Triticum-Typha (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Triticum-Typha (Sturtevant, 1919)

Triticum bicorne Forsk.

Gramineae. SPELT.

Egypt and Syria. The name spelt is given generally to all wheats in which the grain adheres to the chaff. Spelt is little cultivated except in the warmer districts of southeastern Europe and the African and Asiatic shores of the Mediterranean. This appears to be botanically the same species as the T. bicorne of Forskahl's Egyptian Flora.

Triticum dicoccum Schrank.


Europe; of ancient cultivation and, according to Unger, the zeia dipokpos of Dioscorides. Emmer is grown in southern Europe more than in central Europe.

Triticum monococcum Linn.


Greece and Asia Minor. This is the kussemeth of the Scriptures From it the Syrians and Arabians make their bread. Its cultivation has not extended to India, Egypt or Greece. In its wild state, says Bentham this species has been described under the name of Crithodium aegilopoides. The produce of lesser spelt is too small to be of any importance except in very poor soils.

Triticum polonicum Linn.


Polish wheat is cultivated in the warmer regions of Europe.

Triticum spelta Linn.


Some think this to be the grain called olura or zeia or zea by the ancient Greeks. Spelt is at present cultivated to a small extent in Europe. It was seen by Alexander the Great as a cultivated plant in his campaign in Pontus. Its origin in Mesopotamia and Hamadam, in Persia, is doubtful; especially as its cultivation in these countries cannot be carried back to any very remote antiquity.

[to be checked. Something seems to be missing here. The following sentences speak about T. aestivum sensu stricto, which is not mentioned elsewhere]

This is the species which includes all the true wheats, excepting the spelts. It is said to have been found wild in various parts of Asia where it is not likely to have escaped from cultivation. According to Grecian fable, it was originally native on the plains of Enna and in Sicily, but it is much more probable that it is a native of the plains about the Caspian.

Isis was supposed to have introduced wheat into Egypt; Demeter, into Greece; and the Emperor Chin-nong, into China about 3000 B. C. Standing crops of bearded wheat are figured in Egypt under the Fourth Dynasty, about 2440 B. C., at Gizeh, but nowhere on these nor on subsequent monuments with the minute accuracy required for distinguishing species. In Greece, Theophrastus mentioned eight varieties and among the carbonized seeds exhumed by Dr. Schliemann in Greece is a very hard, fine-grained, sharp wheat, very flat on the furrowed side, which is said to differ from any wheat hitherto known. In Europe, wheat was cultivated before the period of written history as samples have been removed from the debris of the lacustrine habitations in Switzerland which do not differ in size and form from our varieties. Wheat is mentioned by Diodorus as growing wild in Sicily, and ears of bearded wheat appear on most of the ancient Sicilian coins. On two Leontine brass coins are figures of Ceres in addition to the usual ears of corn.

In France, wheat was the most valued cereal in the eighth century as shown by the maximum price fixed by an edict of Charlemagne wherein oats were to be sold at one denier, barley at two deniers, rye at three deniers and wheat at four deniers a bushel. It is probable, says C. W. Johnson, that wheat was not cultivated by the early Britons for the climate, owing to the immense preponderance of woods and undrained soil, was so severe and wet that, in winter, they could attempt no agricultural employments, and even when Bede wrote, early in the eighth century, the Anglo-Saxons sowed their wheat in spring. Wheat remained an article of comparative luxury until nearly the seventeenth century. That the cultivation of wheat in England was unimportant in the reign of Elizabeth, is attested by Tussar. Yet wheat was cultivated by the Romans and is mentioned by Columella, Pliny, Cicero, Caesar and many others. In India, wheat seems not to be native but introduced, if we can trust to the Sanscrit name, which, translated, is food of the Barbarians, but this may mean that the center and south of India, too hot for wheatgrowing, received their grain from the Hill Tribes of the north, where the climate suited it. In the Bhavaprakasa, two types are mentioned, the large-grained and small-grained, or beardless. The first variety is said to come from the west, the second to be indigenous to middle India. About 1330, in the wonders described by Friar Jordanus, it is said, "wheaten bread is there not eaten by the natives, although wheat they have in plenty." In China, according to Stanislas Julien, wheat was cultivated in the year 2822 B. C.

