Beckmannia erucaeformis Host. Gramineae.
Europe, temperate Asia and North America.
According to Engelmann,
the seeds are collected for food by the Utah Indians.
Begonia barbata Wall. Begoniaceae. BEGONIA.
East Indies and Burma.
The leaves, called tengoor, are eaten by the
natives as a pot-herb. Hooker says the stems of many species are eaten
in the Himalayas, when cooked, being pleasantly acid. The stems are
made into a sauce in Sikkim.
B. cucullata Willd. BEGONIA.
The leaves are used as cooling salads.
B. malabarica Lam. BEGONIA.
Henfrey says the plants are eaten as pot-herbs.
B. picta Sm. BEGONIA.
The leaves have an acid taste and are used as food.
Bellis perennis Linn. Compositae. ENGLISH DAISY.
Europe and the adjoining portions of Asia.
Lightfoot says the taste of
the leaves is somewhat acid, and, in scarcity of garden-stuff, they have
been used in some countries as a pot-herb
Bellucia aubletii Naud. Melastomaceae.
A tree of Guiana which has an edible, yellow fruit.7
B. brasiliensis Naud.
The fruit is edible.
Benincasa cerifera Savi. Cucurbitaceae. WAX GOURD. WHITE
GOURD. WHITE PUMPKIN.
Asia and African tropics.
This annual plant is cultivated in India for its
very large, handsome, egg-shaped gourd. The gourd is covered with a
pale greenish-white, waxen bloom. It is consumed by the natives in an
unripe state in their curries. This gourd is cultivated throughout Asia
and its islands and in France as a vegetable. It is described as delicate,
quite like the cucumber and preferred by many. The bloom of the fruit
forms peetha wax and occurs in sufficient quantity to be collected and
made into candles. This cucurbit has been lately introduced into
European gardens. According to Bret-schneider, it can be identified in a
Chinese book of the fifth century and is mentioned as cultivated in
Chinese writings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1503-
08, Ludovico di Varthema describes this gourd in India under the name
como-langa. In 1859, Naudin says it is much esteemed in southern
Asia, particularly in China, and that the size of its fruit, its excellent
keeping qualities, the excellence of its flesh and the ease of its culture
should long since have brought it into garden culture. He had seen two
varieties: one, the cylindrical, ten to sixteen inches long and one
specimen twenty-four inches long by eight to ten inches in diameter,
from Algiers; the other, an ovoid fruit, shorter, yet large, from China.
The long variety was grown at the New York Agricultural Experiment
Station in 1884 from seed from France. The fruit is oblong-cylindrical,
resembling very closely a watermelon when, unripe but when ripe
covered with a heavy glaucous bloom.
This plant is recorded in herbariums as from the Philippine Islands,
New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji Islands, Tahiti, New Holland and
southern China and as cultivated in Japan and in China.
This species is the Cumbulam of Rheede Hort. Mal., 8, p. 5, t. 3; the
Camolenga of Rumphius Amb. 5, 395, t. 143; the Cucurbita Pepo of
Loureiro Cochinch. 593.
Berberis angulosa Wall. Berberideae. BARBERRY.
This is a rare Himalayan species with the largest flowers and fruit
of any of the thirteen species found on that range. In Sikkim, it is a
shrub four or more feet in height, growing at an elevation of from
11,000 to 13,000 feet, where it forms a striking object in autumn from
the rich golden and red coloring of its foliage. The fruit is edible and less
acid than that of the common species.
B. aquifolium Pursh. MAHONIA. MOUNTAIN GRAPE. OREGON
Western North America.
This shrub is not rare in cultivation as an
ornamental. It has deep blue berries in clusters somewhat resembling
the frost grape and the flavor is strongly acid. The berries are used as
food, and the juice when fermented makes, on the addition of sugar, a
palatable and wholesome wine. It is said not to have much value as a
fruit. It is common in Utah and its fruit is eaten, being highly prized for
its medicinal properties. The acid berry is made into confections and
eaten as an antiscorbutic, under the name mountain grape.
B. aristata DC. NEPAL BARBERRY.
The Nepal barberry produces purple fruits covered with a
fine bloom, which in India are dried in the sun like raisins and used like
them at the dessert. It is native to the mountains of Hindustan and is
called in Arabic aarghees. The plants are quite hardy and fruit
abundantly in English gardens. Downing cultivated it in America but it
gave him no fruit. In Nepal, the berries are dried by the Hill People and
are sent down as raisins to the plains.
