. Its wild ancestor, Oryza rufipogon , grows throughout south and southeast Asia, and finds of rice at early sites in the region may derive from harvesting of wild grain, rather than cultivation.
Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co
Oryza sativa L. 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