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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Lecanora affinis Linn. Lichenes. CRAB'S EYE.
This lichen is found in Armenia and Algeria, blown about and heaped up by the winds. It is ground with corn in times of scarcity to eke out the scanty supply.


L. esculenta Linn. CUP MOSS.
This lichen was found by Ledebour in the Kirghiz Steppe and in middle Asia, frequently on a barren soil or in clefts of rocks, whence it is often washed down after sudden and violent falls of rain, so as to be collected in considerable quantity and easily gathered for food. The same species was found by Paviot, who procured it in his journey to Ararat, where it is eaten by the natives. In some districts of Persia, in 1828, it covered the ground to a depth of five or six inches in so short a period of time that the people thought it had been rained down from heaven. This lichen is supposed by some to have been the manna of the children of Israel.


Lecythis grandiflora Aubl. Myrtaceae (Lecithidaceae).
Guiana.
The seeds are palatable.


L. minor Jacq.
New Granada.
The fruit is two inches in diameter. The seeds are of an agreeable taste.


L. ollaria Linn. POT TREE.
Tropical America.
The fruit is the size of a child's head and is prized for its chestnut-like fruit.


L. zabucajo Aubl.
Guiana.
The nuts of this species are rather more than two inches long and one wide, covered with a longitudinally-furrowed, corky shell and grow in large, hard, woody fruits, shaped like urns, measuring about six inches in diameter and having close-fitting lids at the top.


Ledum latifolium Jacq. Ericaceae. LABRADOR TEA.
Northern climates.
The leaves are said to have been used as a substitute for tea during the Revolutionary War. Lindley says the leaves are used to render beer heady.


L. palustre Linn. MARSH ROSEMARY.
Northern and arctic regions.
This plant furnished a tea to Richardson in his arctic journey,


Lens esculenta Moench. Leguminosae. LENTIL.
Orient.
This was probably one of the first plants brought under cultivation by mankind for food. Lentils were known to the ancient Greeks, Jews and Egyptians. The cultivation of the lentil is very ancient, as it has been found in the Egyptian tombs of the twelfth dynasty, or 2200 to 2400 B. C. It has been found in the lacustrine debris of Switzerland dating from the age of bronze. Lentils are now cultivated extensively throughout most parts of the East, including Egypt, Nubia, Syria and India; likewise in most of the countries of central and southern Europe. Wilkinson states that in ancient Egypt much attention was bestowed on the culture of this useful pulse, and certain varieties became remarkable for their excellence, the lentils of Pelusium being esteemed both in Egypt and in foreign countries. In Egypt and Syria, the seeds are parched and sold in the shops. In France and Spain, there are three varieties cultivated; the small brown or red sort is preferred for haricots and soups, and the yellow lentil is readily convertible into flour and serves as the base of certain adulterated preparations. In England, lentils are but little cultivated, yet two varieties are named: the French, of an ash-gray color; the Egyptian, with a dark skin and of an orange-red color inside. In 1834, seeds of the lentil were distributed from the United States Patent Office.


Leonia glycycarpa Ruiz & Pav. Violaceae.
A tree of Peru, the fruit of which is called achocon. The fruits are the size of a peach, with a rough, netted skin and sweet pulp, which is eaten by the Peruvians and is much relished.


Leopoldinia major Wallace. Palmae. JARA PALM.
Brazil.
The Indians of the Rio Negro collect the fruit in large quantities and, by burning and washing, extract a floury substance which they use as a substitute for salt.


Lepidium diffusum DC. Cruciferae. DITTANDER.
Louisiana.
The plant is eatable as a water cress.


L. draba Linn. HOARY CRESS.
East Mediterranean countries.
The plant is cooked and eaten in Cappadocia, and the seeds are substituted for pepper in seasoning.


