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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Vaccinium caespitosum Michx. Vacciniaceae (Ericaceae). DWARF BILBERRY.
Alpine regions of northeastern United States.
A small bush, says Mueller, with bluish, edible berries.


V. canadense Kalm. SOUR-TOP OR VELVET-LEAF BLUEBERRY.
Canada and Maine to Wisconsin and the Rocky Mountains.
The berry is blue and sweet.


V. corymbosum Linn. HIGH BLUEBERRY. SWAMP BLUEBERRY.
Northeastern United States and southward.
The berries are often large, black, with a bluish bloom and of a sprightly, acidulous taste. This blueberry has been recommended by horticulturists for cultivation and in some of its varieties is very deserving.


V. erythrocarpum Michx.
Pennsylvania to Georgia on high mountains.
The transparent, scarlet berries are of excellent taste.


V. leschenaultii Wight.
Neilgherries.
The berries, about the size of red currants, are agreeably acid and make excellent tarts. Mueller says of Ceylon also, a tree, flowering and fruiting throughout the year.


V. leucanthum Schlecht.
Mexico.
The black fruit is edible.


V. maderense Link. MADERIA WHORTLEBERRY.
Madeira.
The berries are black, juicy, eatable and gratefully acid.


V. meridionale Sw. JAMAICA BILBERRY.
Jamaica.
The berries are sapid, red, acid, astringent, bitter and, like bilberries, they make good jelly. This species is grown in the Public Gardens of Jamaica.


V. mortinia Benth. MORTINIA.
Ecuador and the mountains of Columbia.
The berries come to the Quito market under the name of mortinia.


V. myrtillus Linn. BILBERRY. BLAEBERRY. WHINBERRY. WHORTLEBERRY.
North temperate and arctic regions.
The Highlanders of Scotland frequently eat the berries in milk and sometimes make them into tarts and jellies. In the Orkneys, the blaeberry grows in abundance, the fruit of large size; wine of fine flavor has been made from it. Johnson says the berries are slightly acid and sweetish but do not possess much flavor in the raw state, though liked by some persons. They are sold in the English markets. This is a favorite food of the Rocky Mountain Indians.


V. ovalifolium Sm.
Northern North America.
The berries are gathered before quite ripe, are pressed into a cake, then dried and laid by. When used, a quantity is put into a vessel of cold water and stirred rapidly with the hand until it assumes a form not unlike soapsuds. It is pleasant to the taste, with a slightly bitter flavor.


V. parvifolium Sm. RED HUCKLEBERRY.
Northwest coast of North America.
The berries are red and make excellent tarts. The berries are of good size and flavor.


V. pensylvanicum Lam. EARLY BLUEBERRY. LOW SWEET BLUEBERRY.
Northern America, producing many varieties.
The berries says Pursh, are large, bluish-black, extremely sweet and agreeable to eat. Gray says the berries are large and sweet and the earliest blueberry in the market. Emerson says the berries are blue, very sweet, rather soft for marketing, but are particularly suited to be preserved by drying. Kalm says the Indians formerly plucked huckleberries in abundance every year, dried them in the sun, and preserved them for eating. In 1615, Champlain found the Indians near Lake Huron gathering blueberries for their winter store. Roger Williams says of the New England Indians that they "gathered attitaash, worthleberries, of which there are divers sorts: sweet, like currants, some opening, some of a binding nature. Sautaash are these currants dried and so preserved all the year, which they beat to powder and mingle with their parched meal and make a delicate dish which they call sautauthig, which is as sweet to them as plum or spice cake to the English. The Indians of the Northwest coast" are very fond of this fruit and smoke-dry it in large quantities for winter use.


V. praestans Lamb. KAMCHATKA BILBERRY.
Kamchatka.
This is a minute plant but with large, delicious fruits.


V. salicinum Cham. & Schlecht.
Alaska.
The berries are collected and dried by the natives.


V. stamineum Linn. DEERBERRY. SQUAW HUCKLEBERRY.
Northern United States.
Elliott says the berries are eaten. The Indians of Wisconsin and Michigan make extensive use of the fruit. Emerson says the fruit is scarcely eatable.


V. uliginosum Linn. BOG BILBERRY. MOORBERRY.
Northern climates.
Don says the berries are large, juicy, black, covered with a mealy bloom, eatable, but neither grateful nor wholesome. The berries, says Johnson, are eaten occasionally but in any "large quantity cause giddiness and headache." In Siberia, the berries are fermented, distilled and furnish a strong alcoholic spirit. It is said that the berries are used in France to color wine. Richardson says, beyond the Arctic circle this species is, in good seasons, plentiful to an extraordinary degree and is of a finer quality than in more southern localities.


V. vacillans Soland. LOW BLUEBERRY.
From Massachusetts and Vermont to Pennsylvania.
This vaccinium has a small bush, with rather late-ripening berries.


V. vitis-idaea Linn. COWBERRY. CRANBERRY. FOXBERRY.
Northern and arctic regions.
This is the wi-sa-gu-mina of the Crees and the cranberry most plentiful and most used throughout Rupert's Land. This berry, says Richardson, is excellent for every purpose to which a cranberry can be applied. Thoreau, in the Maine woods, made his desserts on these berries stewed and sweetened, but Gray says they are barely edible in America. The fruit is not much eaten in Britain but is greatly valued in Sweden. The berries are tasteless and but little acid when, gathered but, after exposure to frost, they become very sour. They are often sold in the London market as cranberries. In Siberia, they are kept in water in winter, where they acquire their proper acidity and are eaten in spring.


