Distribution of Rutaceae:
The family is commonly is called orange family. The family comprises 150 genera and 1300 species out of which India contributes 71 species. The members of the family are distributed in tropical and temperate regions and they are predominant in South Africa and Australia.
Economic Importance of Rutaceae:
The genus Citrus provides a number of fruits:
(a) C. aurantifolia (H-Kaghzi nimbu) has citric acid in its fruits and used in bilous vomiting. The fruit wall has essential oils.
(b) C. aurantium var. bergamia (H-Nimbu). The ripe fruit is digestive and a tonic, fruit wall gives oil of bergamot.
(c) C. aurantium var. bigardia. (H-Khatta). Rich in pro-vitamins A and vitamin B. Oil present in fruit wall.
(d) C. maxima (H-Chakotra) produces edible fruits.
(e) C. sinensis (H-Musumbi). The fruit is widely used during illness; it purifies blood, reduces thirst and improves appetite.
(f) C. reticulata (H-Santara or Narangi). The ripe fruit is highly nutritive and rich in assimilable calcium, the fruit wall also produces citrus oil.
(g) C. limettioides (H-Mitha Nimbu) is useful in fever and jaundice; oil also obtained from the wall.
(h) C. limon (H-Pahari Nimbu). The juice of ripe fruits is useful in rheumatism and dysentery.
(i) Aegle marmelos (H-Bel). This is normally edible. The fruit is particularly useful in stomach disorders. The plant is considered holy and its leaves used in worshipping the God Shiva.
(ii) Fernia limonia (H-Kaith bel). The fruits edible; leaf and bark used medicinally.
- Medicinal: Citrus is not only edible but produces vitamins particularly vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Barosma betulina produces buchu from its leaves which is useful in urinary diseases. Pilocarpus microphyllus: The active principle is pilocarpine which causes contraction of the pupil – it is just opposite to atropine. Jaborandi is prepared from the leaflets of this plant; this is useful in kidney diseases. Murraya koenigii. (H-Katnim) has several medicinal properties. The green leaf is eaten raw in dysentery while bark and roots are useful in bites of poisonous animals when applied externally. The leaves are also used in curry powder particularly by S. Indians.
- Ornamental and miscellaneous:
Plants like Ruta, Luvunga scandens, Ptelea, Calodendrum, Limonia, Murraya are cultivated in gardens for their fragrant flowers. Zanthoxylum piperitum gives Japan pepper. Ruta graveolous gives French oil of Rue; Galipea officinalis yields cusparia bark.
Affinities of Rutaceae:
Engler and Prantl included the family in the Geraniales along with Zygophyllaceae. Euphorbiaceae and Burseraceae. Hallier attached particular phylogenetic significance to the Rutaceae and derived it from stocks ancestral to Berberidaceae; Rendle placed the family in a separate order between Geraniales and Sapindales. Wettstein included Rutaceae along with Meliaceae in the order as Terebinthales.