B. asiatica Roxb. ASIATIC BARBERRY.
Region of Himalayas.
According to Lindley, the fruit is round, covered
with a thick bloom and has the appearance of the finest raisins. The
berries are eaten in India. The plants are quite hardy and fruit
abundantly in English gardens.
B. buxifolia Lam. MAGELLAN BARBERRY.
This evergreen shrub is found native from Chile to the Strait of
According to Dr. Philippi, it is the best of the South American
species; the berries are quite large, black, hardly acid and but slightly
astringent. The fruit, says Sweet, is used in England both green and
ripe as are gooseberries, for making pies and tarts. In Valdivia and
Chiloe, provinces of Chile, they are frequently consumed. It has ripened
fruit at Edinburgh, and Mr. Cunningham enthusiastically says it is as
large as the Hamburg grape and equally good to eat. It is also grown in
the gardens of the Horticultural Society, London, from which cions
appear to have been distributed. Under the name Black Sweet
Magellan, it is noticed as a variety in Downing. It was introduced into
England about 1828.
B. canadensis Pursh. AMERICAN BARBERRY.
A species found in the Alleghenies of Virginia and
southward but not in Canada. The berries are red and of an agreeable
B. darwinii Hook. DARWIN'S BARBERRY.
Chile and Patagonia.
In Devonshire, England, the cottagers preserve the
berries when ripe, and a party of school children admitted to where
there are plants in fruit will clear the bushes of every berry as eagerly as
if they were black currants.
B. empetrifolia Lam. FUEGIAN BARBERRY.
Region of Magellan Strait.
The berry is edible.
B. glauca DC.
The berry is edible.
B. lycium Royle. INDIAN BARBERRY.
Himalayan region. I
n China, the fruit is preserved as in Europe, and the
young shoots and leaves are made use of as a vegetable or for infusion
as a tea.
B. nepalensis Spreng. MAHONIA.
An evergreen of the Himalayas.
The fruits are dried as raisins in the sun
and sent down to the plains of India for sale.
B. nervosa Pursh. OREGON GRAPE.
pine forests of Oregon. The fruit resembles in
size and taste that of B. aquifolium.
B. pinnata Lag. BLUE BARBERRY.
a beautiful, blue-berried barberry very common in New Mexico.
It is called by the Mexicans lena amorilla. The berries are very pleasant
to the taste, being saccharine with a slight acidity.
B. sibirica Pall. SIBERIAN BARBERRY.
The berry is edible.
B. sinensis Desf.
The berry is edible.
B. tomentosa Ruiz & Pav. HAIRY BARBERRY.
The berry is edible.
B. trifoliolata Moric.
The bright red, acid berries are used for tarts and are
less acid than those of B. vulgaris
B. vulgaris Linn. BARBERRY. JAUNDICE BERRY. PIPRAGE.
Europe and temperate Asia.
This barberry is sometimes planted in
gardens in England for its fruit. It was early introduced into the
gardens of New England and increased so rapidly that in 1754 the
Province of Massachusetts passed an act to prevent its spreading. The
berries are preserved in sugar, in syrup, or candied and are esteemed
by some. They are also occasionally pickled in vinegar, or used for
flavoring. There are varieties with yellow, white, purple, and black
fruits. A celebrated preserve is made from a stoneless variety at Rouen,
France. The leaves were formerly used to season meat in England. The
berries are imported from Afghanistan into India under the name of
currant. A black variety was found by Tournefort on the bank of the
Euphrates, the fruit of which is said to be of delicious flavor.
Bertholletia excelsa Humb. & Bonpl. Myrtaceae (Lecythidaceae).
AMAZON NUT. ALMONDS OF THE AMAZON. BRAZIL NUT.
BUTTERNUT. CREAMNUT. PARA NUT. NIGGERTOE.
This is one of the most majestic trees of Guiana, Venezuela and
Brazil. It furnishes the triangular nuts of commerce everywhere used as
a food. It was first described in 1808. An oil is expressed from the
kernels and the bark is used in caulking ships.
Besleria violacea Aubl. Gesneraceae.
The purple berry is edible.
Beta vulgaris Linn. Chenopodiaceae. BEET. CHARD. CHILIAN
BEET. LEAF-BEET. MANGEL. MANGEL WURZEL. MANGOLD.
