Spinacia-Stemona (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Spinacia-Stemona (Sturtevant, 1919)

Spinacia oleracea Linn.

Chenopodiaceae. SPINACH.

Cultivated everywhere. Spinach appears to have been introduced into Europe through Spain by the Mauro-Spaniards. According to Beckman, the first notice of its use as an edible in Europe occurs in 1351 in a list of vegetables used by monks on fast days, but, in the Nabataean agriculture in Spain, in the twelfth century, Ibn-al-Awam speaks of it as a prince of vegetables. Albertus Magnus, who lived in Germany and died in the year 1280, knew the prickly-seeded form, and the Ortus Sanitatis of 1511 figures spinach and gives a Greek name aspenach. It was also well known to Agricola in 1539. In England, the name spynoches occurs in a cook book of 1390, compiled under the name of The Forme of Cury for the use of the court of King Richard the Second; in 1538, spinach is spoken of by Turner in his Libellus as well known in England and, in 1536 by Ruellius, as if well known in France. These dates are interesting, as De Candolle calls it new to Europe in the sixteenth century and other authors date its first mention in England as not preceding 1568. The smooth-seeded spinach is described by Tragus in 1552. According to Sprengel, spinach is noticed by Crescentius in the thirteenth century and is badly figured in the Ortus Sanitatis, edition of 1491. According to Bretschneider, spinach is noticed in a Chinese work on husbandry of the seventh or eighth century. There is no early notice of its introduction into America, but, in 1806, three varieties were known to our gardens.

Two races are now known in American gardens; one with prickly seed, and the other with smooth seed. These have been described as follows:

  • Spinacia spinosa Moench.
  • Spinachia. Alb. Mag. 13thCent. Jessen Ed. 563; Fuchsius. 666. cum ic. 1542; Dod. 619. cum ic. 1616.
  • Binetach, Spinat, Spinacia. Roeszl. cum ic. 1550.
  • Olus hispanicus. Trag. 325. cum ic. 1552.
  • Spinacia. Matth. 342. cum ic. 1570; Lob. Obs. 129. 1576. cum ic. 1591; ic. l:257. 1591: Dalechamp 544 cum ic. 1587; Ger. 260. cum ic. 1597.
  • Spanachum. Cam. Epit. 245. cum ic. 1586.
  • Lapathum hortense alterum, sue Spinacia semine spinoso. Bauh. Phytopin.
  • Spinachia was. Bauh, J. 2; 964. cum ic. 1651.
  • Spinacia oleraceae. Linn. var. A. Linn. Sp. 2d ed. 1456.
  • Epinard d'Angleterre. Vilm. 203. 1883.
  • Large Prickly or Winter Spinage. Vilm. 533. 1885.

  • Spinacia inermis Moench.
  • Spinachia nobilis. Trag. 324. 1552.
  • Lapathum hortense alterum Spinacia, semine non spinoso. Bauh. Phytopin. 184. 1596.
  • Spinacia II. Ger. 260. 1597.
  • Spinachia foemina. Bauh. J. 2:964. 1651.
  • Spinachia semine non pungente, folio major e rotundiore. Ray 162. 1686; Chabr. 303. cum ic. 1677.
  • Spinacia glabra. Mill. Diet. 1733.
  • Spinacia oleracea. Linn. var. B. Linn. Sp. 1456. 1762.
  • Epinards a graine ronde. Vilm. 204. 1883.
  • Round-seeded Spinage. Vilm. 534. 1885.

Spinach was in American gardens in 1806. But one variety of the prickly-seeded is described by Vilmorin and five of the smooth-seeded form.

Spiraea filipendula Linn.


Europe and northern Asia; common in gardens in the United States. Linnaeus says the roots have been eaten by men instead of bread.

Spondias lutea Linn.