The first wheat raised in the New World was sown by Spaniards on the Island of Isabela. The foundation of the wheat harvests of Mexico is said to have been three or four grains, carefully preserved by a negro slave of Cortez in 1530, which were found in some rice brought from Spain for the use of the troops. In Quito, says Humboldt, the first wheat was raised by a Franciscan monk in front of his convent. The first wheat introduced into Peru was by a Spanish woman who took great pains to disseminate it among the colonists, says Prescott, but no dates are given. Garcilasso de la Vega affirms that, up to 1547, no wheaten bread had been sold at Cusco, Peru. In 1542, John Alphonse, chief pilot to Roberval, in speaking of the region about the present Montreal, says, "I have told in one ear of corn 120 grains, like the corn of France and you need not to sow your wheat until March and it will be ripe in the midst of August." The first wheat grown in New England was that sown by Gosnold, on the Elizabeth Islands, off the coast of Massachusetts, "which sprang up eight or nine inches in fourteen days." In 1604, on the Island of St. Croix, near Calais, Maine, the French had some wheat sown, which flourished freely, and, in 1606, wheat was sown by L'Escarbot near the port of Port Royal, Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia. In 1610, wheat was among the plants in Champlain's garden at Quebec. In Virginia, the first wheat appears to have been sown in 1611; in 1626, samples of wheat grown in the Dutch colony of New Netherlands were taken to Holland for exhibit. In 1629, wheat was ordered by the Plymouth Colony, from England, for seed. In 1718, wheat was introduced into the Valley of the Mississippi by the Western Company. In California, wheat is spoken of by Father Baegert, as flourishing, 1751-1768; and it was cultivated by the Pimas Indians of the Gila River in 1799.

The northern, limit to the growing of wheat is 57° north in Britain, 64° in, Norway, 60° in Russia and lower in Siberia. In North America, wheat is raised with profit at Fort Liard, 60° north. The fine harvests of Egypt and of Algiers, says Humboldt, as well as those of the valleys of Aragua and Cuba, prove that the augmentation of heat is not prejudicial to the harvests of wheat, unless it be attended with an excess of drought or moisture. In the moist region on the slopes of the mountains of Mexico and Xalapa, the luxuriance of the vegetation is such that wheat does not form ears.

The varieties of wheat are almost endless, and their characteristics vary widely under the influence of cultivation and climate. There are 180 distinct sorts in the museum of Cornell University; Darwin says Dalbret cultivated during 30 years from 150 to 160 kinds; Colonel Le Conteur possessed upwards of 150; and Philippar, 322 varieties. The summer and winter kinds were classed by Linnaeus as distinct species but it has been proved that the one can be converted into the other by cultivation. Godron describes five species of wheat and De Candolle four. Reports come from little-known regions of distinct kinds; in Japan there is said to be a variety which cannot be forced to grow higher than 20 or 24 inches, though the length of the heads may increase. In general, wheat is the most esteemed of the cereal productions but, so far does habit govern, that in Abyssinia, according to Parkyns, the flour of teff, or dagussa, scarcely palatable to Europeans, is preferred by the natives to that of any other grain.

Tropaeolum edule Paxt.

Geraniaceae. NASTURTIUM.

Chile. Mr. Bridges, writing in the Journal of Botany, 1842, says the roots are eaten in times of scarcity in Peru.

Tropaeolum majus Linn.


