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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Poa abyssinica Jacq. Gramineae. TEFF.
A mountain plant of Abyssinia, cultivated everywhere there, at a height of from 2500 to 8000 feet where gentle heat and rain favor its development. Its seeds furnish the favorite bread of the Abyssinians in the form of thin, highly leavened and spongy cakes. Pour varieties of this grain are cultivated. Parkyns writes that teff is considered by the Abyssinians wholesome and digestible, but so far from being satisfied of this, he is doubtful of its containing much nutritive property and as for its taste, he says, "fancy yourself chewing a piece of sour sponge and you will have a good idea of what is considered the best bread in Abyssinia."


P. flabellata Hook. f.
Fuego and the Falkland Islands.
Ross says the lower part of the culm in the tussock is so fleshy and juicy that when a tuft of leaves is drawn out from a tussock-bog, an inch of the base, about the thickness of a finger, affords a very sweet morsel, with flavor like nuts. Two men subsisted almost entirely upon this substance for 14 months.


Podocarpus andina Poepp. Coniferae (Podocarpaceae). PLUM FIR.
Chile.
This species forms a stately tree bearing at fruiting season clusters of edible, cherry-like fruits.


P. dacrydioides A. Rich. WHITE PINE.
New Zealand.
The white, sweet fruit is eaten by the natives. The drupe is also eaten.


P. spicata R. Br. BLACK PINE.
New Zealand.
Its young shoots are made into a beverage like spruce beer. It has sweet, edible drupes.


P. totara G. Benn. MAHOGANY PINE. TOTARA PINE.
New Zealand.
The fruit is eaten.


Podococcus barteri Mann & H. Wendl. Palmae.
Western tropical Africa.
The fruit is edible.


Podophyllum emodi Wall. Berberideae. HIMALAYAN MAY APPLE.
India.
The berry is edible but the roots and leaves are poisonous.


P. peltatum Linn. MANDRAKE. MAY APPLE. RACCOON-BERRY. WILD LEMON.
Northeast America.
"Certaine ground apples, a pleasant fruite" were seen by Newport on James River. Porcher says the fruit is relished by many persons. It is extremely delicious to most persons but to many is an aperient. In France, it is grown in the flower gardens.


Polyalthia cerasoides Benth. & Hook. f. Anonaceae.
East Indies.
The fruits, cherry-shaped and dark red, are eaten by the natives but are astringent. The plant has black berries, fleshy, smooth and of an acid-sweet taste.


Polygala siberica Linn. Polygaleae.
Temperate and tropical Asia.
The roots and tender leaves were eaten in China in the fourteenth century.


P. theezans Linn.
Java and Japan.
The Japanese and Javanese use the leaves as tea.


P. vulgaris Linn. MILKWORT.
Europe and Asia Minor.
This plant is said to be used in adulterating green tea.


Polygonatum japonicum C. Morr. & Decne. Liliaceae.
Japan.
It is called amatokoro by the Japanese and the root is used.


P. multiflorum All. SOLOMON'S SEAL.
Northern regions.
The root, says Johnson, macerated for some time in water, yields a substance capable of being used as food and consisting principally of starch. The young shoots form an excellent vegetable when boiled and eaten like asparagus and are largely consumed in Turkey. The European form of the species, mentioned by Titford, is well known to the negroes in Jamaica, who eat it boiled, and the Indians in North America also feed upon the root. Parkman states that the roots of Solomon's Seal were used as food by starving Frenchmen.


P. officinale All. SOLOMON'S SEAL.
Europe and Siberia.
The roots have been used, says Withering, made into bread in times of scarcity but they require boiling or baking before use.


Polygonum alpinum All. Polygonaceae. ALPINE KNOTWEED.
Southern Europe and northern Asia.
This plant is called by the Russians kizlez or kapousta, by the Baschkirs kamouslouk and is eaten.


