Gray & Trumbull, 1883. Review of DeCandolle's Origin of Cultivated Plants. Part 1
Gray & Trumbull, 1883. Review of DeCandolle's Origin of Cultivated Plants. Part 1
Asa Gray and J. Hammond Trumbull, 1883. Review of DeCandolle's Origin of Cultivated Plants; with Annotations upon certain American Species. American Journal of Science, 3e série. Part 1. 25: 241-255.
M. ALPHONSE DE CANDOLLE´s Géographie Botanique Raisonnée, in two volumes of nearly 700 pages each, was published in the year 1855, and has been for several years out of print. It is not surprising that the now venerable but still well-busied author should decline the labor of preparing a new edition, involving, as it would, the re-discussion of certain questions under changed points of view, and the collocation of a vast amount of widely scattered new materials which the last quarter of a century has brought to us.
Happily, the chapter on the geographical origin of the species of plants generally cultivated for food, and for other economical uses, could be detached. This, the author has sedulously studied anew; and the present volume is the result. As yet we have it only in the original French; but it is said that an English translation is in preparation. So, if the work is not already in the hands of botanists and other scholars generally, we may expect that it soon will be; and, contenting ourselves with a mere mention of its plan and scope, we may proceed to
✶ Origine des Plantes Cultivées, par ALPH. DE CANDOLLE, Associé Etranger de l´Academie des Sciences de l´Institut de France, etc. Paris, 1883, pp. 377, 8vo, (Bibl. Scientifique Internationale, XLIII.) Baillière et Cie.
remark, here and there, upon points which strike our attention.✶ We may expect this to be for many years the standard work upon the subject, and to undergo revision in successive editions; and we are sure that the excellent author will welcome every presentation or discussion which may chance to throw any new light upon the sources or the aboriginal cultivation of certain plants which the Old World has drawn from the New.
The first part of the volume, of only 22 pages, is mainly occupied with a consideration of the means employed for the determination of the sources whence the various cultivated plants have been derived. The botanist enquires where a given cultivated plant grows spontaneously, or what was its wild original; and he has to judge, as well as he can, where it is truly indigenous or where a reversion from a cultivated to a wild condition. This, as respects weeds and the like, is a difficult matter, even in a newly settled country like North America, much more so in the Old World ; but as respects the plants of agriculture, the case is usually simpler. The botanists resident in a country are not likely to be far misled by the occurrence of wilderings; but, in the case of travelers and collectors, perhaps too much has been made, even in this volume, of plants only once met with growing spontaneously, and inferred to be indigenous. Plentifulness is of no account, else the Century plant and Opuntia would be thought indigenous to the Mediterranean region; the Ox-eye Daisy to the United States, and certainly the Cardoon to the Pampas, where there is now probably more of it than anywhere in the Old World. Archaeology and paleontology are often helpful, as by the identification of fruits and seeds in ancient Egyptian tombs, or of paintings upon their walls, or of fragments in ancient bricks; or the debris of lake-dwellings rescued from lacustrine deposits, as in Switzerland; and from the tufas of Southern France, the kiökenmöddings of Scandinavia, the mounds of North America, and
✶ To avoid repetition, it may be mentioned here that, in the following annotations, the Relations of the Voyages of Columbus are cited from Navarrete´s Coleccion de los Viajes, etc. (Madrid, 1858. and 1827-37); references to PETER MARTYR D´ANGHIERA´s first three Decades De Rebus Oceanicis et Novo Orbe — written before 1517 — are to the Cologne edition of 1574; references to OVIEDO´s Historia General y Natural de las Indias— of which the first nineteen books, published in 1535, included a revised and enlarged edition of his [Relatio sumaria] de la Nat. Historia de las Indias, printed in 1526 — are to the edition published by the Royal Academy of History, of Madrid, 1851-55; JEAN DE LERY´S Histoire d´un Voyage faict en la terre du Brasil (in 1557-8) is referred to in his revised edition in Latin, Historia Navigationis in Brasiliam (Genevæ, 1586); Fr. HERNANDEZ, Nova Plantarum, etc., Historia, in the edition of Rome, 1651; Rariorum Stirpium Historia by L´ECLUSE (Clusius), in the first edition, Antwerp. 1576; his Exotica, including his translations ot Monardes and Acosta, Antwerp, 1605, with his Curæ Posteriores (posthumous), 1611.
