Lens-Leptospermum (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Lens-Leptospermum (Sturtevant, 1919)

Lens esculenta Moench.

Leguminosae. LENTIL.

Orient. This was probably one of the first plants brought under cultivation by mankind for food. Lentils were known to the ancient Greeks, Jews and Egyptians. The cultivation of the lentil is very ancient, as it has been found in the Egyptian tombs of the twelfth dynasty, or 2200 to 2400 B. C. It has been found in the lacustrine debris of Switzerland dating from the age of bronze. Lentils are now cultivated extensively throughout most parts of the East, including Egypt, Nubia, Syria and India; likewise in most of the countries of central and southern Europe. Wilkinson states that in ancient Egypt much attention was bestowed on the culture of this useful pulse, and certain varieties became remarkable for their excellence, the lentils of Pelusium being esteemed both in Egypt and in foreign countries. In Egypt and Syria, the seeds are parched and sold in the shops. In France and Spain, there are three varieties cultivated; the small brown or red sort is preferred for haricots and soups, and the yellow lentil is readily convertible into flour and serves as the base of certain adulterated preparations. In England, lentils are but little cultivated, yet two varieties are named: the French, of an ash-gray color; the Egyptian, with a dark skin and of an orange-red color inside. In 1834, seeds of the lentil were distributed from the United States Patent Office.

Leonia glycycarpa Ruiz & Pav.


A tree of Peru, the fruit of which is called achocon. The fruits are the size of a peach, with a rough, netted skin and sweet pulp, which is eaten by the Peruvians and is much relished.

Leopoldinia major Wallace.

Palmae. JARA PALM.

Brazil. The Indians of the Rio Negro collect the fruit in large quantities and, by burning and washing, extract a floury substance which they use as a substitute for salt.

Lepidium diffusum DC.

Cruciferae. DITTANDER.

Louisiana. The plant is eatable as a water cress.

Lepidium draba Linn.


East Mediterranean countries. The plant is cooked and eaten in Cappadocia, and the seeds are substituted for pepper in seasoning.

Lepidium latifolium Linn.


A cress of Europe, north Africa, middle and north Asia. In Britain, this cress was much used as a pungent condiment before the various substances now employed for such purposes became cheap and hence the common name, poor man's pepper. It was sometimes called dittander, and under that name was cultivated in cottage gardens but is now almost entirely discarded as a culinary vegetable. Loudon says it has roots resembling horseradish, for which it may be used as a substitute, and the leaves are excellent as greens and for salads. Lightfoot mentions the use of the pungent leaves for salads, and Mueller says it is much used for some select sauces.

Lepidium oleraceum Forst. f.


New Zealand. This plant is found growing abundantly on the seashores. It is a good antiscorbutic and was eagerly sought after by early voyagers as a remedy for scurvy. The natives call it eketera. It is now cultivated in Britain as a potherb.

Lepidium piscidium Forst. f.


Pacific Islands. This is an extremely pungent cress eaten by seamen as a relish and antiscorbutic.

Lepidium sativum Linn.


Orient. De Candolle believes this plant to be a native of Persia, whence it may have spread into the gardens of India, Syria, Greece, Egypt and even as far as Abyssinia. It is said by Xenophon, about 400 B. C., to have been eaten by the Persians before they became acquainted with bread. Pliny, in the first century, speaks of the nasturtium as growing in Arabia, of a remarkable size. Cress finds frequent mention in the Greek and Latin authors. This plant has been cultivated in England since 1548 and is mentioned by Gerarde who says, "Galen saith that the Cresses may be eaten with bread Velutiobsonium and so the Ancient Spartans usually did; and the low-countrie men many times doe, who commonly use to feed of Cresses with bread and butter. It is eaten with other sallade herbes, as Tarragon and Rocket; and for this cause it is chiefly sown." In 1806, McMahon mentions three varieties for American gardens. The leaves while young have a warm, pungent taste and are now eaten as a salad, either separately or mixed with lettuce or other salad plants. The curled varieties are used for garnishing. Burr describes five varieties, and four types are now under culture; the common, the curled, the broad-leaved and the golden. The synonomy of these various types is as below, it being premised that the modern varieties vary somewhat in degree only:

