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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Picea excelsa Link. Coniferae (Pinaceae). NORWAY SPRUCE.
Norway, Russia and the mountainous parts of Europe.
The spray is used in making beer.


P. nigra Link. BLACK SPRUCE. DOUBLE SPRUCE.
North America.
Great quantities of spruce beer are made from the new shoots.


Picraena excelsa Lindl. Simarubaceae. BITTER ASH. QUASSIA.
West Indies.
This tree yields the bitter wood known as Jamaica quassia. Brewers are said to use the chips as a substitute for hops.


Picridium (Reichardia) vulgare Desf. Compositae. FRENCH SCORZONERA.
Europe and the Mediterranean region.
This salad plant is cultivated in Italian gardens, where it is much esteemed. It is also used somewhat in France and was introduced into England in 1882. It is also of recent introduction into French culture. In the United States, the species is noted by Burr, 1863. The young leaves and the roots are eaten.


Picris echioides Linn. Compositae. OX-TONGUE.
Europe and north Africa.
Johnson says this plant has been used as a potherb when in the young state.


P. hieracioides Linn.
Temperate Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
The plant is used as a potherb.


Pimenta officinalis Lindl. Myrtaceae. ALLSPICE. PIMENTO.
West Indies.
The allspice tree is cultivated in the West Indies, where it is common. The allspice, or pimento, berries of commerce are of the size of a small pea and in order are supposed to resemble a combination of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. This tree. is also cultivated now in the East Indies. The seeds are used as a condiment.


Pimpinella anisum Linn. Umbelliferae. ANISE.
Greece and Egypt.
Anison was known to the ancient Greeks. Dioscorides says the best came from Crete, the next best from Egypt. It is also mentioned by Theophrastus. Pliny, in the first century, says anesum, green or dry, is desirable in all seasonings or sauces. The seeds, he says, are sprinkled in the under crust of bread and are used for flavoring wine. He quotes Pythagoras as praising it whether raw or cooked. Palladius, in the beginning of the third century, gives directions for its sowing. Charlemagne, in the ninth century, commanded that anise should be sown on the imperial farms in Germany. Anise is mentioned also by Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth century. It seems to have been grown in England as a potherb prior to 1542, as Boore, in his Dyetary of Helth, printed in that year, says of it and fennel, "These herbes be seldom used but theyr seedes be greatly occupyde." Ruellius records anise in France in 1536 and gives the common name as Roman fennel, the name Albertus Magnus used in the thirteenth century. It is classed among culinary herbs by McMahon, 1806.

In the seventeenth century, Quintyne records the use of the leaves in salads. The seeds now serve to flavor various liquors; in Italy, they appear in diverse pastries; in Germany they are put into bread; in England, in special bread, in rye bread and even in cheese. In Malta, localities in Spain, France, southern Italy, Germany and Russia the plant is grown on a large scale for the seed, which also enters commerce in northern India and Chile. The plant is indigenous to Asia Minor, the Greek islands and Egypt but is nowhere to be found undoubtedly growing wild. There is no indication of its having formed varieties under cultivation, except that Bauhin records one sort having rounder and smaller seeds than the common variety.


Pinanga dicksonii Blume. Palmae.
East Indies.
This is a wild species, the nuts of which are utilized by the Poorer classes as a substitute for the betel-nut.


Pinus cembra Linn. Coniferae (Pinaceae). RUSSIAN CEDAR, swiss STONE PINE.
Southern Europe and northern Asia.
According to Gmelin, the seeds form about the sole winter food of the peasantry in Siberia. Nuttall says an oil is extracted from them.


P. cembroides Zucc.
Western United States.
The seeds are as large as large peas, says Newberry, the flavor agreeable, and the Indians eat them whenever they can be obtained. The edible nuts are collected, says Parry, by the Indians along the Mexican boundary, and Torrey says, when fresh or slightly roasted, they are very palatable.


P. contorta Dougl.
Western United States.
In times of scarcity, says R. Brown, the Indians will eat the liber. Along both sides of the trail in the passes of the Galton and Rocky Mountains, many of the young trees of this species are stripped of their bark for a foot or so above the ground to a height of six or seven feet. The Indians of Alaska, says Dall, in the spring are in the habit of stripping off the outer bark and scraping the newly formed cambium from the trunk, and this is eaten fresh or dried. When fresh it is not unpleasant but as the season advances it tastes strongly of turpentine.


