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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Sabal adansoni Guems. Palmae.
Southern United States.
The soft interior of the stem is edible.


S. palmetto Lodd. PALMETTO PALM.
Coast of North Carolina and southward.
In Florida, the cabbage, is eaten and is excellent. The drupes are said to afford nourishing food to the Indians and hunters but are not palatable to whites until they become accustomed to them. In Plaine Description of Barmudas, 1613, it is said: "there is a tree called a Palmito tree, which hath a very sweet berry, upon which the hogs doe most feede; but our men, finding the sweetnesse of them, did willingly share with the hogs for them, they being very pleasant and wholesome, which made them carelesse almost of any bread with their meate." "The head of the Palmito tree is verie good meate either raw or sodden." "Of necessitie, I must needs mention a Palme-tree once againe, I have found it so good; take a hatchet and cut him, or an augur and bore him, and it yields a very pleasant liquor, much like unto your sweete wines."


Saccharum officinarum Linn. Gramineae. SUGAR CANE.
Tropics.
From the elaborate investigation of Ritter, it appears that this species was originally a native of Bengal and of the Indo-Chinese countries, as well as of Borneo, Java, Ball, Celebes and other islands of the Malay Archipelago. There is no evidence that it is now found anywhere in a wild state. The first historical allusion to sugar seems to be by Theophrastus (others say by Strabo), who lived 321 B. C. He speaks of a sort of honey procured from canes or reeds. Varro, 68 B. C., mentions the exceeding sweetness of the Indian reed, but says the juice is derived from the root of the plant. Lucan says of the Indians near the Ganges "they drink the sweet juices of the tender reed." Dioscorides says there is a sort of concreted honey which is called sugar and is found upon canes in India and Arabia Felix and it is as hard as salt and is brittle under the teeth. Pliny adds to this description by saying it comes in fragments as large as a filbert and is used only in medicine. Paulus Aegineta quotes Archigenes as saying, "The Indian salt is like common salt in color and consistence but resembles honey in taste." Sugar is mentioned, however, in the Institutes of Menu, and the Sama Veda.

The Venetians imported sugar cane from India by the Red Sea, prior to 1148, and it is supposed to have been introduced into the islands of Sicily, Crete, Rhodes and Cypress by the Saracens, as an abundance of sugar was made in those islands previous to the discovery of the West Indies. Cane was cultivated afterwards in Spain, in Valentia, Granada and Murcia by the Moors, and sugar is still made in these provinces. Other authorities believe that, in the ninth century, the Arabians obtained sugar from the sugar cane which at that time was cultivated in Susiana. Sugar was brought from Alexandria to Venice in the year 996. In 1087, 10,000 pounds of sugar are said to have been used at the wedding of the Caliph Mostadi Bemvillah. In 1420, Don Henri transported sugar cane from Sicily to Madeira, whence it was carried to the Canary Isles in 1503. Thence it was introduced into Brazil in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Columbus carried sugar canes from Spain to the West Indies before 1494, for at this time he says "the small quantity that we have planted has succeeded very well. Sugar cane was carried to Santo Domingo about 1520. In 1610, the Dutch began to make sugar in the Island of St. Thomas, and, from the cane introduced in 1660, sugar was made in Jamaica in 1664. Sugar cane reached Guadeloupe about 1644 and Martinique about 1650. It was carried to Bourbon at the formation of the colony. In 1646, the Barbados began to export sugar. Plants appear to have been carried to Cuba by Velasquez about 1518 and to Mexico by Cortez about 1524, and, before 1530, we find mention of sugar mills on the estates of Cortez. The plant seems to have been cultivated on the banks of the Mississippi for the first time about 1751, and the first sugar mill was erected in 1758. In 1770, sugar had become one of the staple products of the colony about New Orleans. The first variety cultivated was the Creole. The Ribbon cane, originally from Java, was introduced about 1820 to 1825. The Otaheite cane, brought to the West Indies by Bougainville and Bligh, was introduced far later.

According to Hallam, Gesner, who died in 1564, was the first botanist who mentions sugar cane. Sugar cane, according to various observers, never bears seed in the West Indies, Malaga, India, Cochin China, or the Malay Archipelago, but Lunan speaks of the seed in Jamaica as being oblong, pointed and ripening in the valve of the flower.

