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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Anacardium humile St. Hil. Anacardiaceae. MONKEY-NUT.

Brazil.
The nuts are eaten and conserves are made of the fruit.


A. nanum St. Hil.
Brazil.
The nuts are eaten and conserves are made of the fruit.


A. occidentale Linn. CASHEW.
This tree is indigenous to the West Indies, Central America, Guiana, Peru and Brazil in all of which countries it is cultivated.
The Portuguese transplanted it as early as the sixteenth century to the East Indies and Indian archipelago. Its existence on the eastern coast of Africa is of still more recent date, while neither China, Japan, or the islands of the Pacific Ocean possess it. The shell of the fruit has thin layers, the intermediate one possessing an acrid, caustic oil, called cardol, which is destroyed by heat, hence the kernels are roasted before being eaten; the younger state of the kernel, however, is pronounced wholesome and delicious when fresh. Drury says the kernels are edible and wholesome, abounding in sweet, milky juice and are used for imparting a flavor to Madeira wine. Ground and mixed with cocoa, they make a good chocolate. The juice of the fruit is expressed, and, when fermented, yields a pleasant wine; distilled, a spirit is drawn from the wine making a good punch. A variety of the tree is grown in Travancore, probably elsewhere, the pericarp of the nuts of which has no oil but may be chewed raw with impunity. An edible oil equal to olive oil or almond oil is procured from the nuts but it is seldom prepared, the kernels being used as a table fruit. A gum, similar to gum arable, called cadju gum, is secreted from this tree. The thickened receptacle of the nut has an agreeable, acid flavor and is edible.


A. rhinocarpus DC. WILD CASHEW.
South America.
This is a noble tree of Columbia and British Guiana, where it is called wild cashew. It has pleasant, edible fruits like the cashew. In Panama, according to Seemann, the tree is called espave, in New Granada caracoli.


Anagallis arvensis Linn. Primulaceae. PIMPERNEL. POOR MAN'S WEATHERGLASS. SHEPHERD'S CLOCK.
Europe and temperate Asia.
Pimpernel, according to Fraas, is eaten as greens in the Levant. Johnson says it forms a part of salads in France and Germany. The flowers close at the approach of bad weather, hence the name, poor man's weatherglass.


Anamirta paniculate Colebr. Menispermaceae.
East Indies.
A strong, climbing shrub found in the eastern part of the Indian Peninsula and Malay Islands. From this plant is produced a deleterious drug illegally used in England to impart bitterness to beer.


Ananas sativus Schult. Bromeliaceae. PINEAPPLE.
Tropical America.
In 1493, the companions of Columbus, at Guadeloupe island, first saw the pineapple, the flavor and fragrance of which astonished and delighted them, as Peter Martyr records. The first accurate illustration and description appear to have been given by Oviedo in 1535. Las Casas, who reached the New World in 1502, mentions the finding by Columbus at Porto Bello of the delicious pineapple. Oviedo, who went to America in 1513, mentions in his book three kinds as being then known. Benzoni, whose History of the New World was published in 1568 and who resided in Mexico from 1541 to 1555, says that no fruit on God's earth could be more agreeable, and Andre Thevet, a monk, says that in his time, 1555-6, the nanas was often preserved in sugar. De Soto, 1557, speaks of "great pineapples of a very good smell and exceeding good taste" in the Antilles. Jean de Lery, 1578, describes it in his Voyage to Brazil as being of such excellence that the gods might luxuriate upon it and that it should only be gathered by the hand of a Venus. Acosta, 1578, also describes this fruit as of " an excellent smell, and is very pleasant and delightful in taste, it is full of juice, and of a sweet and sharp taste." He calls the plant ananas. Raleigh, 1595, speaks of the " great abundance of pinas, the princesse of fruits, that grow under the Sun, especially those of Guiana."

