Monday, July 11, 2016

1888 - Kohl-rabi to Lettuce - Part 12 of Sturtevant's History of Garden Vegetables

Published November 1, 1888

 (Continued from page 808.)

 Kohl-rabi. Brassiea oleracea caulo-rapa, D C.
It is now found as Brassica oleracea Gongylodes Group if you are looking it up.
I FIND no certain identification of this race in the ancient writings.
The bunidia of Pliny seems rather to be the ruta baga, as he says it is between a radish and a rape.
The goggulis of Theophrastus and Galen seems also to be the rutabaga, for Galen says the root contained within the earth is hard, unless cooked.    

In 1558 Matthiolus speaks of the kohl-rabi as having lately came into Germany from Italy. Between 1573 and 1575 Rauwolf saw it in the gardens of Tripoli and Aleppo.  Lobel in 1570, Camerarius in 1586, Dalechamp  in 1587, and other of the older botanists, all figure or describe it as under European culture.

 This plant, in the view of some writers, is a cross between the cabbage and the rape, and many of the names applied to it convey this idea. This view is probably a mistaken one, as the plant in its sportings under culture tends to the form of the marrow cabbage, from which it is probably a derivation.

 In 1884, in two plants in pots in the greenhouse, I had good kohl-rabi bulbs, and one of these extended itself until it became a marrow cabbage, and when planted out in the spring attained its growth as a marrow cabbage. This idea of its origin finds countenance in the figures of the older botanists, thus Camerarius, in 1586, figures a plant as a kohl-rabi which in all essential points resembles a marrow cabbage, being tapering from a small stem into a long kohl-rabi, with a flat top like the marrow cabbage.

 The figures given by Lobel, in 1591, Dodonseus,  in 1616, and Bodseus,  in 1644, when compared with Camerarius' figure, suggest the marrow cabbage.

A long highly improved form, not now under culture, is figured by Gerarde in 1597, J. Bauhin,  in 1651, and Chabreeus,  in 1677, and the modern form is given by Gerarde, and by Matthiolus  in 1598.   A very unimproved form, out of harmony with the other figures, is given by Dalechamp,  in 1587, and Castor Durante,  in 1617.

This synonymy can be tabulated in order as below: 

 1. Caulorapum. Cam. epit., 1586, 251.

2. Rapa, Br. peregrina, caule rapum gerens. Lob. ic, 1591, 246.
    Br. caule rapum gerens. Dod. pempt., 1616, 625.
    Rapa brassica. Bodseus, 1644, 777.

3. Caulo rapum longum. Ger., 1597, 250. 3. 
    Br. caulorapa. J. Bauh., 1651, ii., 830. 
    Br. caulorapa sive Rapo caulis. Chabr., 1677, 270.

4. Caulorapum rotundum. Ger., 1597, 250. 
    Brassica gongylodes. Matth. op., 1598, 367.

5. Brassica raposa. Lugd., 1587, 522. 
    Bradica raposa. Cast. Dur., 1617, app. 

 Matthiolus, as we have stated, says the plant came into Germany from Italy ; Pena and Lobel say it came from Greece ; Gerarde, that it groweth in Italy, Spain and Germany, from whence he received seeds. 

These excerpts indicate a southern origin for this vegetable, and the marrow cabbages are very sensitive to cold. The more highly improved forms, as figured in our synonymy, are in authors of northern or central Europe, while the unimproved forms are given by more southern writers. This indicates that the present kohl-rabi received its development in northern countries. 

 The varieties now grown are the white and purple, in early and late forms, the curled leaf, or Neapolitan, and the artichoke-leaved. One, at least, was in American gardens as early as 1806, and the rest appear before 1863.