The use of sugar is well known. In South America a cane-wine called guarapo is in common use, prepared from the juice of the stalk allowed to run into fermentation. The natives of Easter Island, who suffer great distress from want of fresh water, drink the juice. In southern China, the stalks, cut into six- or ten-inch lengths, raw and boiled, are continually hawked around the streets for eating. The elephant cane of Cochin China is grown for the stalks, which are chewed. The epidermis of the stalk is so brittle, that, instead of crushing in the mills, the stalks break into small fragments. In central Africa, a red-stalked variety is the most frequent and the negroes make no further use of it than eating the cane, and the Uganda may often be seen passing, chewing the end of a long cane that trails behind them. This cane also appears in the markets of Paraguay, where it is eaten. This species is, undoubtedly, says Unger, a plant peculiar to China, and has been cultivated there independently and perhaps still earlier than the Indian sugar cane. This is also the sugar cane of the Malays, according to Ainslie. De Candolle says it was introduced into the gardens of Calcutta in 1796.


S. sara Roxb. PENREED GRASS.
East Indies, Afghanistan and India.
In the southern part of the Punjab, the delicate part of the pith in the upper part of the stem is eaten by the poor.


Sageretia brandrethiana Aitch. Rhamnaceae.
Orient and northwestern India.
The fruit is sweet and is a great favorite with the Afghans.


S. oppositifolia Brongn.
East Indies and Malay.
The sweetish fruit is eaten in India.


S. theezans Brongn.
Northwestern India, Burma and China.
The poor in China use the leaves as a tea. The fruit is also eaten in China and the Himalayas. It is globular, the size of a small pea, dark brown when ripe, and is called tia by the Chinese.


Sagittaria chinensis Sims. Alismataceae. ARROW-HEAD.
China.
The Chinese arrow-head is sold in the markets of China and Japan as food, the corns being full of starch. It is extensively cultivated about San Francisco, California, to supply the Chinese markets, and the tubers are commonly to be found on sale.


S. sagittifolia Linn. SWAMP POTATO. SWAN POTATO.
Europe, Asia and North America.
The bulbs, which dig themselves into the solid earth below the mud, constitute an article of food with the Chinese, and, on that account, the plant is extensively cultivated. This species is enumerated by Thunberg as among the edible plants of Japan. In eastern America, the Indians boil or roast this root which they called katniss. It is called by the Oregon Indians wapstoo and constitutes an important article of diet.


Salacia dulcis Benth. Celastraceae.
A shrub of Brazil.
The fruit is the size of a crab apple, yellow, sweet, and juicy and is much eaten by the Indians on the Rio Negro, who call it waiatuma.


S. pyriformis Steud.
Tropical Africa.
This plant produces a sweet-tasted fruit the size of a Bergamot pear. Wight says the fruit is eatable and is said to be of a rich and sweet flavor.


S. roxburghii Wall.
East Indies.
The plant bears a dull red fruit the size of a crab apple, of which the white pulp is eaten.


S. scabra DC.
Guiana.
The berries are edible.


Salicornia brachiata Roxb. Chenopodiaceae.
East Indies.
The shoots are pickled by the natives of India.


S. fruticosa Linn
Europe and Africa.
The plant is of a brackish taste but is eaten as a salad by the soldiers and some few others at the Cape of Good Hope.


S. herbacea Linn. CRAB GRASS. MARSH SAMPHIRE. SALTWORT.
Seashores of the Mediterranean and north Atlantic and interior salines throughout North America and Asia. The tender shoots of this plant in England are used as a pickle and are sometimes boiled for the table. This species is found about the salt springs in Syracuse, New York, and is much used for pickling.


Salix alba Linn. Salicaceae. WHITE WILLOW.
Europe, Asia and north Africa.
The inner bark, though extremely bitter in the fresh state, when dried and powdered, Johnson says, is used in northern countries in times of scarcity for making bread. Dall says the half-digested willow-tips in the stomach of the adult deer are regarded as a delicacy by the Eskimos of the Yukon River, and the mess is eaten as a salad. The bark of a species of willow is mixed with tobacco and smoked by the Indians of Maine. In China, the leaves of this and other willows are often eaten by poor people in times of want. Willow leaves have long been used to make "sweet-tea," and about Shanghai the leaves of S. alba are used to adulterate tea.


S. fragilis Linn. CRACK WILLOW.
Europe and Asia.
In Persia, this willow yields a saccharine exudation, as stated by Haussknecht.


Salvadora persica Linn. Salvadoraceae, MUSTARD TREE. TOOTHBRUSH TREE.
Orient, East Indies and north Africa.
The fruit is sweet and is eaten largely in the Punjab; when dried it forms an article of trade and tastes somewhat like currants. The fruit is globose, two and one-half lines in diameter, yellow when ripe, dark brown or red when dry. The shoot and leaves are pungent, says Brandis, and are eaten as salad and are celebrated as antidotes against poison. This shrub or small tree has been identified as the mustard tree of Scripture. The small, red, edible berries, says Ainslie, have an aromatic smell and taste not unlike the garden cress. According to Stewart, these berries are much eaten, and Royle says the seeds, having an aromatic pungency, are substituted for mustard.


