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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Maba (Diospyros) buxifolia Pers. Ebenaceae. SATINWOOD.
Asia and African tropics.
The fruit is edible, the taste sweetish and not unpalatable but it is scarcely worth the trouble of eating, the seed being so large in proportion to the pulp.


M. (Diospyros) inconstans Griseb.
West Indies.
The fruit, at first yellow, then red, is edible, with an ungrateful smell and an insipid taste. It is an inch in diameter.


M. (Diospyros) major Forst. f.
Fiji Islands and India.
In India, the fruit is eaten.


Macadamia temifolia F. Muell. Proteaceae. NUT TREE.
Subtropics of east Australia.
The nuts have the taste of hazels.


Madia sativa Molina. Compositae. MADIA-OIL PLANT.
Western North and South America.
This plant is cultivated in Chile, France, Germany and Italy for the sake of the limpid and sweet oil which is expressed from its seeds. This oil is used as a substitute for olive oil. The seeds yield about 41 per cent to analysis and from 26 to 28 per cent to the oil-press, according to Boussingault, whose experiment in 1840 gave 635 pounds of oil and 1706 pounds of oil cake per acre. The plant is easily cultivated, requiring management similar to seed clover, but, owing to the glutinous nature of the stems and stalks, the seeds require to be threshed and sown as soon as the crop is cut, otherwise fermentation injures them.


Maerua crassifolia Forsk. Capparideae.
Arabia.
This is an arborescent shrub called in Yemen maeru. Its fruit is eaten by boys.


Maesa argentea Wall. Myrsineae.
Himalayan region.
The round, smooth, white berry, the size of a peppercorn, is eaten.


M. indica Wall.
East Indies and Malay.
The very small, globose, white berry is eaten in Nepal. At Bombay it is called atki.


Magnolia grandiflora Linn. Magnoliaceae. MAGNOLIA.
Eastern North America.
The flowers are pickled in some parts of Devonshire, England, and are considered exquisite in flavor.


M. yulan Desf. YULAN.
China.
The Chinese pickle the flower-buds, after having removed the calyx, and use them for flavoring rice.


Maieta guianensis Aubl. Melastomaceae.
Guiana.
The fruit is succulent, edible and of a beautiful red color. This plant furnishes gooseberry-like fruits of little value.


M. heterophylla DC.
Peru.
The fruit is eaten.


M. poeppigii Mart.
Peru.
The fruit is eaten.


Malpighia angustifolia Linn. Malpighiaceae
West Indies.
The fruit is edible.


M. aquifolia Linn.
West Indies.
The fruit is dark purple when ripe and is edible.


M. berteriana Spreng.
Guadeloupe.
The fruit is edible.


M. cnide Spreng.
Santo Domingo.
The fruit is edible.


M. coccigera Linn.
West Indies.
The fruit is small, purple in color when ripe and is edible.


M. emarginata Moc. & Sesse
Mexico.
The fruit is edible.


M. fucata Ker.-Gawl.
Jamaica.
The berries are edible.


M. glabra Linn. BARBADOS CHERRY.
Tropical America.
This tree is planted in most gardens in Jamaica and is cultivated for its fruit in tropical America. The fruit is round, red, of the bigness of a cherry, smooth skinned, and contains, within a reddish, sweetish, copiously juicy pulp, several triangular stones whose sides are so accommodated to one another as to seem to make one round one with several furrows on the outside. The fruit, says Schomburgk, is much used in Barbados in preserves and tarts and the taste reminds one of the raspberry rather than the cherry.


M. grandiflora Jacq.
Martinique.
The fruit is edible.


M. incana Mill.
Honduras.
The fruit is edible.


M. macrophylla Willd.
Brazil.
The fruit is edible.


M. nitida Crantz.
Venezuela.
The fruit is edible.


M. obovata H. B. & K.
New Granada.
The fruit is edible.


M. punicifolia Linn.
Tropical America.
The fruit is one of the size and shape of a cherry, very succulent, and of a pleasant, acid flavor, says Don. Lunan says it Makes very agreeable tarts and excellent jellies.