The nomenclature of this plant is deserving of attention, from the presence of foreign words, for which its history seems to afford but little justification. The kohl-rabi, Turnip-rooted cabbage, Arabian, cole rape, cole turnip, Cape cabbage, or Hungarian turnip, is called

  • in France choux-raves, chou de Siam, boule de Siam
  • in Germany, oberkohlrabi; 
  • in Flanders, raapkool; 
  • in Holland, koolraapen boven den grond
  • in Denmark, overjordisk kohlrabi, kundekaal; 
  • in Italy, cavolo rapa, torsi; 
  • in Spain, col rabanho; 
  • in Portugal, couve rabano, couve de Siam; 
  • in Norway, overjords-kaalrabi
  • in India, ole hole, or gool jur ka kuhun. 

Lavender. Lavandula vera D C.

 Lavender is sometimes grown for the use of the leaves as a condiment, but more often for the flowers, which find use in perfumery; but we have never heard of its being grown on a large scale in the United States, although it was in garden culture in 1806. 

 Its present growing is doubtless very insignificant. There is no satisfactory identification of lavender in the writings of the ancients, although it seems to have been well known to the botanists of the sixteenth century, and the use of the perfume was indicated as early as the fourteenth century, and as a medicine even in the twelfth century.

Its seed was in English seedsmen's lists of 1726, for garden culture. 

Lavender is called -  
in France lavande, aspic, lavande femelle ; 
in Germany, lavendel, spike; 
in Flanders, lavendel; 
in Denmark, lavendel; 
in Italy, lavanda; 
in Spain, espliego 

Lavandula spica L., a more southern species, is confounded with the above in cultivation, and is also cultivated on a large scale for purposes of distillation.

Mawe, in 1778, named four varieties,

  • the narrow-leaved with blue flowers,
  • the narrow-leaved with white flowers, 
  • the broad-leaved and 
  • the Dwarf. 

This vegetable was the prason of the ancient Greeks, the porrum of the Romans, who distinguished two kinds, the eapitatum, or leek, and the sectilis, or chives, perhaps, although Columella,  Pliny  and Palladius  indicate these as forms of the same plant brought about through difference of culture, the chive-like form being produced by thick planting. They seem to have been very popular at Rome. 

In Europe the leek was generally known throughout the middle ages, and in the earlier botanies some of the figures of the leek represent the two kinds of planting alluded to by the Roman writers. In England, in 1726, Townsend  says that "leeks are mightily used in the kitchen for broths and sauces.

When they reached America I do not find recorded, but prior to 1775 they were grown at Mobile, Ala., and were cultivated by the Choctaw Indians.  The leek may vary considerably by culture, and often attains quite a large size ; one with the blanched portion a foot long and nine inches in circumference, and the leaf fifteen inches in breadth and three feet in length, has been recorded. 

Vilmorin  described eight varieties in 1883, but
some of these are scarcely distinct.
 (These 6 are reasonably different,
especially if you are a leek aficionado.)


The leek, or porret,  is called: 
in France poireau, poiree, poirette, porreau
in Flanders and Holland, prei
in Germany, lauoh, porree
in Denmark, porre ; 
in Italy, porro ; 
in Spain, puerro ;
 in Portugal, alho porro ; 
in Greece, to prasa ; 
in Sweden, puris ; 
in Russia, pros; 
in Norway, purre. 
In Arabic, karrat or Jcour- nas; 
in Bengali, puroo ;
in Egypt, korrat
in India, kundaneh, zalook or puroo
in Persian, gundena

 This species is supposed by authors to be a cultivated form of Allium ampeloprasum L. 

 Lentil. Ervum lens L.

The cultivation of the Lentil is very ancient, as it has been found in the Egyptian tombs of the twelfth dynasty, or 2,200 to 2,400 B.C.

It has also been found in the lacustrine debris of Switzerland dating from the age of bronze.  Its culture was well known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and has been continued through the middle ages to the present time. New word for me..."lacustrineof, relating to, or associated with lakes".

 Bauhin,  in 1623 names a large and a small sort, the seed reddish, pale yellow, White, tawny and black, and Vilmorin,  in 1883, describes four varieties for garden culture. 

