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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Medeola virginica Linn. Liliaceae. INDIAN CUCUMBER.
Northeast America.
The roots are eaten by the Indians, according to Pursh. Cutler says the roots are esculent and of an agreeable taste. Gray says the tuberous, white rootstock has a taste like the cucumber.


Medicago denticulata Willd. Leguminosae. BUR CLOVER. SHANGHAI TREFOIL.
North temperate region of the Old World.
A fine, broad-leaved variety of this plant was found by Fortune to be much used by the Chinese as a winter vegetable.


M. lupulina Linn. BLACK MEDICK. NONESUCH.
North temperate region of the Old World; naturalized in places in America. In southern California, its seeds are much relished by the Indians.


M. platycarpa Trautv.
Siberia.
The plant furnishes a food.


M. sativa Linn. ALFALFA. LUCERNE.
Europe and the Orient.
The leaves are eaten by the Chinese as a vegetable.


M. scutellata Mill. SNAILS.
Mediterranean region.
This plant is not edible but, like the caterpillarplant, is grown on account of the singular shape of its seed-vessels. It was in Belgian and German gardens preceding 1616 and in American gardens in 1863 or before.


Melia azadirachta Linn. Meliaceae. BEAN TREE. CHINA TREE. FALSE SYCAMORE. PRIDE OF INDIA.
East Indies.
A kind of toddy is obtained by tapping the tree, and from the fruit a medicinal oil, known as bitter oil or taipoo oil, is made.


M. (Azadirachta) azedarach (indica) Linn. SYRIAN BEAD TREE.
A tree of Syria, the north of India and subtropical Japan and China.
It is cultivated for ornament in different parts of the world. In southern France and Spain, it is planted in avenues. In our southern states, it adorns the streets of cities and has even become naturalized. The fruit is a round drupe, about as large as a cherry and yellowish when ripe, is sweetish, and, though said by some to be poisonous, is eaten by children. In India, from incisions in the trunk near the base made in spring, a sap issues which is used as a cooling drink. From the fruit, a bitter oil is extracted, called kohombe oil, and is used medicinally. The bitter leaves are used as a potherb in India, being made into soup, or curry, with other vegetables.


Melianthus major Linn. Sapindaceae (Melianthaceae). HONEYFLOWER.
Cape of Good Hope.
The flowers are of a dark brown color, in long, erect racemes a foot or more in length, containing a large quantity of honey, which is collected by the natives. It is grown in French flower gardens.


Melicocca bijuga Linn. Sapindaceae. GENIP HONEY-BERRY.
Tropical America.
The pulp of the fruit, says Mueller, tastes like grapes, and the seeds can be used like sweet chestnuts. Lunan says the tree was introduced into Jamaica from Surinam. The seed - rarely more than one - is covered with a deliciously sweet-acid, gelatinous substance like the yolk of an egg, mixed with very fine fibers adhering tenaciously to the seed; the fleshy part is very agreeable to the taste. Titford1 calls this pulp pleasant and cooling.


Melicytus ramiflorus Forst. Violaceae. MAHOE.
New Zealand.
This is the mahoe of New Zealand, not the mahoe of the West Indies, says A. Smith. The fruit of this tree is eaten by the natives.


Melilotus officinalis Lam. Leguminosae. MELILOT. MELIST. SWEET CLOVER.
Europe and adjoining Asia.
The flowers and seeds are the chief ingredient in flavoring the Gruyere cheese of Switzerland.


Melissa officinalis Linn. Labiatae. BALM.
Mediterranean region and the Orient.
This aromatic perennial has long been an inmate of gardens for the sake of its herbage, which finds use in seasonings and in the compounding of liquors and perfumes as well as the domestic remedy known as balm tea. The plant in a green state has an agreeable odor of lemons and an austere and slightly aromatic taste, and hence is employed to flavor certain dishes in the absence of lemon thyme. The culture was common with the ancients, as Pliny directs it to be planted, and, as a bee-plant or otherwise, it finds Mention by Greek and Latin poets and prose writers. In the Ionian Islands, it is cultivated for bees. In Britain, it is said to have been introduced in 1573. It is mentioned in France by Ruellius, 1536; in England, by Gerarde, 1597, who gives a most excellent figure; and also by Lyte, 1586, and Ray, 1686. Mawe, 1758, says great quantities of balm are cultivated about London for supplying the markets. In the United States, it is included among garden vegetables by McMahon, 1806. As an escape, the plant is found in England and sparingly in the eastern United States. Bertero found it wild on the island of Juan Fernandez. But one variety is known in our gardens, although the plant is described as being quite variable in nature. This would indicate that cultivation had not produced great changes. The only difference noted in the cultivated plant has been in regard to vigor. A variegated variety is recorded by Mawe, 1778, for the ornamental garden. This variation is noted by Vilmorin.