P. coulteri D. Don.
California.
The seeds, says Nuttall, are of the size of an almond and are edible.


P. edulis Engelm. NUT PINE. PINON PINE.
Southwestern United States.
The nut is sweet and edible, about the size of a hazelnut. It is used as an article of trade by the New Mexicans of the upper Rio Grande, with those below and about El Paso. The fruit has a slightly terebinthine taste but the New Mexicans are very fond of it.


P. excelsa Wall. BHOTAN PINE.
Himalayan mountains.
The tree is called cheel. In Kamaon, a kind of manna, which is eaten, is collected from this tree in a dry winter.


P. flexilis James.
Western United States.
The large seeds are used as food by the Indians.


P. gerardiana Wall. NEPAL NUT PINE.
Himalayas.
The cones are plucked before they open and are heated to make the scales expand and to get the seeds out. Large quantities of the seeds are stored for winter use, and they form a staple food of the inhabitants of Kunawar. They are eaten ground and mixed with flour. It is a common saying in Kunawar, says Brandis, "one tree a man's life in winter." They are oily, with a slight but not unpleasant turpentiny flavor and are called neozar.


P. koraiensis Sieb. & Zucc. KOREAN PINE.
Korea, Kamchatka, China and Japan.
The tree produces edible nuts.


P. lambertiana Dougl. GIANT PINE. SUGAR PINE.
Northwest coast of America.
The resin which exudes from partially burned trees for the most part loses its terebinthine taste and smell and acquires a sweetness nearly equal to that of sugar and is sometimes used for sweetening food. It has, however, decided cathartic properties and is oftener used by the frontiersmen as a medicine than a condiment. The seeds have a sweet and pleasant-tasting kernel and are eaten roasted or pounded into coarse cakes by the Indians.


P. longifolia Roxb. EMODI PINE.
Himalaya Mountains.
The seeds, says Brandis, are eaten in India and are of some importance as food in times of scarcity.


P. monophylla Torr. & Frem. NUT PINE. STONE PINE.
Western North America.
The seeds are of an almond-like flavor and are consumed in quantity by the natives.


P. parryana Engelm.
California.
The seeds are eaten by the Indians.


P. pinea Linn. STONE PINE.
Southern Europe and the Levant.
This pine is said by Grigor to be cultivated for its fruit about Naples. It was known to the ancients, and with the Greeks was a tree sacred to Neptune. The seeds are commonly called pignons by the French and pinocchi by the Italians. They are eaten as dessert, made into sweetmeats or used in puddings and cakes. They are very commonly used in Aleppo and in Turkey.


P. sabiniana Dougl. DIGGER PINE.
California.
This is one of the nut pines of California and furnishes a most important food to the Indians, says Brewer. The seeds are as large as large beans, are very palatable, having, however, a slightly terebinthine taste. Thousands of beings, red-skinned but human, look to this pine tree for their winter store of food.


P. sylvestris Linn. SCOTCH PINE.
Northern Europe and Asia.
In Norway, the inner bark furnishes a barkbread. In Sweden, in times of scarcity, much bark is collected from the forests for food, being kiln-dried, ground into flour, mixed with a small portion of oatmeal and made into thin cakes. The inner part of the bark, says Morlot, properly prepared, furnishes when boiled a very edible broth; the Laplanders are quite fond of it. When they prepare a meal of it, they bark the tree all around up to a certain height. The tree then dies and thus the routes of migration in Lapland are marked by a track of dead pines which is continually widening.


P. torreyana Parry.
California.
This pine bears large and edible seeds.


Piper amalago Linn. Piperaceae.
West Indies.
Brownel says the seeds may replace pepper for seasoning.


P. betle Linn. BETLE PEPPER.
East Indies and Malay.
The leaves are chewed with betel-nut by the Malays and other Indian races.


P. capense Linn. f. STAART PEPPER.
South Africa.
The pepper is used by the country people in Kaffraria as a spice.


P. chaba Hunter.
Indian Archipelago.
The long pepper which is imported by the Dutch is the fruit-spike, collected and dried before it reaches maturity.


P. clusii C. DC.
Tropical Africa.
This spice was imported as early as 1364 to Rouen and Dieppe from Liberia under the name pepper. In tropical western Africa, it is used as a condiment.


P. cubeba Linn. f. CUBEB PEPPER.
Malay, Java and Penang.
Pereira states that as early as 1305 the Product of this tree was used as a condiment in London, although now it is considered a medicine.


