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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Trachycarpus fortune! H. Wendl. Palmae.
China.
The clusters of young flower-buds are eaten in China in much the same way as bamboo sprouts.


T. martianus H. Wendl.
Himalayan region.
The fruit is eaten, though the pulp is scanty and almost tasteless.


Tragopogon crocifolius Linn. Compositae.
Mediterranean countries.
This species is enumerated by Pliny among the esculent plants of Egypt, and Sprengel says the root is edible.


T. porrifolius Linn. OYSTER PLANT. SALSIFY. VEGETABLE OYSTER.
Mediterranean countries.
The roots are long, white and fleshy, tapering like the parsnip but never attaining the same diameter. The roots are used, boiled or fried, and the flavor is mild and sweetish and reminds one of the oyster, whence its name oyster plant. Mclntosh says that, when dressed as asparagus, there is some resemblance in taste and that the flower-stalks, if cut in the spring of the second year before they become hard, and dressed like asparagus, make an excellent dish. The roots, says Burr, thinly sliced, are sometimes used as a salad.

In the thirteenth century, Albertus Magnus describes a wild plant, Oculus porce or flos campi, which commentators identify with the salsify, as having a delectable root, which is eaten, but he makes no mention of cultivation. Salsify is described, but apparently not under kitchen-garden culture, by Matthiolus in 1570 and 1598 9 but it is not mentioned by him in 1558, when he refers to the yellow-flowered species; there is no mention of salsify culture by Camerarius 1586, but, in 1587, Dalechamp says it is planted in gardens. In 1597, Gerarde describes it but apparently as an inmate of the flower garden. In 1612, Le Jardinier Solitaire speaks of salsify as under kitchen-garden culture in France; and Dodonaeus, 1616, J. Bauhin, 1651, and Ray, 1686, refer to it as apparently cultivated. After this period its culture seems to have been quite general as it is referred to in the works on gardening beginning with Quintyne, 1693. McMahon, 1806, includes salsify among American garden esculents, and, in 1822, John Lowell says, "though it has been in our gardens for ten years, it has never been extensively cultivated for the market."


T. pratensis Linn. GOAT'S BEARD.
Northwest India, Europe and the adjoining portions of Asia.
In 1640, this species was cultivated in gardens in England, as mentioned by Parkinson. Evelyn, in his Acetaria, mentions its cultivation, but this vegetable has now given way to salsify. Light-foot mentions the use of the roots, boiled, and of the spring shoots as greens.


Trapa bispinosa Roxb. Onagrarieae (Trapaceae). SINHARA NUT.
Old World tropics.
This species grows abundantly in the lakes about Cashmere and at Wurler lake and is said to yield annually ten million pounds of nuts. These are scooped up from the bottom of the lake in small nets and constitute almost the only food of at least 30,000 persons for five months in the year. When extracted from the shell, they are eaten raw, boiled, roasted, fried, or dressed in various ways after being reduced to flour6 They are also eaten in Lahore.


T. cochinchinensis Lour.
Cochin China.
The seeds are eaten as are those of the ling.


T. incisa Sieb. & Zucc.
Japan.
This species is grown in Yezo and is largely used by the Ainus and to some extent by the Japanese for food.


T. natans Linn. JESUIT NUT. LING. SALIGOT. TRAPA NUT. WATER CALTROPS. WATER CHESTNUT.
Europe and eastern Asia.
The Thraceans, according to Pliny, baked bread from the flour of the seeds, and the seeds are thus used even now in some parts of southern Europe and, at Venice, are sold under the name of Jesuit nuts. Grant found trapa nuts on the Victoria Nyanza in Africa, and the Waganda use the four-pronged nuts for food. It is enumerated by Thunberg among the edible plants of Japan. Introduced into America, trapa is said to have become naturalized in the waters of the Concord River, Massachusetts. This water plant is extensively cultivated in China and furnishes, in its strangely-shaped fruits, a staple article of nutriment. It has run into several varieties. Williams says its cultivation is in running water and the nuts are collected in autumn by people in punts or tubs, who look for the ripe ones as they pull themselves through the vines over the surface of the patch. The dried nuts are often ground into a sort of arrowroot flour. The taste of the fresh boiled nuts is like that of new cheese.


