Lacis-Laminaria (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Lacis-Laminaria (Sturtevant, 1919)

Lacis sp.?


Henfrey says some species are used for food on the Rio Negro and other parts of South America.

Lactuca alpina Benth. & Hook. f.


Europe. The stem, which is milky, is peeled and eaten raw by the Laplanders; the taste is extremely bitter.

Lactuca scariola Linn.


Europe and the Orient. Lettuce, the best of all salad plants, as a cultivated plant has great antiquity. It is evident, by an ancedote related by Herodotus, that lettuce appeared at the royal tables of the Persian kings about 550 B. C. Its medicinal properties as a food-plant were the species was described by Theophrastus, 322 B. C., and Dioscorides,560 A. D.; and was mentioned by Galen, 164 A. D., who gives the idea of very general use. Among the Romans, lettuce was very popular. Columella, A. D. 42, describes the Caecilian, Cappadocian, Cyprian and Tartesan. Pliny,8 A. D. 79, enumerates the Alba, Caecilian, Cappadocian, Crispa, Graeca, Laconicon, Nigra, Purpurea and Rubens. Palladius, 210 A. D., implies varieties and mentions the process of blanching. Martial, A. D. 101, gives to the lettuces of Cappadocia the term viles, or cheap, implying abundance. In China, its presence can be identified in the fifth century. In England, Chaucer, about 1340, uses the word in his prologue, "well loved he garlic, onions and lettuce," and lettuce is likewise mentioned by Turner, 1538, who spells the word lettuse. It is mentioned by Peter Martyr, 1494, as cultivated on Isabela Island. In 1565, Benzoni speaks of lettuce as abounding in Hayti. In 1647, Nieuhoff saw it cultivated in Brazil. In 1806, McMahon enumerates for American gardens sorts. In 1828, Thorburn's seed catalog offered 13 kinds, and in 1881, 23 kinds.

In the report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for 1885, 87 varieties are described with 585 names of synonyms. Vilmorin describes, 1883, one hundred and thirteen kinds as distinct. The numbers of varieties named by various writers at various times are as follows: For France, in 1612, six; in 1690, twenty-one; in 1828, forty; in 1883, one hundred and thirteen. For Holland, in 1720, forty-seven. For England, in 1597, six; in 1629, nine; in 1726, nine; in 1763, fifteen; in 1765, eighteen; in 1807, fourteen. For America, in 1806, sixteen; in 1885, eighty-seven.

The cabbage and cos lettuces are the sorts now principally grown but various other kinds, such as the curled, are frequently, and the sharpleaved and oak-leaved are occasionally grown as novelities. In these lettuces there can be offered only the synonymy of a few of the varieties now known — those which indicate the antiquity of our cultivated types.

  • Lactuca longifolia. Bauh. Phytopinat 200. 1596.
  • Lattuga franzese. Dur. C. 244. 1617. cum ic.
  • Lactuca folio oblongo acuto. Bauh. Pin. 125. 1623. Prod. 60. 1671.
  • Lactuca longo at valde angusto folio. Bauh. J. 2:999. 1651; Chabr. 313. 1677.
  • Deer Tongue. Greg. 1883.


Pena and Lobel, 1570, say that this form is but rarely grown in France and Germany, although common in the gardens of Italy; and Heuze says it was brought from Rome to France by Rabelais in 1537.

  • Lactuca intybacea. Lombard Lettuce Ger. 240. 1597.
  • Lactuca foliis endivae. Matth. Op. 399. 1598.
  • Lactuca Romana longa dulcis. Bauh. J. 2:998. 1651. Chabr. 313. 1677.
  • La Romaine Jard. Solit. 1612
  • Romaines. Vilm. 307. 1883.

We can reasonably believe the lettuce of Camerarius to be very close to the Florence Cos. The Lombard lettuce was grown as a sport in the garden of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in 1886, and the figures by Bauhin and Chabraeus may well be the Paris Cos. It is not to be understood, however, that these figures represent the improved forms of our present culture but the prototypes from which our plants have appeared, as shown not only by resemblance of leafform but through the study of variables in the garden. Ray, 1686, describes the Cos as having light green and dark green varieties. and these, as well as the Spotted Cos, are indicated by Bauhin in 1623.


A.— This is the sort commonly grown, and the figures given in the sixteenth century indicate that the heading habit was even then firmly established. We have the following synonyms to offer, premising that types are referred to:

  • Lactuca crispa. Matth. 264. 1554; Pin. 195. 1561.
  • Lattuga. Cast. Dur. 243. 1617.
  • La royale? Le Jard. Solit. 1612. Quintyne 1690.
  • Laitue Blonde de Berlin syn. Laitue royale. 295. 1884. Berlin

B.—Lactuca sativa sessilis sive capitata. Lob. Icon. 1:242. 1591.

  • Lactuca capitata. Dod. 645. 1616.
  • Very Early Dwarf Green.
  • Lactuca capitata. Ger. 240. 1597.
  • Lactuca crispa. Matth. 399. 1598.
  • Batavians. Vilm. 1883.

D.—Lattich. Roezl. 167. 1550.

  • Green Fringed.

The last identification is from tlie appearance of the young plant. The old plant is remarkably different, forming a true rosette.


A.—Lactuca crispa altera Ger. 240. 1597.

  • Lactuca crispa et tenuiter dissecta. Bauh. J. 2:1000. 1651. Chabr. 314. 1677.
  • Curled Cutting.

B.—Lactuca foliis querci. Ray 219. 1686.

  • Oak-leaved.

C.—Capitatum cum pluribus capitibus. Bauh. J. 2:998. 1651. Chabr. 313. 1677.

  • Egyptian Sprouting.

The minor variations which are now separated into varieties did not receive the same recognition in former times, the same variety name covering what now would be several varieties; thus, Quintyne, 1693, calls perpignans both a green and a pale form. Green, light green, dark green, red and spotted lettuces are named in the old botanies, hence we cannot assert any new types have appeared in modern culture.

Lagenaria vulgaris Ser.


Tropics. This plant has been found growing wild with bitter fruit in India, in the moist forests around Deyra Doon. It is also found wild in Malabar, where it is cultivated in gardens for the gourd which is eaten. This gourd is one of the commonest of the native vegetables of India, says Firminger, the fruit being of moderate size and having the appearance of two oval gourds united endwise, or, of an inflated bladder compressed by a cord around it. Cut up in slices, it affords a palatable but rather insipid dish. About Constantinople, it is called dolma and is cultivated, the gourd when young, being cut and boiled with other foods. In Europe, the variety called trompette is eaten. In China, its soft, downy herbage is sometimes eaten, and the fruit is also eaten but is apt to purge.

Lagerstromia parviflora Roxb.

Lythrarieae. CRAPE MYRTLE.

East Indies. In India, a sweet gum exudes from wounds in the bark and is eaten.

Lallemantia iberica Fisch. & Mey.


Asia Minor and Syria. The seeds are very rich in fat and are used for food, as well as for lighting purposes, in the northwest districts of Persia.

Laminaria digitata Lam.


The tender stalks of the young fronds of this seaweed are eaten.

Laminaria esculenta Lindbl.


Orkney. The midrib of the stem of this seaweed is eaten.

Laminaria potatorum Labill.

This plant is used as food by the natives of Australia.

Laminaria saccharina Lam.

This seaweed is said to be eaten in Iceland and other northern countries.