The literature on Vrikshayurveda exhibits the knowledge of influence of environmental conditions on peculiarities of plants structural and functional. Atharva Veda mentions five seasons along with Rig Veda’s three (vasanta (spring), grishma (summer) and sharada (autumn)) varsha (rainy) and hemantashishira (winter) and by separating hemanta shishira Taittiriya Samhita mentions six seasons. Charaka and Sushruta divided the land into different regions according to soil, climate and vegetation namely, 1) Jangala region (dry wilderness - deserts), 2) Anupa region (rich in water, marshy or swampy), 3) Sadharana (ordinary). The references of plants associated with these regions clearly indicate interest in plant ecology and resultant functional quality for variety of reasons like medicine, economic, agricultural etc.
|Topic||Subtopic||Information such as|
|A||Associations||Special association||Expressing ties with great personalities or rituals Ashoka with Sita. Yaganadruma associated with sacrifice in Homa.|
|Special property||i) Medicinal – neem ii) Domestic function – cane, bamboo|
|Local association||Magadhi indigenous of Magadha, North Bihar|
|Environmental association||Nadisarjja (arjuna) grows on the banks of rivers|
|Other characteristics||Maghya (kunda) flowers in Magha (February),|
|B||Morphological character||Morphological features||
i) As per the number of leaflets in the compound leaf divipatra – bauhinia, tripatra -wood apple
|Medicinal use||Dhatura is known Mahamohi (great intoxicator), babhool is known as Kaphantaka (ender of cough)|
Ample evidences are available in Vedic literature pertaining to plants classification based on stature and vital feature. For example, Prasastapada’s Vaisesika classifies as i) Truna (grasses), ii) Oshadhi (herbs), iii) Vriksha (trees), iv) Latas (creepers), v) Avatanas (arboraceous shrubs), vi) Vanaspatis (trees without flowers). While Udayanacharya’s Kiranvalli i) Vanaspatis, ii) Oshadhis, iii) Latas, (meanings same as earlier) iv) Virudha (bushy shrubs), v) Twaksaras (with hard bark), vi) Drumas (bears both flowers and fruits)
Charaka divides plants into two primarily divisions, Purgatives (virechana) and the astringents (kashaya). The purgatives are six hundred and the astringents are five hundred in number. These are again sub- grouped under ten heads or Vargas.
Sushruta deals with the classification of drugs according to their therapeutic properties (Dravya-Sangrahaniya- madhyaryam) by forming 37 groups.
Charaka divides plants into seven groups (varga). 1) Suka-dhanya varga (monocotyledons - corn) 11 subdivisions according to taste, potency and assimilation, 2) Shami -dhanya varga (dicotyledons - pluses) 12 subdivisions, 3) Shaka varga (vegetables) 18 sub divisions, 4) Phala varga (fruits), 5) Harita varga (greens like ginger, garlic, etc.), 6) Aharayogi varga (oil), 7) Ikshu varga (sugarcane). The groups Mansa varga (flesh), Madya varga (wines or fermented products), Jal varga (water), Goras varga (milk and its products) and Krutanna varga (cooked food) are also considered by Charaka.
Sushrut Samhita, Sutrasthna discusses more elaborately and systematically Annapana-Vidhi-madhyayam (food and drink). This classification is based on six rasas (tastes) namely, madhura rasa (sweet) amla rasa (sour taste), katu rasa (pungent taste) tikta rasa (bitter taste), kashaya rasa (astringent taste) and lavana rasa (saline taste). Four types of diets namely, a) solid food, b) drink, c) food taken by licking, and d) food that is chewed and assimilated only for the pleasure of a specific taste. He postulated following ganas (groups) 1) Shali Dhanya, 2) Shashtika group, 3) Vrihi Dhanya, 4) Kudhanya varga, 5) Vaidala , 6) Tila, 7) Yava, 8) Simha, 9) Phala varga, 10) Shaka varga, 11) Pushpa varga, 12) Ubhida varga (sprouting from ground), 13) Kanda varga, 14) Taila varga, 15) Ikshu varga.
Bhavaprakasha combines both Charaka’s and Sushruta’s methods of classification that is, medicinal properties and dietic value in groups like 1) Haritakyadi varga (Myrobalan Group) of 75 plants, 2) Karpuradi varga (Camphor Group) of 49 plants, 3) Guduchyadi varga Tinospora Group) of 125 plants, 4) Pushpa varga (Flower Group) of 33 plants, 5) Yatadi varga (Banyan Group ) of 42 plants, 6) Amradi Phala varga (Mango Group) of 75 plants, 7) Dhanya varga (Paddy Group) of 33 species, 8) Shaka varga (Pot-herb Group) of 70 species, 9) Taila varga (Oil Group) of 14 plants, 10) Ikshu varga (Sugarcane Group) of 13 plants.
This was the first attempt of study plant science -Vrikshayurveda from a botanical angle. That is why it may be possible that in the beginning plant information was lacking the medicinal and agricultural view point. But this preliminary botanical information about plant science – Vrikshayurveda formed base for both, medicinal and agricultural science.