Agapetes saligna Benth. & Hook. Vacciniaceae.
The leaves are used as a substitute for tea by the natives of
Agave americana Linn. Amaryllideae (Agavaceae). AMERICAN
ALOE. CENTURY PLANT. MAGUEY.
The first mention of the agave is by Peter Martyr,
contemporary with Columbus, who, speaking of what is probably now
Yucatan, says: " They say the first inhabitants lyved contented with the
roots of Dates and magueans, which is an herbe much lyke unto that
which is commonly called sengrem or orpin." The species of agave,
called by the natives maguey, grows luxuriantly over the table-lands of
Mexico and the neighboring borders and are so useful to the people
that Prescott calls the plant the " miracle of nature." From the leaves, a
paper resembling the ancient papyrus was manufactured by the
Aztecs; the tough fibres of the leaf afforded thread of which coarse stuffs
and strong cords were made; the leaf, when washed and dried, is
employed by the Indians for smoking like tobacco but being sweet and
gummy chokes the pipe; an extract of the leaves is made into balls
which lather with water like soap; the thorns on the leaf serve for pins
and needles; the dried flower-stems constitute a thatch impervious to
water; about Quito, the flower-stem is sweet, subacid, readily ferments
and forms a wine called pulque of which immense quantities are
consumed now as in more ancient times; from this pulque is distilled an
ardent, not disagreeable but singularly deleterious spirit known as vino
mescal. The crown of the flower-stem, charred to blackness and
mingled with water, forms a black paint which is used by the Apaches
to paint their faces; a fine spirit is prepared from the roasted heart by
the Papajos and Apaches; the bulbs, or central portion, partly in and
partly above the ground are rich in saccharine matter and are the size
of a cabbage or sometimes a bushel basket and when roasted are sweet
and are used by the Indians as food. Hodge, writing of Arizona,
pronounces the bulbs delicious.
Bartlett mentions their use by the
Apaches, the Pimas, the Coco Maricopas and the Dieguenos Tubis.
The agave was in cultivation in the gardens of Italy in 1586 and Clusius
saw it in Spain a little after this time. It is now to be found generally in
tropical countries. The variety which furnishes sisal hemp was
introduced into Florida in 1838 and in 1855 there was a plantation of
50 acres at Key West.
A. palmeri Engelm.
The central bud at certain seasons is roasted and eaten by the
Indians and a spirit is also distilled from it.
A. parryi Engelm. MESCAL.
New Mexico and northern Arizona.
This plant constitutes one of the
staple foods of the Apaches. When properly prepared, it is saccharine,
palatable and wholesome, mildly acid, laxative and antiscorbutic.
A. utahensis Engelm. UTAH ALOE.
Utah and Arizona.
The bulb of the root is considered a great delicacy by
the Indians, who roast and prepare it for food which is said to be sweet
A. wislizeni Engelm.
The young stems when they shoot out in the spring are tender
and sweet and are eaten with great relish by the Mexicans and Indians.
Aglaia edulis A. Gray. Meliaceae.
Fiji Islands and the East Indies.
The natives eat the aril which
surrounds the seed and call it gumi. The fruit is edible, having a
watery, cooling, pleasant pulp. The aril is large, succulent and edible.
A. odorata Lour.
Firminger says this plant never fruits in Bengal. The flowers are
bright yellow, of the size and form of a pin head and are delightfully
fragrant. Fortune says it is the lan-hwa u yu-chu-lan of China and that
the flowers are used for scenting tea. Smith says it is the san-yeh-lan of
China, that the flowers are used for scenting tea and that the tender
leaves are eaten as a vegetable.
Agrimonia eupatoria Linn. Rosaceae. AGRIMONY. COCKLEBUR.
North temperate regions.
The dried leaves are used by country people
as a sort of tea but probably only for medicinal qualities.
Agriophyllum gobicum Bunge. Chenopodiaceae.
The seeds are used as food.
Agropyron repens Beauv. Gramineae. QUACK GRASS.
This is a troublesome weed in many situations yet
Withering states that bread has been made from its roots in times of