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Facts About the Rice Plant: History, Description, and Health Benefits of Brown Rice

A botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.

Rice Plant

Rice Plant

Rice is a food crop that is included as an essential part of a meal across the world. Rice is used for making desserts, puddings or ground and used in the form of rice flour.

The rice plant is a member of the grass family called Poaceae. It is cultivated as an agricultural crop and has an annual yield of 535 million tons. In Asia alone, over 300 million acres of land is used for cultivation of rice.

History of Rice

The first evidence of rice being grown was traced back to China. From China, the cultivation of rice spread to South Asia during 2000 B.C. The knowledge of rice cultivation spread to Indonesia around 1,500 B.C and Japan in 1000 B.C. Rice was introduced to India in 2500 B.C and SriLanka in 1000 B.C.

The growing of rice spread to Europe, Africa, and America when the Moor’s invaded Spain in 700 A.D. In the United States rice was cultivated since the seventeenth century.

Latest archaeological evidence has revealed that an area along the Yangtze River in Central China was the region where rice was first domesticated.

Scientific Classification of Rice

Division Magnoliopsida

Class - Liliopsida

Order - Poales

Family - Poaceae

Genus - Oryza

Species - sativa

Varieties of Rice

The rice plant is an annual grass that belongs to the genus Oryza. The genus Oryza has two cultivated varieties of rice and 22 wild species of rice. The rice plant belongs to the Gramineae family. The Gramineae family is also referred to as Poaceae.

The two varieties of rice that are widely cultivated for consumption are Oryza sativa (Asian rice) and the Oryza glaberrima (African rice).

What is a tiller?

The tiller is the rice seedling that arises from the seed after germination. The young seedling has three main parts - root, shoot and the leaf.

When the seedling has developed a stem and sprouted about five leaves, more shoots grow out from the main stem. This process is called tillering, and each new stem is called a tiller. At the top of each tiller, there are flat leaves.

At first, the tiller is attached to the main plant and after sometime the tiller separates from the main plant and develops roots of its own.

Description of the Rice Plant

Rice is a plant that has a short lifespan of 3 – 7 months. The height of the rice plant ranges from 0.4 meters to 5 meters. The wild varieties of rice are more than 7 meters tall.


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Rice plants grow as a tuft of culms (stems) with long flat leaf blades. The stem of the rice plant has joints that are made up of nodes and internodes. The node is the part of the stem from which a leaf grows. The internode is part of the stem that lies between two nodes.


The root system of the rice plant is shallow, and more than 95% of the roots are found in top 8 inches of the soil.

The roots of the rice plant are fibrous and have many secondary and tertiary branches. The surface of the roots has thin root hairs. The root hairs absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil.


The leaves are arranged in alternate order on the culm in opposite directions. The leaf of the rice plant is complex in structure.

  • Leaf sheath originates from the node of a culm (stem) and partially encloses the node.
  • Leaf blade also originates from the node and is joined with the sheath.
  • The uppermost part of the leaf is called the Flag Leaf and is just below the panicle.
  • There are small appendages at the base of the leaf blade called auricles.
  • A thin papery structure present above the auricle called the ligule.
Structure of the Flower of Rice Plant

Structure of the Flower of Rice Plant

Structure of the Flower

The rice flowers are small and are arranged in a panicle-type of an inflorescence. A panicle inflorescence is borne on the uppermost internode of the culm. The spikelet is the floral part of the plant that has the reproductive organs.

The male part of the rice plant is the stamen. It is made up of two parts the anther and the filament. The filament is long, thin and supports the anther at the tip. Each anther has four elongated sacs that hold the pollen grains. The flower of the rice plant has six stamens.

The female part of the rice plant is made up of the stigma, style, and ovary. The pollen grains land on the stigma and these are transported to the ovary where fertilization takes place. The ovary, stigma, and style together make up the carpel.

The lemma and palea are the structures that protect the floral organs. The pedicel is the small stalk that arises from the node and bears the spikelet.

The wind pollinates the flowers of the rice plant.