Melocactus communis Link & Otto. Cacteae. MELON CACTUS. TURK'S-CAP CACTUS.
South America and the West Indies.
According to Unger, this cactus bears an edible fruit.


Melocanna bambusoides Trin. Gramineae.
East Indies.
The fruit is very large, fleshy like an apple and contains a seed which is said to be very pleasant eating.


Melodinus monogynus Roxb. Apocynaceae.
Himalayan region, Malay and China.
This plant bears a fruit, says Firminger, as large as a moderate-sized apple, which is said to be eatable and agreeable. Royle says it yields edible fruit. A. Smith says the firm, sweet pulp is eaten by the natives. The berry is red, edible, sweet and somewhat astringent.


Melothria pendula Linn. Cucurbitaceae.
North America and West Indies.
The fruit, in Jamaica, is the size and shape of a nutmeg, smooth, blackish when ripe, and full of small, white seeds like other cucumbers, lodged within an insipid, cooling pulp. The fruit is eaten pickled when green and is good when fully ripe, according to Sloane.


M. scabra Naud.
Mexico.
The fruit is an inch long, resembling little watermelons. It is pickled and eaten raw.


Memecylon edule Roxb. Melastomaceae.
Coromandel, tropical India and Burma.
The juicy fruit is eaten by the natives when ripe. They have much pulp of a bluish-black color and of an astringent quality. The pulp of the fruit, though rather astringent, is eaten by the natives.


Mentha canadensis (arvensis) Linn. Labiatae. MINT.
A plant found on the wet banks of brooks from New England to Kentucky and north-ward, and occasionally cultivated in gardens for the leaves, which are used in flavoring. The Indians of Maine eat mint roasted before the fire and salted and think it nourishing.


M. piperita Linn. PEPPERMINT.
Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Peppermint is grown on a large scale for the sake of its oil, which is obtained by distillation, and which finds extensive use for flavoring candies and cordials and in medicine. There are large centers of its culture in the United States, Europe and Asia. It is grown to a limited extent for the leaves which are used for seasoning. Mint is spoken of as if not a garden plant by Ray, 1724, who describes two varieties, the broad and the narrow leaved. In 1778, it is included by Mawe, among garden herbs; in 1806, it is noticed among American garden plants and is now an escape from cultivation. There is no notice of peppermint preceding 1700, when it is mentioned by Plukenet and Tournefort as a wild plant only.


M. pulegium Linn. PENNYROYAL.
Europe and neighboring Asia.
The leaves of pennyroyal are sometimes used as a condiment. Mawe, in England, in 1778, calls it a fine aromatic; it was among American potherbs in 1806. It was in high repute among the ancients and had numerous virtues ascribed to it by both Dioscorides and Pliny. From the frequent references to it in Anglo- Saxon and Welsh works on medicine, we may infer that it was much esteemed in northern Europe. It has now fallen into disuse.


M. viridis (spicata) Linn. SPEARMINT.
Europe, Asia and north Africa; naturalized in America.
This garden herb was well known to the ancients and is mentioned in all early Mediaeval lists of plants. Amatus Lusitanus, 1554, says it is always in gardens and later botanists confirm this statement for Europe. It was in American gardens in 1806 and probably far earlier, for it was collected by Clay ton in Virginia about 1739 as a naturalized plant.


Mentzelia albicaulis Dougl. Loasaceae. PRAIRIE LILY.
Western North America.
The oily seeds are pounded and used by the Indians in California as an ingredient of their pinole mantica, a kind of cake.


