Quite a large number of vegetable crops are grown in the country either on a commercial scale or limited to backyards of homesteads.  A few crops have similarity while others have dissimilarity in their climatic and soil requirements, parts, used, method of cultivation etc.  While describing individual vegetables, there is possibility of repetition in many aspects.  In order to avoid repetition, it is essential to classify or group into different classes/groups.  Different methods of classification followed in vegetables are described below:
Botanical classification
Botanical classification is based on taxonomical relationship among different vegetables.  Plant kingdom is divided into four viz.  Thallophyta, Bryophyta, Pteriodophyta and Spermatophyte.  All vegetables belong to division Angiospermae of Spermatophyta.  It is further divided into two classes viz., Monocotyledoneae and dicotyledoneae.
The family wise distribution of vegetables under the classes is as follows:
Family -           Alliaceae
Allium cepa                                         Onion
Allium cepa var. Aggregatum             Multiplier onion
Allium cepa var. Viviparum                 Top onion
Allium porrum                                      Leek
Allium sativum                         Garlic
Allium fistulosum                                 Welsh onion
Allium ascalonicum                             Shallot
Allium schoenoprasum                       Chive
Family -           Liliaceae
Asparagus officinalis                          Asparagus
Family -           Araceae
Dioscorea alata                                   Larger yam
Dioscorea esculenta                           Lesser yam
Colocasia esculenta                           Taro
Family -           Poaceae (Graminae)
Zea mays                                            Sweet corn
Family -           Aizoaceae
Tetragonia expansa                            New Zealand spinach
Family -           Chenopodiaceae
Beta vulgaris                                       Beetroot and Palak
Beta vulgaris var. cicla                       Swiss chard
Spinacia oleracea                               Spinach
Artiplex hortensis                                Chakwat / orach
Chenopodium album                           Bathua
Family -           Asteraceae (Compositae)
Cichorium intybus                               Chicory
Cichorium endivia                               Endive
Lactuca sativa                                                Lettuce
Cynara scolimus                                 Artichoke
Family -           Convolvulaceae
Ipomoea batatas                                 Sweet potato
Family -           Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
Brassica oleracea var. acephala        Kale
Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera     Brussels sprouts
Brassica oleracea var. capitata          Cabbage
Brassica oleracea var. botrytis          Cauliflower
Brassica oleracea var. italica             Sprouting broccoli
Brassica caulorapa                             Kohlrabi or knol khol
Brassica napus var. napobrassica    Rutabaga
Brassica campestris var. rapa                       Turnip
Brassica juncea                                  Leaf mustard
Brassica chinensis, B. pekinensis     Chinese cabbage
Armoracia rusticana                           Horse-radish
Raphanus sativus                               Radish
Family -           Cucurbitaceae
Cucurbita peop                                   Summer squash
Cucurbita moschata                           Pumpkin
Cucurbita maxima                               Winter squash
Cucurbita lanatus                                Water melon
Cucumis melo                                     Musk melon
Cucumis melo var. momordica           Snap melon
Cucumis melo var. utilissimus                        Long melon
Cucumis melo var. conomon              Oriental picking melon
Cucumis sativus                                 Cucumber
Praecitrullus fistulosus                       Tinda
Sechium edule                                                Chow-Chow
Luffa acutangula                                 Ridge gourd
Luffa cylindrica                                    Sponge gourd
Lagenaria siceraria                             Bottle gourd
Trichosanthes dioica                          Pointed gourd / Parwal
Trichosanthes anguina                       Snake gourd
Momordica charantia                          Bitter gourd
Benincasa hispida                              Ash gourd
Family -           Euphorbiaceae
Manihot esculenta                               Tapioca
Family -           Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Pisum sativum                                                Peas
Phaseolus vulgaris                             French bean
Phaseolus lunatus                              Lima bean
Vicia faba                                            Broad bean
Vigna unguiculata                               Cowpea
Cyamopsis tetragonoloba                   Cluster bean
Vigna unguiculta var. sesquipedalis   Asparagus bean
Lablab purpureas                                Lablab bean
Glycine max                                        Soybean
Psophocarpus tetragonolobus           Winged bean
Tigonella foenum graecum                 Methi / fenugreek
Tigonella corniculata                           Kasuri methi
Family -           Malvaceae
Abelmoschus esculentus                   Okra / Bhendi
Family -           Solanaceae
Solanum tuberosum                            Potato
                        Solanum melongena                           Brinjal
Solanum lycopersicum                       Tomato
Capsicum annuum                              Chilli
Family -           Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Daucus carota                                                Carrot
Petroselinum crispum                         Parsley
Apium graveolens                               Celery
Pastinaca sativa                                 Parsnip
Cultural and climatic requirements of crops belonging to a family are not always similar.  Cultural requirement of radish is entirely different from that of cabbage.  Similarly climatic requirement of peas are different from that of cowpea.
Classification based on hardiness
This classification is based on ability to withstand frost and low temperature and it will be useful to know season of cultivation of a crop.  Here the vegetable crops are classified into hardy, semi hardy and tender.  Hardy vegetables tolerate frost and low temperature and are basically winter or cool season or temperate vegetables.  Warm season or subtropical or tropical vegetables are considered as tender since they cannot withstand frost.  Temperate vegetables, in general, can be stored for long periods under low temperature.  Tropical vegetables are bulky and more perishable compared to temperate vegetables.


