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  Section: Edible Plant Species
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Edible Plant Species

Viburnum cotinifolium D. Don. Caprifoliaceae. VIBURNUM.
Himalayan regions.
The ripe fruit is sweetish and is eaten in India.

V. foetens Decne.
Himalayan regions.
In India, the sweetish fruit is eaten.

Northeastern America to Georgia.
The berries are said by Wood to be well-flavored, black, and sweetish.

Newfoundland to Georgia.
The fruit is apple-shaped, compressed, about a quarter of an inch long, or a deep blue color, of a sweetish taste and may beeaten.

Middle and northern Europe and northern America.
The fruit is a poor substitute for cranberries, hence the name cranberry tree. The fruit, when ripe, is of a pleasant, acid taste and is sometimes substituted for cranberries. Thoreau stewed them with sugar and says the lumbermen of Maine cook them with molasses; he afterwards saw them in a garden in Bangor. In Norway and Sweden, the berries are eaten with honey and flour, and a spirit is distilled from them. A miserable food for savage nations, says Lindley. On the Winnipeg river, the fruit is of an orange color, fleshy and agreeable to the taste. This plant is the nipi minan of the Crees. Probably this is the fruit brought from the North and called by the Narragansett Indians wuchipoquameneash, described by Roger Williams as "a kind of sharp fruit like a barberry in taste."

V. prunifolium Linn. BLACK HAW.
New York to Georgia.
The blackish berries are sweet and eatable.

V. stellulatum Wall.
Himalayan regions.
The small, acid fruit is eaten in the mountains of India.

Vicia cracca Linn. Leguminosae. TUFTED VETCH.
Asia, Europe and northern America.
This vetch has been occasionally cultivated, as affording provender of good quality, but it does not ripen a sufficient quantity of seed to make it easy to grow it as an annual green crop. Johnson says the seeds may be used as food.

V. ervilia Willd.
North Africa and Europe.
This vetch, according to Loudon, is cultivated in some places as a lentil. This vetch is cultivated by the French.

Europe and Asia.
The European bean appears to be among the most ancient of our cultivated esculents. A variety has been found in the lacustrine deposits of Switzerland ascribed to the Bronze Age. It was cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans, by the Hebrews and by the ancient Egyptians, although it is not among the seeds found in the catacombs, perhaps, De Candolle remarks, because it was reported unworthy for the nourishment of priests, or certain priests, or from motives of superstition. Herodotus states that the priests in Egypt held beans in such aversion that none were sown throughout the land; if by chance a single plant anywhere sprang up, they turned away their eyes from it as from an impure thing. Wilkinson remarks that this statement applied, apparently, only to the priests for the people were allowed to eat these beans.

Pythagorus is said to have eaten beans very frequently, but his disciples seem to have forbidden their eating, and it is related that their aversion was carried to such an extent that a party of Pythagoreans allowed themselves to be slaughtered by the soldiers of Dionysius rather than to escape by passing through a field of these vegetables. Porphyrus says, "take the flowers of the bean when they begin to grow black, put them in a vessel and bury it in the ground; at the end of ninety days, when it is opened, the head of a child will be found in the bottom." Diogenes Laertius says, "beans are the substance which contains the largest portion of that animated matter of which our souls are particles." One of the noble families of Rome, the Fabii, derived their name from this plant, and the Romans had a solemn feast called Fabaria, at which they offered beans in honor of Carna, the wife of Janus. At one time, the Romans believed the souls of such as had died resided in beans and Clemens Alexandrinus, and even Cicero, entertained equally extravagant notions of them. The Flamen Dialis were not permitted to mention the name, and Lucian represents a philosopher in Hades as saying that to eat beans and to eat one's father's head were equal crimes. A temple dedicated to the God of Beans, Kyanites, stood upon the sacred road to Elensis, and the Kyampsia or bean feast, which the Athenians celebrated in honor of Apollo, was characterized by the use of beans. What the Greeks called the Egyptian bean was the seed of Nelumbium speciosum. The Emperor Chin-nong is said to have introduced the bean into China in the year 2822 B. C. The period of its introduction into Britain is unknown but Gerarde, 1597, appears to have known only two varieties. At Teneriffe, at the discovery, the people are said to have had beans and peas or vetches, all of which they call hacichei. In 1667, Father Carii speaks of "kidney beans and common beans " in Congo. In 1776, they were seen by Thunberg in Japan. The first introduction into the North American colonies was by Captain Gosnold, 1602, who planted them on the Elizabeth Islands near the coast of Massachusetts, where they nourished well. They were also cultivated in Newfoundland as early as 1622, in New Netherlands in 1644, and in Virginia prior to 1648. Beans are mentioned as cultivated in New England prior to 1671 by Josselyn. In McMahon's work of 1806, fourteen kinds are enumerated. In 1828, Thorburn gives, in his seed list, six kinds and in 1881 but four. European beans are seldom cultivated in America now, their place being taken by the kidney beans.