P. longum Linn. LONG PEPPER.
A shrub indigenous to Malabar, Ceylon, eastern Bengal, Timor and the Philippines and cultivated along the eastern and western coasts of India. Its fruits consist of very small, one-sided berries or grains embedded in a pulpy matter, green when immature, and becoming red as it ripens. The fruit is gathered in the green state to form pepper, as it is then hotter than when perfectly ripe. This is the long pepper of commerce.


P. methysticum Forst. f.
Sandwich Islands and the Fiji Islands.
The root of this plant is used to form an intoxicating drink under the name of ava, kava or kawa. The root is chewed, thrown into a bowl and water is poured on. It is then strained through cocoa-nut husks, when it is ready for use.


P. nigrum Linn. PEPPER TREE.
Indigenous to the forests of Travancore and Malabar, whence it has been introduced into Sumatra, Java, Borneo, the Malay peninsula, Siam, the Philippines and the West Indies. This tree furnishes the black Pepper of commerce which is the berries gathered before they are Perfectly ripe and dried. The white pepper is formed from the decorticated fruits. It is frequently mentioned by Roman writers of the Augustan age and, in the fifth century, Attila demanded 3000 pounds of pepper as a part of the ransom of the city of Rome. An account of the growing of pepper in India is given by Mandeville, who traveled there in 1322-1356.


P. sarmentosum Roxb. LONG PEPPER.
East Indies and Malay.
The fruit, according to Wight, is gathered and sold as long pepper.


P. sylvaticum Roxb. MOUNTAIN LONG PEPPER.
East Indies and Burma.
The spikes, both green and ripe, are used in Bengal as long pepper.


P. umbellatum Linn.
Tropics.
The leaves may be boiled and eaten.


Piptadenia peregrina Benth. Leguminosae. BLACK PARICA.
Brazil and British Guiana.
The native tribes intoxicate themselves with the fumes of the burning seeds.


Pipturus velutmus Wedd. Urticaceae.
Moluccas.
This species bears a sweet but rather insipid fruit.


Pisonia alba Span. Nyctagineae. TREE LETTUCE.
East Indies, Malay and common in the gardens about Madras.
In taste, the leaves somewhat resemble lettuce, but Wight says, to his taste, it is but an indifferent substitute.


Pistacia atlantica Desf. Anacardiaceae. MASTIC TREE.
Mediterranean region.
The Moors eat the fruits and bruise them to mix with their dates.


P. lentiscus Linn. MASTIC TREE.
Southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia; introduced into the United States by the Patent Office in 1855 for trial in southern California and the Gulf States. Mastic is the resin obtained from incisions in the bark of this tree and is produced principally in the Island of Scio and in Asiatic Turkey. Mastic is consumed in large quantities by the Turks for chewing to sweeten the breath and to strengthen the gums. The tree is cultivated in Italy and Portugal but is said to produce no resin in these climates. From the kernel of the fruit, an oil may be obtained, which is fine for table use.


P. mexicana H. B. & K.
Mexico.
This is a small tree with edible nuts found by Bigelow near the mouth of the Pecos.


P. terebinthus Linn. CYPRUS TURPENTINE. TEREBINTH.
Southern Europe and Mediterranean region.
This is the cultivated form of P. vera, grown in Palestine and Syria. The plant is a large and stout tree of the Mediterranean flora and furnishes Cyprus turpentine. The nuts are shaped like the filbert, long and pointed, the kernel pale, greenish, sweet and more oily than the almond. It is the terebinthus of Theophrastus, and the senawber or snowber of the Arabs. The species was introduced into the United States for trial culture in 1859.


P. vera Linn. PISTACIA NUT.
Mediterranean and the Orient.
The tree is indigenous to Persia, Bactria and Syria but is cultivated in the Mediterranean regions. Seeds of the nut were distributed from the United States Patent Office in 1854. The fruit is oval, about the size of an olive and contains a kernel, oily and mild to the taste. The nuts are used in ices, creams, conserves and all kinds of confectionery. The nut is eaten raw like almonds and is much esteemed by the Turks, Greeks and Italians. There are several varieties, of which the Aleppo is considered the best for its fruits. In Kabul, Pistacia trees are said by Harlan to yield a crop of fruit one year, followed always by a crop of blighted fruit destitute of a kernel the next.