ROMAN KALE. SEA BEET. SEA-KALE BEET. SICILIAN BEET.
SPINACH BEET. SUGAR BEET. SWISS CHARD.
Europe and North Africa.
The beet of the garden is essentially a modem
vegetable. It is not noted by either Aristotle or Theophrastus, and,
although the root of the chard is referred to by Dioscorides and Galen,
yet the context indicates medicinal use. Neither Columella, Pliny nor
Palladius mentions its culture, but Apicius, in the third century, gives
recipes for cooking the root of Beta, and Athenaeus, in the second or
third century, quotes Diphilus of Siphnos as saying that the beet-root
was grateful to the taste and a better food than the cabbage. It is not
mentioned by Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth century, but the word
bete occurs in English recipes for cooking in 1390.
Barbarus, who died in 1493, speaks of the beet as having a single, long,
straight, fleshy, sweet root, grateful when eaten, and Ruellius, in
France, appropriates the same description in 1536, as does also
Fuchsius in 1542; the latter figures the root as described by Barbarus,
having several branches and small fibres. In 1558, Matthiolus says the
white and black chards are common in Italian gardens but that in
Germany they have a red beet with a swollen, turnip-like root which is
eaten. In 1570, Pena and Lobel speak of the same plant but apparently
as then rare, and, in 1576, Lobel figures this beet, and this figure shows
the first indication of an improved form, the root portion being swollen
in excess over the portion by the collar. This beet may be considered the
prototype of the long, red varieties. In 1586, Camerarius figures a
shorter and thicker form, the prototype of our half-long blood beets.
This same type is figured by Daleschamp, 1587, and also a new type,
the Beta Romana, which is said in Lyte's Dodoens, 1586, to be a recent
acquisition. It may be considered as the prototype of our turnip or
Another form is the flat-bottomed red, of which the Egyptian and the
Bassano of Vilmorin, as figured, may be taken as the type. The Bassano
was to be found in all the markets of Italy in 1841, and the Egyptian
was a new sort about Boston in 1869. Nothing is known concerning the
history of this type.
The first appearance of the improved beet is recorded in Germany about
1558 and in England about 1576, but the name used, Roman beet,
implies introduction from Italy, where the half-long type was known in
1584. We may believe Ruellius's reference in 1536 to be for France. In
1631, this beet was in French gardens under the name, Beta rubra
pastinaca, and the culture of "betteraves" was described in Le Jardinier
Solitaire, 1612. Gerarde mentions the "Romaine beete" but gives no
figure. In 1665, in England, only the Red Roman was listed by Lovell,
and the Red beet was the only kind noticed by Townsend, a seedsman,
in 1726, and a second sort, the common Long Red, is mentioned in
addition by Mawe, 1778, and by Bryant, 1783. In the United States,
one kind only was in McMahon's catalog of 1806 - the Red beet, but in
1828 four kinds are offered for sale by Thorbum. At present, Vilmorin
describes seventeen varieties and names and partly describes many
Chard was the beta of the ancients and of the Middle Ages. Red chard
was noticed by Aristotle about 350 B. C. Theophrastus knew two
kinds-the white, called Sicula, and the black (or dark green), the most
esteemed. Dioscorides also records two kinds. Eudemus, quoted by
Athenaeus, in the second century, names four; the sessile, the white,
the common and the dark, or swarthy. Among the Romans, chard finds
frequent mention, as by Columella, Pliny, Palladius and Apicius. In
China is was noticed in writings of the seventh, eighth, fourteenth,
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; in Europe, by all the ancient
Chard has no Sanscrit name. The ancient Greeks called the species
teutlion; the Romans, beta; the Arabs, seig; the Nabateans, silq.
Albertus Magnus, in the thirteenth century, uses the word acelga, the
present name in Portugal and Spain.
The wild form is found in the Canary Isles, the whole of the
Mediterranean region as far as the Caspian, Persia and Babylon,
perhaps even in western India, as also about the sea-coasts of Britain. It
has been sparingly introduced, into kitchen-gardens for use as a chard.
The red, white, and yellow forms are named from quite early times; the
red by Aristotle, the white and dark green by Theophrastus and
Disocorides. In 1596, Bauhin describes dark, red, white, yellow, chards
with a broad stalk and the sea-beet. These forms, while the types can
be recognized, yet have changed their appearance in our cultivated
plants, a greater compactness and development being noted as arising
from the selection and cultivation which has been so generally accorded
in recent times. Among the varieties Vilmorin describes are the White,
Swiss, Silver, Curled Swiss, and Chilian.