L. latifolium Linn. DITTANDER. POOR MAN'S PEPPER.
A cress of Europe, north Africa, middle and north Asia. In Britain, this cress was much used as a pungent condiment before the various substances now employed for such purposes became cheap and hence the common name, poor man's pepper. It was sometimes called dittander, and under that name was cultivated in cottage gardens but is now almost entirely discarded as a culinary vegetable. Loudon says it has roots resembling horseradish, for which it may be used as a substitute, and the leaves are excellent as greens and for salads. Lightfoot mentions the use of the pungent leaves for salads, and Mueller says it is much used for some select sauces.


L. oleraceum Forst. f. NEW ZEALAND CRESS.
New Zealand.
This plant is found growing abundantly on the seashores. It is a good antiscorbutic and was eagerly sought after by early voyagers as a remedy for scurvy. The natives call it eketera. It is now cultivated in Britain as a potherb.


L. piscidium Forst. f. FISH POISON.
Pacific Islands.
This is an extremely pungent cress eaten by seamen as a relish and antiscorbutic.


L. sativum Linn. CRESS. NASTURTIUM.
Orient.
De Candolle believes this plant to be a native of Persia, whence it may have spread into the gardens of India, Syria, Greece, Egypt and even as far as Abyssinia. It is said by Xenophon, about 400 B. C., to have been eaten by the Persians before they became acquainted with bread. Pliny, in the first century, speaks of the nasturtium as growing in Arabia, of a remarkable size. Cress finds frequent mention in the Greek and Latin authors. This plant has been cultivated in England since 1548 and is mentioned by Gerarde who says, "Galen saith that the Cresses may be eaten with bread Velutiobsonium and so the Ancient Spartans usually did; and the low-countrie men many times doe, who commonly use to feed of Cresses with bread and butter. It is eaten with other sallade herbes, as Tarragon and Rocket; and for this cause it is chiefly sown." In 1806, McMahon mentions three varieties for American gardens. The leaves while young have a warm, pungent taste and are now eaten as a salad, either separately or mixed with lettuce or other salad plants. The curled varieties are used for garnishing. Burr describes five varieties, and four types are now under culture; the common, the curled, the broad-leaved and the golden. The synonomy of these various types is as below, it being premised that the modern varieties vary somewhat in degree only:

I. COMMON CRESS.
Nasturtium hortense. Fuch. 362. 1542; Trag. 82. 1552; Pin. 221.
1561; Ger. 194. 1597; Dod. 711. 1616.
Gartenkress. Roezl. 188. 1550.
Nasturtium. Matth. 280. 1558; Lob. Obs. 107. 1576; Cam. Epit. 355.
1586; Matth. Op. 425. 1598; Chabr. 289. 1677.
Nasturtio. Pictorius Ed. Macer 75. 1581.
Nasturtium hortense commune. Bauh. Phytopin. 161. 1596.
Nasturtium hortense vulgatum. Baugh. Pin. 102. 1623.
Nasturtium vulgare. Baugh. J. 2:912. 1651.
Common Garden Cress. Ray 825. 1686; Vilm. 207. 1885.
Garden Cress. Townsend 1726.
Lepidium saticum. Linn. Sp. 899. 1763.
Common Cress. Stevenson 1785; Bryant 103. 1783; Miller's Diet. 1807
Common Small-Leaved. Mawe 1778.
Cresson alenois commun. Vilm. 194. 1883.

II. CURLED CRESS.
Nasturtium hortense crispum. Bauh. Phytopin. 161. 1596; Pin. 104. 1623
Nasturtium hortense. Linn. Ger. 194. 1597.
Nasturtium crispum augustifolium. Matth. Op. 426. 1598.
Nasturtium crispum. Bauhin, Joh. Bauh., J. 2:913. 1651.
Nasturtium hortense crispum latifolium. Bauh.Prod.44. 1671.
Nasturtium hortense crispum angustifolium. Bauh. 43. 1671.
Nasturtium crispum. Chabr. 289. 1677.
Curled Cress. Ray 825. 1686; Townsend 1726; Stevenson 34. 1765;
Bryant 103. 1783; McMahon 1806; Mill. Diet. 1807.
Lepidium sativum crispum. Linn. Sp. 899. 1763.
Cresson frise. L'Hort. Franc. 1824; Petit Diet. 1826.
Cresson alenois frise. Vilm. 195. 1883.
Curled, or Normandy, and Extra-Curled Dwarf. Vilm. 207. 1885.