Treculia africana Decne. Urticaceae (Moraceae). BREADFRUIT TREE.
A tropical African tree called okwa.
The nuts contain an edible embryo and are collected by the negroes and ground into meal.


Trianthema portulacastrum Linn. Ficoideae (Aizoaceae).
Tropical Asia.
Royle says this plant is used as a potherb in India. Wight says the leaves are sometimes employed as a potherb. Ainslie says it is eaten by the natives; Stewart, that it is a common weed eaten in the Punjab in times of dearth but is apt to produce diarrhea and paralysis.


Tribulus terrestris Linn. Zygophylleae. LAND CALTROPS.
The unexpanded capsules, reduced to powder and formed into cakes, served as food during a famine in Rajputana, India.


Trichosanthes anguina Linn. Cucurbitaceae. CLUB GOURD. SERPENT CUCUMBER. SNAKE GOURD. VIPER'S GOURD.
India.
The fruit of this plant is a large, greenish-white, club-shaped gourd of the length of a man's arm and about four inches thick. The fruit is eaten sliced and dressed in the manner of French beans. The gourd is commonly cultivated about Bombay and is in very general demand for vegetable curries in Burma. The seed appears in some of the Prussian seed catalogs under the name of melonengurkin. In Central America, it is called serpent cucumber or viper's gourd from the remarkable, snake-like appearance of its fruits, which are frequently six or more feet long, at first striped with different shades of green but ultimately a bright, orange color.


T. cucumerina Linn.
Tropical India.
Its seed appears for sale in the Erfurt seed catalogs. The unripe fruit is very bitter but is eaten by the natives of India in their curries.


T. dioica Roxb.
Tropical India.
Firminger says this plant produces a small, oblong, green gourd about four inches long and two broad; boiled, it affords rather an insipid dish, yet it is found very acceptable from the season in which it occurs. Dutt says it is extensively cultivated in Bengal, and that the unripe fruit is much used by the natives as a vegetable and is the most palatable one of the country. The tender tops are also used as a potherb.


Trifolium fucatum Lindl. Leguminosae.
Western North America.
Professor W. H. Brewer writes that this clover is eaten by the Digger Indians of California.


T. involucratum Ortega. TREFOIL.
Western North America.
This clover is eaten by the Digger tribes.


T. pratense Linn. RED CLOVER.
Europe and temperate Asia.
Clover is among the most generally cultivated fodder plants, but its use as a human food plant is unknown to Europeans. Some of the clovers are eaten cooked or raw by the Digger Indians of California and by the Apaches of Arizona. The former tribe cooks it by placing layers of clover, well moistened, between hot stones; it is consumed in large rations. The Apaches boil clover, young grass, dandelions and pigweed together. Where clover is found growing wild, the Indians practice a sort of semicultivation by irrigating it and harvesting. Clover was introduced into America from Europe at an early period as Bartram saw it before the American Revolution. In 1797, Samuel Deane speaks of it as a plant highly valued in New England. In Ireland, says Lightfoot, when food is scarce, the powdered flowers are mixed with bread and eaten. As an agricultural plant, clover first secured attention in England in 1635.


T. repens Linn. WHITE CLOVER.
Everywhere common in Europe and America.
Johnson says the flowers and pods in time of famine in Ireland and Scotland have been ground into powder and used as a food.


Trigonella caerulea Ser. Leguminosae.
Eastern Europe and Caucasian region.
In Switzerland, this plant is called kraut curd-herb and is used to give odor and flavor to schabzieger, or sapsago, cheese. The dried flowers are reduced to powder and worked into a paste with the curd.


T. corniculata Linn.
South Europe and Asia Minor.
In Bengal, this plant serves as a vegetable food.


T. foenum-graecum Linn. FENUGREEK. HELBEH.
Europe and the Orient.
Fenugreek is cultivated in Morocco, in the south of France near Montpelier, in Alsace, in a few places in Switzerland, in, some provinces of the German and Austrian Empires, as Thuringia and Moravia, and on a large scale in Egypt, where it is known as helbeh. In Egypt, fenugreek is eaten crude and its sprouting seeds are often mixed in a ragout with honey. Helbeh conserve, says Pickering, was once an article of export, even to Britain, and to the present day is employed by Arabs along the east African coast for childstealing. At Rosetta, the seeds are used as a coffee. Fenugreek is a favorite article of diet with the Parsees of India, says Pickering, It is extensively cultivated in India, says Dutt, the seeds to be used as a condiment and the aromatic leaves as a potherb. In 1859, seeds of helbeh were introduced into the United States through the Patent Office from Palestine, and they are now offered in our seed catalogs.


