Psophocarpus-Pyrularia (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Psophocarpus-Pyrularia (Sturtevant, 1919)

Psophocarpus tetragonolobus DC.

Leguminosae. GOA BEAN.

This plant is grown in India for the sake of its edible seeds and also for use as a string bean. The pod is six to eight inches long, half an inch wide, with a leafy kind of fringe running along the length of its four corners. The pod is cooked whole and, says Firminger, is a vegetable of little value. Wight calls it a passable vegetable. In the Mauritius, the plant is called po'is carres and is cultivated for the seeds. In Burma and the Philippines, the pods are eaten. Pickering says it is a native of equatorial Africa and says "the kidney beans of the finest quality," observed by Cada Mosto in Senegal in 1455, belong here.

Psoralea californica S. Wats.


California. The tuberous roots are eaten by the Piutes.

Psoralea canescens Michx.

Southern states of North America. This plant has esculent roots.

Psoralea castorea S. Wats.

Colorado to California. The roots afford food to the Piute Indians.

Psoralea esculenta Pursh.


Upper Missouri and Rocky Mountain region. This root is a special luxury to the Indians of Kansas and Nebraska, and the Sioux use it very extensively. It is eaten roasted while fresh or carefully dried and stored for winter use. The stringy, dry and tough roots are eaten by the Cree Indians of the northwest, either raw or roasted.

Psoralea glandulosa Linn.


Chile. The roots are dried and smoked. The plant has been introduced into the Mauritius where the leaves are used as a tea substitute. In Chile, it is called culen.

Psoralea hypogaea Nutt.

North America. The tubers are edible.

Psoralea subacaulis Torr. & Gray.

Tennessee. The plant has edible roots.

Ptelea trifoliata Linn.


Eastern United States. The fruit, a winged seed, is bitter and has been used as a substitute for hops.

Pteris aquilina Linn.

Polypodiaceae. BRACKEN. BRAKE.

Northern regions. The rhizomes, says Lindley, have been used as a substitute for hops and furnish a wretched bread. Pickering says it is enumerated by Epicharnus as edible. Lightfoot says the people of Normandy have sometimes been compelled to subsist on bread made of brake roots. In 1683, says Lacombe, such was the destitution in some districts of France that the Abbe Grandel writes "some of the inhabitants are living upon bread made of ferns;" and in 1745 the Duke of Orleans, giving Louis XV a piece of bread made of fern, said, "Sire, this is what your subjects live upon." In Siberia, says Johnson, the rhizomes are employed with about two-thirds their weight of malt for brewing a kind of beer. The brake is enumerated by Thunberg among the edible plants of Japan, and Bohmer says the young shoots are much prized by the Japanese. The fronds are gathered when still undeveloped and used in soups. The roots serve the inhabitants of Palma and Gomera for food, as Humboldt states; they grind them to powder, mix with barley meal and this composition, when boiled, is called gofio. In 1405, Betancon found the people of the Canaries in Ferro living on fern roots, " as for grain they had none; their bread was made of fern roots;" it was the only edible root of Palma when Europeans first visited the island. Professor Brewer says that the young, tender shoots are boiled by the California miners and eaten like asparagus, being found mucilaginous and palatable. The fronds of the brake are used as a potherb in New England. Everywhere in Vancouver Island and the neighboring country, says R. Brown, the Indians gather the roots and boil and eat them as food and they look upon them as a great luxury.

Pteris esculenta.


The root is universally eaten by the Maoris of New Zealand. To these roots, the natives of New South Wales have resource whenever their sweet potatoes or maize crops fail. In the Voyage of the Novara, these roots are said to have formed the chief subsistence of the Maoris before the introduction of the potato and to have been called raoras.

Pterocarya caucasica C. A. Mey.


Orient. The plant produces an edible nut.

Pueraria thunbergiana Benth.


China and Japan. The roots are fleshy and yield a starch of excellent quality. The wild plants are dug for their roots. The roots contain starch, while the leaves and shoots are used as food.

Pueraria tuberosa DC.

Tropical India and Burma. Brandis1 says the large, tuberous roots are eaten.

Pulicaria odora Reichb.


South Europe. In Yemen, this species is cultivated for its pleasant odor and edible leaves.

Pulmonaria officinalis Linn.


Europe. Gerarde 3 says the leaves are used among potherbs.

Punica granatum Linn.

Lythrarieae. POMEGRANATE.

Asia Minor, Armenia, central Caucasus and the Himalayas. The pomegranate is of very ancient culture in Palestine, Persia, northern India and has been distributed eastward to northern China. On account of the profusion of its seeds, it was with the ancients a mystical fruit, typifying procreation, increase and abundance. Yet seedless fruits from Djillalabad are enumerated by Harlan as among the fruits in the market at Kabul. Sir A. Bames mentions a famous pomegranate without seeds grown in gardens near the Kabul River, and in 1860 cuttings from a seedless variety from Palestine were distributed as a much esteemed variety from the United Patent Office. Burnes, in his Travels in Bokhara, remarks on the pomegranate seeding in Mazenderan as a remarkable peculiarity. According to Athenaeus, Aphrodite first planted the pomegranate on Cyprus and in Greece. The fancy of the Greeks derived this fruit from the blood of Dionysius Zagreus. The pomegranate was known in Egypt and was cultivated even in the time of Moses. It was raised in the gardens about Carthage. Darius Hystaspes, according to Herodotus, ate of its fruit. Homer mentions the pomegranate as present in the gardens of Alcinous. The Romans brought it from Carthage to Italy, for which reason they call its fruits mala punica. Pliny enumerates nine different kinds and these at the present day have increased greatly. The pomegranate is now found growing wild in the southern Tyrol, southern Switzerland, as also in Spain, southern France and Greece. The pomegranate was observed by Wm. Bartram, about 1773, growing out of the ruins of Frederica, Georgia, and it now thrives everywhere on the Gulf coast of Florida. It was mentioned as found in California by Father Baegert, 1751-1768. There are many varieties, some with sour, others with subacid, others with sweet fruit. These are generally described as about the size of the fist, with a tough, leathery rind of a beautiful, deep golden color tinged with red and are crowned with the remains of the calyx lobes. The wild fruit is brought down to India from the Hill Regions for sale, but the best fruit, that having sweet juice and very small seeds, comes from Kabul. Burton describes in Arabia three kinds: Shami, red outside, and very sweet—than which he never saw a finer fruit in the East, except at Mecca — it was almost stoneless, deliciously perfumed and as large as an infant's head; Turki, large, and of a white color; Misri, with a greenish rind and a somewhat subacid and harsh flavor.

Pyrularia edulis A. DC.


Himalayan region. This is a large tree whose drupaceous fruit is used for food. The fruit is eaten by the natives.

Pyrularia pubera Michx.


Pennsylvania to Georgia. The plant yields an edible fruit, according to Unger.