The vague indications of the supposed habitat of the bean in Persia or on the shores of the Caspian, says Targioni-Tozzetti, have not been confirmed by modern researches. "May it not," says he, "have originated from Vicia narbonensis, a species not uncommon in the Mediterranean region from Spain to the Caucasus and very much resembling the bean in every respect except in the thinness of the pod and the smallness of the seeds? "

Linnaeus forms this bean into two botanical varieties, as does also Moench, who names the one hortensis, or the garden bean, the other equina, or the horse bean. These are both figured or mentioned by the early botanists; the hortensis, or garden bean, by Fuchsius, 1542, and Tragus, 1552. The equina is described by Pena and Lobel in their Adversaria, 1570, and by Lyte in his Dodoens, 1586, as well as by Dodonaeus, 1566. R. Thompson, 1850, describes ten varieties, giving synonyms and these include all known to him. Let us follow up his synonymy, in order to see whether varieties of modem origination appear. This synonymy is founded upon identity of names in most instances and applies to the garden bean only, yet collateral evidence would seem to indicate a substantial correctness:
  1. Early mazagan. Thompson. 1850. Brought from a settlement of the Portuguese on the coast of Africa, just without the Straits of Gibralter. Mill. Diet. 1807.
    Early mazagan. Mawe 1778; Bryant 1783; McMahon 1806;
    Thorb. Cat. 1828; Thorb. Cat. 1884.
    Feve naine hative. Noisette 1829; Vilm. 1882.
  2. Marshall's Early Dwarf Prolific. Thompson. 1850.
  3. Long-pod. Thompson. 1850.
    Long-pod. McMahon 1806.
    Early long-pod. Mawe 1778; Bridgeman 1832; Loudon 1860.
    Early Portugal or Lisbon. Mawe 1778; Mill. Diet. 1807.
    Early Lisbon. McMahon 1806; Bridgeman 1832.
    Turkey long-pod. Mawe 1778; McMahon 1806; Bridgeman 1832.
    Tall long-pod. Mawe 1778.
    Sandwich. J. W. Gent. 1683; Townsend 1726; Stevenson 1765;
    Mawe 1778; Bryant 1738; Bridgeman 1832.
    Sword long-pod. Thorb. Cat. 1828; Fessenden 1828; Bridgeman 1832; Thorb. Cat. 1884.
    Hang-down long-pod. Vilm. 1883.
    Feve a longue cosses. Noisette 1829; Vilm. 1883.
  4. Green long-pod. Thompson. 1850.
    Green Genoa. McMahon 1806; Bridgeman 1832.
    Green Nonpareil. McMahon 1806; Thorb. Gard. Kal. 1821;
    Fessenden 1828; Bridgeman 1832; Thorb. Cat. 1884.
  5. Dutch long-pod. Thompson. 1850; Loudon 1860.
  6. Windsor. Thompson. 1850.
    Broad Windsor. Mill. Diet. 1807; Pessenden 1828; London 1860; Thorb. 1884.
    Kentish Windsor. Bridgeman 1832.
    Taylor's Windsor. Bridgeman 1832.
    Mumford. Mawe 1778; Bryant 1783; McMahon 1806; Bridgeman 1832
    Small Spanish. Mawe 1778; Bryant 1783.
    Windsor. Stevenson 1765; Mawe 1778; Bryant 1783.
    Large Windsor. Van der Donck 1653; in present New York.
  7. Green Windsor. Thompson. 1850.
    Toker. Stevenson 1765; Mawe 1778; Bryant 1783; Bridgeman 1832
    Feve de Windsor verte. Vilm. 1883.
  8. Green China. Thompson. 1850.
  9. Dwarf crimson-seeded. Thompson. 1850.
    Feve tres naine rouge. Vilm. 1883.
  10. Dwarf fan. Thompson. 1850.
    Dwarf fan or cluster. Mawe 1778.
    Dwarf cluster. McMahon 1806; Bridgeman;1832.
    Feve naine hative a chassis. Vilm. 1883.
  11. Red-blossomed. Mawe 1778; McMahon 1806; Bridgeman 1832; Thompson 1850.
  12. White-blossomed. Mawe 1778; McMahon 1806; Bridgeman 1832; Thompson 1850.
The only two other varieties advertised lately are Beck's Dwarf Green Gem and Seville Long-pod. There is certainly no indication here that types have appeared in modern culture. The crowd of new names which appear during a decade gradually becomes reduced to a synonymy, and we find at last that the variation gained has been within types only.