Salvia columbariae Benth. Labiatae. CHIA.
Southern and central California.
The seeds are collected, roasted, ground by the Indians and used as a food by mixing with water and enough sugar to suit the taste. This mixture soon develops into a copious, mucilaginous mass several times the original bulk. The taste for it is soon acquired, and it is then found very palatable and nutritious.


S. horminum Linn. HORMIUM CLARY.
South Europe; introduced into Britain in 1596.
The leaves are used as a sage. Gerarde says of it, that the leaves are good to be put into pottage or broths among other potherbs. It is included in Thorbum's seed catalog of 1881.


S. indica Linn.
East Indies.
This species, according to Ainslie,6 is much cultivated in India for its leaves, which are put into country beer because of their fresh and pleasant smell.


S. lanata Roxb.
Himalayan region.
The stems are peeled and eaten.


S. officinalis Linn. SAGE.
Mediterranean region.
This plant is one of the most important occupants of the herb garden, being commonly used for seasoning and also in domestic medicine. It has been under cultivation from a remote period and is considered to be the elelisphakos of Theophrastus, the elelisphakon of Dioscorides, the salvia of Pliny. Its medicinal virtues are noted by Oribasius and others of the early writers on medicine. In the Middle Ages, sage found frequent mention, as by Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth century, and the plant and its uses are noticed in nearly all of the early botanies. Although but one variety is now grown in our gardens, yet formerly a number of sorts were noted, the red, green, small and variegated being named by Worlidge in 1683. Sage was in American gardens in 1806 and doubtless long before. Six varieties are described by Burr, 1863, all of which can perhaps be included among the four mentioned in 1683 and all by Mawe in 1778. The French make an excellent pickle of the young leaves. The Chinese value the leaves for making a tea, and at one time the Dutch carried on a profitable trade in exchanging sage for tea, pound for pound. In Zante, the apples or tumors on the sage, the effect of a puncture of a species of Cynips, are made into a conserve with honey, according to Sibthorp.


S. plebeia R. Br.
Eastern Asia and Australia.
The seeds are used as a mustard by the Hindus.


S. sclarea Linn. CLARY.
Mediterranean region and the Orient; introduced into Britain in 1562. In Europe, the leaves are said to be put into wine to impart to it a muscatel taste. Clary was formerly much more cultivated in gardens than at present. Townsend, 1726, says, "the leaves of it are used in Omlets, made with Eggs and so must be in a garden." In 1778, Mawe gives three varieties; the broad-leaved, the long-leaved and the wrinkled-leaved. Clary is mentioned as cultivated in England by Ray, 1686; Gerarde, 1597; and it is the Orminum of Turner, 1538. It was in American gardens preceding 1806 and now occurs wild in Pennsylvania, naturalized as an escape. The leaves are used for seasoning, but their use in America has been largely superceded by sage; although the seed is yet sold by some of the seedsmen, it is now but little grown.


Sambucus caerulea Rafin. Caprifoliaceae.
Western North America.
In California, the Indians eat the berries. In Utah, its clusters of fruit often weigh several pounds, and the berries are more agreeable than those of S. canadensis.


S. canadensis Linn. CANADIAN ELDERBERRY.
North America.
The unopened flower-buds form, when pickled, an excellent substitute-for capers. The berries are often used to make a domestic wine.


S. ebulus Linn. DANEWORT. DWARF ELDER. WALLWORT.
Europe and adjoining Asia.
The plant has a nauseous smell and drastic properties. Buckman says the berries are used as are those of S. nigra.


S. mexicana Presl.
Western North America.
The berries are deep purple when ripe, agreeable to the taste and almost equal to the blackberry. The plant bears flowers, green and ripe fruit on the same branches.


S. nigra Linn. ELDERBERRY. EUROPEAN ELDER.
Europe and northern Asia.
The elderberry is cultivated for its fruits, which are generally purplish-black, but a variety occurs of a greenishwhite hue. In Europe, a wine is made from the berries and they are even marketed in London for this purpose. The berries are largely consumed in Portugal for coloring port wine. The flowers are fried in a batter and eaten. There are many superstitions which cluster about the elderberry.


S. xanthocarpa F. Muell. AUSTRALIAN EDLER.
Australia.
This species furnishes one of the edible wild fruits of Australia.


Sandoricum indicum Cav. Meliaceae. SANDAL.
Tropical Asia.
In the Moluccas, Lindley says the fruit is globular, the size of a small orange and somewhat three-sided. Its color is dull yellow, and it is filled with a firm, fleshy, agreeable, acid pulp, which forms a thick covering around the gelatinous substance, in which the seeds are lodged. Rumphius says the fruit is chiefly used for culinary purposes. Mason says the fleshy, acid pulp of the mangosteen-like fruit is highly relished by the natives.