Semi hardy









Beet root



Globe artichoke




Cluster bean


















Sweet potato

Classification based on parts used
In this system, crops are classified based on their parts used for vegetable purpose.
Tender stem and leaves         :           Cabbage, Chinese cabbage, knolkhol.
Amaranth, palak etc.
Fruits                                       :           Tomato, brinjal, chilli, cowpea etc.
Flower parts                            :           Sprouting broccoli
Under ground portion              :           Carrot, radish, beet root, potato etc.
The cultural requirements of crops in each group may not be same.  For eg., cultural requirement of cowpea is different for that of tomato.  Same is that of cabbage and palak.
Classification based on cultural requirement
This is the most convenient and widely used system of classification of vegetables.  Vegetables having similar cultural requirements are grouped together and placed in one group.  For eg., crops belonging to group Cucurbits are seed propagated, direct sown, trailing and vigorous growing, cross pollinated and the cultural practice are almost same.

  1. Solanaceous fruit vegetables
  2. Cucurbits
  3. Peas and beans
  4. Cole crops
  5. Bulb crops
  6. Root crops
  7. Potato
  8. Tuber crops
  9. Okra
  10. Pot herbs / greens
  11. Salad crops
  12. Perennial vegetables

Classification based on season of cultivation
This is one of the most important classifications from the grower’s point of view since majority of vegetables are season bound and specific to particular seasons.  Vegetables are classified into summer season crops, rainy season crops and winter season crops based on growth and production during particular seasons.
Spring / summer season prevails from February to June / July under North Indian plains and from January to May / June in South Indian plains.  October to January is winter season, experiencing chilling temperature, in most parts of the country.  However, in high rain warm humid climatic condition of Kerala, a distinct winter season is lacking and rainy season starts from June and extents up to September.  Here vegetable crops can be grouped as rainy season, mild winter season, and summer season crops.
A few typical vegetables suited to each group are :
Winter season crops   -           Cruciferous vegetables, carrot, radish, beetroot,
onion, garlic, peas etc.
Mild winter                   -           Hyacinth bean, winged bean, tomato
Summer season         -           All gourds, amaranth
Rainy season crops    -           Bhendi, chilli, brinjal, cluster been, cowpea etc.
However, depending on receipts of rain, slight variation is noticed in different parts of country.  Usually early rains are received in Kerala where monsoon starts during last week of May or first week of June.
Vegetable crops can also be classified based on duration of crop growth and flowering (annual / biennial / perennial), ability to grow and set seeds under a particular climate (temperate / tropical / sub tropical), mode of pollination (Self pollinated (<5% cross pollination) / cross pollinated (>12% cross pollination) / often pollinated (5-12% cross pollination).  pH requirement of soil etc.
None of above classifications, except botanical classification, is hard and fast since one and the same crop fall in different groups or can be accommodated in more than one class.  For example, crops like brinjal and chilli are treated as rainy season crops and bitter gourd, snake gourd and cucumber as summer season crops.  These vegetables can be successfully cultivated in other seasons as well, by taking adequate care.  Varieties within a crop also exhibit variations in their response to season of cultivation, temperature requirement etc.  In crops like cowpea, there are specific varieties suited to rainy season, summer season and winter season.
Each method of classification has its own relevance under specific situations and will be helpful to know the crop requirements by professionals, farmers and students.
1. Scientific method of classification
2. Hardy vegetables can tolerate
a. low temperature                  b. high temperature
c. drought                                d. high rainfall
3. Flowers as economical part in
a. sprouting broccoli                b. cabbage                  c. palak                       d. knol khol
4. Vegetables classification based on cultural requirement
5. Taro is
a. Colocasia                            b. Dioscorea
c. Amarphophallus                  d. Xanthosoma


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