Borassus (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Edible plants of the world, 1919
Borassus (Sturtevant, 1919)

Borassus flabellifer Linn.


A common tree in a large part of Africa south of the Sahara and of tropical eastern Asia. The fruits, but still more the young seedlings, which are raised on a large scale for that purpose, are important as an article of food. Livingstone says the fibrous pulp around the large nuts is of a sweet, fruity taste and is eaten. The natives bury the nuts until the kernels begin to sprout; when dug up and broken, the inside resembles coarse potatoes and is prized in times of scarcity as nutritious food. During several months of the year, palm wine, or sura, is obtained in large quantities and when fresh is a pleasant drink, somewhat like champagne, and not at all intoxicating, though, after standing a few hours, it becomes highly so. Grant says on the Upper Nile the doub palm is called by the negroes m'voomo, and the boiled roots are eaten in famines by the Wanyamwezi.

The Palmyra palm is cultivated in India. The pulp of the fruit is eaten raw or roasted, and a preserve is made of it in Ceylon. The unripe seeds and particularly the young plant two or three months old are an important article of food. But the most valuable product of the tree is the sweet sap which runs from the peduncles, cut before flowering, and is collected in bamboo tubes or in earthern pots tied to the cut peduncle. Nearly all of the sugar made in Burma and a large proportion of that made in south India is the produce of this palm. The sap is also fermented into toddy and distilled. Drury says the fruit and fusiform roots are used as food by the poorer classes in the Northern Circars. Firminger says the insipid, gelatinous, pellucid pulp of the fruit is eaten by the natives but is not relished by Europeans. A good preserve may, however, be made from it and is often used for pickling.

Borbonia cordata Linn.


South Africa. At the Cape of Good Hope, in 1772, Thunberg found the country people making tea of the leaves.

Boscia senegalensis Lam.


African tropics. The seeds are eaten by the negroes of the Senegal.

Boswellia frereana Birdw.


Tropics of Africa. Though growing wild, the trees are carefully watched and even sometimes propagated. The resin is used in the East for chewing as is that of the mastic tree.

Boswellia serrata Roxb.


India. In times of famine, the Khnoods and Woodias live on a soup made from the fruit of this tree.

Botrychium virginianum Swartz.

Ophioglossaceae. RATTLESNAKE FERN.

This large, succulent fern is boiled and eaten in the Himalayas as well as in New Zealand.

Boucerosia incamata N. E. Br.


South Africa. The Hottentots eat it, says Thunberg, after peeling off the edges and prickles.

Bouea burmanica Griff.


Burma. The fruit is eaten, that of one variety being intensely sour, of another insipidly sweet.

Bourreria succulenta Jacq.

Boragineae. CURRANT TREE.

West Indies. The berries are the size of a pea, shining, saffron or orangecolored, pulpy, sweet, succulent and eatable.

Brabejum stellatifolium Linn.

Proteaceae. WILD CHESTNUT.

South Africa. Thunberg says the Hottentots eat the fruit of this shrub and that it is sometimes used by the country people instead of coffee, the outside rind being taken off and the fruit steeped in water to deprive it of its bitterness; it is then boiled, roasted and ground like coffee.

Brachistus solanaceus Benth. & Hook. f.


Nicaragua. This perennial merits trial culture on account of its large, edible tubers.

Brachystegia appendiculata Benth.


Tropical Africa. The seeds are eaten.

Brachystelma sp.?


South Africa. This genus furnishes edible roots in South Africa and those of some species are esteemed as a preserve by the Dutch inhabitants.

Brahea dulcis Mart.


Peru. This Mexican palm, called palma dulce and soyale, has a fruit which is a succulent drupe of a yellow color and cherry-size, sweet and edible.

Brahea serrulata H. Wendl.


Southern United States. A fecula was formerly prepared from the pith by the Florida Indians.

Brasenia schreberi J. F. Gmel.

Nymphaeaceae. WATER SHIELD.

India, Japan, Australia, Tropical Africa and North America. The tuberous root-stocks are collected by the California Indians for food.