Acosta states that the ananas was carried from Santa Cruz in Brazil to the West Indies, and thence to the East Indies and China, but he does not pretend by this that pineapples were not to be found out of Brazil, for he describes an idol in Mexico, Vitzili-putzli, as having "in his left hand a white target with the figures of five pineapples, made of white feathers, set in a crosse." Stephens, at Tuloom, on the coast of Yucatan, found what seemed intended to represent a pineapple among the stucco ornaments of a ruin. We do not know what to make of Wilkinson's n statement of one instance of the pineapple in glazed pottery being among the remains from ancient Egypt. It has probably been cultivated in tropical America from time immemorial, as it now rarely bears seeds. Humboldt mentions pineapples often containing seeds as growing wild in the forests of the Orinoco, at Esmeralda; and Schomburgk found the wild fruit, bearing seeds, in considerable quantity throughout Guiana. Piso also mentions a pineapple having many seeds growing wild in Brazil. Titford says this delicious fruit is well known and very common in Jamaica, where there are several sorts. Unger says, in 1592 it was carried to Bengal and probably from Peru by way of the Pacific Ocean to China. Ainslie says that it was introduced in the reign of the Emperor Akbar by the Portuguese who brought the seed from Malacca; that it was naturalized in Java as early as 1599 and was taken thence to Europe. In 1594, it was cultivated in China, brought thither perhaps from America by way of the Philippines. An anonymous writer states that it was quite common in India in 1549 and this is in accord with Acosta's statement.

The pineapple is now grown in abundance about Calcutta, and Firminger describes ten varieties. It is now a common plant in Celebes and the Philippine Islands. The Jesuit, Boymins, mentions it in his Flora Sinensis of 1636. A white kind in the East Indies, says Unger, which has run wild, still contains seed in its fruit. In 1777, Captain Cook planted pineapples in various of the Pacific Isles, as at Tongatabu, Friendly Islands, and Society Islands. Afzelius says pineapples grow wild in Sierra Leone and are cultivated by the natives. Don states that they are so abundant in the woods as to obstruct passage and that they bear fruit abundantly. In Angola, wild pines are mentioned by Montiero, and the pineapple is noticed in East Africa by Krapf. R. Brown speaks of the pineapples as existing upon the west coast of Africa but he admits its American origin. In Italy, the first attempts at growing pineapples were made in 1616 but failed. At Leyden, a Dutch gardener was successful in growing them in 1686. The fruit, as imported, was known in England in the time of Cromwell and is again noticed in 1661 and in 1688 from Barbados. The first plants introduced into England came from Holland in 1690, but the first success at culture dates from 1712.


Anaphalis margaritacea Benth. & Hook. Compositae. PEARLY EVERLASTING.
North America.
Josselyn, prior to 1670, remarks of this plant that "the fishermen when they want tobacco, take this herb: being cut and dryed." In France, it is an inmate of the flower garden.


Anchomanes hookeri Schott. Aroideae (Araceae).
Eastern equatorial Africa.
The large bulb is boiled and eaten.


Anchusa officinalis Linn. Boragineae. ANCHU. BUGLOSS.
Europe.
Johnson says, in the south of France and in some parts of Germany, where it is common, the young leaves are eaten as a green vegetable.


Ancistrophyllum (Laccosperma) secundiflorum G. Mann & H. Wendl. Palmae.
African tropics.
The stems are cut into short lengths and are carried by the natives upon long journeys, the soft central parts being eaten after they have been properly roasted.


Andropogon schoenanthus Linn. Gramineae. CAMEL'S HAY. GERANIUM GRASS. LEMON GRASS. OIL-PLANT.
Asia, African tropics and subtropics.
This species is commonly cultivated for the fine fragrance of the leaves which are often used for flavoring custard. When fresh and young, the leaves are used in many parts of the country as a substitute for tea and the white center of the succulent leaf-culms is used to impart a flavor to curries. The tea made of this grass is considered a wholesome and refreshing beverage, says Wallich, and her Royal Majesty was supplied with the plant from the Royal Gardens, Kew, England.


Aneilema loureirii Hance. Commelinaceae.
China.
The plant is cultivated and its tubers are eaten by the Chinese. They are also eaten in India.


Angelica sylvestris Linn. Umbelliferae. GROUND ASH. HOLY GHOST. WILD ANGELICA.
Europe and the adjoining portions of Asia.
On the lower Volga, the young stems are eaten raw by the natives. Don says it is used as archangelica, but the flavor is more bitter and less grateful.


Angiopteris erecta Hoffm. Filices (Angiopteridaceae).
A fern of India, the Asiastic and Polynesian Islands.
The caudex, as also the thick part of the stipes, is of a mealy and mucilaginous nature and is eaten by the natives in times of scarcity.


