Friday, June 17, 2016

1887 - Chinese Cabbage to Corn Salad - Part 7 of Sturtevant's HISTORY OF GARDEN VEGETABLES

It is raining outside on this June 11th and I just started a fire in the fireplace it felt so cold and damp in the house.  Good day for starting the next installment of Mr. Sturtevant's work.

(Continued from page 712.)

Chinese Cabbage.  Brassica chinensis.

BUT little appears to be recorded concerning the varieties of this cabbage, of which the Pak choi and the Pe-tsai only have reached European culture. It has, however, been long under cultivation in China, as it can be identified in Chinese works on agriculture of the fifth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.

Loureiro  (1790) says also cultivated in Cochin China ; and varieties are named with white and yellow- flowers. The Pak choi has more resemblance to a chard than to a cabbage, having oblong or oval, dark, shining-green leaves upon long, very white, and swollen stalks. The Pe-tsai, however, rather resembles a Cos lettuce, forming an elongated head, rather full and compact, and the leaves a little wrinkled and undulate on the borders.

Both varieties have, however, a common aspect, and are annuals. Considering that the round-headed cabbage is the only sort figured by the herbalists, and that the pointed-headed early cabbages appeared only at a comparatively recent date, and certain resemblances between the Pe-tsai and the long-headed cabbages, it is not an impossible suggestion that these cabbage-forms appeared as the effect of cross-fertilization with the Chinese cabbage; but until the Cabbage family has received more study in its varieties, and the results of hybridization are better understood, no certain conclusion can be reached.
It is, however, certain that occasional rare sports or variables from the seed of our early long-headed cabbages show the heavy veining and the limb of the leaf extending down the stalk, and suggest strongly ,the Chinese type. At present, however, our views as to the origin of our various types of cabbage must be considered as largely speculative.

Chives. Allium schoenoprasum L.
A master of botanical painting, Redouté is the artist who did this illustration.
Redouté, P.J., Les Liliacées, vol. 4: t. 214 (1805-1816)

Redouté by Louis-Léopold Boilly
These are small and unimportant members of the Onion family, found native throughout Europe, in Siberia even to Kamschatka,  and in North America, upon the shores of Lakes Huron, Superior, and northward; but the form found in the Alps comes the nearest to that under cultivation.

Although probably known to the ancients, yet we seem unable to fully identify them with the varieties of the onion named by Theophrastus, Columella, and others.

They were planted in gardens in Europe in the sixteenth century, and were in American gardens preceding 1806.

In England, described by Gerarde 3(1597), called "a pleasant Sawce and good Pot-herb" by Worlidge  in 1683, are among seedsmen's supplies  in 1726, and are recorded as formerly in great request, but now of little regard, by Bryant  in 1783.

Chives, sives, civet or sweth,  are called,

  • in France, ciboulctte, civette, appetit, cive, fausse echalote ; 
  • in Germany, schnittlauch, grasslatich ; 
  • Flanders and Holland, bieslook ; 
  • in Italy, cipollina
  • in Spain, cebollino
  • in Portugal, cebolinha ; 
  • in Denmark, graslog
  • in Poland, luczer-lupny ?, szczypiorek says Google

The only indication of variety I find is in Noisette,  who enumerates the civette, the cive d' Angleterre, and the cive de Portugal, but says these are the same, only modified by soil. The use of the leaves as a condiment is well known. The plant is an humble one, and is propagated by the bulbs, for, although it produces flowers, these are invariably sterile, according to Vilmorin.

Vilmorin's 1885 description of the chive

Chufa. Cyperus esculentus L.
See my post "Ha!! Buckbee Sells Chufus..."
The chufa was distributed from the United States Patent Office in 1854, and has received a spasmodic culture in gardens. It is much cultivated in Southern Europe, Asia, and Africa, becoming of importance at Valence, in Galicia, and in the environs of Rosetta and Damietta, in Egypt.

In Hungary it is grown for the seeds, used as a coffee substitute, but in general for its tubers, which are sweet, nutty, and palatable. These bulbs, says Bryant, are greatly esteemed in Italy and some parts of Germany, and are frequently brought to table by way of dessert. At Constantinople the tubers appear in the markets, and are eaten raw, or made into a conserve.

Gerarde, in 1633, speaks of their extensive use in Italy, being hawked about the streets, and, at Verona, eaten as dainties.  They now appear in the English markets under the name of Zulu nuts.  It must also have been esteemed in ancient times, for tubers have been found in Egyptian tombs of the twelfth dynasty, or from two thousand two hundred to two thousand four hundred years before Christ.
Laurembergius, in his "Apparatus Plantarum," 1632, calls them Gramen amygdalosum, commonly called Thrasi veronensium ; conveniently called Dulcichinum, Dulcinium, Cyperus esculentiis, Cyperus angustifolius,  Juncus avellana, Margarita aegyptia, etc.

