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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Cicer arietinum Linn. Leguminosae. CHICK-PEA. EGYPTIAN PEA.
Europe, Orient and the East Indies.
This plant is represented as growing wild in the Caucasus, in Greece and elsewhere; it is also found escaped from cultivation in the fields of middle Europe. The Jews, Greeks and Egyptians cultivated it in ancient times. It is extensively cultivated at the present time in the south of Europe, in the Levant, in Egypt as far as Abyssinia and in India. The seeds vary in size and color in the different varieties. In Paris, they are much used for soups. In India, they are ground into a meal and either eaten in puddings or made into cakes. They are also toasted or parched and made into a sort of comfit. In India, says Wight: "The leaves of the plant secrete an acid which the natives collect by spreading a cloth over night on the plant and wringing out the dew in the morning. They then use it as vinegar or for forming a cooling drink." In 1854, the seed was distributed from the United States Patent Office.

The shape of the unripe seed, which singularly resembles a ram's head, may account for its being regarded as unclean by the Egyptians of the time of Herodotus. It was in common use in ancient Rome and varieties are mentioned by Columella and Pliny, the latter naming the white and black, the Dove of Venus pea, and many kinds differing from each other in size. Albertus Magnus, in the thirteenth century, mentions the red, the white and the black sorts, and this mention of colors is continued by the herbalists of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. The white chick-pea is the sort now generally grown in France, where the dried seeds find large use in soups. The red variety is now extensively grown in eastern countries, and the black sort is described as more curious than useful.


Cichorium endivia Linn. Compositae. ENDIVE.
Europe and the Orient.
This is a widely distributed plant, probably of East Indian origin, where certainly, says Unger, "The same plant is met with wild about Patna and Kamaon, as well as in Nepal." Others deem it a native plant of Sicily. It was used as an esculent from a very early period by the Egyptians and was known to the Greeks Ovid mentions it in his tale of Philemon and Bauds, Columella also refers to it as common in his day, and Pliny states it was eaten in his time as a salad and as a potherb. It was in cultivation in England as early as 1548. It is not known when the endive was first used in the United States, but McMahon, 1806, mentions the Green Curled, White Curled and the Broad-leaved in cultivation. In 1828 and 1881, Thorbum offers the seed of these varieties only.

There are two distinct forms of endive, the curled and the broad-leaved. The first does not seem to have been known to the ancients, although Dioscorides and Pliny name two kinds. In the thirteenth century, Albertus Magnus names also two kinds, the one with narrower leaves than the other; and in 1542 Fuchsius figures two kinds of like description, and like forms are noted in nearly all the earlier botanies. A curled, broad-leaved form is figured by Camerarius, 1586; Dalechamp, 1587; and Gerarde, 1597. Endive is described in the Adversarial 1570. The authors named furnish what may reasonably be considered as the types of the four kinds of broad-leaved endives described by Vilmorin. The origin of the curled endives, of which Vilmorin describes twelve, is difficult to trace. The peculiar truncate appearance of the seed-stalks is very conspicuous, and this feature would lead one to suspect that the type is to be seen in the Seris sativa of Lobel, but the resemblances are quite remote. This is the Cichorium latioris folii of Dodonaeus, 1616. The endives were in English gardens as well-known plants in 1778 and were named among seedsmen's supplies in 1726. They were in the United States prior to 1806.


C. intybus Linn. BARBE DE CAPUCHIN.. CHICORY. SUCCORY. WITLOOF.
Europe and the Orient.
Wild chicory has been used from time immemorial as a salad-plant and, forced in darkness, affords the highly-esteemed vegetable in France known as barbe de capuchin. It has also large-rooted varieties and these, when treated in like manner, form the vegetable known in Belgium as witloof.