Angraecum fragrans Thou. Orchideae. BOURBON TEA. FAHAM TEA.
The leaves of this orchid are very fragrant and are used in Bourbon as tea. It has been introduced into France.


Anisophyllea laurina R. Br. Rhizophoreae/Anisophylleaceae. MONKEY APPLE.
African tropics.
The fruit is sold in the markets of Sierra Leone in the months of April and May; it is described by Don as being superior to any other which is tasted in Africa. It is of the size and shape of a pigeon's egg, red on the sunned side, yellow on the other, its flavor being something between that of the nectarine and a plum.


Annesorhiza capensis Cham. et Schlecht. Umbelliferae. ANYSWORTEL.
Cape of Good Hope.
The root is eaten.


A. montana Eckl. & Zeyh.
South Africa.
The plant has an edible root.


Anona asiatica Linn. Anonaceae.
Ceylon and cultivated in Cochin China.
The oblong-conical fruit, red on the outside, is filled with a whitish, .eatable pulp but is inferior in flavor to that of A. squamosa.


A. cherimolia Mill. CHERIMALLA. CHERIMOYA. CHERIMOYER. CUSTARD APPLE.
American tropics.
Originally from Peru, this species seems to be naturalized only in the mountains of Port Royal in Jamaica. Venezuela, New Granada and Brazil know it only as a plant of cultivation. It has been carried to the Cape Verde Islands and to Guinea. The cherimoya is not mentioned among the fruits of Florida by Atwood in 1867 but is included in the American Pomological Society's list for 1879. In 1870, specimens were growing at the United States Conservatory in Washington. The fruit is esteemed by the Peruvians as not inferior to any fruit of the world. Humboldt speaks of it in terms of praise. Herndon says Huanuco is par excellence the country of the celebrated cherimoya, and that he has seen it there quite twice as large as it is generally seen in Lima and of the most delicious flavor. Masters says, however, that Europeans do not confirm the claims of the cherimoya to superiority among fruits, and the verdict is probably justified by the scant mention by travellers and the limited diffusion.


A. cinerea Dunal. ANON. SUGAR APPLE. SWEETSOP.
West Indies.
This species is placed by Unger among edible fruit-bearing plants.


A. muricata Linn. COROSSOL. PRICKLY CUSTARD APPLE. SOURSOP.
Tropical America.
This tree grows wild in Barbados and Jamaica but in Surinam has only escaped from gardens. It is cultivated in the whole of Brazil, Peru and Mexico. In Jamaica, the fruit is sought after only by negroes. The plant has quite recently been carried to Sierra Leone. It is not mentioned among the fruits of Florida by Atwood in 1867 but is included in the American Pomological Society's list for 1879. The smell and taste of the fruit, flowers and whole plant resemble much those of the black currant. The pulp of the fruit, says Lunan, is soft, white and of a sweetish taste, intermixed with oblong, dark colored seeds, and, according to Sloane, the unripe fruit dressed like turnips tastes like them. Morelet says the rind of the fruit is thin, covering a white, unctuous pulp of a peculiar, but delicious, taste, which leaves on the palate a flavor of perfumed cream. It has a peculiarly agreeable flavor although coupled with a biting wild taste. Church says its leaves form corossol tea.


A. paludosa Aubl.
Guiana, growing upon marshy meadows.
The species bears elongated, yellow berries, the size of a hen's egg, which have a juicy flesh.


A. palustris Linn. ALLIGATOR APPLE. CORK-WOOD. MONKEY APPLE. POND APPLE.
American and African tropics.
The plant bears fruit the size of the fist. The seeds, as large as a bean, lie in an orange-colored pulp of an unsavory taste but which has something of the smell and relish of an orange. The fruit is considered narcotic and even poisonous in Jamaica but of the latter we have, says Lunan, no certain proof. The wood of the tree is so soft and compressible that the people of Jamaica call it corkwood and employ it for stoppers.


A. punctata Aubl.
Guiana.
The plant bears a brown, oval, smooth fruit about three inches in diameter with little reticulations on its surface. The flesh is reddish, gritty and filled with little seeds. It has a good flavor and is eaten with pleasure. It is the pinaou of Guiana.