Structure of the Kernel

Each rice plant bears hundreds of kernels. A rice kernel measures 6-10 mm in length.

The rice kernel has four parts –

  • hull – the hard outermost covering
  • bran - layers that protect the inner parts of the kernel
  • endosperm - found beneath the bran layers
  • embryo - the innermost part from which a new rice plant grows

The bran layers are rich in protein, dietary fiber, Gamma Oryzanol and trace minerals, The endosperm (white rice) has protein, carbohydrate, and starch.

The embryo also known as the germ is rich in protein, antioxidants, minerals and phytonutrients.

Rice Grains

Rice Grains

Harvesting Rice Grains

Rice grows well in heavy soils and is rich in water content. Farmers grow rice in paddies. Paddies are fields with dirt walls around them that help to keep the water inside.

The fields are flooded with water and the seeds, or small rice plants are planted in the soil.

Two or three weeks before the harvest all the water from the field is pumped out, and the rice plants are cut, and the kernels are separated from the rest of the plant. The wet kernels are dried out in the sun. After the harvest, rice is processed in the rice mills.

Why brown rice is more healthy than white rice?

Brown rice is more healthy than white rice because the milling process that produces the brown rice removes only the outermost layer (hull) of the rice grain and does not destroy the nutritious inner layers of the rice grain such as the bran, endosperm and the embryo.

The milling and polishing processes that produce white rice destroy the nutritional inner layers of the rice grain.

The milling and polishing process that produces white rice destroys the following -

  • 67 % of Vitamin B3
  • 80 % of Vitamin B1
  • 90 % of Vitamin B 6
  • 60 % of iron
  • Half the Manganese
  • Half the Phosphorus
  • All of the dietary fiber and fatty acids

Brown rice is a healthy choice that contributes to overall good health in the long run.

Rice Bran Oil

Rice Bran Oil

Rice Bran Oil For Skincare

Rice bran oil is a lightweight oil rich in phytochemicals that help to reduce premature aging and aid in skin regeneration, skin lightening, and moisture retention, and soothe irritated skin.

It contains a high percentage of phytochemicals rich in Omega 3 and 9 fatty acids, which are easily absorbed by the skin and help to keep the skin hydrated and supple.

Rice bran oil is a light golden oil obtained by pressing the bran or the husk of rice kernels. It is derived from the hard brown oily layer between the outer husk of the hull and the rice kernels inside. After harvesting, the bran is either pressed by hand or cold-pressed through machines to obtain the oil.

Rice bran oil is a healthy choice for cooking as it aids in controlling blood sugar levels, keeps the heart healthy and working in good condition, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that prevent damage to the cells from free radicals.



Gramene Oryza




© 2015 Nithya Venkat


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 09, 2018:

Mary Norton, thank you for your visit. I too hope such heathy rice comes into the market. Rice is my favorite too.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 04, 2018:

I just saw an interview in Bloomberg or CNBC of a Japanese who has started milling rice without wasting those great nutrients in rice and he is selling it now in Japan. I hope this will reach our market, too. I love eating rice.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 26, 2015:

Thelma Albert rice tastes delicious and it must have been a great experience harvesting rice, thank you for stopping by.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on May 26, 2015:

Very informative hub. I love eating rice and when I was still a child, my mother and sisters helped harvesting rice in the fields while I helped them getting the hulls out of the rice by hitting the rice with a long wood. I forgot the name of it. A very hard work before we were able to eat rice. Thanks for reminding me those days.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 25, 2015:

RTalloni, thank you for stopping by and yes rice has it's own benefits if consumed in moderation.

RTalloni on May 25, 2015:

Most of us take rice for granted but having more insight into this amazing little grain is interesting. Though it is a starch/carb, it is important to remember that rice has much nutritional value. Thanks for a neat read.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 29, 2015:

vocalcoach thank you and am glad you came to know more about rice through this hub. Thanks for the many votes and share.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on April 28, 2015:

You've provided so much interesting information about rice. Excellent hub! I've learned a lot. Voted up and across (not funny) and sharing.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 28, 2015:

AudreyHowitt, thank you!