Whether chicory was cultivated by the ancients there is reason to doubt, although they knew the wild plant and its uses as a vegetable. It is not mentioned in the descriptive list of garden vegetables in use in the thirteenth century, as given by Albertus Magnus. Ruellis, 1535, mentions two kinds but does not imply cultivation; nor does Fuschius 1542, who likewise names two kinds, one of which is our dandelion. It is treated of by Tragus, 1552; Matthiolus, 1558; the Adversarial 1570; Lobel, 1576; Camerarius, 1586; Dalechamp, 1587; Gerarde, 1597; but with no mention of cultivation. Although not mentioned in Lyte's translation of Dodonaeus, 1586, as cultivated, yet, in Dodonaeus' Pemptades, 1616, it is said not only to occur wild throughout all Germany but to be cultivated in gardens. This is the first mention of culture noted. In 1686, Ray says "it is sown in gardens and occurs wild in England." The seed occurs among seedsmen's supplies in 1726. At the present time, chicory is grown for the use of its leaves in salads and for its root to be used as an adulterant for coffee. The smooth, tapering root, which seems such an improved form in our modern varieties, is beautifully figured by Camerarius in 1586. The common chicory grown for salads is but the wild plant little changed and with the divided leaves as figured by the herbalists. The entire-leaved form with a tendency to a red midrib also occurs in nature and may be considered as the near prototype of the Magdeburg large-rooted and of the red Italian sorts. The variegated chicory, the curled-leaved and the broad-leaved may have their prototypes in nature if sought for but at present must remain unexplained. The common, the spotted-leaved and the large-rooted were in French culture in 1826.


Cinnamomum cassia Blume. Lauraceae. CASSIA. CINNAMON.
China, Sumatra, Ceylorf and other parts of eastern Asia.
This plant yields a cinnamon of commerce. Cinnamon seems to have been known to the ancient natives inhabitating the countries bordering on the Levant. It is the kinnamomon of Herodotus, a name which he states the Greeks learned from the Phoenicians. It is spoken of in Exodus, is referred to by Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Pliny and others of the ancient writers. The inner bark of the shoots is the portion used. Nearly every species of the genus yields its bark to commerce, including not less than six species on the Malabar coast and in Ceylon, and nearly twice as many more in the eastern part of Asia and in the islands of the Eastern Archipelago. Cassia bark resembles the true cinnamon but is thicker, coarser and not as delicately flavored. Both are used for flavoring confectionery and in cooking.


C. culilawan Blume.
Malays, China, Moluccas and Cochin China.
The bark of this species is said to have the flavor of cloves and is used as a condiment.


C. iners Reinw.
Burma, Malays, tropical Hindustan and Siam.
In India, the natives use the bark as a condiment in their curries. In southern India, the more mature fruits are collected for use but are very inferior to the Chinese cassia buds. Among the Ghauts, the bark is put in curries as a spice.


C. loureirii Nees.
Cochin China and Japan.
From the bark of this plant is made a cinnamon of which the finest kind is superior to that of Ceylon.


C. nitidum Blume.
Java, Ceylon and India.
This plant furnishes a spice.


C. sintok Blume.
Malays and Java.
The plant possesses an aromatic bark.


C. tamala T. Nees & Eberm.
Himalayan region.
This plant furnishes leaves that are essential ingredients in Indian cookery.


C. zeylanicum Nees. CINNAMON.
East Indies and Malays.
This plant is largely cultivated in Ceylon for its bark. Its cultivation is said to have commenced about 1770, but the plant was known in a wild state long before. Herodotus says: "the bark was the lining taken from birds' nests built with clay against the face of precipitous mountains in those countries where Bacchus was nurtured." It has been cultivated for some time in Mauritius, the West Indies, Brazil and other tropical countries.


Cistus ladaniferus Linn. Cistaceae. LAUDANUM.
Western Mediterranean regions.
This species, which furnishes the laudanum of Spain and Portugal, is often to be met with in gardens. Loudonl says the gum which exudes from it is eaten by the common people.


C. villosus Linn. SHAGGY ROCK-ROSE.
Spain.
This plant is used in Greece in preparing infusions similar to tea. It is the cistus mas of the ancients.