T. radiata Boiss.
Asia Minor and Persia.
In China the curved legumes were formerly eaten.


T. suavissima Lindl.
Australia.
This species is mentioned by Mueller as a food plant of Australia.


Trilisa odoratissima Cass. Compositae. CAROLINA VANILLA. DEER'S TONGUE.
Virginia and southward.
The leaves exhale the odor of vanilla when bruised, and, in Florida, the plant has become in some degree an article of commerce, being used by tobacconists for flavoring smoking tobacco.


Triosteum perfoliatum Linn. Caprifoliaceae. FEVER ROOT. WILD COFFEE.
Eastern North America.
Barton reports that Muhlenburg told him that the dried and toasted berries were considered by some of the Germans of Pennsylvania an excellent substitute for coffee.


Triphasia aurantiola Lour. Rutaceae. LIME BERRY.
A shrub of tropical Asia.
Loureiro says the berry is red, ovate, half the size of a coffee bean, covered with a thin pellicle and contains a sweet, clammy, inodorous, edible pulp. The berry, like an orange in miniature, says Mason, is often found in Chinese preserves. Firminger says, in India, the fruit is of the size of a large currant. It has a stone surrounded by a small quantity of pulp, juicy and of an agreeable, aniseed-like flavor. The plant is cultivated in the East and West Indies. The fruits, says A. Smith, are about as large as hazelnuts and have a red skin. When ripe they have an agreeable taste but, if gathered green, they have a strong flavor of turpentine and the pulp is very sticky. They are sometimes preserved whole in syrup and are occasionally sent to England.


Tripsacum dactyloides Linn. Gramineae. BUFFALO GRASS.
Central and North America.
Mueller says the seeds are available for food.


Triticum bicorne Forsk. Gramineae. SPELT.
Egypt and Syria.
The name spelt is given generally to all wheats in which the grain adheres to the chaff. Spelt is little cultivated except in the warmer districts of southeastern Europe and the African and Asiatic shores of the Mediterranean. This appears to be botanically the same species as the T. bicorne of Forskahl's Egyptian Flora.


T. dicoccum Schrank. EMMER. GERMAN WHEAT. TWO-GRAINED WHEAT.
Europe; of ancient cultivation and, according to Unger, the zeia dipokpos of Dioscorides. Emmer is grown in southern Europe more than in central Europe.


T. monococcum Linn. KUSSEMETH. LESSER SPELT. ONEGRAINED WHEAT.
Greece and Asia Minor.
This is the kussemeth of the Scriptures From it the Syrians and Arabians make their bread. Its cultivation has not extended to India, Egypt or Greece. In its wild state, says Bentham this species has been described under the name of Crithodium aegilopoides. The produce of lesser spelt is too small to be of any importance except in very poor soils.


T. polonicum Linn. POLISH WHEAT.
Polish wheat is cultivated in the warmer regions of Europe.


T. spelta Linn. SPELT.
Some think this to be the grain called olura or zeia or zea by the ancient Greeks. Spelt is at present cultivated to a small extent in Europe. It was seen by Alexander the Great as a cultivated plant in his campaign in Pontus. Its origin in Mesopotamia and Hamadam, in Persia, is doubtful; especially as its cultivation in these countries cannot be carried back to any very remote antiquity.

This is the species which includes all the true wheats, excepting the spelts. It is said to have been found wild in various parts of Asia where it is not likely to have escaped from cultivation. According to Grecian fable, it was originally native on the plains of Enna and in Sicily, but it is much more probable that it is a native of the plains about the Caspian.

