25 Juli 2011

Plants in Home Garden: Resources for Household

Nahda Kanara


Home garden is a space of land surround the house which can be use for keeping the crops and animals and usually have boundaries which made by the owner (Arifin, 1998). This traditional system usually located in the village that provides both subsistence and commercial products and serves multiple functions by simultaneously combining agricultural crops with tree crops and animals (Soemarwoto and Soemarwoto, 1985).

Home garden system is an interaction between ecology and culture. The existence of plants and other elements in homegarden is influenced by human, especially the owner of the land as the manager (Gómez-Pompa, 1996). Therefore, home garden become an important study for ethnobotanist (Vikova et al, 2010).

Home garden have various name in various country. In Indonesia, they called it pekarangan, in Vietnam called vuon nha, and in Philippines called bakuran or halamanan. Those typical home gardens have same characteristic which is mixed of many kinds of elements, such as plants, animals, ponds, and even a structure for worship. This paper will discuss more about plants in typical home garden.

Plants Structure in Home Garden

Feature of home garden is different in different places. In rural side of South East Asia, home garden have typical structure. This homegarden has a similar vertical structure from year to year, though there may be some seasonal variation. The lowest story (less than 1 m in height) is dominated by starchy food plants, vegetables, and spices. The next layer (1-2 m in height) also is dominated by starchy food plants. The next story (2-5 m) is dominated by fruit trees like banana and papaya. The 5 – 10 m layer also is dominated by fruit trees or other cash crops such as cloves. The top layer (10 m or more) is dominated by coconut trees and trees for building materials and firewood (Christanty et al, 1986). Sometimes, one and another species were overlapping in high level.

The overall effect of these multilevel plants is a vertical structure similar to a natural forest, a structure that appears to optimize the use of space and sunlight energy (Christanty, 1986). This multicropping system has a higher net production and biomass than monocropping system. Magcale-Macandong et al (2010) find that the adoption of agro-forestry significantly increased the level of benefits by around 42-137%, compared with income from annual monocropping.

Plants Function in Home Garden

The structure of plants in home garden always follows by the function (adopted from Christanty et al, 1986; Arifin, 1998; Trinh et al, 2003; Peyre et al, 2006):

1. Food

Christanty et al. (1986) and Arifin (1998) separated this category into starchy, fruit, and vegetables plants, is use to fulfill the first basic human body needs; give energy, protein, vitamin and minerals. The example of this plants in home garden is maize (Zea mays), sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), jackfruits (Artocarpus heterophyllus), banana (Musa sp.), petai (Parkia speciosa), and papaya (Carica papaya).

This is the first function that home garden researcher discuss. They try to develop idea of optimal home garden which could fulfill the household consumption as well as the function of first agriculture of human culture. This is close to the idea of local food security that FAO planned for the future.

2. Spices

Spices can be a seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are leafy, green plant parts used for flavoring. The examples of plants in home garden that use for spice are chili pepper (Capsicum sp.), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) and ginger (Zingiber officinale).

3. Stimulants

Plants with stimulant effects are among the earliest plants used by humankind for psychoactive effects. Our interest in them is due to their profound effect on mental functioning, increasing alertness, the ability to sustain effort, and in some cases, the induction of euphoria. Despite their seclusion to a particular geographic region, stimulant plants are widely used across the planet, for examples of stimulant plants in home garden are coffee (Coffea arabica) and cacao (Theobroma cacao).

4. Medicines

Medicinal plants are plants which can be use as medicine. Some medicine plants in home garden are also have function as spices, for example of medicinal plants in home garden are ginger (Zingiber officinale), aloe vera (Aloe barbanencis), mahkota dewa (Phaleria macrocarpa), and curcuma (Curcuma xanthorrhiza).

5. Beverages

Beverage is a liquid which is specifically prepared for human consumption. In addition to filling a basic human need, beverages form part of the culture of human. The example of beverage plants in home garden are orange (Citrus sp.) for orange juice, coconut (Cocos nucifera) and coffee (Coffea arabica).

6. Fodder

Fodder or animal feed is any foodstuff that is used specifically to feed domesticated livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. Most animal feed is from plants that we could find in home garden, such as cassava leave (Manihot esculenta) and maize (Zea mays).

7. Industrial

Industrial plants are plants that use for manufacture product or factory. The example is teak (Tectona grandis), sengon tree (Albazia falcataria) and rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis)

8. Shelter

Shelter plants are plants that can be use as shelter, to reduce light intensity which come to house. These plants usually are high and leafy trees, such as melinjo (Gnetum gnemon) and Leucaena leucochepala.

9. Ornamental

Ornamental plants are plants that are grown for decorative purposes in gardens and landscape design projects, as house plants, for cut flowers and display. Ornamental plants usually have beautiful flower, color or shape such as bougainvillea (Bougainvillea sp.), jasmine (Jasminum officinale), croton (Codieum varigatum) and melinjo (Gnetum gnemon).

10. Use for cultural festival and religious

The plants that use for cultural festival and religious ceremonial have different function and variety in each ceremonial. The example for these plants in home garden is bamboo (Bambuseae) to made procession chair in street festival and jasmine (Jasminum officinale) to worn around the god statue.

11. Fuel

Some dry parts of plants in home garden can be a firewood such as dry stalk of jackfruits (Artocarpus heterophyllus), dry stem of cassava (Manihot esculenta) and coconut thatch (Cocos nucifera). Some plants in home garden can be processed to biofuel, like tuber of cassava (Manihot esculenta) and jatropha (Jatropha curcas).

The plants function in home garden could be different depend on the household. Moreover, one species of plants could have more than one function for household needs.

Plants in home garden also made an additional income for household. Kehlenbeck and Maass (2004) said that about 70% of the gardeners obtained some cash income from their home gardens through sales of coffee, cocoa or surplus of fruits or spices in central Sulawesi, Indonesia.


Home garden can be use as immediate and nearest source of food, especially during the lack of food periods. The owner should enhance home garden establishment by increasing the crops diversity and add household nutrition.


Arifin, H.S. (1998) Study on vegetation structure of Pekarangan and it’s changes in west Java, Indonesia. (Unpublish doctor dissertation) The Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Okayama University. Japan.

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Magcale-Macandong, D.B., Ranola, F.M., Ranola Jr, R.F., Ani, P.A.B, Vidal, N.B. (2010) Enhancing the food security of upland farming households through agroforestry in Claveria, Misamis Oriental, Philipines. Agroforestry Systems 79 (2010): 327-342

Peyre, A., Guidal, A., Wiersum, K.F. & Bongers, F. Dynamics of homegarden structure and function in Kerala, India. Agroferstry system 66(2006):101-115

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Trinh, L.N., Watson, J.W., Hue, N.N., De, N.N., Minh, N.V., Chu, P., Sthapit B.R. & Eyzaguirre, P.B. (2003). Agrobiodiversity conservation and development in Vietnamese home garden. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 97 (2003): 317-344

Vikova, M., Polesay, Z., Verner, V., Banout, J., Dvorak, M., Havlik, J., Lojka, B., Ehl, P. & Krausova, J. (2010, Sept 22). Ethnobotanical knowledge and agrobiodiversity in subsistence farming: case study of home gardens in Phong My commune, central Vietnam. Genetic Resources Crop Evolution. DOI: 10.1007/s10722-010-9603-3

* An Asigment for Botany: Resources for The Future, IDEC 204, February 2011

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