Pisum arvense Linn. Leguminosae. FIELD PEA. GREY PEA.
Eurasia.
This is the pea most commonly cultivated in Egypt and it is also grown in India. In China, this pea is eaten and seems to have been introduced from the country of the Vigurs, during the T'ang time. This species is considered by Lindley as the original of all our cultivated Peas. In Scotland and England, some or more varieties of the field pea are grown. A variety allied to this species has been found in the ancient lacustrine deposits of Switzerland.


P. jomardi Schrank. EGYPTIAN PEA.
Egypt.
This species is edible and is perhaps cultivated.


P. sativum Linn. PEA.
Europe and northern Asia.
The pea in India goes back to a remote period as is shown by its Sanscrit name. The discovery of its seed in a tomb at Thebes proves it to have been an ancient Egyptian plant. It was seen in Japan by Thunberg, 1776. Its culture among the Romans is evident from its mention by Columella, Pliny and Palladius. There is every reason to believe, from the paucity of description, that peas were not then in their present esteem as a vegetable and were considered inferior to other plants of the leguminous order. The first distinct mention of the garden peas is by Ruellius in 1536, who says there are two kinds of peas, one the field pea and trailing, the other a climbing Pea, whose fresh pods with their peas were eaten. Green peas, however, were not a common vegetable at the close of the seventeenth century. The author of a life of Colbert, 1695, says: "It is frightful to see persons sensual enough to purchase green peas at the price of 50 crowns per litron." This kind of pompous expenditure prevailed much at the French Court, as will be seen by a letter of Madame de Maintenon, dated May 10, 1696. "This subject of peas continues to absorb all others," says she, "the anxiety to eat them, the pleasure of having eaten them and the desire to eat them again, are the three great matters which have been discussed by our princes for four days past. Some ladies, even after having supped at the Royal table and well supped too, returning to their own homes, at the risk of suffering from indigestion, will again eat peas before going to bed. It is both a fashion and a madness."

In England, it is not until after the Norman Conquest and the establishment of monastic communities that we read of green peas being used. In Fosbrook's British Monasticon, it is stated that at Barking Nunnery the annual store of provisions consisted among other things of green peas for Lent, and, in Archaeologia in Order and Government of a Nobleman's House, they are again mentioned. In 1299, the English forces, while besieging a castle in Lothian, were compelled to feed on the peas and beans of the surrounding fields. At the present time, in varieties, they are grown as far north as Hammertest and Lapland.

Peas were early introduced to the American Continent, but, in notices of this plant, the word Reason refers sometimes, it is probable, to beans.

In 1493, Reason are mentioned by Peter Martyr as grown at Isabela Island by Columbus; in 1535, Reason are mentioned by Cartier as grown by the Indians of Hochelaga, now Montreal; and in 1613, peas were obtained from the French traders grown by the Indians of the Ottawa River; in 1540, peas are mentioned in New Mexico by Alarcon and "small, white peas" by Coronado; in 1562, Reason were cultivated by the Florida Indians, as related by Ribault. In 1602, peas were sown by Gosnold on the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts, according to Smith; in 1629, in Massachusetts, there was a "store of green peas," "as good as ever I eat in England," growing in the governor's garden, according to Rev. Francis Higginson. In 1614, peas were mentioned by Smith as grown by the New England Indians. In 1690, Bancroft says Spanish peas were grown by the Indians of Mexico, and, in 1775, Romans says green peas were obtained the year round at Mobile, Alabama. In 1779, Gen. Sullivan's expedition against the Indians of western New York destroyed the growing peas of the Indians who occupied the territory near Geneva.

If we trace the antiquity of the various forms which include varieties, we find the varieties noted are innumerable and occur with white and green seed, with smooth and with wrinkled seed, with seed blackspotted at the hilum, with large and small seed, as well as with plants of large and small aspects, dwarf, trailing, and tall plants, and those with edible pods.

White and Green Peas.- Lyte, in his edition of Dodonaeus, 1586, mentions the trailing pea, or what Vilmorin classifies as the half-dwarf, as having round seed, of color sometimes white, sometimes green. Smooth Seeded.-Dodonaeus, in his Frumentorum, 1566, describes this form under Pisum minus, a tall pea, called in Germany erweyssen; in Brabant, erwiten; in France, pois; by the Greeks, ochron; the pods containing eight to ten round peas of a yellow color at first, then green. This pea was called in England, Middle Peason, in 1591.