Valeriana cornucopiae Linn. Valerianeae. AFRICAN VALERIAN.
African valerian is a recent introduction into gardens and furnishes in its leaves a salad of excellent quality. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region in grain fields and in waste places. C. Bauhin, 1596, speaks of it as if of recent introduction to botanical gardens in his time; and Clusius, 1601, J. Bauhin, 1651, and Ray, 1686, all describe it. This valerian is not spoken of as under cultivation in Miller's Dictionary, 1807, nor does Don in his Gardener's Dictionary, 1834, speak of any use, although he is usually very ready with such information. In 1841, the Bon Jardinier, in France, refers to it as being a good salad plant. As neither Noisette, 1830, nor Petit, 1826, nor Pirolle, 1824, mentions it, we may assume that it had not entered the vegetable garden at these dates. In 1863, Burr describes African valerian among American garden vegetables, as does Vilmorin in France in 1883, and it is described in England in 1885. No varieties are described, although a purple and a white-flowered form are mentioned by Bauhin as occurring in the wild plant. The one sort now described has pink- or rose-colored flowers.


V. edulis Nutt. TOBACCO ROOT. VALERIAN.
Ohio to Wisconsin and westward.
This is the principal edible root among the Indians who inhabit the upper waters of the streams on the western side of the Rocky Mountains. It has a very strong and remarkably peculiar taste and an odor most offensive. The root is large, of a very bright yellow color, is full of nutriment and, to some, the taste is agreeable. The Indians of the Northwest collect the roots in the spring and, after baking, use them as food. From a bitter and somewhat pernicious substance, it is converted by baking into a soft, pulpy mass of sweet taste which is not unwholesome.


Valerianella coronata DC. Valerianaceae.
Europe and the Orient.
In France, this species furnishes a salad.


V. eriocarpa Desv. ITALIAN CORN SALAD.
Europe and north Africa.
This plant is much used in Europe as a substitute for lettuce in the spring and also, when grown in rich soil and of a considerable size, for spinach. This species occurs in gardens in two varieties. It has a lighter green, somewhat longer leaf than the ordinary corn salad, slightly hairy and a little dentate on the borders towards the base. It has the same uses. It is described for American gardens in 1863. Under its common name greese mache, it is noticed in France in 1829 and also as mache d'ltalie in 1824.


V. olitoria Pollich. CORN SALAD. LAMB'S LETTUCE.
This annual plant has been found spontaneous in all temperate Europe as far as 60 north; in southern Europe to the Canary Isles, Madeira and the Azores; in north Africa, Asia Minor and in the region of the Caucasus. This species seems quite variable in nature, and, as long ago as 1623, Bauhin records its variability in size, saying it occurs with narrow, broad and entire leaves. Corn salad is described by Lobel, 1576; Dalechamp, 1587; as also by Camerarius 1588; but with all, as occurring in fields and without mention of culture, although its value as a salad is recognized. In 1597, Gerarde says it has grown in use among the French and Dutch strangers in England, and "hath beene sowen in gardens as a sallad herbe." He figures two varieties. J. Bauhin describes two sorts and gives Tabernaemontanus as a witness that it was found in gardens as well as in fields and vineyards. Ray, 1686, quotes J. Bauhin only; Chabraeus, 1677, describes it as grown in gardens as a salad herb; Worlidge, 1683, Maeger, 1683, Quintyne, 1693 and 1704, Townsend, 1726, Stevenson, 1765, Mawe, 1778, Bryant, 1783, all refer to its culture in England. In France, according to Heuze, the species is spoken of as cultivated by Olivier de Serres and is referred to as if a well-known cultivated salad in Le Jardinier Solitaire, 1612. Corn salad was in American gardens previous to 1806. Vilmorin describes four varieties, which are distinct. All these have blunt leaves. The variety quite frequently distributed in American gardens is that which is figured by the herbalists as having pointed leaves; as, for instance:
Phu minimum alterum. Lob. 412. 1576; Dalechamp 1127. 1587.
Polypremnum. Dalechamp 554. 1587.
Lactuca agnina. Ger. 242. 1597.

The round-leaved form, the mache ronde of Vilmorin, has its type figured by Dodonaeus in his Pemptades, 1616, under the name album olus.


Vangueria madagascariensis J. F. Gmel. Rubiaceae. TAMARIND OF THE INDIES.
Tropical Africa.
The fruit is eaten under the name of voa-vanga. It is the size of an apple and is eaten both raw and roasted but is far from palatable. In Bengal, the fruit is eaten by the natives. At Martinique, it is called tamarind of the Indies; the flavor of its pulp and its color recall the medlar of Europe.


V. spinosa Roxb.
Tropical Asia.
The berry is the size of a cherry, succulent and edible.


Vanilla aromatica Sw. Orchideae. VANILLA.
Tropical America.
This species is said to be cultivated in the isles of France and Bourbon. The pods constitute one of the vanillas of commerce.


V. guianensis Splitg.
Tropical America.
This species is described as yielding an aromatic fruit.


V. planifolia Andr. VANILLA.
West Indies and Mexico.
The best vanilla is the produce of this species but several other South American species are also used. The product is employed very extensively for flavoring.


Vateria indica Linn. Dipterocarpaceae. DAMMAR.
East Indies.
This species is a tree of Ceylon from whose seeds the natives make a kind of bread.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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