V. gemella Crantz. SMOOTH TARE.
Europe and the Orient; a weed of Britain, which is said to be cultivated in some places. It is now naturalized in the United States near the coast.

V. gigantea Hook.
California to Sitka.
The seeds are eaten by the Indians. Gray remarks that the seeds are eatable, when young, like green peas.

V. hirsuta S. F. Gray. HAIRY TARE.
Europe, northern Africa and Asia.
This species is said by Loudon to be cultivated in some places as a lentil. This plant is naturalized in the United States from Massachusetts to Virginia.

V. monanthos Desf.
Mediterranean region.
This is a lens cultivated by the French.

V. narbonensis Linn. NARBONNE VETCH.
Orient and Mediterranean region.
This species is supposed by Targioni- Tozzetti to be the original of the English bean. The seeds are of excellent quality.

V. pallida Turcz. WOOD VETCH.
Himalayan regions.
This vetch has been cultivated chiefly in cold, northern regions, being remarkably hardy. It is found wild even within the arctic regions.

V. pisiformis Linn.
This is the lentille du Canada of the French and, according to Loudon, is cultivated in some places as a lentil.

V. sativa Linn. TARE. WHITE VETCH.
Europe, North Africa and the Orient.
In 1686, according to Ray, this tare was grown throughout Europe for feeding animals. There are a number of varieties, the most prominent of which are the spring and winter tares. The seed of the white vetch is eaten in some countries. The seeds are said by Johnson to be neither very palatable nor nutritious. In many cantons of France, the seeds are, however, eaten in soup and enter into the composition of flours used for breadmaking.

V. sepium Linn. BUSH VETCH.
Northern Asia, Himalayan regions and Europe.
The seeds may be used as food.

This species has been cultivated of late years with much success in several parts of northern and central Europe.

Victoria regia Lindl. Nymphaeceae (Euryalaceae). WATER LILY. WATER MAIZE.
The Spaniards collect the seeds and eat them roasted.

Vigna catjang Walp. Leguminosae. COWPEA. JERUSALEM PEA. MARBLE PEA.
East Indies.
This plant is cultivated in Portugal and Italy. In India, varieties with white, brown and black seeds are cultivated. In Martinique, the seeds are highly esteemed as an article of food. In the southern states, this species has many permanent varieties, as Red Cowpea, Black-eyed pea and so on. So conspicuous is this species that in some localities it is made to carry the name of all others, all being referred to as the cowpea. This plant is extensively cultivated in India for its pods, which are often two feet in length, contain a number of pealike seeds, called by the Hindus chowlee, and form a considerable article of food. In China, the green pods are used as a vegetable.