They are figured or described by nearly all the early botanists. The chufa, earth-almond, or rush-nut is called,

  • in France, souchet comestible, amdnde de terre, souchet sultan, souchet tubereux, trasi; 
  • in Germany, erdmandel; 
  • in Flanders, aardmandel ; 
  • in Italy, mandorla di terra, dolcicchini ; 
  • in Spain, chufa, eotu/a; 
  • in the Soudan, nebbon ; 
  • in Egypt, ab-el-azis ; 
  • in Arabic, hab-el-a, — i.e., granum dilectum? 

Notwithstanding the long-continued culture of this plant, I find no varieties described.

Clary. Salvia sclarea L. 

The common Clary was formerly much more cultivated in gardens than at present.
Townsend,  in 1726, says "the Leaves of it are used in Omlets, made with Eggs, and so must be in a garden."

In 1778, Mawe  gives three varieties, — the broad- leaved, the long-leaved, and the most wrinkled-leaved.

It is mentioned as cultivated in England by Ray, 1686; Gerarde, 1597; and it is the orminum of Turner,  1538. It was in American gardens preceding 1806, and now occurs wild in Pennsylvania, naturalized as an escape,  its home being the East Mediterranean countries.

The leaves are used for seasoning, but their use with us has been largely superseded by sage, and, although the seed is yet sold by some of the seedsmen, I imagine that it is but little grown. The Clary is called, in France, sauge sclaree, sclaree, toute- bonne, orvale ; in Germany, muscateller salbei.

In 1810, the seedsman William Booth, of Baltimore, offered Clary under the name "Horminum - Clary".  Search for Booth in this blog for more about this early American seedsman.

Claytonia. Claytonia perfoliata Don. 

The leaves of this plant are eaten as salad, or cooked like ordinary spinage. It is a native of Cuba, as also of North America, where the variety exigua Torrey is in popular use in California as a potherb.

 It was first described in 1794, but in 1829 was not named by Noisette  for French gardens, and in 1855 is said by De Candolle  to be occasionally cultivated as a vegetable in England.
It is now included by Vilmorin among French vegetables.

  • In England it is called winter purslane ; 
  • in France, claytone perfoliee, claytone de Cuba, pourpier d'hiver; 
  • in Flanders, doorwas
  • in Holland, winter-postelijn
  • in Spain, verdolaga de Cuba. 

Its synonymy is:

  • Claytonia perfoliata Don. Pursh, Fl. of N. Am., i. 170. 
  • C. perfoliata Don., var. exigua Torr. Brewer & Watson, Bot. of Cal. 
  • C. Cubensis, Humb. et Bonpl. Kunth, Syn., iii. 379.

Interesting plant with the flower coming up from the leaf!

Corchorus.  Corchorus olitorius L

This plant is valued as a spinage plant in warm countries.
It is mentioned by Pliny among Egyptian potherbs, and Alpinus, in 1592, says that no herb is more commonly used among the Egyptian foods. Forskal also mentions its cultivation in Egypt, and notes it among the cultivated esculents of Arabia.
In India it occurs wild, and the leaves are gathered and eaten as spinage.
In tropical Africa it is both spontaneous and cultivated as a vegetable, and it is cultivated in the vegetable-gardens of the Mauritius.
In Jamaica the plant is frequently met with in gardens, but has, in a great measure, ceased to be cultivated, although the leaves are used as a spinage.

It is now cultivated in French gardens for its young leaves, which are eaten in salads. It is recorded by Burr as in American gardens in 1863, but I have never seen the plant growing.

This plant furnishes a portion of the Jute fibre of commerce.

The Jew's mallow, or Corchorus, is called,

  • in France, corette potagere, guimauve potagere, mauve des juifs, brede malabare ;
  • in Germany, gemuse-Corchorus, nusskraut;
  • in Arabia, melochia ;
  • in Arabic, meloukhyeh ;
  • in Bengali, pat, koshta, bhungee, bhunjee pat;
  • in Hindustani, singin janaseha ;
  • in Sanscrit, putta ;
  • in Telegu, parinta?

 I find no varieties recorded.

Coriander. Coriandrum sativum L. 

The ripe fruits of the coriander have served as a spice and a seasoning from very remote times, its seeds having been found in Egyptian tombs of the twenty-first dynasty,  and a thousand or so years later Pliny says the best came to Italy from Egypt.
Plantarum indigenarum et exoticarum Icones ad vivum coloratae,(1789)

Cato, in the third century before Christ, recommends coriander as a seasoning; and Columella, in the first century of our era, and Palladius, in the third, direct its planting.

The plant was well known in Britain prior to the Norman conquest, and was carried to Massachusetts before 1670.

In China it can be identified in an agricultural treatise of the fifth century, and is classed as cultivated by later writers of the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. In Cochin China it is recorded as less grown than in China.