Isis was supposed to have introduced wheat into Egypt; Demeter, into Greece; and the Emperor Chin-nong, into China about 3000 B. C. Standing crops of bearded wheat are figured in Egypt under the Fourth Dynasty, about 2440 B. C., at Gizeh, but nowhere on these nor on subsequent monuments with the minute accuracy required for distinguishing species. In Greece, Theophrastus mentioned eight varieties and among the carbonized seeds exhumed by Dr. Schliemann in Greece is a very hard, fine-grained, sharp wheat, very flat on the furrowed side, which is said to differ from any wheat hitherto known. In Europe, wheat was cultivated before the period of written history as samples have been removed from the debris of the lacustrine habitations in Switzerland which do not differ in size and form from our varieties. Wheat is mentioned by Diodorus as growing wild in Sicily, and ears of bearded wheat appear on most of the ancient Sicilian coins. On two Leontine brass coins are figures of Ceres in addition to the usual ears of corn.

In France, wheat was the most valued cereal in the eighth century as shown by the maximum price fixed by an edict of Charlemagne wherein oats were to be sold at one denier, barley at two deniers, rye at three deniers and wheat at four deniers a bushel. It is probable, says C. W. Johnson, that wheat was not cultivated by the early Britons for the climate, owing to the immense preponderance of woods and undrained soil, was so severe and wet that, in winter, they could attempt no agricultural employments, and even when Bede wrote, early in the eighth century, the Anglo-Saxons sowed their wheat in spring. Wheat remained an article of comparative luxury until nearly the seventeenth century. That the cultivation of wheat in England was unimportant in the reign of Elizabeth, is attested by Tussar. Yet wheat was cultivated by the Romans and is mentioned by Columella, Pliny, Cicero, Caesar and many others.

In India, wheat seems not to be native but introduced, if we can trust to the Sanscrit name, which, translated, is food of the Barbarians, but this may mean that the center and south of India, too hot for wheatgrowing, received their grain from the Hill Tribes of the north, where the climate suited it. In the Bhavaprakasa, two types are mentioned, the large-grained and small-grained, or beardless. The first variety is said to come from the west, the second to be indigenous to middle India. About 1330, in the wonders described by Friar Jordanus, it is said, "wheaten bread is there not eaten by the natives, although wheat they have in plenty. In China, according to Stanislas Julien, wheat was" cultivated in the year 2822 B. C.

The first wheat raised in the New World was sown by Spaniards on the Island of Isabela. The foundation of the wheat harvests of Mexico is said to have been three or four grains, carefully preserved by a negro slave of Cortez in 1530, which were found in some rice brought from Spain for the use of the troops. In Quito, says Humboldt, the first wheat was raised by a Franciscan monk in front of his convent. The first wheat introduced into Peru was by a Spanish woman who took great pains to disseminate it among the colonists, says Prescott, but no dates are given. Garcilasso de la Vega affirms that, up to 1547, no wheaten bread had been sold at Cusco, Peru. In 1542, John Alphonse, chief pilot to Roberval, in speaking of the region about the present Montreal, says, "I have told in one ear of corn 120 grains, like the corn of France and you need not to sow your wheat until March and it will be ripe in the midst of August." The first wheat grown in New England was that sown by Gosnold, on the Elizabeth Islands, off the coast of Massachusetts, which sprang up eight or nine inches in fourteen days. In 1604, on the Island of St. Croix, near Calais, Maine, the French had some wheat sown, which flourished freely, and, in 1606, wheat was sown by L'Escarbot near the port of Port Royal, Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia. In 1610, wheat was among the plants in Champlain's garden at Quebec. In Virginia, the first wheat appears to have been sown in 1611; in 1626, samples of wheat grown in the Dutch colony of New Netherlands were taken to Holland for exhibit. In 1629, wheat was ordered by the Plymouth Colony, from England, for seed. In 1718, wheat was introduced into the Valley of the Mississippi by the Western Company. In California, wheat is spoken of by Father Baegert, as flourishing, 1751-1768; and it was cultivated by the Pimas Indians of the Gila River in 1799.

The northern, limit to the growing of wheat is 57 north in Britain, 64 in, Norway, 60 in Russia and lower in Siberia. In North America, wheat is raised with profit at Fort Liard, 60 north. The fine harvests of Egypt and of Algiers, says Humboldt, as well as those of the valleys of Aragua and Cuba, prove that the augmentation of heat is not prejudicial to the harvests of wheat, unless it be attended with an excess of drought or moisture. In the moist region on the slopes of the mountains of Mexico and Xalapa, the luxuriance of the vegetation is such that wheat does not form ears.