Audrey Howitt from California on April 28, 2015:

Fabulous write!!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 16, 2015:

ChitrangadaSharan thank you for your visit and vote up, much appreciated.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 16, 2015:

Great informative hub!

We consume Rice almost daily and I have also seen the Rice fields. But you have provided a through hub about Rice, much of which I didn't know.

Thanks for sharing this very educative hub full of information about Rice. Voted up!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 03, 2015:

Peggy W thank you for your visit. Thanks too for the vote up, tweet and pin, much appreciated.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 03, 2015:

In the western areas of Houston there are still some rice fields and further into the city which is now filled with subdivisions and commercial businesses there are numerous rice mills still standing which are now often used for other purposes. Very interesting article! Reading this article definitely added to my knowledge. Up votes and sharing; also tweeted and pinned.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 29, 2015:

Nell Rose thank you for stopping by. Thanks for the vote and share too.

Nell Rose from England on March 28, 2015:

Hi, I knew about the paddy fields but not much else, I do remember seeing it on tv, how they had layers on the side of a mountain where each family took part in keeping them watered etc, fascinating hub, voted up and shared! nell

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 25, 2015:

Ericdierker thank you and am glad you came to know more about rice.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 25, 2015:

Excellent, I learned a great deal. There is always rice being prepared somehow in my home and it is good to learn more about it.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 20, 2015:

travmaj thank you for your visit.

radhikasree thank you for reading and the many vote ups. Kerala is a beautiful place.

Venkatacahri M thank you for your appreciation and vote up, much appreciated.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on March 19, 2015:

Great, informative hub. You have done it so detailed with good research and illustrative images.

Voted up.

Radhika Sreekanth from Mumbai,India on March 19, 2015:

Your hub reminded me of the green paddy fields of Kerala. Rice, being our staple food, is an interesting topic to discuss with.

Voted up, useful and interesting. Sharing too..

travmaj from australia on March 19, 2015:

Fascinating hub, I've often seen rice paddies but hadn't thought about the whole procedure. Most informative and such detail. Thank you Vellur

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 17, 2015:

always exploring thank you and yes brown rice is more healthy.

Ruchira thank you, science can be interesting and sometimes mind boggling!

Alicia C thank you for stopping by.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 17, 2015:

This hub contains a lot of information! Thanks for sharing it, Vellur.

Ruchira from United States on March 17, 2015:

It was an interesting walk back to my class room when i learnt this years back, and honestly there were moments when i had to ponder over the procedure :)

Well done, Nithya!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 17, 2015:

Your article is full of facts unknown to me. Sounds like we should be eating more brown rice.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 17, 2015:

pstraubie48 it must have been great walking through the rice fields! Thank you for the special angels.

Jackie Lynnley thank you for your visit.

Faith Reaper thank you for reading and for the many votes, tweet and pin. Much appreciated.

Flourish Anyway thank you for stopping by and yes rice is the staple food for many people.

moonlake thank you for your visit and the information. Thanks for the vote up too.

moonlake from America on March 16, 2015:

Interesting hub, enjoyed reading your hub. Arkansas grows the most rice in the US. Wild rice is what people harvest in this area. Voted up.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 16, 2015:

Voted up and more. All I knew about rice was it grew in paddies and certain cultures eat a whole lot of it. Good hub!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 16, 2015:

You have provided a lot of great information I did not know about rice.

Excellent hub full of insight and useful.

Up ++ tweeting and pinning

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 16, 2015:

Very interesting info on a grain I really love! ^+

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 16, 2015:

When I lived in Japan, there were tiny one way roads that ran through some of the rice paddies. Some days when we were behind schedule in getting to work, we would cut through there ...and often workers were there tending to the plants.

You filled in lots I did not know. thanks for sharing.

Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 16, 2015:

billybuc thank you for reading and leaving a comment, much appreciated.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 16, 2015:

Oddly I didn't know any of this. I knew rice was grown in paddies, but I didn't know the purpose of them or how it was harvested. Great information here.

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