Wrinkled Seed.-The first certain mention of wrinkled seed is by Tragus in 1552, under Phaseolus. These are also recorded in Belgian and German gardens by Dodonaeus in his Frumentorum, 1566, under Pisum majus, the dry seed being angular, uneven, of a white color in some varieties and of a sordid color in others. He calls them roomsche erwiten, groote erwiten, stock erwiten, and the plant he says does not differ from his Pisum minus and indeed he uses the same figure for the two. Pena and Lobel, 1570, describe the same pea as in Belgian and English gardens, under the name Pisum angulosum hortorum quadratum Plinii, with seed of a ferruginous and reddish color. Lobel, 1591, figures the seed, using the name Pisum quadratum, and it seems to be the Great Peason, Garden Peason, or Branch Peason of Lyte in 1586, as he gives Dodonaeus' common names as synonyms. In 1686, Ray describes this class under the name Rouncival and refers to Gerarde's picture of Pisum majus, or Rowncivall Pease, in 1597, as being the same. This word Rouncival, in white and green varieties, was used by McMahon in 1806, and Rouncivals by Gardiner and Hepburn in 1818 and Thorburn in 1828. The first good description of the seed is, however, in 1708, when Lisle calls it honey-combed or pitted. Knight, a nurseryman of Bedfordshire, before 1726, did much for the improvement of the pea and sent out several wrinkled varieties. Up to Knight's time the wrinkled peas do not seem to have been in general esteem. The Knight pea, the seed rough, uneven, and shrivelled, the plant tall, was in American gardens in 1821, and a number of Knight's peas are under cultivation at present.

Black-eyed Peas.-These are mentioned as an old sort by Townsend in 1726 and are now grown under the name of Black-eyed Marrowfat.

Dwarf Peas.-These are mentioned by Tournefort in 1700 and are referred by him to 1665. There is no earlier distinct reference. Half-Dwarfs.- These are the ordinary trailing peas as mentioned by the earlier botanies, as, for instance, the Pisum minus of Camerarius, 1586

Tall Peas.- These are the forms described by the early botanies as requiring sticking, as the Pisum majus of Camerarius, 1596, the Pisum of Fuchsius, 1542, and Phasioli or faselen of Tragus, 1552.

Edible-Podded or Sugar Peas.-The pods and peas of the large, climbing pea, as also the green pods of the trailing form, are recorded as eaten by Ruellius in 1536, and this manner of eating is recorded by later authors. We now have two forms, those with straight and those with contorted pods. The first of these is figured by Gerarde, 1597; is described by Ray in 1686 and Tournefort in 1700. The second form is mentioned by Worlidge in 1683 as the Sugar pease with crooked pods, by Ray as Sickle pease. In the Jardinier Franšais, 1651, Bonnefonds describes them as the Dutch pea and adds that until lately they were very rare. Roquefort says they were introduced into France by the French ambassador in Holland about 1600. In 1806, McMahon includes three kinds among American esculents.

Number of Varieties.- About 1683, Meager names 9 kinds in English culture; in 1765 Stevenson, 34 kinds; in 1783, Bryant names 14; in 1806, McMahon has 22 varieties; Thorburn's Calendar, 1821, contains n sorts, and this seed catalog of 1828 has 24 sorts; in 1883, Vilmorin describes 149; in the report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for 1884, 93 varieties are described in full.


Pithecelobium bigeminum Mart. Leguminosae. SOAP-BARK TREE.
East Indies and Malay.
The tree has long, twisted fruit, sweet to the taste but inducing dysentery and it, therefore, was prohibited by Alexander. It is called ta nyen in Burma, where the natives are extravagantly fond of the seeds as a condiment to preserve fish, notwithstanding sometimes disastrous consequences.


P. dulce Benth.
American tropics.
The sweet pulp of the pod is wholesome. The plant is extensively cultivated in India as a hedge plant. In Mexico, it is called guamuckil, and the fruit is boiled and eaten. In Manila, the species is grown for its fruit, which is eaten. The sweet, firm pulp in the curiously twisted pods is eaten.


P. lobatum Benth.
A large tree of Burma.
The seeds are eaten as a condiment.


P. saman Benth. RAIN TREE. SAMAN. ZAMANG.
Tropical America.
This is a Mexican tree yielding edible pods.


P. unguis-cati Benth. CAT'S CLAW.
Mexico and the West Indies.
The pulp about the seed is eaten by the natives. In the West Indies it is eaten by the negroes.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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