The leaves of the sea beet form an excellent chard and in Ireland are
collected from the wild plant and used for food; in England the plant is
sometimes cultivated in gardens. This form has been ennobled by
careful culture, continued until a mangold was obtained.
Swiss chard is deemed by Ray to have been known to Gerarde, 1597,
for Gerarde, in his Herball, indicates the sportive character of the seed
as to color and mentions a height which is attained only by this plant.
He says of it, "another sort hereof that was brought unto me from
beyond the seas," and particularly notices the great breadth of the
stalk; but the color particularly noticed is the red sort. Ray gives as a
synonym Beta italica Parkinson. Swiss chard is quite variable in the
stalks, according to the culture received.
The silver-leaf beet (Poiree blonde a carde blanche Vilm. 1883) is a
lighter green form of swiss chard, as described by Vilmorin, but with
shorter and much broader stalk. It seems to be a variety within the
changes which can be effected by selection and culture and perhaps
can be referred to the Chilean type.
The Chilean beet is a form usually grown for ornamental purposes. The
stalks are often very broad and twisted and the colors very clear and
distinct, the leaf puckered and blistered as in the Curled Swiss. In the
Gardeners' Chronicle, 1844, it is said that "these ornamental plants
were introduced to Belgium some ten or twelve years previously." It is
yellow or red and varies in all the shades of these two colors. In 1651, J.
Bauhin speaks of two kinds of chard as novelties: the one, white, with
broad ribs; the other, red. He also speaks of a yellow form, differing
from the kind with a boxwood-yellow root. In 1655, Lobel describes a
chard with yellowish stems, varied with red. The forms now found are
described by their names: Crimson-veined Brazilian, Golden-veined
Brazilian, Scarlet-ribbed Chilean, Scarlet-veined Brazilian, Yellowribbed
Chilean and Red-stalked Chilean.
The modern chards are the broad-leaved ones and all must be
considered as variables within a type. This type may be considered as
the one referred to by Gerarde in 1597, whose "seedes taken from that
plant which was altogether of one colour and sowen, doth bring foorth
plants of many and variable colours." Our present varieties now come
true to color in most instances but some seeds furnish an experience
such as that which Gerarde records.
Mangolt was the old German name for chard, or rather for the beet
species, but in recent times the mangold is a large-growing root of the
beet kind used for forage purposes. In the selections, size and the
perfection of the root above ground have been important elements, as
well as the desire for novelty, and hence we have a large number of very
distinct-appearing sorts: the long red, about two-thirds above ground;
the olive-shaped, or oval; the globe; and the flat-bottomed Yellow
d'Obendorf. The colors to be noted are red, yellow and white. The size
often obtained in single specimens is enormous, a weight of 135
pounds has been, claimed in California, and Gasparin in France
vouches for a root weighing 132 pounds.
Very little can be ascertained concerning the history of mangolds. They
certainly are of modem introduction. Olivier de Serres, in France, 1629,
describes a red beet which was cultivated for cattle-feeding and speaks
of it as a recent acquisition from Italy. In England, it is said to have
arrived from Metz in 1786; but there is a book advertised of which the
following is the title: Culture and Use of the Mangel Wurzel, a Root of
Scarcity, translated from the French of the Abbe de Commerell, by J. C.
Lettson, with colored plates, third edition, 1787, by which it would
appear that it was known earlier. McMahon records the mangold as in
American culture in 1806. Vilmorin describes sixteen kinds and
mentions many others.
The sugar beet is a selected form from the common beet and scarcely
deserves a separate classification. Varieties figured by Vilmorin are all of
the type of the half-long red, and agree in being mostly underground
and in being very or quite scaly about the collar. The sugar beet has
been developed through selection 6f the roots of high sugar content for
the seedbearers. The sugar beet industry was born in France in 1811,
and in 1826 the product of the crop was 1,500 tons of sugar. The use
of the sugar beet could not, then, have preceded 1811; yet in 1824 five
varieties, the grosse rouge, petite rouge, rouge ronde, jaune and
blanche are noted and the French Sugar, or Amber, reached American
gardens before 1828. A richness of from 16 to 18 per cent of sugar is
now claimed for Vilmorin's new Improved White Sugar.
