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Spices, Perfumes and Novelties

Spices, perfumes and novelties represent both food related in terms of spices, and aesthetical based applications of plants. Plants are extremely diverse in their usefulness and have functions which extend beyond being of nutritional value.

Many of the spices which individuals use in their daily life are derived directly from plants. Herbs such as thyme, basil and rosemary are examples of commonly stocked kitchen spices which all need to be grown. All three of these herbs are from the Lamiaceae family, commonly referred to as the mint family, and thus, are types of shrubs. Along with other members of this taxonomical family, these plants are utilized as spices which add flavour when cooking.

In the perfume industry, plants are the largest source of fragrant compounds (1). Many different parts of a plant, such as the petals or roots, and even the secretions produced by plants can be used when creating perfumes. Vanilla is a common and favoured scent often used in perfumes and creams, and this fragrance comes from the vanilla plant. Lavender and mint plants are also frequently used in the perfume industry.

There are also various plants sold as novelties. These plant species are not utilized as food sources or perfumes, but are in a sense desired because of neat features they possess which may peak an individual's curiousity. For example, resurrection plants are species capable of tolerating severe dehydration for years in some cases and can later return to life when water is applied to them. These plants are novelties because individuals purchase them simply to be awed by their capacity to be reborn.

Spices, perfumes and novelties represent both traditional and non-traditional applications of various plant species. Plants serve a multitude of purposes and thus, their diversity must be conserved so that these products are not lost.