The varieties of wheat are almost endless, and their characteristics vary widely under the influence of cultivation and climate. There are 180 distinct sorts in the museum of Cornell University; Darwin says Dalbret cultivated during 30 years from 150 to 160 kinds; Colonel Le Conteur possessed upwards of 150; and Philippar, 322 varieties. The summer and winter kinds were classed by Linnaeus as distinct species but it has been proved that the one can be converted into the other by cultivation. Godron describes five species of wheat and De Candolle four. Reports come from little-known regions of distinct kinds; in Japan there is said to be a variety which cannot be forced to grow higher than 20 or 24 inches, though the length of the heads may increase. In general, wheat is the most esteemed of the cereal productions but, so far does habit govern, that in Abyssinia, according to Parkyns, the flour of teff, or dagussa, scarcely palatable to Europeans, is preferred by the natives to that of any other grain.




Tropaeolum edule Paxt. Geraniaceae (Tropaeolaceae). NASTURTIUM.
Chile.
Mr. Bridges, writing in the Journal of Botany, 1842, says the roots are eaten in times of scarcity in Peru.


T. majus Linn. INDIAN CRESS. TALL NASTURTIUM.
Peru.
The plant is grown more for ornament than for food purposes, but the flowers and young leaves are frequently used to mix in salads, and the seeds, gathered while young and green, are used for pickling and as an excellent substitute for capers. "The seeds of this rare and faire plant came first from the Indies into Spaine and those hot regions, and from thence into France and Flanders, from whence I have received seeds that hath borne with me both flowers and seeds," says Gerarde, 1597. We cannot agree with those authors who consider this the dwarf form, as the figure given comes nearer to the tall, as it was figured by J. Bauhin, in his works printed in 1651, with the name scandens, 33 years before its introduction by Linnaeus. Ray, 1686, speaks of its use as a vegetable, and this use is also spoken of by Townsend, 1726. In American gardens, this nasturtium was noticed by McMahon, 1806, and by all the early garden writers as being the predominant kind in culture. The synonymy is as follows:
Nasturtium Indicum. Cam.7cow-t.3i. 1588.
Nasturtium Indicum. Indiancresses.Ger.i96. 1597.
Nasturtium indicum folio peltato scandens. Bauh, J. 2:75. 1651.
Cardamindum ampliore folio and majore flore. Peuille, Peru. 3: t. 8. 1725


T. minus Linn. DWARF NASTURTIUM.
Peru.
The Dwarf nasturtium was first brought into Europe from Peru, where it is a native. It reached England in 1596 and is described by Gerarde as coming from the Indies into Spain and thence into France and Flanders, whence he received seeds. The plant, like the tall nasturtium, is grown principally as an ornament, but the flowers and leaves and green fruit may be used in salads or for pickling. This species seems to have been first known in Europe about 1574; was described by Monardes; is figured by Lobel, 1576; and is generally spoken of about this period as a new and rare plant. It was in the vegetable garden in England in 1726, probably before, and is mentioned in American gardens in 1806.


T. pentaphyllum Lam. FIVE-LEAVED NASTURTIUM.
Brazil and Chile.
This species furnishes an edible cress. It bears a threelobed, sweet, fleshy, edible berry, black, juicy and not unlike in appearance and flavor to the Zante, or currant, grape.


T. sessilifolium Poepp. & Endl.
Chile.
Philippi says this is one of the most eligible of the species of this genus for its tubers, which can be eaten even in a raw state.


T. tuberosum Ruiz & Pav. PERUVIAN NASTURTIUM.
Bolivia and Peru; long cultivated on the Peruvian Andes for its tuberous roots. The tubers are called ysano, are yellow and red and about the size of small pears. They are cooked and then frozen before being eaten; the women of La Paz are very fond of this frozen dish.


Trophis americana Linn. Urticaceae (Moraceae). RAMOON TREE.
West Indies.
The berries, which are about the size of large grapes, have a very pleasant flavor.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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