Rheum-Rhopalostylis (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Rheum-Rhopalostylis (Sturtevant, 1919)

Rheum compactum Linn.

Polygonaceae. PIEPLANT. RHUBARB.

Tartary and China; first known in Europe in, 1758. In the Bon Jardinier, 1882, this is said to be the species principally grown in France as a vegetable, but Vilmorin refers his varieties to Rheum hybridum.

Rheum emodi Wall.


Himalayas. This species was introduced into Britain about 1828. It is said by London to have an excellent flavor, somewhat resembling that of apples, and is excellent for a late crop, and the Bon Jardinier, 1882, says the petioles are longer and more esteemed than those of other species. On the contrary, Burr, 1863, says the leaf-stalks, although attaining an immense size, are unfit for use on account of their purgative properties, but the plant is sometimes cultivated for its leaves, often a yard in diameter, which are useful for covering baskets containing vegetables or fruit. The wild rhubarb about Kabul is blanched for use as a vegetable and, under the name of rewash, is brought to the market. Gravel is piled about the sprout as it breaks from the earth, and by continuing the process, the plant is forced to grow to the height of 18 or 20 inches. Another process is to cover the plant with an earthen jar, and the sprout then curls itself spirally within the jar and becomes white, crisp and free from fiber. It is eaten in its raw state with either salt or sugar and makes a favorite preserve.

Rheum hybridum Murr.


Mongolia. This is the species to which our largest and finest varieties are usually referred. Rhubarb was first noticed in England in 1773 or 1774 but it did not come into use as a culinary plant until about 1827. In 1829, a footstalk was noted as sixteen inches long. The Victoria rhubarb of our gardens is referred to this species.

Rheum nobile Hook. f. & Thorns.


Himalayas. This is a handsome ornamental plant. The stems, called chuka by the people of Sikkim, are pleasantly acid and much eaten.

Rheum palmatum Linn.


Mongolia. This plant first reached Europe in 1763 or 1758. The footstalks are much smaller than those of other kinds, hence it is not in general cultivation. It is yet rare in France, although this species is superior in quality, as it is quite tender.

Rheum rhaponticum Linn.


Southern Siberia and the region of the Volga. This species, the commonest of the rhubarbs, was introduced into Europe about 1608. It was cultivated at Padua by Prosper Alpinus, and seeds from this source were planted by Parkinson in England about 1640 or before. There is no reference, however, to its use as a vegetable by Alpinus, 1627, nor by Ray,8 1686, although the latter refers to the acid stalks being more grateful than that of garden sorrel. In 1778, however, Mawe, says its young stalks in spring, being cut and peeled, are used for tarts. In 1806, McMahon, mentions rhubarb in American gardens and says the footstalks are very frequently used and are much esteemed for tarts and pies. In 1733, Bryant, describes the footstalks as two feet long and thicker than a man's finger at the base.

"Thirty years ago," says J. Lowell in the Massachusetts Agricultural Repository, 1822, "we were strangers to rhubarb, now in general use and constantly in our markets, and we are indebted for its introduction to an amateur in the State of Maine." T. S. Gold " of Connecticut writes that his father purchased a small package of pieplant seeds in 1820 and raised the first plants then known in his vicinity. The seed was sold by Thorburn in 1828. The globular pouch of unopened flowers is said to form a dish of great delicacy. Stalks weighing two pounds, eleven and one-half ounces have been exhibited at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Rheum ribes Linn.


Syria, Persia and Afghanistan. This plant is considered to be the Ribes arabum of Rauwolf, who traveled in the Orient in 1573-5, and who found it in the region of the Lebanon. Its habitat is also given as eastern Persia. Decaisne and Naudin refer to it as grown in gardens in France but not as esteemed as the R. hybridzim, while the Bon Jardinier, 1882, says it is reported the best as an esculent and is greatly praised.

Rheum tataricum Linn. f.


Tartary. The leaf-stalks and unexpanded flower-masses are edible.

Rheum undulatum Linn.


Asia. This species is said to have been introduced into Europe in 1734 from China. It yields some of the forms of garden rhubarb, especially those with red leaf-stalks. In 1810, a Mr. Myatts, Deptford, England, sent five bunches of garden rhubarb to the borough market and could sell but three. In the United States in 1828, the seed of this variety was sold by Thorburn. Decaisne and Naudin say this rhubarb is grown in gardens but is not as esteemed as is the Victoria rhubarb.

Rhizophora mucronata Lam.

Rhizophoreae. MANGROVE.

Old World tropics. The fruit is said to be edible. Masters says the fermented juice is made into a kind of light wine.

Rhododendron arboreum Sm.


East Indies, Himalayan region and Ceylon. In India, the flowers are made into a pleasant, subacid jelly. They are at times intoxicating. Royle says the flowers are eaten by the Hill People and are used for jelly by European visitors.

Rhododendron lapponicum Wahlenb.


Northern and arctic regions. Richardson n says an infusion of the leaves and flowering tops was drunk by his party as a tea but it makes a less grateful beverage than Ledum palustre.

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa Wight.


Tropical eastern Asia and the Malayan Archipelago. In India, this species is found amongst the jungles of the Neilgherries. Firminger says the fruit, a pale, dirty yellow berry, is used for jellies. In China, Pickering says the fruit is eaten and preserved.

Rhodymenia palmata Grev.


This seaweed is the dulse of the Scotch and the dillisk of the Irish. It is much eaten in both countries, as well as in most of the northern states of Europe, by the poor along the shores and is transmitted as an article of humble luxury over most parts of the country. It is generally eaten raw, either fresh from the sea or after having been dried, but is sometimes cooked. It is exposed for sale in the markets of Irish towns and also in the Irish quarters of New York. In the Mediterranean, it forms a common ingredient in soups.

Rhopalostylis sapida H. Wendl. & Drude.

Palmae. NIKA PALM.

New Zealand. The natives eat the young inflorescence.