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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Nicotiana andicola H. B. & K. Solanaceae. TOBACCO.
Peru.
This plant grows on the back of the Andes and is similar to cultivated tobacco.


N. chinensis Fisch. TOBACCO.
China.
This species is only known in a cultivated state. It is everywhere cultivated in Cochin China and China. This is the species which Le Conte thinks probably existed in China before the discovery of America, and he furthermore says that from this the best Cuban tobacco is obtained.


N. Clevelandi A. Gray. TOBACCO.
California.
Professor Rothrock is of the opinion that the early natives of California smoked the leaves. This tobacco is excessively strong and was found in association with the shell-heaps which occur so abundantly on the coasts of southern and central California.


N. glutinosa Linn. TOBACCO.
South America.
According to Humboldt, this species is cultivated in Europe.


N. loxensis H. B. & K. TOBACCO.
The Andes.
This species is said by Humboldt to be similar to cultivated tobacco.


N. paniculata Linn. TOBACCO.
South America.
This species yields the tobacco of Russia. The young leaves are removed, dried in the shade and buried beneath hay ricks, when they become of a brownish-yellow color.


N. quadrivalvis Pursh. TOBACCO.
Western North America.
This tobacco is cultivated by the Arikara and Mandan Indians. The tobacco prepared from it is excellent and the most delicate is formed of the dried flowers. The calyx is very fetid and is preferred to any other part.


N. repanda Willd. TOBACCO.
Mexico.
This species is used, according to Masters, in the manufacture of some of the most highly esteemed cigars.


N. rustica Linn. TOBACCO.
Mexico.
This species is found in old fields from New York westward and southward, a relic of cultivation by the Indians. It is cultivated in all parts of the globe and have even become wild in Africa. It is supposed to be the kind originally introduced into Europe. It furnishes the East Indian tobacco, also that of the Philippines, and the kinds called Latakia and Turkish, according to Masters. It is the yetl cultivated by the ancient Mexicans.


N. tabacum Linn. TOBACCO.
South America.
This is the principal species of cultivated tobaccos, a Native of America and known to the outer world only after the discovery. It was first seen by Europeans in 1492 when Columbus saw the natives of Cuba having in their mouths a roll of leaves of which they were inhaling the smoke. Yet it has been maintained by some, as Don Ullva, a Spanish writer, 1787, that the custom of smoking tobacco is of much greater antiquity than the date of the discovery of America, and Le Conte, 1859, deems this probably true. Yet the absence of the mention of a custom so peculiar as smoking by all the earlier writers and travelers seems conclusive evidence against such assertions.

The word tobacco, says Humboldt, belongs to the ancient language of Hayti and Santo Domingo. It did not properly denote the herb but the tube through which the smoke was inhaled. The name of the tobacco pipe in the Delaware language was haboca, and tobacco in some form or other was used by almost all the tribes of the American continent from the northwest coast to Patagonia. It was observed in use among the New England tribes; among the Indians of the whole eastern coast by the early colonists; among the Eskimos of the northwest, "who swallow the smoke and revel in a temporary elysium;" among the Konigas for chewing and snuffing; among the Ingaliks of the Yukon, who smoke and snuff; and among the Columbians. The Snake Indians cultivated, it and the California Indians also planted it in gardens as early as 1775. In general, the medicine-pipe is a sacred pledge of friendship among all the northwestern tribes. The Aztecs smoked tobacco in pipes after meals, inhaling the smoke, and also took the dried leaf in the pulverized form of snuff.

Among the Nahua natives, says Bancroft, three kinds of tobacco were used, the yetl, signifying tobacco in general, the picycti and the quauyetl. Columbus found it in use in Yucatan. Humboldt says tobacco has been cultivated from time immemorial by all the native people of the Orinoco, and, at the period of the conquest, the habit of smoking was found to be spread alike over both North and South America. The Indians of Peru, according to De la Vega, did not smoke it but used it in the form of snuff for medicinal purposes.