Its seed is used in soups and stews, and the culture is of more importance in the warmer regions. Lentils are recorded by Burr,  in 1863, for American use; but much of the seed found exposed for sale in groceries is imported. 
The lentil is called:
in France lentille, arousse, aroufle;

in Germany, linse;

in Flanders and Holland, linze; 

in Denmark, lindse ; 

in Italy, lente, lenticchia; 

in Spain, lenteja; 

in Portugal, lentilha.

In Arabic, a'ds ;

in Egypt, adz ;

in India, mussoor ;

in Sanscrit, mussoora ;

in Latin, lens ;

in Slav, lesha ;

in Illyrian, lechja ;

in Lithuanian, lenszic;

the Greeks, fakos or fakai;
the Berbers, ades. 

 Lettuce. Lactuca sativa L.
(I have to confess I am not looking too hard for lettuce art as I plan to post Sturtevants paper on lettuce, in which he goes into greater detail.)

This, the best of all salad plants, as a cultivated plant has a high antiquity.  

It is evident, by an anecdote related by Herodotus, that it appeared at the royal tables of the Persian kings about 550 B.C.    The medicinal properties as a food-plant was noted by Hippocrates, 2430 B.C.,   praised by Aristotles, 356 B.C.,    and the species described by Theophrastus, 322 B.C., Dioscorides, 60 A.D., and mentioned by Galen,  164 A.D., who gives an idea of a very general use. 

Among the Romans it was very popular. Columella, A.D. 42, describes the Caecilian, Cappadocian, Cyprian and Tartesan.   Pliny, A.D. 79, enumerates the alba, Caecilian, Cappadocian, crispa, Graeca, Laconicon, nigra, purpurea and rubens.  Palladius,  210 A.D., implies varieties, and mentions the process of blanching.   Martial, A.D. 101, gives to the lettuces of Cappadocia the term viles, or cheap, implying abundance.

In China its presence can be identified in the fifth century.  In England, Chaucer, about 1340, uses the word in his prologue, "well loved he garlic, onions and lettics," and it is likewise mentioned by Turner,  in 1538, who spells the word lettuse. It is mentioned as cultivated in Isabella Island, in 1494, by Peter Martyr,  as also in Mexico at a later date; is noted as abundant in Hayti in 1565,  etc. 

In the report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for 1885, eighty-seven varieties are fully described with 585 names or synonyms. Vilmorin describes, in 1883, one hundred and thirteen kinds as distinct.

The number of varieties named by various writers at various times are as follows:
(This is an interesting way to look at lettuce history!, showing cultural preferences.)
For France,
  • in 1612, six; 
  • in 1690, twenty-one; 
  • in 1829, forty; 
  • in 1883, one hundred and thirteen. 
For Holland, 
  • in 1720, forty-seven. 
For England, 
  • in 1597, six; 
  • in 1629, nine; 
  • in 1726, nine; 
  • in 1763, fifteen; 
  • in 1765, eighteen; 
  • in 1807, fourteen. 
In America, 
  • in 1806, sixteen; 
  • in 1885, eighty-seven. 

The cabbage and cos lettuces are the sorts now principally grown, but various other kinds, such as the curled, are frequently, and the sharp-leaved, oak-leaved, etc., occasionally, as novelties. In this large class, I shall content myself with offering the synonymy of a few of the varieties now known, and which shall indicate the antiquity of our cultivated types.   

The Lanceolate-leaved Type
  • Lactuca longifolia. Bauh. phytopin., 1596, 200.
  • Lattuga franzese. Cast. Dur., 1617, 244, cum ic. 
  • Lactuca folio oblongo acuto. Bauh. pin., 1623, 125; prod., 1671, 60, cum ic. 
  • Lactuca longo at valde angusto folio. J. Bauh.,1651, ii.,999, cum ic.; Chabr.,1677, 313, cum ic. 
  • Deer Tongue. Greg., 1883. 

The Cos Type
 Pena and Lobel, in 1570, say that this form is but rarely grown in France and Germany, although
common in the gardens of Italy; and Heuze  says it was brought from Rome to France by Rabelais in 1537. 