P. bistorta Linn. BISTORT. SNAKEWEED.
Northern regions.
The leaves "are by some boiled in the spring and eaten as greens." Though very astringent and bitter to the taste in a raw state, says Johnson, the root contains an abundance of starch and, after being steeped in water and roasted, becomes edible. A considerable quantity of the root thus prepared is consumed in Russia and Siberia in times of scarcity, as a substitute for bread. In the southern counties of England, the young shoots were formerly in request as an ingredient in herb puddings and as a green vegetable but they are now little used. The root, called ma-shu by the western Eskimos, says Seemann, is an article of food with them and, after being roasted in the ashes, is not unlike a potato, though not so soft and nutritious.


P. multiflorum Thunb.
China and Japan.
The roots are used as food.


P. odoratum Lour.
Cochin China.
This species, according to Loudon, is cultivated throughout Cochin China as an excellent vegetable for eating with boiled meat and fish.


P. viviparum Linn. SERPENT GRASS.
Arctic regions and mountains south to the shore of Lake Superior.
Its roots, according to Gmelin, are collected by the Samoyedes and eaten. Lightfoot says the people of Kamchatka and sometimes the Norwegians, when pressed with hunger, feed upon the roots. In Sweden it is called mortog or swinegrass.


Polypodium fragrans. Polypodiaceae. POLYPODY.
East Siberia.
This fern is called serlik by the Bouriates and is used as a substitute for tea.1


Polystichum munitum Kaulf. Polypodiaceae (Aspidiaceae).
The roots of this fern, says Hooker, are roasted on the embers and constitute an article of food for the Indians of the northwest.


Pometia pinnata Forst. Sapindaceae.
Islands of the Pacific.
This species is planted around dwellings for its sweet and edible fruit.


Populus alba Linn. Salicaceae. WHITE POPLAR.
Northern regions.
The inner bark of this species, of P. nigra Linn. and P. tremula Linn. is occasionally used in northern Europe and Asia as a substitute for flour in making bread. The soft, new wool of the poplar, says Dall, is cut fine and mixed with his tobacco by the economical Indian of Alaska.


Porcelia nitidifolia Ruiz et Pav. Anonaceae.
Peru.
The berries as well as the flowers are eaten by the inhabitants of Peru.


Porphyra laciniata Agardh. Algae. LAYER. SLOKAM. SLOKE.
Northern regions.
In England, this membranous seaweed is stewed to a pulp and brought to table served with lemon juice. It is a favorite article of food with many persons.


P. vulgaris Agardh. LAYER.
Northern regions.
This seaweed is cultivated in the neighborhood of Tokio, Japan. Branches of oak are placed in the shallow waters of the bay in spring time; on these the laver appears and is collected from October to the following March and is sold as food in the markets.


Portulaca lutea Soland. Portulaceae. YELLOW PURSLANE.
Society Islands.
This plant is used as a vegetable in the Society Islands and in New Zealand.


P. oleracea Linn. PURSLANE.
A native of tropical and subtropical regions but now spread over nearly the whole world. The fact that this plant is recorded as having reached England only in 1582 would seem to indicate its origin as recent in Europe. Unger says it is the andracken of Theophrastus and Dioscorides and is a widely-distributed plant of the Mediterranean region, occurring everywhere and readily entering the loose soil of the gardens. In the thirteenth century, Albertus Magnus does not mention its culture in gardens and apparently refers to the wild form, "the stems extending over the soil." In 1536, Ruellius describes the erect, greenleaved, cultivated form, as well as the wild, procumbent form, and in this he is followed by many of the succeeding botanists. Three varieties are described; the green, the golden and the large-leaved golden. The golden varieties are not mentioned by Bauhin in his Phytopinax, 1596, nor in his Pinax, 1623, but are mentioned as if well known in Le Jardinier Solitaire, 1612. The green variety is figured by nearly all the earlier botanists. The golden has the following synonymy:
Pourpier dore. Le Jard. Solit. 378. 1612; Toum. 236. 1719; Vilm. 518. 1883
Red or Golden. Quintyne 199. 1693.
Portulaca sativa lutea sive aurea. Ray 1039. 1688.
Golden purslane. Ray 1039. 1688; Townsend 19. 1726; Mawe. 1778; Burr 392. 1863.
In England, Mclntosh says the young shoots and leaves are used in summer salads and are sometimes used in French and Italian soups and in pickles. This purslane is cultivated in Yemen, sold in bundles at Mocha and, in Burma, is used by the natives for a potherb. In 1605, Champlain says the Indians on the Maine coast brought him "purslane, which grows in large quantities among the Indian corn, and of which they made no more account than of weeds." Cutler, 1785, says it occurs in cornfields and is eaten as a potherb and is esteemed by some as little inferior to asparagus. It was previously mentioned by Josselyn prior to 1670. Purslane has never been much valued in America. In 1819, Cobbett mentions it in his American Gardener, as "a mischievous weed that Frenchmen and pigs eat when they can get nothing else. Both use it in salad, that is to say, raw." Sir Richard Hawkins, at the Island of Saint Anna, off Cape Saint Thomas, found great store "of the hearbe Purslane " which was very useful to his scurvy-suffering crew. Purslane is also mentioned by Nieuhoff as cultivated in Brazil in 1647.