Peru. The plant is grown more for ornament than for food purposes, but the flowers and young leaves are frequently used to mix in salads, and the seeds, gathered while young and green, are used for pickling and as an excellent substitute for capers. "The seeds of this rare and faire plant came first from the Indies into Spaine and those hot regions, and from thence into France and Flanders, from whence I have received seeds that hath borne with me both flowers and seeds," says Gerarde, 1597. We cannot agree with those authors who consider this the dwarf form, as the figure given comes nearer to the tall, as it was figured by J. Bauhin, in his works printed in 1651, with the name scandens, 33 years before its introduction by Linnaeus. Ray, 1686, speaks of its use as a vegetable, and this use is also spoken of by Townsend, 1726. In American gardens, this nasturtium was noticed by McMahon, 1806, and by all the early garden writers as being the predominant kind in culture. The synonymy is as follows:

  • Nasturtium Indicum. Cam.7cow-t.3i. 1588.
  • Nasturtium Indicum. Indiancresses.Ger.i96. 1597.
  • Nasturtium indicum folio peltato scandens. Bauh, J. 2:75. 1651.
  • Cardamindum ampliore folio and majore flore. Peuille, Peru. 3: t. 8. 1725.

Tropaeolum minus Linn.


Peru. The Dwarf nasturtium was first brought into Europe from Peru, where it is a native. It reached England in 1596 and is described by Gerarde as coming from the Indies into Spain and thence into France and Flanders, whence he received seeds. The plant, like the tall nasturtium, is grown principally as an ornament, but the flowers and leaves and green fruit may be used in salads or for pickling. This species seems to have been first known in Europe about 1574; was described by Monardes; is figured by Lobel, 1576; and is generally spoken of about this period as a new and rare plant. It was in the vegetable garden in England in 1726, probably before, and is mentioned in American gardens in 1806.

Tropaeolum pentaphyllum Lam.


Brazil and Chile. This species furnishes an edible cress. It bears a threelobed, sweet, fleshy, edible berry, black, juicy and not unlike in appearance and flavor to the Zante, or currant, grape.

Tropaeolum sessilifolium Poepp. & Endl.

Chile. Philippi says this is one of the most eligible of the species of this genus for its tubers, which can be eaten even in a raw state.

Tropaeolum tuberosum Ruiz & Pav.


Bolivia and Peru; long cultivated on the Peruvian Andes for its tuberous roots. The tubers are called ysano, are yellow and red and about the size of small pears. They are cooked and then frozen before being eaten; the women of La Paz are very fond of this frozen dish.

Trophis americana Linn.

Urticaceae (Moraceae). RAMOON TREE.

West Indies. The berries, which are about the size of large grapes, have a very pleasant flavor.

Tsuga canadensis Carr.

Coniferae. HEMLOCK.

North America. The Indians of Maine prepare a tea from the leaves of hemlock and this tea is relished as a drink. The spray is also used in New England and elsewhere to a limited extent in the domestic manufacture of spruce beer. According to McKenzie, the aborigines of the West employ the inner bark as a food; it is taken off early in the spring and made into cakes, which are eaten with salmon oil and are considered dainties. Langsdorff speaks of the Thiinkets at Sitka eating cakes made of bark of spruce fir, mixed with roots, berries and train oil.

Typha angustifolia Linn.


Europe and North America. The young shoots are edible and resemble asparagus.

Typha elephantina Roxb.


Mediterranean region and East Indies. A kind of bread, called boor or booree, is made in Scinde from the pollen.

Typha latifolia Linn.


Europe and North America. In Virginia, the poorer settlers ate the root of the bulbrush and were very fond of it; it has a sweetish taste. Haller says the roots are eaten in salads. Long says the seeds are esculent, roasted; Lindley, that it is sometimes used as food under the name of Cossack asparagus. This plant, says Clarke, nourishes luxuriantly in the shallows of the Don. He found the people devouring it raw; "with a degree of avidity as though it had been a religious observance. It was to be seen in all the streets and in every house, bound into faggots. "They peel off the outer rind and find near the root a tender, white part of the stem, which, for about the length of inches, affords a crisp, cooling, and very pleasant article of food.

Typha laxmanni Lepech.


Europe and northern Asia. The rhizomes furnish a meal which is made into cakes. They are used also as a vegetable.