III. BROAD-LEAVED CRESS.
Nasturtium. Cam. Epit. 335. 1586.
Nasturtium hortense latifolium. Bauh. Phytopin 160. 1596; Pin. 103. 1623
Nasturtium latifolium dioscorideum. Bauh., J. 2:913. 1651.
Nasturtium latifolium. Chabr. 289. 1677.
Broad-Leaved Garden Cress. Ray 825. 1686; Vilm. 207. 1885.
Broad-Leaved. Townsend 1726; Stevenson 34. 1765; Mawe 1778;
McMahon 1806; Mill. Diet. 1807.
Lepidium latifolium. Linn. Sp. 899. 1763.
Cresson a larges feuilles. L'Hort. Franc. 1824; Petit 1826.
Cresson alenois a large feuitte. Vilm. 195. 1893.

IV. GOLDEN CRESS.
Cresson dore. Petit 1826; Noisette 1829.
Golden. Hort. Trans. 6:583. 1826; Burr 343. 1863; Vilm. 208. 1885.
Cresson alenois dore. Vilm. 195. 1883.

It appears as if the types of the modern varieties have not changed through culture, as three are quite ancient, and the fourth is but an ordinary variation of a pale yellowish-green color. Curled cress seems to have been first observed by J. Bauhin, who furnished his brother, C. Bauhin, with seed preceding 1596.


Leptadenia lancifolia Decne. Asclepiadeae.
Tropical Africa.
The natives of the Upper Nile make spinach of its flowers and tender shoots.


Leptospermum pubescens Lam. Myrtaceae. TEA TREE.
Tasmania and southeastern Australia.
The leaves were used by the early settlers as a tea substitute.


L. scoparium Forst. TEA TREE.
Australia.
The leaves were used by Captain Cook in his second voyage as a tea and are reported as furnishing a beverage of a very agreeable, bitter flavor, when the leaves were fresh.


Leucaena esculenta Benth. Leguminosae.
Mexico.
According to Don, this is the guaxe of Mexico, the legumes of which are eaten by the Mexicans.


Leucopogon fraseri A. Cunn. Epacridaceae. OTAGO HEATH.
Australia.
A plant whose sweetish, orange-like drupe is edible.


L. richei R. Br. AUSTRALIAN CURRANTS.
Australia.
The berries are said to have supported the French naturalist Riche, who was lost for three days on the south coast of New Holland.


Levisticum officinale Koch. Umbelliferae. LOVAGE.
Europe.
Lovage grows wild in the south of Europe and is cultivated in gardens. McMahon, 1806, includes it in his list of kitchen garden, aromatic, pot and sweet herbs, and in 1832 Bridgeman includes it among garden medicinal herbs. It is now used in eclectic medicine. At the present day, says Vilmorin, lovage is almost exclusively used in the manufacture of confectionery. Formerly the leafstalks and bottoms of the stems were eaten, blanched like celery. The whole plant has a strong, sweetish, aromatic odor and a warm, pungent taste and is probably grown now in America, as in 1806, rather as a medicinal than as a culinary herb. Lovage appears to have been known to Ruellius, 1536, who calls it Levisticum officinarum, and was seen in gardens by Chabraeus, 1677.


Lewisia rediviva Pursh. Portulaceae. BUTTER-ROOT. SPATLUM.
Unwooded portions of the interior of Oregon and northern California.
The root is boiled and eaten by Indian tribes. The Indians of California call it spatlum. The root is large and fusiform, the outer portion of a dingy color, the inner white and farinaceous. It is considered highly nutritious.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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