Citriobatus sp.? Pittosporeae. NATIVE ORANGE. ORANGE THORN.
Australia.
A species of this genera is the native orange and orange thorn of the Australian colonists. The fruit is an orange berry with a leathery skin, subglobular, about one and one-half inches through and is eaten by the natives.


Citrullus colocynthis Schrad. Cucurbitaceae. BITTER GOURD. COLOCYNTH.
Tropical Africa.
This creeping plant grows abundantly in the Sahara, in Arabia, on the Coromandel coast and in some of the islands of the Aegean. The fruit, which is about as large as an orange, contains an extremely bitter and drastic pulp, from which the drug colocynth is obtained. Thunberg says this gourd is rendered so perfectly mild at the Cape of Good Hope, by being properly pickled, that it is eaten by the natives and by the colonists. The gourds are also made into preserves with sugar, having been previously pierced all over with knives and then boiled in six or seven waters until all the bitterness disappears. Gypsies eat the kernel of the seed freed from the seed-skin by a slight roasting. Fluckiger says the seed kernels are used as a food in the African desert, after being carefully deprived of their coatings. Stille says they are reported to be mild, oleaginous and nutritious. Captain Lyon speaks also of their use in northern Africa. In India, according to Vaupell, there is a sweet variety which is edible and cultivated.


C. vulgaris (lanatus) Schrad. WATERMELON.
Tropical Africa.
The watermelon has succeeded especially well under American culture, the varieties being many in number and continuously increasing, either through importation or through the process of selection. The size has also become enormous selected specimens sometimes weighing 96 pounds or even more. The varieties vary in shape from round to oblong and in color from a light green to almost a black, self-colored or striped with paler green or marbled. The flesh may be white, cream-color, honey-color, pale red, red or scarlet. The seeds are white, white with two black spots, cream-colored tipped with brown and a brown stripe around the edge, yellow with a black stripe round the margin and with black spots, dark brown, reddishbrown, russet-brown, black, sculptured or as if engraved with ornamental characters, and pink or red.

The watermelon is mentioned by the early botanists and described as of large size, but it must be considered that this fruit even now is not as successfully grown in Europe as in more southern countries. That none or few types have originated under modern culture is indicated by an examination into the early records.

Size.-Cardanus, 1556, writes that the size is sometimes so great that a man can scarcely embrace the fruit with his expanded arms. Marcgravius, 1648, describes those of Brazil as being as large as a man's head, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller. In 1686, Ray says the size is such as to be scarcely grasped with the two hands; this is what J. Bauhin wrote many years earlier for he died in 1613. The figures in the earlier botanies, of which there are many, all indicate a smalll-sized fruit, although the description is usually of a "large" or very large fruit.

Shape.-Round fruits are mentioned by Fuchsius, 1542; by Cardanus, 1556; Garcia ab Horto, 1567; Marcgravius, 1648; Piso, 1658; and Ray, 1686. Subround or roundish, by Camerarius, 1586; and Gerarde, 1597. Oblong by Garcia ab Horto, 1567; Lourerio, 1790. Oval, by Garcia ab Horto, 1567. Elliptical, by Marcgravius, 1648; and Ray, 1686.

Color.-Grass-green, by Fuchsius, 1542. Green, by Albertus Magnus, thirteenth century; Bauhin, 1596; Gerarde, 1597. Grass-green and spotted, by Matthiolus, 1570; Camerarius, 1596; Dalechamp, 1587. Green and spotted, by Bauhin, 1596. Blackish, by Gerarde, 1597.

Flesh.-Red, by Bauhin, 1596; 1623, Marcgravius, 1648. White, by Bauhin, 1596, 1623, Chabraeus, 1677. Scarlet, by Marcgravius, 1648. Pale red, by Piso, 1658; Loureiro, 1790. Yellow, by Bryant, 1783. Flesh-color, by Josselyn, 1663.