The discovery of sugar in the beet is credited to Margraff in 1747,
having been announced in a memoir read before the Berlin Academy of
A partial synonymy of Beta vulgaris is as follows:
I. Beta rubra. Lob. 124. 1576; Icon. 1:248. 1591; Matth. 371. 1598.
B. rubra Romana. Dod. 620. i6i6.
Common Long Red. Mawe. 1778.
Betterave rouge grosse. Vilm. 38. 1883.
Long Blood. Thorb. 1828, i886.
II. Beta rubra. Cam. Epit. 256. 1586; Lugd. 535. 1587; Pancov. n. 607.
Betiola rossa. Durc. 71. 1617.
Betterave rouge naine. Vilm. 37. 1883.
III. Beta erythorrhizos Dodo. Lugd. 533. 1587.
Beta rubra radice crassa, alia species. Bauh. J. 2:961. 1651.
B. rubra . . . russa; Beta-rapa. Chabr. 303. 1677.
Turnip-pointed red. Mawe. 1778.
Turnip-rooted red. Bryant 26. 1783.
Early Blood Turnip. Thorb. 1828, i886.
IV. Beta quarto radice buxea. Caesalp. 1603 from Mill. Diet. 1807.
Yellow-rooted. Mill. Diet. 1807.
Betterave jaune grosse. Vilm. 41. 1883.
V. Beta rubra, lutea; Beta-rapa. Chabr. 305. 1677.
Turnip-pointed yellow. Mawe. 1778.
Yellow Turnip. Thorb. 1828.
Betterave jaune ronde sucre. Vilm. 41. 1883.
VI. Beta sylvestris spontanea marina. Lob.Obs.125. 1576.
B. sylvestris maritima. Bauh. Phytopin. 191. 1596.
Sea Beet. Ray Hist. l :204. 1686.
VII. Beta alba lactucaeand rumicis folio, etc. Advers. 93. 1570. B. alba vel
pallescens, quawi Cicia officin. Bauh. Pin. n8. 1623. White Beet. Ray
204. 1686. Beta cicla. Linn. Sp. 322. 1774. Common White-Leaved.
Mawe. 1778. White-leaved. McMahon 187. 18o6. Spinach-Beet.
Loudon. 1860. Poiree blonde ou commune. Vilm. 421. 1883.
VIII. Beta alba? 3. Gerarde 251. 1597.
The Sicilian Broad-Leaved Beet. Ray 205. 1686.
White Beet. Townsend. 1726.
Chard, or Great White Swiss Beet. Mawe. 1778.
Swiss, or Chard Beet. Mill. Diet. 1807.
Swiss Chard, or Silver Beet. Buist. 1851.
Silver-Leaf Beet. Burr 292. 1863.
Poiree a carde blanche. Vilm. 421. 1883.
IX. Poiree blonde a carde blanche. Vilm. 1883.
CURLED SWISS CHARD.
X. Curled-Leaf Beet. Burr 291. 1863.
Beck's Seakale Beet. Card. Chron. 1865.
Poiree a blanche frises. Vilm. 1883.
Betula alba Linn. Cupuliferae (Betulaceae). CANOE BIRCH. LADY
BIRCH. PAPER BIRCH. WHITE BIRCH.
Europe, northern Asia and North America.
The bark, reduced to
powder, is eaten by the inhabitants of Kamchatka, beaten up with the
ova of the sturgeon, and the inner bark is ground into a meal and eaten
in Lapland in times of dearth. Church says sawdust of birchwood is
boiled, baked and then mixed with flour to form bread in Sweden and
Norway. In Alaska, says Dall, the soft, new wood is cut fine and mingled
with tobacco by the economical Indian. From the sap, a wine is made in
Derbyshire, England, and, in 1814, the Russian soldiers near Hamburg
intoxicated themselves with this fermented sap. The leaves are used in
northern Europe as a substitute for tea, and the Indians of Maine make
from the leaves of the American variety a tea which is relished. At
certain seasons, the sap contains sugar. In Maine, the sap is sometimes
collected in the spring and made into vinegar.
B. lenta Linn. BLACK BIRCH. CHERRY BIRCH. MAHOGANY
BIRCH. SWEET BIRCH.
The sap, in Maine, is occasionally converted into
B. nigra Linn. RED BIRCH. RIVER BIRCH.
From Massachusetts to Virginia.
The sap contains sugar in the spring,
according to Henfrey.