P. quadrifida Linn.
Old World tropics.
This species is much used as a potherb in India.


P. retusa Engelm.
Western North America.
This species is eaten by the Apache Indians.


Potentilla anserina Linn. Rosaceae. GOOSE GRASS. GOOSE TANSY. SILVER-WEED.
Temperate regions.
In some of the Hebrides, says Lightfoot, the roots have often supported the inhabitants for months together. Boiled or roasted, they taste like parsnips.


P. fruticosa Linn. SHRUBBY CINQUEFOIL.
North temperate regions.
This plant is called in Siberia kouril-skoi-tchai or Kurile tea. The leaves are used by peasants and Tartars as a tea.


P. rupestris Linn. PRAIRIE TEA. ROCK CINQUEFOIL.
Europe and northern Asia.
This plant is called by the Mongols khaltalsa and is used as a substitute for tea, as also in Siberia where it is called polvoi-tchai or prairie tea.


P. tormentilla Neck. TORMENTIL.
Northern Asia and Europe.
Johnson says by long boiling the tannin of the root is converted into gum and the roots so treated have occasionally been eaten in times of scarcity.


Poterium (Sanguisorda) sanguisorba Linn. Rosaceae. BURNET.
North temperate regions.
The young and tender leaves of burnet taste somewhat like a green cucumber and are employed in salads. It is rarely cultivated in the gardens but occurs in all our books on gardening. Three varieties are described by Burr: the Smooth-leaved, the Hairy-leaved and the Large-seeded. This latter he deems but a seminal variation and a subvariety only. The following synonymy seems clear:
I. Pimpinella sanguisorba minor laevis. Bauh. Phytopin. 282. 1596.
Poterium sanguisorba, var. B. Linn. Sp. 1411. Smooth-leaved. Burr 319. 1863.

II. Sanguisorba minor. Fuch. 790. 1542.
Pimpinella and Bipinelia. Ang. Burnet Advers. 320. 1570; Lob; Obs. 412. 1576; ic. 1:718. 1591.
Small or Garden Pimpernell. Lyte's Dod. 152. 1586.
Pimpinella minor. Lugd. 1087. 1587.
Pimpinella sanguisorba minor hirsuta. Bauh. Phytopin. 282. 1596.
Pimpinella vulgaris sive minor. Ray 401. 1686.
Poterium sanguisorba. Linn. Sp. 1411.
Hairy-leaved Burnet. Burr 319. 1863.

The garden culture of bumet is implied in Lyte's Dodoens' Herball 1586. Ray, however, a hundred years later, does not mention its culture. In 1693, Quintyne grew it in the royal vegetable garden in France, and, in 1726, Townsend says it is "a good plant for Sallads." Mawe, 1778, says it has long been cultivated as a salad plant; while Bryant, 1783, says it is so frequently cultivated in gardens that to describe it would be unnecessary. Burnet is recorded for American gardens in 1832 and it was then doubtless, a long-grown plant. It is now grown in the Mauritius.


Pourouma cecropiaefolia Mart. Urticaceae.
Brazil.
This is a cultivated plant of the Amazon, says Bates, bearing a round, juicy berry, in large bunches and resembling grapes in taste.


Pouzolzia viminea Wedd. Urticaceae.
East Indies.
A small shrub the leaves of which are eaten in Sikkim.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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