A. reticulata Linn. ANON. BULLOCK'S HEART. CORAZON. COROSSOL. CUSTARD APPLE.
Tropical America.
Cultivated in Peru, Brazil, in Malabar and the East Indies. This delicious fruit is produced in Florida in excellent perfection as far north as St. Augustine ; it is easily propagated from seed. Masters says its yellowish pulp is not so much relished as that of the soursop or cherimoyer. Lunan says, in Jamaica, the fruit is much esteemed by some people. Unger says it is highly prized but he calls the fruit brown, the size of the fist, while Lunan says brown, shining, of a yellow or orange color, with a reddishness on one side when ripe.


A. senegalensis Pers.
African tropics and Guiana.
The fruit is not much larger than a pigeon's egg but its flavor is said, by Savine, to be superior to most of the other fruits of this genus.


A. squamosa Linn. ANON. SUGAR APPLE. SWEETSOP.
It is uncertain whether the native land of this tree is to be looked for in Mexico, or on the plains along the mouth of the Amazon. Von Martius found it forming forest groves in Para.
It is cultivated in tropical America and the West Indies and was early transported to China, Cochin China, the Philippines and India. The fruit is conical or pearshaped with a greenish, imbricated, scaly shell. The flesh is white, full of long, brown granules, very aromatic and of an agreeable strawberrylike, piquant taste. Rhind says the pulp is delicious, having the odor of rose water and tasting like clotted cream mixed with sugar. Masters says the fruit is highly relished by the Creoles but is little esteemed by Europeans. Lunan says it is much esteemed by those who are fond of fruit in which sweet prevails. Drury says the fruit is delicious to the taste and on occasions of famine in India has literally proved the staff of life to the natives.


Anthemis nobilis Linn. Compositae. CAMOMILE.
Europe.
Naturalized in Delaware. This plant is largely cultivated for medicinal purposes in France, Germany and Italy. It has long been cultivated in kitchen gardens, an infusion of its flowers serving as a domestic remedy. The flowers are occasionally used in the manufacture of bitter beer and, with wormwood, make to a certain extent a substitute for hops. It has been an inmate of American gardens from an early period. In France it is grown in flower-gardens.


Anthericum hispidum Linn. Liliaceae. ST. BERNARD'S LILY.
South Africa.
The sprouts are eaten as a substitute for asparagus. They are by no means unpalatable, says Carmichael,9 though a certain clamminess which they possess, that induces the sensation as of pulling hairs from between one's lips, renders them at first unpleasant.


Anthistiria (Themeda) imberbis Retz. Gramineae.
Africa.
This grass grows in great luxuriance in the Upper Nile region, 5 5' south, and in famines furnishes the natives with a grain.


Anthocephalus morindaefolius Korth. Rubiaceae/Naucleaceae.
East Indies and Sumatra.
This large tree is cultivated in Bengal, North India and elsewhere. The flowers are offered on Hindu shrines. The yellow fruit, the size of a small orange, is eaten. The plant is a native of the Siamese countries.


Anthriscus cerefolium Hoffm. Umbelliferae. CHERVIL.
Europe, Orient and north Asia.
This is an old fashioned pot-herb, an annual, which appears in garden catalogs. Chervil is said to be a native of Europe and was cultivated in England by Gerarde in 1597. Parkinson says "it is sown in gardens to serve as salad herb." Pliny mentions its use by the Syrians, who cultivated it as a food, and ate it both boiled and raw. Booth says the French and Dutch have scarcely a soup or a salad in which chervil does not form a part and as a seasoner is by many preferred to parsley. It seems still to find occasional use in England, Chervil was cultivated in Brazil in 1647 but there are no references to its early use in America. The earlier writers on American gardening mention it, however, from McMahon in 1806. The leaves, when young, are the parts used to impart a warm, aromatic flavor to soups, stews and salads. Gerarde speaks of the roots as being edible. There are curled-leaved varieties


Antidesma bunius Spreng. Euphorbiaceae (Stilaginaceae).
A tree of Nepal, Amboina and Malabar.
Its shining, deep red, fruits are subacid and palatable. In Java, the fruits are used, principally by Europeans, for preserving.


A. diandrum Spreng.
East Indies.
The berries are eaten by the natives. The leaves are acid and are made into preserve.


A. ghesaembilla Gaertn.
East Indies, Malay, Australia and African tropics.
The small drupes, dark purple when ripe, with pulp agreeably acid, are eaten.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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