A native of tropical Africa; cultivated at Karagwe on the upper Nile, where it is called koondii.
The seeds are eaten. This plant is commonly cultivated about Bombay for its pods and pulse. There are several varieties of this bean in India, white, red, dun, green, black; they vary also greatly in size but are distinguished by their form, which differs from all the other kinds in the beans being truncated at either end. Pirminger speaks of it, however, as a bean of indifferent quality. In China, the pods are eaten as a string bean. In Egypt, it furnishes a vegetable food. In the Barbados, this species furnishes the calavances, or red beans, of Long and is also called Chinese dolichos and clay pea. The pulse is called by the Hindus chowlu, by the Chinese tow-cok.

V. lanceolata Benth. VIGNA.
Tropical and subtropical Australia.
According to Mueller, the plant is available for culinary purposes.

Villaresia congonha Miers. Olacineae (Celastraceae).
The leaves, dried and pulverized, are used as tea in Brazil.

Viola odorata Linn. Violacieae. VIOLET.
Europe, Africa and northern Asia.
This violet is esteemed by the Egyptians and Turks for use in sorbet, which they make of violet sugar dissolved in water.

V. palmata Linn. VIOLET. WILD OKRA.
Eastern North America.
The plant is mucilaginous and is employed by negroes in the southern United States for making soup and is called wild okra.

Vitex cienkowskii Kotschy & Peyr. Verbenaceae.
Tropical Africa.
The sweet, olive-shaped fruit, says Schweinfurth, is relished exceedingly by the natives of central Africa.

V. doniana Sweet.
Tropical Africa.
The fruit is eatable, says Sabine, but is inferior to both the sugar and yellow plums of that country.

Vitis acetosa P. Muell. Ampelideae (Vitidaceae). AUSTRALIAN GRAPE.
The stems are herbaceous rather than shrubby, erect. The whole plant is pervaded with acidity and proves valuable in cases of scurvy. The berries are edible.

V. acida Chapm.
South America and West Indies.
The whole plant has an acid taste.

V. adnata Wall.
Asia and Australian tropics.
The acid leaves are eaten.

Eastern America.
The berries are pleasant and the flowers fragrant. This grape is referred to by Wood in his New England's Prospects as the "smaller kinde of grape which groweth in the Islands, which is sooner ripe and more delectable. As it occurs wild, it presents many varieties" in its fruit and has produced, according to William Saunders, the cultivated forms known as Lenoir, Herbemont, Devereaux, Alvey, Cynthiana and Norton's Virginia; according to Ravenel, Clinton and Delaware. This species was introduced into England in 1656.

V. africana Spreng.
Tropical Africa.
The berries are black and eatable.

V. antarctica Benth.
East Australia.
This species is an evergreen, bearing small and edible berries.

V. arborea Linn.
Orient and North America.
The fruit is said to become agreeable when perfectly matured, but Nuttall says, to his taste, it is always nauseous.

V. arizonica Engelm. CANYON GRAPE.
Arizona and Utah.
The fruit is small, borne in small clusters and is said to be quite luscious.

V. auriculata Wall.
Himalayan region, Burma and Java.
The berries are large and juicy.

V. berlanderi Planch.
Texas and northern Mexico.
This vine bears a very large cluster of rich, though remarkably small, fruit. The quality is fine for wine.

V. bicolor Le Conte. BLUE GRAPE. SUMMER GRAPE.
New Hampshire to North Carolina and westward.
The berries are small and generally sweet and agreeable.

V. caesia Sabine.
Tropical Africa.
The berries are round and black, with an austere, acid taste not very agreeable to Europeans; the grapes are eaten chiefly by the negroes, who are very fond of them.

V. californica Benth.
Southwestern United States.
The quantity of the fruit that an Indian will consume at one time is scarcely credible. The ancient Pueblo Indians were in the habit of cultivating this grape as is evident from the peculiar distribution of the plant near reined settlements. In Arizona, near Fort Whipple, they are found arranged in rows and the vines are very old. The berry is small and round and much resembles the ordinary frost grape of New England but it is larger, more juicy and richer in flavor.

