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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Zilla myagroides Forsk. Cruciferae.
Egypt and Arabia.
The leaves are boiled and eaten by the Arabs.


Zingiber mioga Rose. Scitanzineae (Zingiberaceae). WILD GINGER.
Japan.
This is a kind of wild ginger of Japan where the root is said to be utilized.


Z. officinale Rose. GINGER.
Tropics.
The rhizomes of this species furnish the well-known ginger. The plant is largely cultivated both in the East and West Indies, as well as in Africa and China. It is supposed that there are two varieties, one producing darker-colored rhizomes than the other, this difference in color being independent of the mode of preparation. The young rhizomes, preserved in syrup, are imported for the delicious conserve known as preserved ginger - that imported from the West Indies being preferred to the Chinese kind.


Z. zerumbet Rose. WILD GINGER.
Tropical Asia and the Malayan Archipelago.
The leaves and shoots are used as greens in Bengal.


Zizania aquatica Linn. Gramineae. INDIAN RICE. WILD RICE.
North America and eastern Asia.
Wild rice is found on the swampy borders of streams and in shallow water, common in the United States, especially northwestward. Gould has found it nine feet tall at the foot of Lake Champlain and in places on the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, where the tibe ebbs and flows, over twelve feet high. The seeds have furnished food from early times to the Indians and the plant has been considered worthy of cultivation. In 1791, seeds from Canada were sent to England and attempts were made at its culture. Father Hennepin, in 1680, in his voyage on the upper Mississippi, ate the grain and pronounced it better and more wholesome than rice. In 1784, Jonathan Carver speaks of wild rice as being the most valuable of all the spontaneous productions of the Northwest. Jefferys, 1760, says the people of Louisiana gather the seeds and make them into a bread. Flint says, but for this grain the Canadian traders and hunters could hardly exist. Pinkerton says, "this plant seems to be designed by nature to become the bread corn of the north." Almost every observer who has mentioned it has used terms of praise. Gould says the plant seems especially adapted for the soiling of cattle and that its use increases the yield and the richness of milk. In Louisiana, its use is recommended for hay, and in Savannah, Georgia, says Elliott, under the name of wild oats, it is used almost exclusively during the summer as green fodder for cows and horses. The one objection to its culture seems to come from the seed dropping so readily when ripe. The northern Indians, of the lakes and rivers between the Mississippi and Lake Superior, gather the seed by pushing the canoe amongst the stems' and shaking the heads over the boat. An acre of wild rice is supposed to be equal to an acre of wheat in the nutriment afforded. The seeds are black, smooth, narrow, cylindrical, about half an inch long, white and farinaceous when cooked and are very palatable. This is the kaw-sun of China and is found in the lakes of Anam, Manchuria, China and Japan. From Dr. Hance, we know that the solid base of the stem forms a very choice vegetable largely used in China, where it is cultivated.


Zizyphus agrestis Roem. & Schult. Rhamneae.
China and Cochin China.
The globose, red drupe is eatable.


Z. joazeiro Mart.
Brazil.
This plant is recommended as yielding fruit in arid regions.


Z. jujuba Lam. CHINESE DATE. JUJUBE.
East Indies and Malay; cultivated generally in the East Indies.
More than 1200 years ago this plant was introduced into China by way of Persia and now yields an excellent dessert fruit for the Chinese, who recognize many varieties, differing in shape, color and size of the fruits. Those of one variety are called Chinese date. In India, the fruit is more or less globose in the wild and common sorts and is ovoid or oblong in the cultivated and improved plant. The pulp is mealy, sweetish, with a pleasant taste, and, in South India, an oil is extracted from the kernel. Wallich describes a variety which produces a fruit of a long form, about the size of an egg, and which is of excellent quality. A variety with a small, sour berry is a great favorite with the Burmese. In Abyssinia, its fruits are made into a substance like dry cheese. In Mauritius, six varieties are described, of these four are pleasant tasting and two not good.


Z. lotus Lam. AFRICAN DATE PALM. JEW THORN. LOTUS.
Mediterranean region.
The roundish, purplish fruit has the appearance of olives and a sweet taste resembling figs or dates. According to Theophrastus, the lotos was so common in Zerbi, the island of the Lotophagi, that a Roman army on its way to Carthage was nourished several days on its fruit. Homer also mentions this attractive fruit, from which Ulysses succeeded, only by violence, in turning away his companions. It forms an important article of food in Tunis and Barbary and is also cultivated in southern Europe at the present time.


Z. lycioides A. Gray.
Texas and the neighboring Mexican states.
The plant bears round, black, edible but rather astringent berries, about the size of a rifle ball, which are called gerambuyo prieto and cornudo de cuervo.


Z. mucronata Willd.
Tropical Africa, Cape of Good Hope and Senegal. The red fruit is eaten and is used in Africa for making into a bread and also for the preparation of a pleasant beverage.


Z. napeca Willd.
East Indies.
The fruit is the size of a pea, smooth, shining, black. The taste is acid and astringent, but it is eaten by the natives.


Z. obtusifolia A. Gray.
Texas.
The large, round, black berries are eaten by Mexicans although nearly tasteless.


Z. oxyphylla Edgew.
Himalayan region.
The very acid fruit is eaten.


Z. reticulata DC.
South America.
The fruit is eatable.


Z. rotundifolia Lam.
Persia and East Indies.
The fruit is eaten and during famines has supported thousands. The taste is sweet and acidulous.


Z. rugosa Lam.
East Indies and Burma.
The fruit is eaten but has a peculiar, mawkish flavor. The fruit is yellow and the size of a small cherry.


Z. sativa Gaertn. JUJUBE.
Mediterranean and temperate Asia.
The jujube is indigenous in Syria, in the Himalayas, in Greece and is cultivated on both shores of the Mediterranean. It has been naturalized in Italy since the time of Augustus when it was brought from Syria, where it is said to have been brought from India by the way of Palmyra. It is now cultivated in Spain, France and Italy as far north as Genoa. The fruit is scarlet, about an inch long, and has an edible pulp. Brandis says that, while the fruit of the Mediterranean variety is sweet, that of the Indian variety is acid but well flavored. This shrub was introduced into South Carolina in 1837, and the seed was distributed from the Patent Office in 1855.


Z. spina-christi Willd. CHRIST'S THORN. NUBK TREE.
North Africa and the Orient.
The fruit is oblong, about the size of a sloe and has a pleasant, subacid taste. It is used as food by the inhabitants of Egypt and Arabia.


Z. xylopyrus Willd.
East Indies.
The fruits are not eaten by men but the kernels are.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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