Santalum lanceolatum R. Br. Santalaceae. SANDALWOOD.
Australia.
The fruit is a brown or a black drupe, oblong, of a sweet taste and is the size of a small plum.


Sapindus attenuatus Wall. Sapindaceae.
Himalayan region.
The fruit is eaten by the natives of Silhet.


S. esculentus A. St. Hil. PITTOMBERA.
Gardner says the fruit is produced in large bunches, resembling in size the common grape. The outer covering is hard but the embryo, or kernel, is covered with a thin, transparent, sweetish-acid pulp, which alone is eaten.


S. fruticosus Roxb.
Moluccas.
Unger says this plant furnishes a sweetish-sour, edible fruit.


S. marginatus Willd. SOAPBERRY.
Northern North America.
The Alaska Indians pound the berries and press the pulpy mass into round cakes to be used for food. It is an exceedingly repulsive food to Whites.


S. senegalensis Poir. CHERRY OF SENEGAL.
Tropical Africa.
The pulp of its fruit is edible but the seeds are poisonous.


Sapium indicum Willd. Euphorbiaceae.
East Indies.
The young fruit is acid and is eaten as a condiment while at the same time the fruit is one of the ingredients used for poisoning alligators.


Sarcocephalus (Nuclea) esculentus Afzel. Rubiaceae (Nucleaceae).
Tropical Africa.
Sabine says the plant bears a large, fleshy fruit of the size of a peach, with a brown and granulated surface. The core is solid and rather hard but edible, much resembling the center of a pineapple in substance. The surrounding flesh is sottish, full of small seeds and, in consistence and flavor, much resembles a strawberry.


Sarcostemma brevistigma Wight & Arn. Asclepiadeae.
East Indies and Burma.
Royle says this plant yields a milky juice of an acid nature, which is taken by the natives of India to quench thirst.


S. forskalianum Schult.
Arabia.
The "young shoots are eaten.


S. intermedium Decne.
East Indies.
Wight says the young, succulent branches yield a large quantity of mild, milky, acid juice, which the natives suck to allay thirst or eat as a sort of salad.


S. stipitaceum Schult.
Arabia.
The young shoots are eaten.


Sassafras officinale Nees & Eberm. Lauraceae. SASSAFRAS.
Eastern United States.
The dried leaves are much used as an ingredient in soups, for which they are well adapted by the abundance of mucilage they contain. For this purpose, the mature, green leaves are dried and powdered, the stringy portions being separated, and are sifted and preserved for use. This preparation, mixed with soups, gives them a ropy consistence and a peculiar flavor much relished by those accustomed to it. To such soups are given the names of gombo file or gombo zab. Rafinesque says it is called gombo sassafras. In Pennsylvania, says Kalm, the flowers of sassafras are gathered and used as a tea. Sassafras tea, mixed with milk and sugar, says Masters, forms the drink, known as saloop, which is still sold to the working classes in the early morning at the corners of the London streets. In Virginia, the young shoots are made into a kind of beer.


Satureia hortensis Linn. Labiatae. SUMMER SAVORY.
South Europe; supposed to have been introduced into Britain in 1562 and known to Gerarde in 1597. This species seems to be the satureia of Palladius in the third century and of Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth and is mentioned in England by Turner, 1538, which would indicate its presence there at this date. Summer savory was also well known to all the earlier botanists and is mentioned as a common potherb by all the earlier writers on gardening. In 1783, Bryant says that, besides being used as a potherb, it is frequently put into cakes, puddings and sausages. Summer savory was in American gardens in 1806 or earlier and, as an escape from gardens, is now sparingly found. The whole plant is highly odoriferous and it is usually preferred to the other species.


S. montana Linn. WINTER SAVORY.
Caucasus and south Europe.
This species was known to the earlier botanists and was probably known in ancient culture, although it is not identified with any certainty. It is mentioned in Turner's Herbal, 1562, and this is as far back as we have printed registers; but there can be little doubt that this, with summer savory, was much cultivated in far earlier times in England. It was in American gardens in 1806. The uses are the same as for the preceding species.


Saurauia napaulensis DC. Ternstroemiaceae (Actinidiaceae).
Himalayan region.
A fine tree of Nepal, called gokul. The natives eat the berries. This is the gogina or goganda of northwest India. The palatable, viscid fruit is eaten.


Sauvagesia erecta Linn. Violaceae (Ochnaceae).
Tropical America.
The negroes and Creoles of Guiana use the leaves as a spinach. It is called in Guiana adima or yaoba; in Peru Yerba de St. Martin.


Saxifraga crassifolia Linn. Saxifragaceae.
Siberia.
This plant is called badan, and its leaves are used by the Mongols and Bouriates as a substitute for tea. It is an inmate of French flower gardens.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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