V. candicans Engelm.
Southwestern United States.
The berries are large, black or dark purple; skin thin, beneath which is a cuticle containing a red and very acid juice. The true pulp is edible. This species bears fruit unfit for eating owing to the biting pungency of its skin and the tough pulp but may have promise as a wine grape.

V. capensis Burm.
South Africa.
The berry is said to be excellent but with a different flavor from our grapes. It is brought to the table at the Cape of Good Hope.

West Indies and moist thickets in Florida and along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico as far as southern Texas.
This grape was found in Arkansas by Nuttall. Its grapes are small, sour and generally unpalatable, yet sometimes it has fruit agreeably acid. Its vines are said to be so full of sap as to be used in the West Indies to allay thirst. Sloane says, in Jamaica, it is red or deep purple and the size of a currant and agreeably acid, as well as astringent. Loudon says it was introduced into England in 1800.

Eastern United States.
The fruit hangs in short clusters, is dark purple, almost black when ripe, with a dark blue bloom, about the size of a large pea. It is very acid, says Emerson, but pleasant, with a rich, spicy taste and without any acerbity remaining after eating. Natural varieties of this grape have been transferred to gardens in Massachusetts and the berries of these plants are described as of "a juicy, agreeable, wine taste," "oval, sweet and spicy," "round and sweet," "sweet and agreeable." This species has been strongly recommended for winemaking. Some of the varieties have red, others black fruits.

V. elongata Wall.
East Indies.
The berries are large and juicy.

V. geniculata Miq.
The fruit is eaten.

V. heterophylla Thunb.
China and Japan.
The leaves are used for food.

V. hypoglauca F. Muell.
East Australia.
This species is an evergreen climber of enormous length. The black berries attain the size of small cherries.

V. imperialis Miq.
Sumatra and Borneo.
Its berries are large and juicy.

V. indica Linn.
East Indies and India.
The small berries are edible.

V. labrusca Linn. FOX GRAPE. SKUNK GRAPE.
Eastern United States.
This is probably the grape seen by the Northmen at Vinland, when the two Scotch slaves sent out to explore brought back a bunch of grapes in 1006. This grape was mentioned by Edward Winslow in Massachusetts, 1621, as "white and red and very sweet and strong also." Master Graves says "vines doe grow here plentifully laden with the biggest grapes that ever I saw; some I have seen four inches about." The fox grape is often mentioned by the colonists. In 1769, the French settlers on the Illinois River made upwards of one hundred hogsheads of strong wine from the wild grape. The fruit varies much in size, color and taste, and some of the natural varieties are very fair fruit and may be found even now around many New England homesteads, although they all have more or less of the strong, musky flavor, which in some varieties is disagreeably intense. Emerson says he has gathered grapes in the woods decidedly superior to the Isabella. This species has given origin to many cultivated varieties, such as Isabella, Concord, Moore's Early and Hartford Prolific. Emerson says also, the Catawba, Elands Grape, Schuylkill, Elsinberg and others; Ravenal includes Diana and Rebecca. The Isabella and Catawba were introduced to notice in 1816, the Concord about 1854. Diana was exhibited in 1843, and Moore's Early for the first time in 1872. At the present time, 1879, 46 varieties of American grapes are approved by the American Pomological Society, and many others are before the public on probation. Oh account of the immunity of the grape vines derived from this species from the phylloxera, large numbers of vines have been exported to France for use in vineyards as stocks for grafting. At present, this species promises to be as prolific of valuable varieties as is the V. vinifera of Europe and Asia.

V. latifolia Roxb.
East Indies.
The acid leaves are eaten.

The grapes are from one-half to three-quarters of an inch in diameter, of a deep purple, tender, pleasant and free from musky flavor. It is cultivated in a few gardens in Texas.

V. monticola Buckl. MOUNTAIN GRAPE.
Texas; occasionally cultivated in gardens. The berries are large, white or amber-colored; skin thin; pulp tender, juicy and sweet.

V. mutabilis Miq.
The berries are large and edible.

V. opaca F. Muell.
East Australia.
The vine produces as many as eight to ten large tubers. Though insipid, these are eagerly sought by the natives for food.