M. saccharina G. Don. SUGAR PLUM.
Tropical Africa.
The fruit is sold in great quantities in the market of Freetown.


M. setosa Spreng.
West Indies.
The fruit is edible.


M. urens Linn. COW-ITCH CHERRY.
West Indies.
The fruit, says Don, is insipid and is eaten only by children and negroes.


Malva rotundifolia Linn. Malvaceae. MALLOW.
Europe and neighboring Asia.
In Egypt, especially upon the banks of the Nile, the mallow is extensively cultivated and is used as a potherb by the natives. This plant reached northeast America before 1669 and it is mentioned by Josselyn. It is now naturalized in waste places and in cultivated grounds. The mallow was formerly among the culinary herbs but is used now only in infusion or decoction in medicine on account of its mucilaginous properties. Unger says Pythagoras thought much of this plant as a spinach and among the Greeks, as well as among the Romans, it was at one time much esteemed. Mallow and Asphodell were raised at Delos for the temple of Apollo, as a symbol of the first nourishment of man. It was known to Camerarius, 1588, and was known only to Dodonaeus, 1616, as a cultivated plant. At the present day, the young shoots are used as a salad in southern France and Italy.


M. sylvestris Linn. CHEESES. HIGH MALLOW. MARSH MALLOW.
Europe and temperate Asia.
This mallow is sometimes cultivated in our gardens and, on account of its mucilaginous properties, finds use as a demulcent in medicine. It is a native of Europe and has become naturalized in this country. Johnson says the foliage, when boiled, forms a very wholesome vegetable, and the flat seeds are eaten by country people.


M. verticillata Linn. CURLED MALLOW.
Europe, Asia and northern Africa.
This plant is used in China as a vegetable.


Mammea americana Linn. Guttiferae. MAMMEE APPLE. SOUTH AMERICAN APRICOT.
American tropics.
This fine tree of the Antilles is cultivated for its fruit there, as well as in some parts of tropical Africa and Asia. The fruit often attains the size of a child's head and is of a yellow color. The outer rind and the pulp which immediately surrounds the seeds are very bitter, but the intermediate flesh is sweet and aromatic and is eaten, cut into slices and steeped in wine or made into preserves of various kinds.


Mammillaria fissurata Engelm. Cactaceae. DRY WHISKEY.
Mexico.
This plant is sometimes called dry whiskey from the fact that when chewed it produces more or less intoxication.


M. meiacantha Engelm.
Texas.
The oblong, scarlet berries are very good to eat.


M. simplex Haw.
Tropical America.
linger says its berries are edible. This species yields a Milky juice that is sweet and wholesome.


M. vivipara Haw.
Upper Louisiana.
The flowers are large and red; the fruit is the size of a grape, green and edible.


Mangifera foetida Lour. Anacardiaceae. HORSE MANGO.
A tree of the Malayan Archipelago.
The horse mango is cultivated by the Burmese, who esteem the fleshy, strong-scented fruit. Don says it is unwholesome but is eaten by the Malays.


M. indica Linn. MANGO.
Tropical eastern Asia.
The mango grows abundantly in India, where many varieties are cultivated, and the fruit of some is esteemed as most delicious. In north and central India, says Brandis, the fruit of ungrafted trees is generally stringy with a strong, turpentine flavor. It, nevertheless, forms an important article of food for large classes of the population. The fruit of good grafts is excellent, soft, juicy and with a delicious, aromatic flavor. In Burma, the mango is not generally grafted, for seeds of a good kind, as a rule produce good fruit of a similar description. This seems to be the fruit seen by Friar Jordanus, about 1300, who calls it aniba. The mango was introduced to Jamaica in 1782. In 1880, 21 fruitful and superior varieties were growing at the Botanical Gardens in Trinidad. At Cayenne, it did not exist before the beginning of the present century. Its introduction into Brazil was more ancient as the seeds came thence to Barbados in the middle of the eighteenth century. In Martinique, by grafting, a dozen very distinct varieties have been established, the quality of which, says Berlanger, in respect to the abundance and flavor of the flesh, places them in the first rank of tropical fruits. In the Mauritius, they cultivate a number of varieties. This tree has been introduced into Florida and is now grown there to a limited extent. In Jamaica, starch is made of the unripe fruit. In India, the unripe fruit is much used in conserves, tarts and pickles, and the kernels of the seeds are boiled and eaten in times of scarcity.


M. sylvatica Roxb.
Himalayan region.
The yellow fruit is eaten by the natives, although inferior to the worst kinds of the common mango.


Manihot palmata Muell. Euphorbiaceae. SWEET CASSAVA.
Brazil.
This is the sweet cassava of eastern equatorial America, where it has been cultivated from early times. The roots of this variety are sweet and may be eaten raw but it is less cultivated than the bitter variety. It is cultivated in Queensland, according to Simmonds, for the production of arrowroot.