Cortez seems to be the first European who saw the plant, in 1519, at Tobaco, a province of Yucatan, and it is asserted by some that he sent several plants to Spain this year and from this circumstance the plant derived its name. It seems certain that if the plant was then introduced, it did not became an object of commerce and seems not to have been communicated to any other nation, for it was certainly from Portugal, where it was brought from America, about 1559, that its general diffusion over Europe and the East commenced. In 1560, it was introduced into France by John Nicot, ambassador of France at the Court of Portugal, who, at Lisbon, was presented with a specimen of this plant recently brought from Florida - Humboldt says from Yucatan. So late as the reign of Henry IV, tobacco was raised only in gardens and was used only for medicinal purposes. In the reign of Louis XIII, it began to come into request as a luxury and to be taken in the form of snuff. About this date, it was introduced by St. Croix into Italy and, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, Pope Urban VIII issued a bill prohibiting the using of snuff in churches during divine service. It was about the beginning of the seventeenth century - that the tobacco plant was introduced into Russia, either from Portugal or from Italy by the way of Astrakhan, but the notices of it at this date are obscure. About the middle of the sixteenth century, it spread from Italy over Germany and Holland. Tobacco reached India in 1605 and about 1625 or 1626 Amurath IV, Sultan of Turkey, passed a law prohibiting its use on pain of death, and a similar law about this time was passed in Persia. According to some, it reached Hindustan and China between 1560 and 1565. Lobel asserts that tobacco was cultivated in England as early as the year 1570. Phillips says it was brought to England by Drake in 1570, who that year made his first expedition against the Spainards, but Drake did not return until 1573. Its introduction is, however, usually ascribed to Raleigh in 1586, at which time, says Humboldt, whole fields of it were already being cultivated in Portugal.

In 1586, tobacco was in cultivation in Virginia by Raleigh's colonists. In 1611, it was first cultivated by the use of a spade and in 1616 it was cultivated to such an extent that it occupied even the streets of Jamestown. It was cultivated in New Netherlands as early as 1646 and was introduced into Louisiana in 1718. In 1640, tobacco culture in Connecticut was stimulated by legislation which required the colonists to use tobacco of Connecticut growth.

Gesner, who died in 1564, is said to have been the first botanist who mentions tobacco, and he used it for chewing and smoking.


Nigella arvensis Linn. Ranunculaceae. WILD FENNEL.
Europe, Mediterranean region and the Orient.
The seeds are used as those of N. sativa as are also the leaves.


N. damascena Linn. WILD FENNEL.
Mediterranean region.
This species is grown in Turkey for its seeds, which are used as a condiment.


N. sativa Linn. BLACK CUMIN. FENNEL FLOWER. NIGELLA. NUTMEG FLOWER. ROMAN CORIANDER.
East Mediterranean and Taurus-Caspian countries and cultivated in various parts of the world. The seeds are employed in some parts of Germany, France and Asia as a condiment. In eastern countries they are commonly used for seasoning curries and other dishes, and the Egyptians spread them on bread and put them on cakes like comfits. The seeds, on account of their aromatic nature, are employed as a spice in cooking, particularly in Italy and southern France. This plant is supposed to be the gith of Columella and Pliny, in the first century; of Palladius, in the third and of Charlemagne, in the ninth. The melanthion of Columella, in the first century, seems a descriptive name for his gith. Black cumin finds mention as cultivated in most of the botanies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; is recorded by Vilmorin among plants of the garden, as also by Burr in 1863; and is Now found in the lists of some of our seedsmen.


Nipa fruticans Thunb. Palmae. NIPA.
Eastern portion of the Malayan Archipelago.
The spathe is convertible into syrup, sugar, vinegar, yeast and strong spirit. The pulpy kernels are used for making sweetmeats.


Nitraria schoberi Linn. Zygophyllaceae. NITRE-BUSH.
Russia, north Asia and Australia.
The plant produces a fruit of the size of an olive, of a red color and agreeable flavor, much relished by the Natives. The berries, though saltish and insipid, are eaten in the Caspian district.


N. tridentata Desf. LOTUS TREE.
Syria, north Africa and the tropics.
This has been supposed, says Masters, to be the true lotus tree of the ancients.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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