V. pallida Wight & Arn.
Asia and African tropics.
The berries are large, edible and particularly sweet.

V. quadrangularis Wall.
Arabia to India and central Africa.
The berries are eaten in India, and the young shoots and leaves are used by the natives as a potherb.

Eastern North America.
The berries are usually small, blackish or amber-colored and very acid. This species has given origin to the Clinton, Taylor, Elvira and other grapes now under cultivation.

Southeastern United States.
This species bears its berries in loose clusters, scarcely exceeding five or six berries, changing from reddishbrown to black in ripening, with a thick skin and large pulp. In a cultivated form, it occurs in several white and black varieties. In the southern states, it is highly relished and is used for domestic winemaking.

V. rubifolia Wall.
Himalayan regions.
The berries are esculent.

Southwestern America.
This species is the mountain grape of Texas. The stems are upright and but two or three feet high. The bunches are small and the berries are of the size of peas, black and very sweet and grateful to the taste.

V. schimperiana Hochst.
Barter compares the edible berries to clusters of Frontignac grapes.

V. sicyoides Miq.
Tropical America.
The black berries are eaten.

V. thrysiflora Miq.
The berries are large and edible.

V. trifolia Linn.
Asia and Australian tropics.
The leaves are acid and edible.

V. uvifera Baker.
Tropical Africa.
The berries are black, pulpy, of an austere, acid taste but are eaten by the natives.

The European grape is found wild on the coast of the Caspian, in Armenia and in Karamania. From Asia, it passed into Greece and thence into Sicily. The Phocians carried it to the south of France; the Romans planted it on the banks of the Rhine. This grape is of the most ancient culture. Full details of wine-making and vineyards are figured under the Fourth (2440 B. C.), Seventeenth (1680 B. C.) and Eighteenth (1525 B. C.) Dynasties in Egypt, and vineyards and wine are mentioned in the Scriptural history of Noah. Its introduction into all parts of the world has but multiplied its peculiarities. Virgil says "we neither can recount how numerous the species, nor what are their names, nor imports it to comprise their number; which whoever would know the same may seek to learn how numerous are the sands of the Libyan sea tossed by the zephyr; as to know how many waves of the Ionian sea come to the shores, when Eurus, more violent, falls upon the ships." In the time of Chaptal, about 1825, there were 1400 varieties enumerated in the Luxembourg catalog obtained from France alone; the Geneva catalog numbered 600; Presl describes 44 varieties as cultivated in Sicily; Redding notices 12 kinds near Shiraz, Persia; and Burnes 10 kinds at Cabul. The Pinceau variety of France was known as long ago as 1394.

Some believe that the vine was introduced into England by the Romans, while, according to others, it was first brought by the Phoenicians, who also have the credit of having transplanted it from Palestine to the islands of the Mediterranean. The earliest English chronicles make mention of vineyards, and vine culture is said to have continued until the Reformation; but the English climate is not suitable and the grape is grown only under glass except in a few favored locations. The vine was brought to the New World by Columbus, and, in 1494 at Hayti, cuttings from European vines already began to form their clusters. In 1741, there were some thousands of vines from Portugal thriving at Augusta, Georgia, and there are accounts of this vine in New Albion in 1647. There are accounts of wine-making from grapes of unknown species in Virginia in 1630, 1647, 1651; in Massachusetts, in 1634; in Pennsylvania, in 1683 and 1685; and in Indiana in 1804. In Chile and in California, its culture seems successful. In California, its introduction was due to the Missions which were mainly established from 1769 to 1820. Except in California, here and there a single vine in exceptional localities may succeed.

The currant, or Zante, grape is the variety which furnishes the dried currants of commerce, the individual grapes being no larger than peas, entirely free from seeds and of an agreeable flavor. This vine was introduced into the United States in 1855 and is now grown in California, where, however, it troubles the cultivator by occasionally producing seeds. At present, our supply of currant grapes comes from the Ionian Islands chiefly but they are also grown in France. Unlike other grape vines, this, in Zante, will not succeed upon the hills but flourishes in low lands, retentive of moisture, incapable of drainage and flooded for two months of the year.

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