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Table 1 Commonly grown plants in Bengali gardens in London In general these are varieties which are derived from the species listed and sometimes crossbred with other spp.)

From: Food, home and health: the meanings of food amongst Bengali Women in London

Scientific name Bengali name Purpose of plant Additional information
Allium cepa L. (Amaryllidaceae) Piyaj The bulbs are an essential part of Bengali cooking. Frequently grown in the UK and readily available to buy.
Allium sativum L. (Amaryllidaceae) Roshun The bulbs are an essential part of Bengali cooking. They are also taken medicinally (for general health, the heart, hypertension, stomach upsets and sore throat). Frequently grown in the UK and readily available to buy.
Amaranthus acanthobracteatus Henr. (Amaranthaceae) Lal shak The leaves are eaten as a vegetable with rice. It is considered very healthy as “it contains many vitamins, particularly vitamin A”. It is considered a “Bengali” plant. It is grown frequently in the UK and seeds are transported from Bangladesh.
Amaranthus blitum subsp. oleraceus (L.) Costea (Amaranthaceae) Danta shak The leaves are eaten as a vegetable. It is considered good for general health as it is often eaten fresh and contains many vitamins. Fruits are transported from Bangladesh and it is grown frequently in the UK.
Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f. (Asparagaceae) Gritikumari Consumed as a drink for health benefits and medicinally (general health, skin, constipation etc.) The plant is grown inside the home and can be bought in the UK. It is also common to Bangladesh.
It is also applied topically medicinally for eczema and burns.
Basella alba L. (Basellaceae) Pui shak The leaves are eaten as a vegetable. It is considered good for general health as it is often eaten fresh and contains many vitamins. It is frequently grown in the UK and seeds are often brought from Bangladesh.
Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn. (Cucurbitaceae) Chal kumra, kodu The fruit and leaves are eaten as a vegetable. It is frequently grown in the UK
Brassica juncea (L.) Czern. (Brassicaceae) Sherash The oil is very popular for cooking. The fresh leaves are used in cooking. Occasionally grown in the UK.
Capsicum annuum L. (Solanaceae) Shukna morich, lal morich, kacha morich A range of chillies are grown and added to different food. Seeds are often transported from Bangladesh and the plant is frequently grown in the UK .
Capsicum chinense Jacq. (Solanaceae) Naga morich This is one of the most popular chillies. Seeds are transported from Bangladesh and it is gown in the UK. It is particularly associated with Sylhet.
Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott (Araceae) Kochu The leaves, stems and rhizomes are all eaten in food. Medicinally it is taken in food to promote blood circulation and to treat rashes and other skin conditions. The plant is occasionally grown in gardens.
It is considered a “Bengali” plant.
Corchorus olitorius L. (Malvaceae) Nali shak, pak shak The leaves are consumed as a vegetable, it is considered good for general health. Seeds are frequently sent from Bangladesh and it is considered a“Bengali”vegetable.
Coriandrum sativum L. (Apiaceae) Dhonya The leaves, stalks and seeds are eaten in food. It is very common in Bengal cooking and is also consumed to promote general health and digestion. The plant and fruits are common in the UK.
Cucurbita pepo L. (Cucurbitaceae) Chinese khodu The fruit, leaves and flowers are eaten in food. As a fresh food it is considered healthy. Literally translated it is “Chinese pumpkin”.
Cucurbita maxima Duchesne (Cucurbitaceae) Mishti kumra The fruit is eaten as food. As a fresh food it is considered healthy. It is frequently grown in the UK.
Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet. (Leguminosae) Sheem, uri The fruit and seeds are often added to curries. They are grown frequently in the UK and valued for their good health. The seeds are often transported from Bangladesh.
Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl. (Cucurbitaceae) Lou The fruit and leaves are eaten as food. As a fresh food it is considered healthy. It is frequently grown in the UK.
Raphanus raphanistrum subs. sativus (L.) Domin (Brassicaceae) Mullah The secondary hypocotyl-root and bulb are eaten in salads and the leaves and stems cooked as a vegetable; as fresh produce it is considered healthy. It is frequently grown in the UK.
Solanum lycopersicum L. (Solanaceae) Tomato The fruit is very common in Bengali food. It is frequently grown and the seeds bought to the UK.
Spinacia oleracea L. (Amaranthaceae) Palong shak The leaves are consumed as a vegetable, it is considered good for general health. It is frequently grown in the UK.
Trichosanthes cucumerina L. (Cucurbitaceae) Chichinga The fruit and the leaves are eaten as a vegetable. As a fresh vegetable they are valued for their good health. It is frequently grown in the UK and seeds are transported from Bangladesh
Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp (Leguminosae) Barbati The fruit and seeds are often added to curries. As a fresh vegetable they are valued for their good health. It is frequently grown in the UK and seeds are transported from Bangladesh.