Menyanthes trifoliata Linn. Gentianeae. BUCKBEAN. MARSH TREFOIL.
Northern Europe, Asia and America.
The intense bitter of the leaves of the buckbean has led to its use as a substitute for hops in brewing. Large quantities are said to be collected for the adulteration of beer. It has long been employed in Sweden for this purpose. In Lapland and Finland, the rhizomes are sometimes powdered, washed to get rid of the bitter principle and then made into a kind of bread. In the outer Hebrides, when there is a deficiency of tobacco, the islanders console themselves by chewing the root of the marsh trefoil which, has a bitter and acrid taste.


Mercurialis annua Linn. Euphorbiaceae. ANNUAL MERCURY.
Europe and north Africa and occasionally found spontaneously growing in the United States.
Annual mercury, says Johnson, is eaten in Germany, the poisonous principle which it contains in small quantity being dissipated in boiling.


Meriandra benghalensis Benth. Labiatae. BENGAL SAGE.
India.
Bengal sage, says Firminger, is in general use in lower Bengal as a substitute for sage but it is rather an indifferent substitute.


Mesembryanthemum acinaciforme Linn. Ficoideae (Aizoaceae). HOTTENTOT FIG.
South Africa.
This is one of the Hottentot figs of South Africa. The inner part of the fruit affords, says Mueller, a really palatable and copious food.


M. aequilaterale Haw. PIG'S FACE.
Australia and South America.
This is an Australian species whose fruit is eaten by the natives. The inner part of the fruit affords a palatable and copious food, according to Mueller. In California, say Brewer and Watson, the fruit is edible and pleasant. This is perhaps the species referred to by Parry as littoral in southern California and as having an edible, juicy fruit. In Australia, says J. Smith, the watery and insipid fruit is eaten by the natives. Wilhelmi says two varieties of this genus in Australia have fruit of an agreeable flavor and are eaten by the aborigines of the Port Lincoln district.


M. anatomicum Haw. CANNA ROOT. KON.
South Africa.
The Hottentots, says Thunberg, come far and near to obtain this shrub with the root, leaves and all, which they beat together and afterwards twist up like pig-tail tobacco; after which they let the Mass ferment and keep it by them for chewing, especially when they are thirsty. If it be chewed immediately after the fermentation, it intoxicates.


M. crystallinum Linn. ICE PLANT.
Cape of Good Hope.
The ice plant was introduced into Europe in 1727. It is advertised in American seed lists of 1881 as a desirable vegetable for boiling like spinach, or for garnishing. Vilmorin says the thickness and slightly acid flavor of the fleshy parts of the leaves have caused it to be used as a fresh table vegetable for summer use in warm, dry countries. It is, however, he adds, not without merit as an ornamental plant. Parry found this species growing in large masses in southern California.


M. edule Linn. HOTTENTOT FIG.
Cape of Good Hope.
The mucilaginous capsules, says Captain Carmichael, are the chief material of an agreeable preserve. Figuier says the leaves are pickled as a substitute for the pickled cucumber, and Henfrey says the foliage is eaten at the Cape.


M. forskahlei Hochst.
North Africa.
The capsules are soaked and dried by the Bedouins, and the seeds separated for making bread, which, however, is not eaten by other Arabs.


M. pugioniforme Linn.
South Africa.
Its leaves form a good substitute for spinach.


M. tortuosum Linn.
South Africa.
This species possesses narcotic properties and is chewed by the Hottentots for the purpose of producing intoxication.


Mesua ferrea Linn. Guttiferae. IRONWOOD.
Java and East Indies.
The fruit is reddish and wrinkled when ripe, with a rind like that of the chestnut. It resembles a chestnut in size, shape, substance and taste.8


Metroxylon laeve Mart. Palmae. SPINELESS SAGO PALM.
East Indies.
This species furnishes a large part of the sago which is exported to Europe.


M. rumphii Mart. PRICKLY SAGO PALM.
East Indies.
This palm furnishes, says Seemann, the best sago of the East Indies.


M. sagu Rottb. SAGO PALM.
Sumatra and Malacca.
The plant is employed in the preparation of sago for food. Considerable quantities are made at the Poggy Islands, lying off the west coast of Sumatra, where it forms the principal food of the inhabitants.


M. vitiense Benth. & Hook. f. SAGO PALM.
This is a true sago palm in Viti but its quality, Seemann says, was not known to the natives until he pointed it out to them.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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