  • Nasturtium hortense. Fuch. 362. 1542; Trag. 82. 1552; Pin. 221. 1561; Ger. 194. 1597; Dod. 711. 1616.
  • Gartenkress. Roezl. 188. 1550.
  • Nasturtium. Matth. 280. 1558; Lob. Obs. 107. 1576; Cam. Epit. 355. 1586; Matth. Op. 425. 1598; Chabr. 289. 1677.
  • Nasturtio. Pictorius Ed. Macer 75. 1581.
  • Nasturtium hortense commune. Bauh. Phytopin. 161. 1596.
  • Nasturtium hortense vulgatum. Baugh. Pin. 102. 1623.
  • Nasturtium vulgare. Baugh. J. 2:912. 1651.
  • Common Garden Cress. Ray 825. 1686; Vilm. 207. 1885.
  • Garden Cress. Townsend 1726.
  • Lepidium saticum. Linn. Sp. 899. 1763. 1807.
  • Common Small-Leaved. Mawe 1778.
  • Cresson alenois commun. Vilm. 194. 1883.

  • Nasturtium hortense crispum. Bauh. Phytopin. 161. 1596; Pin. 104. 1623.
  • Nasturtium hortense. Linn. Ger. 194. 1597.
  • Nasturtium crispum augustifolium. Matth. Op. 426. 1598.
  • Nasturtium crispum. Bauhin, Joh. Bauh., J. 2:913. 1651.
  • Nasturtium hortense crispum latifolium. Bauh.Prod.44. 1671.
  • Nasturtium hortense crispum angustifolium. Bauh. 43. 1671.
  • Nasturtium crispum. Chabr. 289. 1677.
  • Curled Cress. Ray 825. 1686; Townsend 1726; Stevenson 34. 1765; Bryant 103. 1783; McMahon 1806; Mill. Diet. 1807.
  • Lepidium sativum crispum. Linn. Sp. 899. 1763.
  • Cresson frise. L'Hort. Franc. 1824; Petit Diet. 1826.
  • Cresson alenois frise. Vilm. 195. 1883.
  • Curled, or Normandy, and Extra-Curled Dwarf. Vilm. 207. 1885.

  • Nasturtium. Cam. Epit. 335. 1586.
  • Nasturtium hortense latifolium. Bauh. Phytopin 160. 1596; Pin. 103. 1623.
  • Nasturtium latifolium dioscorideum. Bauh., J. 2:913. 1651.
  • Nasturtium latifolium. Chabr. 289. 1677.
  • Broad-Leaved Garden Cress. Ray 825. 1686; Vilm. 207. 1885.
  • Broad-Leaved. Townsend 1726; Stevenson 34. 1765; Mawe 1778; McMahon 1806; Mill. Diet. 1807.
  • Lepidium latifolium. Linn. Sp. 899. 1763.
  • Cresson a larges feuilles. L'Hort. Franc. 1824; Petit 1826.
  • Cresson alenois a large feuille. Vilm. 195. 1893.

  • Cresson dore. Petit 1826; Noisette 1829.
  • Golden. Hort. Trans. 6:583. 1826; Burr 343. 1863; Vilm. 208. 1885.
  • Cresson alenois dore. Vilm. 195. 1883. It appears as if the types of the modern varieties have not changed through culture, as three are quite ancient, and the fourth is but an ordinary variation of a pale yellowish-green color. Curled cress seems to have been first observed by J. Bauhin, who furnished his brother, C. Bauhin, with seed preceding 1596.

Leptadenia lancifolia Decne.


Tropical Africa. The natives of the Upper Nile make spinach of its flowers and tender shoots.

Leptospermum pubescens Lam.

Myrtaceae. TEA TREE.

Tasmania and southeastern Australia. The leaves were used by the early settlers as a tea substitute.

Leptospermum scoparium Forst.


Australia. The leaves were used by Captain Cook in his second voyage as a tea and are reported as furnishing a beverage of a very agreeable, bitter flavor, when the leaves were fresh.