Seed.-Chestnut-brown, by Fuchsius, 1542. Purple-red, by Tragus, 1552. Black, by Matthiolus, 1570; Camerarius, 1596; Dalechamp, 1587; Bauhin, 1596; J. Bauhin, 1651. Red, by Matthiolus, 1570; Bauhin, 1596; Sloane, 1696; Bryant, 1783. Reddish, by Camerarius, 1586. Brown, by Bauhin, 1596; Marcgravius, 1648. Raven-black, by Marcgravius, 1648. White, by J. Bauhin, 1651. Sculptured, by Forskal, 1775.

It is interesting to note that the older writers described some varieties as sweet, others as insipid and acid. Livingstone describes the wild watermelons of South Africa as some sweet and wholesome, others bitter and deleterious. The bitter or acid forms do not now appear in our culture.

The most surprising plant of the South African desert, writes Livingstone, is the kengwe or keme, the watermelon. In years when more than the usual quantity of rain falls, vast tracts of the country are literally covered with these melons. Some are sweet, and others so bitter that they are named by the Boers the "bitter watermelon." The bitter ones are deleterious, but the sweet are quite wholesome. As this missionary observer was not a botanist, it is possible that this species may have been the colocynth, Citrullus colocynthis, or a hybrid of the colocynth and the watermelon.

Rauwolf, 1574, found the watermelon growing in abundance in the gardens of Tripoli, Rama and Aleppo under the name bathieca, the root of which word, says R. Thompson, is from the Hebrew abattichim, one of the fruits of Egypt which the Jews regretted in the wilderness. The watermelon still forms the chief food and drink of the inhabitants of Egypt for several months in the year. In Bagdad, also, it is a staple summer food. Pallas says in southern Russia the people make a beer from their abundant crops of watermelons, with the addition of hops. They also make a conserve or marmalade from the fruit, which is an excellent substitute for syrup or molasses. In 1662, Nieuhoff found the watermelon called batiek by the Indians of Batavia, some being white, others red and the seeds black. This melon is said to have been introduced into Britain in 1597. By European colonists, says Pickering, it was carried to Brazil and the West Indies, to eastern North America, to the islands of the Pacific, to New Zealand and Australia.

Watermelons are mentioned by Master Graves as abounding in Massachusetts in 1629, and shortly after Josselyn speaks of it as a fruit "proper to the countrie. The flesh of it is of a flesh-colour...and excellent against the stone. ""A large fruit, but nothing near so big as a pompion;" colour smoother, and of a sad grass-green, rounder, or, more rightly, sap-green; with some yellowness admixt when ripe. The seeds are black; the flesh, or puipe, exceeding juicy." Before 1664, according to Hilton, watermelons were cultivated by the Florida Indians. In 1673, Father Marquette, who descended the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, speaks of melons, "which are excellent, especially those with a red seed." In 1822, Woods says of the Illinois region: "Watermelons are also in great plenty, of vast size; some I suppose weigh 20 pounds. They are more like pumpkins in outward appearance than melons. They are round or oblong, generally green, or a green and whitish color on the outside, and white or pale on the inside, with many black seeds in them, very juicy, in flavor like rich water, and sweet and mawkish, but cool and pleasant." In 1747, Jared Eliot mentions watermelons in Connecticut, the seed of which came originally from Archangel in Russia. In 1799, watermelons were raised by the tribes on the Colorado River. In 1806, McMahon describes four kinds. They are now cultivated throughout the warm regions of the globe.


Citrus. Rutaceae. BERGAMOT. CITRON. GRAPE FRUIT. LEMON. LIME. ORANGE. POMELO SHADDOCK.
The determination of the species of this genus seems to be in confusion, as might be expected from the great variability of this favorite fruit so long under cultivation. Linnaeus established two species, Citrus aurantium, comprising the sweet and bitter orange and the shaddock; and Citrus medica, comprising the lime, lemon and citron. Risso and Poiteau recognized eight species, C. bergamia, the bergamot, C. limetta, the sweet lime with white flowers, C. decumana, the shaddock, C. lumia, the sweet lemon, C. limonum, the lemon, and C. medica, the citron. In 1818, Risso describes 169 varieties and figures 105. The mass of evidence collected by Professor Targioni-Tozzetti seems to show that oranges were first brought from India into Arabia in the ninth century, that they were unknown in Europe, or at any rate in Italy, in the eleventh, but were shortly afterwards carried westward by the Moors. They were in cultivation at Seville towards the end of the twelfth century, and at Palermo in the thirteenth and probably also in Italy, for it is said that St. Domine planted an orange for the convent of S. Sabina in Rome in the year 1200. In the course of the same century, the crusaders found citrons, oranges and lemons very abundant in Palestine, and in the fourteenth century both oranges and lemons became common in several parts of Italy.