M. utilissima Pohl. BITTER CASSAVA. MANIOC. TAPIOCA.
Brazil.
The manioc, or bitter cassava, of eastern equatorial South America was cultivated by the Indians of Brazil, Guiana and the warm parts of Mexico before the arrival of Europeans and is now grown in many tropical countries. The root is bitter and a most virulent poison when raw but, when grated to a pulp and the poisonous juice expelled by pressure, it becomes edible after being cooked. The coarse meal forms cassava. The expressed juice, allowed to settle, deposits a large quantity of starch which is known as Brazilian arrowroot, or tapioca. The boiled juice furnishes cassareep, a condimental sauce, and from the cakes an intoxicating beverage called piwarrie is brewed by the Brazilians. The plant is extremely productive. In Brazil, some 46 different kinds are found. Manioc was naturalized in the Antilles as early as the sixteenth century, says Unger, although its journey around the world by way of the Isle of Bourbon and the East Indies took place at a comparatively late period. It reached the west coast of Africa earlier, and the erroneous opinion has been entertained that it was transplanted from Africa to America. In Africa, at Angola, Livingstone says the Portuguese subsist chiefly on manioc. It is prepared in many ways. The root is roasted or boiled as it comes from the ground; the sweet variety is eaten raw; the root may be fermented in water and then roasted or dried after fermentation; baked, or rasped into meal and cooked as farina; or made into confectionery with butter and sugar; and the green leaves are boiled as a spinach. Grant says it is the staple food of the Zanzibar people, where some kinds can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, roasted or in flour. In India, it is eaten as a staple food. In Burma, the root is boiled and eaten. In the Philippines, manioc is cultivated in many varieties. In 1847, a few dozen plants were introduced to this country and distributed from New York City, and in 1870 some were growing in conservatories in Washington. The first mention of cassava is by Peter Martyr who says "iucca is a roote, whereof the best and most delicate bread is made, both in the firme land of these regions and also in Ilandes." In 1497, Americus Vespucius, speaking of the Indians of South America, says, " their most common food is a certain root which they grind into a kind of flour of no unpalatable taste and this root is by some of them called jucha, by others chambi, and by others igname."


Maranta arundinacea Linn. Scitamineae (Marantaceae). ARROWROOT.
South America.
This is the true arrowroot plant of the West Indies, Florida, Mexico and Brazil. It furnishes Cape Colony and Natal arrowroot and Queensland arrowroot in part. It is also cultivated in India, where it was introduced about 1840. In 1849, arrowroot was grown on an experimental scale in Mississippi, and in 1858 it was grown as a staple crop at St. Marys, Georgia. The plant is stated to have been carried from the island of Dominica to Barbados and thence to Jamaica. The starch made from the root is mentioned by Hughes, 1751, and the mode of preparing it is described by Browne, 1789. The Bermuda arrowroot is now most esteemed but it is cultivated in the East Indies, Sierra Leone and South Africa as well. Wilkes found the natives of Fiji making use of arrowroot from the wild plant.


Marathrum foeniculaceum Humb. & Bonpl. Podostemaceae.
Mexico and New Granada.
This plant resembles seaweed and grows in the rivers of Veraguas. Its young leaf-stalks, when boiled, have a delicate flavor not unlike that of French beans.


Marattia alata Sw. Marattiaceae.
The fleshy caudex of this fern is used in the Sandwich Islands as food, when better food is scarce.


M. attenuata Lab.
In the Fiji Islands, the fronds are used as a potherb; they are very tender and taste not unlike spinach. In New Zealand, the soft part of the stem is eaten.


Margyricarpus setosus Ruiz et Pav. Rosaceae. PEARL BERRY.
A native of Brazil, says Loudon, on arid hills.
It bears pearl-like fruit, resembling that of the mistletoe but differing from it in having a grateful and acid taste.


Mariscus dregeanus Kunth. Cyperaceae.
Africa, Asia and Australia.
The roots are boiled and eaten by the natives of India, who say they are as good as yams.


Marlea (Alangium) vitiensis Benth. Cornaceae (Alangiaceae).
Australia and islands of the Pacific.
This tree in New South Wales and Queensland bears edible fruits.


Marlierea glomerata Berg. Myrtaceae. CAMBUCA.
Subtropical Brazil.
The fruits attain the size of apricots and are much used for food.