  •  Lactura florescens. Cam. epit., 1586, 299, cum ic. 
  •  Lactuca intybacea, Lombard Lettuce. Ger., 1597, 240, cum ic.  (illustration to right)
  •  Lactuca foliis endivise. Matth. op., 1598, 399, cum ic. 
  •  Lactuca Romana louga dulcis. J. Bauh., 1651, ii., 998, cum ic. ; Chabr., 1677, 313, cum ic. 
  •  La Romaine. Le Jard. Solit., 1612. 
  •  Romaines. Vil„ 1883, 307. 

We can reasonably believe the lettuce of Camerarius to be very close to the Florence Cos. The Lombard lettuce was grown as a sport in the garden of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station, in 1886, and the figures by Bauhin and Chabraeus may well be the Paris Cos. 

I would not be understood, however, as implying that these figures represent the improved forms of our present culture, but as the prototypes from which our plants have appeared, as shown not only by resemblance of leaf form, but through the study of variables in the garden. 

Ray, in 1686, describes the Cos as having light green and dark green varieties, and these, as well as the Spotted Cos, are indicated by Bauhin in 1623.

The Headed Lettuce. 

 This is the sort commonly grown, and the figures given in the sixteenth century indicate that the heading habit was even then firmly established. 

We have the following synonyms to offer, premising that types are referred to, and not exact variety resemblance : —


  •  Lactuca crispa. Matth., 1558, 264 ; Pin., 1561, 195. 
  •  Lattuga. Cast. Dur., 1617, 243. 
  •  Laroyale? Le Jard. Solit., 1612; Quintyne, 1690, etc. 
  •  Laitve Blonde de Berlin, syn. Laitve royale. Vil., 1883, 295. 
  •  Berlin. 


  •  Lactuca sativa sessilis sive capitata. Lob. ic, 1591, i., 242. 
  •  Lactuca capitata. Bod., 1616, 645. 
  •  Very Early Dwarf Green. 


  •  Lactuca. Cam. epit., 1586, 298.  
  •  Lactuca capitata. Ger., 1597, 240. 
  •  Lactuca crispa. Matth. op., 1598, 399. 
  •  Batavians. Vil., 1883. d. Lattich. Roszlin, i550, 167. 
  •  Green Fringed.    This latter identification is from the appearance of the young plant. The old plant is remarkably different, forming a true rosette. 

Cutting and Miscellaneous. 


  • Lactuca crispa altera. Ger., 1597, 240. 
  • Lactuca crispa et tenuiter dissecta. J. Bauh., 1651, ii., 1000; Chabr., 1677,314. 
  • Curled Cutting.

  •  Lactuca foliis querni. Bay, 1686, 219.
  •  Oak-leaved.

  • Capitatam cum pluribus capitibus. J. Bauh., 1651, ii., 998; Chabr., 1677, 313.  
  • Egyptian Sprouting. 

The minor variations which are now separated into varieties did not receive the same recognition in former times, the same variety  name covering what now would be several varieties; thus Quintyne, in 1693, calls perpignans both a green and a pale form, etc.   Green, light green, dark green, red and spotted lettuces are named in the old botanies; hence we cannot assert any new types have appeared in modern culture. 

 The generic names of the lettuce in the various languages are : 
  • in Greek, thridahine, thridakinos, thridax hemeros; 
    I want this! 
  • in Latin, Lactuca
  • in France, laitue cultivee
  • in Germany, lattich; 
  • in Flanders and Holland, latouw; 
  • in Denmark, salat; 
  • in Italy, lattuga; 
  • in Spain, leehuga, ensiam; 
  • in Portugal, alface; 
  • in Sweden, Denmark and Russia, lalduk;
  • in Norway, salat ;
  • in Arabic, Mass  or khus;
  •  in Ceylon, salada;
  • in China, ye tsai, kiu,  sheng-tsai, pai-ku;
  • in Cochin China, rau, diep tau;
  • in Egypt, chaff
  • in Hindustani, kahoo; 
  • in India, kahoo; 
  • in Japan, hantats, futsu kusa, too ts:isa.