They must have been early introduced to America, for Humboldt says "it would seem as if the whole island of Cuba had been originally a forest of palm, lemon and wild orange trees, and he thinks the oranges," which bear a small fruit, are probably anterior to the arrival of Europeans, who transported thither the agrumi of the gardens. Caldlouch says the Brazilians affirm that the small, bitter orange, which bears the name of loranjo do terra and is found wild far from the habitations of man, is of American origin, De Soto, 1557, mentions oranges in the Antilles as bearing fruit all the year, and, in 1587. Cavendish found an orchard with lemons and oranges at Puna, South America, and off San Bias lemons and oranges were brought to the ships. In 1693-94, Phillips speaks of the wild orange as apparently indigenous in Mexico, Porto Rico, Barbados and the Bermudas, as well as in Brazil and the Cape Verde Islands.

The citron appears to have been the only one of this genus known in ancient Rome and is probably the melea persike of Theophrastus and the persika mala of Dioscorides. Lindley says those who have bestowed the most pains in the investigation of Indian botany, and in whose judgment we should place the most confidence, have come to the conclusion that the citron, orange, lemon, lime and their numerous varieties now in circulation, are all derived from one botanical species.


C. aurantium Linn. BERGAMONT. BITTER ORANGE. SEVILLE ORANGE. SWEET ORANGE.
Tropical eastern Asia.
The sweet orange began to be cultivated in Europe about the middle of the fifteenth century. Phillips says it was introduced at Lisbon in 1548 by Juan de Castro, a celebrated Portuguese warrior, and from this one tree all the European orange trees of this sort were propagated. This tree was said to have been alive at Lisbon in 1823. One of the first importations of oranges into England occurred A. D. 1290, in which year a Spanish ship laden with this fruit arrived at Portsmouth; of this cargo the Queen of Edward I bought seven. Gallesio says the sweet orange reached Europe through Persia to Syria, and thence to the shores of Italy and the south of France, being carried by the Arabs. It was seen by Friar Jordanus in India about 1330. In the year 1500, says Loudon, there was only one orange-tree in France, which had been planted in 1421 at Pempeluna in Navarre, and this tree is still living. In 1791, Bartram refers to the orange as growing abundantly in Florida, as is apparent from the context, and in 1871 Dr. Baldwin writes, "you may eat oranges from morning to night at every plantation along the shore (of the St. Johns), while the wild trees, bending with their golden fruit over the water, present an enchanting appearance." Oranges are also found in Louisiana and in California (they were seen by FatherBaegert in 1751) and are now quite extensively grown for market in the extreme soutliern states. They are imported to our Atlantic ports from the Mediterranean, the Azores and also from the West Indies. At San Francisco, large quantities are received from Tahiti and Mexico and a few from Hawaii. There are numerous varieties grown, some of which are so distinct as to be described as botanical species.
BERGAMOT.
The bergamot first appeared in the latter part of the seventeenth century. It is not mentioned in the grand work on orange trees by Ferrari, 1676, nor by Lanzani, 1690, nor Quintinye, 1692. It seems to be first mentioned in a little book called La Parfumeur Francois, published at Lyons in 1693. There are several varieties.
BIGARADE ORANGE. SOUR ORANGE. BITTER ORANGE. SEVILLE ORANGE.
The sour orange is extensively cultivated in the warmer parts of the Mediterranean region, especially in Spain, and exists under many varieties. It was probably the first orange cultivated in Europe. The sour orange was not mentioned by Nearchus among the productions of the country which is watered by the Indus, but the Arabs, pushing farther into the interior than Alexander the Great, found the orange, and brought it into Arabia in the ninth century. It reached Italy in the eleventh century and was in cultivation about Seville at the close of the twelfth and at Palermo in the thirteenth century. Gallesio states that it was introduced from Arabia and the north of Africa into Spain. Pickering, states that the bitter orange was cultivated in Sicily in A. D. 1002. The sour orange had become naturalized in the forests of Essequibo, about Vera Cruz and near Mexico City, in 1568; in Brazil in 1587; in Porto Rico, Barbados and the Bermudas, Cape Verde islands and in Florida at early dates. There are many varieties and the fruit of a curious one consists of an orange within an orange.
TANGERINE. MANDARIN.
This fruit is rare in China but abundant in Cochin China. The fruit is round, a little compressed, red inside as well as out. It is the most agreeable of all oranges. Loudon says the thin rind is loose, so much so that when ripe the pulp may be shaken about as a kernel in some nuts. The flesh, of a deep orange color, possesses a superior flavor. Williams says it is the most delicious of the oranges of China.