In India it is largely used by the natives as a condiment,  is grown at the Mauritius,  and has even reached Paraguay, and is in especial esteem for condimental purposes in some parts of Peru.

Coriander, called coryander and colander by Turner in 1538,  is called:
  • in France, coriandre ; 
  • in Germany, coriander ; 
  • in Flanders and Holland, koriander ;
  • in Denmark, koriander ; 
  • in Italy, coriandorlo ; 
  • in Spain, culantro, cilantro.
 The name is probably derived from the Greek koris, a bug, from the offensive smell of the leaves.
  • In Arabic, kouzbarak,  kuzeerah ;
  • in Bengali, dhnnya;
  • in Ceylon, cotumbaroo ; 
  • in Malay, mety ; 
  • in Persian, knshneez ; 
  • in Tamil and Telegu, cottamillie ; 
  • in Sanscrit, dunya, dhanyaca? 
Notwithstanding this extended period of cultivation, I find no indication of varieties under cultivation.
Merian, M., Der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft, (1646)

Corn. Zea mays L., var. saccharata. 

The history of sweet corn, so far as we have discovered it, is given in the American Naturalist for July, 1885.

It is first noticed in 1779.  In the "Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station" for 1884 I have described thirty-three sorts, and in the report for 1886 a new form collected from the Indians of Mexico is mentioned and partly described. This vegetable is grown far more in the United States than in Europe, and has become an object of field-culture for the supply of the canning industries.

The European names of sweet corn I do not find noted, except the mats sucre of the French. By Vilmorin the generic name of the species is applied to this variety in his synonymy.

The presence of three distinct types, varying not alone in appearance, but as well in their climatic adaptations, and the large number of varieties quite distinct in minor features, indicate a previous culture far more extended than appears in my recorded notes. It certainly does not seem reasonable to believe that sweet corn was confined until 1779 to North American aboriginal culture alone, and yet I have not even a clue that suggests otherwise.

Corn Salad. Valerianella olitoria Moench. (Synonyms -Valeriana locusta, Valerianella olitoria L.)

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.
It seems quite a variable plant in nature, but as long ago as 1623 Bauhin  records its variability in size, and occurring with narrow, broad, and entire leaves. It is described by Lobel  in 1576, and by Dalechamp  in 1587, as also by Camerarius in 1588, but 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 sower, in gardens as a sallad herbe." He figures two varieties. 

J. Bauhin  describes two sorts, and gives Tabemae- montanus as a witness that it was found in gardens as well as in fields and vineyards. Ray,  in 1686, quotes J. Bauhin only, and Chabraeus,  in 1677, describes it as grown in gardens as a salad herb. Worlidge in 1683, Meager  in 1683, Quintyne in 1693 and 1704, Townsend  in 1726, Stevenson  in 1765, Mawe  in 1778, Bryant  in 1783, — all refer to its culture in England. In France, according to Heuze, it 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. 
It was in American gardens previous to 1806.  Vilmorin describes four varieties, which are tolerably distinct. All these have blunt leaves.

The variety quite frequently distributed for American gardens is that which is figured by the herbalists as having pointed leaves, as, for instance, —
  • Phu minimum alterum. Lob., 1576,412; Lugd., 1587, 1127; 
  • Polypremnum. Lugd., 1587, 554; 
  • Lactuca agnina. Ger., 1597, 242; etc.
The round-leaved form, such as the mache ronde of Vilmorin, has its type figured by Dodonaeus in his "Pemptades," 1616, under the name of album olus.

 The names of the Corn salad, or Fetticus, or Lamb's lettuce, are,
  • in France, maclte commune, accroupie, barbe de chanoine, blanchette, blanquette, boursette, chuquette, clairette, coquille, doucette, gallinette, laitue de brebis, orillette, pommette, potde grasse, rampon (a Geneve), salade de ble, salade de chanoine, salade royale;
  • in Germany, ackersalat, feldsalat, lammersalat, mausohr, rabinschen, rapunzel, schafmaidchen;
  • in Flanders and Holland, koornsalad, veldsalad ; 
  • in Holland, veldsla
  • in Denmark, kropsalat ; 
  • in Italy, Valeriana, erba riccia, dolcetta, gallinelle, sarzet;
  • in Spain, canonigos ; 
  • in Portugal, herva benta ; 
  • in the Mauritius, mache, doucette 
Among the more ancient names are :
  • in Belgian, velt cropper, Lob., 1576; zvitmoes, veltecrop, elcerooge, Dod., 1616; gallo- belgian, sallade de chanoine, Lob., 1756; 
  • in English, lamb's lettuce, come sallade, Gerarde, 1597; 
  • in France, blanchette, potile grasse, Lugd., 1587; mache, " Le Jard. Solit," 1612. 
Illustrations below from Vilmorin,
where there is information on each variety and culture in general.

(To be continued.)