PROSEA and PROTA project

The acronyms stand for:
Plant Resources Of South-East Asia      (PROSEA)
Plant Resources Of Tropical Africa         (PROTA)

The PROSEA books give besides botanical and technical on the use of the plants also cultivation information. The basic information was always on, but this link is not active. On internet I found a nice article with comparable information.
This article was published in Leisa Magazine 2004.
This link is to the original article: Description of useful plants
The text below is the adapted of HTML version of the same article. Not all the links proposed in the article are in use. This is text only. There is no drawing of Spondias purpurea, and I (PR) added 2 comment lines.

Describing useful plants

The number of higher plants in the world is estimated at 300,000 species. In the course of time, mankind has put to use about 40,000, either directly or indirectly.
The majority of these plant species - 25,000 - grow in the tropics. While some have become major world crops, others are used only during famine. Some have received international attention, while others are only of local importance. There are overexploited plants and underutilized ones.

At present, information about useful plants in the tropics is scattered over many publications. Even though improved library databases and internet have made it easier to find information, this remains a problem especially in developing countries. The objective of PROSEA and PROTA is to make access easier by creating a system of ‘information brokerage and knowledge repatriation’for countries in the South.

RROSEA project

What started in 1987 as a bilateral initiative between Indonesia and the Netherlands, gradually became a well-known regional partnership of seven institutions in seven countries, operating as a foundation under the acronym PROSEA. Over the past 16 years (1987 - 2003) an elaborate synthesis of existing information has been made of approximately 7000 useful plants from the region.

The final product is a series of 24 books, each focusing on a commodity group and containing review articles describing the useful plants in a standardized way. Each species, although often multi-purpose, is described only once according to its main use although information on other uses is also provided in the same article. All this information is now being made available through a web database that is scheduled for completion by the end of 2005.

Prosea 11989Pulses
Prosea 21991Edible fruits and nuts
Prosea 31991Dye and tannin-producing plants
Prosea 41992Forages
Prosea 5 (1)1993Timber trees: Major commercial timbers
Prosea 5 (2)1995Timber trees: Minor commercial timbers
Prosea 5 (3) 1998Timber trees: Lesser-known timbers
Prosea 61993Rattans
Prosea 71995Bamboos
Prosea 81993Vegetables
Prosea 91996Plants yielding non-seed carbohydrates
Prosea 101996Cereals
Prosea 111997Auxiliary plants
Prosea 12 (1)1999Medicinal plants 1
Prosea 12 (2) 2001Medicinal plants 2
Prosea 12 (3) 2003Medicinal plants 3
Prosea 131999Spices
Prosea 142001Vegetable oils and fats
Prosea 15 (1)2001Cryptogams: Algae
Prosea 15 (2)2003Cryptogams: Ferns and fern allies
Prosea 162000Stimulants
Prosea 172003Fibre plants
Prosea 182000Plants producing exudates
Prosea 191999Essential-oil plants
For more information on the book series, please visit Backhuys publishers for PROTA, PROSEA and other publications.
(changed! was PR)
A low-price paperback edition is available for developing countries; it can be ordered from the PROSEA Network Office, P.O. Box 332, Bogor 16122, Indonesia.
Additional information about the Web Database can be obtained from:

PROTA project

In 2000, the success of PROSEA led to a similar programme being set up for tropical Africa. The number of useful plants in tropical Africa is estimated to be around 7000, about the same as for Southeast Asia.
The PROTA partnership includes eleven institutions in seven African, one Southeast Asian and three European countries. This time the ‘knowledge system’will be directly built into a web database with free access, but the information will also be made available in a book and CD-Rom in English and French.
It is estimated that the implementation of the programme will take ten years (2003 - 2012). Currently, the first three Commodity groups are in preparation. About 100 manuscripts on vegetables are already accessible through the Web Database.
More information about this programme and access to the web database can be obtained from:

The model publications,
“PROTA basic list of species and commodity grouping/PROTA liste de base des espèces et de leurs groupes d’usage” (2002), and “PROTA Precursor/PROTA Précurseur” (2002),
made during the preparatory phase are available from CTA, P.O. Box 380, 6700 AJ Wageningen, the Netherlands. E-mail:


The PROSEA/PROTA ‘knowledge synthesis’is a uniquely comprehensive review of the useful plants of the tropics and a rich source of information that can be used for research, education, extension, policy measures and industrial development.
It brings the ‘world literature’, currently only available to a happy few, into the public domain with due respect to traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights. Above all, it is a contribution to raising awareness on the ‘world heritage of useful plants of the tropics’.

Jan Siemonsma. PROTA Foundation, c/o Wageningen University, P.O.Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen. E-mail:Jan
(E-mail not available! PR)