C. decumana Murr. GRAPE FRUIT. POMELO. PUMMELO. SHADDOCK.
Tropical Asia.
The shaddock was first carried from China to the West Indies early in the eighteenth century. It occurs in several varieties and both the red and white kinds are considered by Wilkes indigenous to the Fiji Islands. In 1777, they were somewhat distributed by Capt. Cook in his voyage of discovery.


C. japonica Thunb. KUMQUAT.
Japan and China.
The fruit is about the size of a cherry or gooseberry. It is cultivated in China and Japan and is found near Canton in China. The small, oblong, reddish-yellow fruit contains but five sections under a very thin skin; the pulp is sweet and agreeable.


C. javanica Blume. JAVA LEMON.
Java.
This cultivated species bears small, roundish, slightly acid fruits.


C. limonia Osbeck. LEMON.
Tropical Asia.
De Candolle says the lemon was unknown to the ancient Romans and Greeks, and that its culture extended into the West only with the conquests of the Arabs. It is mentioned in the Book of Nabathae on Agriculture which is supposed to date from the third or fourth century of our era. The Arabs brought the lemon in the tenth century from the gardens of Omar into Palestine and Egypt. Jacques de Vitry, writing in the thirteenth century, very well describes the lemon, which he had seen in Palestine. About 1330, Friar Jordanus, saw in India "other lemons sour like ours" which would indicate its existence in India before that date. It was cultivated in Genoa, about the middle of the fifteenth century and as early as 1494 in the Azores. From the north of India, the lemon appears to have passed eastward into Cochin China and China and westward into Europe; it has become naturalized in the West Indies and various parts of America. There are numerous varieties. Some are cultivated in Florida to a limited extent. They are mentioned in California in 1751-68 by Father Baegert.
LIME.
In Jamaica, the lime is quite naturalized. The fruit is nearly globose, small, yellow when ripe, with a thin skin and an abundance of pure, acid juice. This fruit is largely imported into the United States, in its natural form, pickled and in the form of lime juice. About 1755, Henry Laurens imported limes into South Carolina.
SWEET LEMON.
The fruit has the rind and the flesh of a lemon but the pulp is sweet. There are many varieties in Italy.


C. medica Linn. CITRON.
Tropical Asia;
indigenous to and still found wild in the mountains of east India. The citron is the only member of the orange tribe, the fruit of which was known in ancient Rome. The tree appears to have been cultivated in Palestine in the time of Josephus and was introduced into Italy about the third century. In 1003, it was much grown near Naples. Hogg thinks this is the melea medike of Theophrastus, 322 B. C., and mela medika e kedromela of Dioscorides. Rhind says it was first cultivated in Italy by Palladius in the second century. Royle found it growing wild in the forests of northern India. In Media and Persia, the citron is found only in the cultivated state. It is now distributed throughout the whole of southern Europe, also in Brazil and in the Congo. Fruits are used chiefly in a candied form.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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