Cosmopolitan tropics. At Tahiti, says Ellis, the vi, or Brazilian plum, is an abundant and excellent fruit of an oval or oblong shape and bright yellow color. In form and taste, it somewhat resembles a Magnum Bonum plum but is larger and, instead of a stone, has a hard and spiked core containing a number of seeds. Firminger says its appearance is very inviting, as is also its exquisite fragrance, resembling that of the quince; to the taste, however, it is very acid, with a flavor like that of an exceedingly bad mango. This is the Jew plum of Mauritius. Lunan says the fruit is purple, yellow, or variegated; pulp sweet, slightly acidulated, yellow, thin, having a singular but not unpleasant taste and a sweet smell. It varies somewhat in form. The seed scarcely ever ripens, but the tree is readily increased by cuttings, and if a branch laden with young fruit be set in the ground it will grow and the fruit will come to maturity. Masters says the flower-buds are used as a sweetmeat with sugar.

Spondias mangifera Willd.


Tropical Asia. The fruit, when, largest, is of the size of a goose egg, of a rich olive-green, mottled with yellow and black, with but a trifling degree of scent and none of the quince-like odor of the other species. The inner part nearest the rind is rather acid; that being removed, the part nearest the stem is sweet and eatable, but withal it is not an agreeable fruit. Brandis says the ripe fruit has an astringent acid and turpentine taste but is eaten and pickled.

Spondias purpurea Linn.


Tropical America; cultivated in the northern regions of the tropical parts of Brazil. This fruit has very recently been introduced at Jacksonville, Florida, under the name of Spanish plum. Lunan says the fruits are yellow with sometimes a slight mixture of redness, sweet smelling, covered with a thin skin, the size of a pigeon's egg, having within a little sweetish, acidulous pulp and a very large nut; eaten by some. The natives, says Unger, eat the sweetish, acid flesh, prepare a sauce and manufacture a drink from it.

Spondias tuberosa Arruda.

Brazil. The fruit is about twice the size of a large gooseberry, of an oblong shape and of a yellowish color when ripe; beneath its coriaceous skin there is a juicy pulp of a pleasant, sweetish-acid taste. The fruit is fit to eat only when it is so ripe as to fall to the ground, when a large quantity may be eaten without inconvenience.

Stachys affinis Fresen.


Egypt and Arabia. This plant was introduced into cultivation by Vilmorin-Andrieux et Cie. in 1886. The roots are thick and fleshy and are useful for pickles and may be used fried. According to Bretschneider, the roots were eaten as a vegetable in China in the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries and are described as a cultivated vegetable by Chinese writings of 1640 and 1742. The species is a cultivated vegetable in Japan and is called choro-gi, and is esteemed.

Stachys heraclea All.

Southern Europe. Archer says the leaves and stems, shown at the International Exhibition of 1862 as a tea substitute, are used by the modern Greeks and are believed to be the sideritis of the ancients.

Stachys palustris Linn.


Northern climates. Lightfoot says the roots have been eaten in times of necessity, either boiled or dried and made into bread. Henfrey says the fleshy, subterranean rhizomes are sometimes collected as a table vegetable. Loudon says these, when grown on rich moist soil, are white, crisp and agreeable to the taste. Johnson says the young shoots, though of agreeable taste, are of disagreeable smell but may be eaten as asparagus.

Stachytarpheta indica Vahl.


Austria. The leaves are sold as Brazilian tea, which Lindley says is a rather poor article.

Staphylea pinnata Linn.



Europe. cultivated in shrubberies. Haller says the kernels of the fruit taste like those of pistachios and are eaten in Germany by children.

Staphylea trifolia Linn.


Eastern North America. The seeds contain a sweet oil; they are sometimes eaten like pistachios.

Stauntonia hexaphylla Decne.


Japan. The Japanese eat its roundish, watery berries and use their juice as a remedy for opthalmia.

Stellaria media Cyrill.


Temperate regions. This plant is found in every garden as a weed. It forms when boiled, says Johnson, an excellent green vegetable, much resembling spinach in flavor and is very wholesome.

Stemona tuberosa Lour.


Tropical Asia. The thick, tuberous roots, after a previous preparation with lime-water, are candied with sugar in India and are taken with tea but are said to be insipid.