M. tomentosa Cambess. GUAPARANGA.
Brazil.
The sweet berries of this tall shrub are of the size of cherries.


Marrubium vulgare Linn. Labiatae. HOREHOUND.
Europe, Asia and north Africa.
This plant affords a popular domestic remedy and seems in this country to be an inmate of the medicinal herb-garden only. In Europe, the leaves are sometimes employed as a condiment. Although a plant of the Old World, it is now naturalized in the New World from Canada to Buenos Aires and Chile, excepting within the tropics. It is figured by Clusius, 1601, and finds mention by many of the botanists of that period. Pliny refers to Marrubium as among medicinal plants in high esteem, and it finds mention by Columella. Albertus Magnus, in the thirteenth century, also refers to its valuable remedial properties in coughs. We may hence believe that, as an herb of domestic medicine, horehound has accompanied emigrants into all the cooler portions of the globe.


Marsilea nardu A. B. Marsileaceae. NARDOO. NARDU.
Australia.
The spores and spore cases of this plant are used by the aborigines for food, pounded up and baked into bread and also made into a porridge. These preparations furnish a nutritious food, by no Means unwholesome, and one free from unpleasant taste but affording sorry fare for civilized man.


Martynia fragrans Lindl. Pedalineae (Martyniaceae).
Mexico.
The Apache Indians gather the half-mature seed-pods of this plant and cook them. The pods when, ripe are armed with two sharp, horn-like projections and, being softened and split open, are used on braided work to ornament willow baskets.


M. lutea Lindl.
Brazil.
This species, originally from Brazil, has yellow flowers.1 It does not appear to be in American gardens nor is its seed advertised by our seedsmen. It reached Europe in 1824.2 It is described by Vilmorin as under kitchen-garden culture.


M. proboscidea Glox. MARTYNIA. UNICORN PLANT.
Southwestern North America and now naturalized in northeastern America.
Martynia is in cultivation in our gardens for its seed-pods, which when young are used for pickling. These seed-pods are green, very downy or hairy, fleshy, oval, an inch and a half in their greatest diameters and taper to a long, slender, incurved horn or beak. It is Mentioned under American cultivation in 1841. Martynia was known in England as a plant of ornament in 1738 but has, even yet, scarcely entered the kitchen-garden.


Marumia (Marcolenes) muscosa Blume. Melastomaceae.
Java.
Refreshing drinks are prepared from the berries.


M. stellulata Blume
Sumatra and Java.
Refreshing drinks are prepared from the berries.


Matisia cordata Humb. & Bonpl. Malvaceae (Bombacaceae). CHUPA-CHUPA. SAPOTA.
A tree of New Granada.
The oval fruit, about five inches long and three inches broad, in taste has been compared to an apricot or to a mango. It is sold in the markets of New Granada and Peru.


Matthiola incana R. Br. Cruciferae. STOCK.
Mediterranean region.
This plant is eaten in time of famine.


M. livida DC.
Egypt and Arabia.
This plant is eaten in time of famine.


Mauritia flexuosa Linn. f. Palmae. ITA PALM. TREE-OF-LIFE.
Tropical South America.
The tree-of-life of the missionaries, says Humboldt, not only affords the Guaraons a safe dwelling during the risings of the Orinoco, but its fruit, its farinaceous pith, its juice, abounding in saccharine matter, and the fibers of its petioles furnish them with food, wine and thread. The fruit has somewhat the taste of an apple and when ripe is yellow within and red without. The sago of the pith is made into a bread. The flour is called yuruma and is very agreeable to the taste, resembling cassava bread rather than the sago of India. From the juice, a slightly acid and extremely refreshing liquor is fermented. The ripe fruit contains first a rich, pulpy nut and last a hard core, Bates says the fruit is a common article of food, although the pulp is sour and unpalatable, at least to European tastes. It is boiled and then eaten with farina. This is the miriti or ita, palm of Brazil; the sagolike flour is called ipuruma.


M. vinifera Mart. WINE PALM.
Brazil.
This palm, says Gardner, produces a great number of nuts about the size of an egg, covered with rhomboidal scales arranged in a spiral. Between these scales and the albuminous substance of the nut, there exists an oily pulp of a reddish color, which the inhabitants of Crato boil with sugar and make into a sweetmeat. In Piauhy, they prepare from this pulp an emulsion, which, when sweetened with sugar, forms a very palatable beverage, but if much used is said to tinge the skin a yellowish color. The juice of the stem also forms a very agreeable drink.


Maximiliana regia Mart. Palmae. CUCURITE PALM. INAJA PALM.
Brazil.
This is the inaja palm of the Rio Negro and the cucurite palm of Guiana. The terminal leaf-bud furnishes a most delicious cabbage, says Seemann, and the fruit is eaten by the Indians. Brown says the nuts are covered with a yellow, juicy pulp, which is sweet and pleasant to the taste. The outer husk of the fruit, says A. Smith, yields a kind of saline flour used by the natives for seasoning their food.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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