Il va sans dire — yet should explicitly be said — that all the historical and philological lore, which gives this article its value, is contributed by my associate.
the ancient monuments and tombs of Mexico and Peru. Historical documents are also important for the date of certain cultures in particular countries; and here it is stated that the principal cultures have come from three great regions, viz: China, Southeastern Asia and Egypt, and intertropical America. DeCandolle also remarks that in the Old World agriculture was developed along rivers, in the New, upon plateaux, — a fact which he attributes to the primitive situation of certain plants worth cultivating. But this is not quite obvious. Linguistic learning may be turned to much account; as in tracing a plant towards its home by the name which has gone forth with it in all its migrations. Like other instruments this must be used with some knowledge and judgment Blé de Turquie (maize) did not come from, and probably not by way of, Turkey, any more than did the animal of that name. Jerusalem Artichoke has nought to do with Jerusalem, but came from North America, and is no artichoke. Pomme d'Acajou, anglice, Mahogany-apple, is neither an apple nor a pomaceous plant, nor has it anything to do with mahogany. New Zealand Flax came indeed from New Zealand, but is not a Flax. Among errors from the careless transference of names from one plant to another, that of Potato, which belongs to the Batatas or Sweet Potato, is familiar. Of mistakes which have been made in the transference of a popular name from one language to another, DeCandolle mentions the Arbre de Judée of the French, which in English has become Judas-tree. We may add that of Bois fidèle, of the French West Indians, which, taken up by their English successors as Fiddle-wood, has been perpetuated in the generic name Citharexylum.
The several lines of evidence, — botanical, archaeological, palaeontological, historical, and linguistic — may be used to supplement or correct each other. How they may be brought to bear, and how their combination may give satisfactory results, is practically shown in Part II, — a study of the species as regards their origin, their earliest culture, and the principal facts of their dispersion, — which makes up the principal bulk of the volume, viz; from p. 23 to p. 350.
This part is divided into Chapters, e. g. Plants cultivated for their subterranean parts, such as roots, bulbs, tubers, etc. Those cultivated for their herbage, whether for human food, for forage, for fibers, for stimulation, etc.; but the proper medical plants are left wholly out of view, as likewise plants cultivated for ornament. So the chapter on plants cultivated for their blossoms, or parts connected with these, is brief enough,—treating as it does only of the Clove, Hop, Safflower and Saffron. For the Rose, Acacia Farnesiana, and all plants however largely cultivated for perfume or for essential oils are
left out of view. So also are the sweet-herbs of the kitchen garden, and all condiments, except Horse-radish. Plants cultivated for their fruits and seeds occupy the closing chapters. Among the latter the Cotton-plant is placed. The arrangement matters little, and that adopted may be the most convenient. A good index makes ready reference to any topic.
In the order of the book we come first to Helianthus tuberosus the Topinambour of the French, Jerusalem Artichoke of the English; in the United States the tubers simply called artichokes. Almost all we know of the origin and source of these esculent tubers has been recovered since the publication of DeCandolle´s earlier work, in 1855. Although the contemporary accounts specified its introduction from Canada, and Linnaeus so cites it in the Hortus Cliffortianus, the subsequent reference to Brazil was followed without question down to DeCandolle´s Prodromus; and the present author, in the work above mentioned doubted the Canadian as well as the Brazilian origin. It now appears that Schlechtendal (in Bot. Zeitung, 1858) was the first to recover a part of the documentary history. Our own article on the subject—to which there is nothing of importance to add—was contributed to this Journal for May, 1877.✶ Singularly, it has remained unknown to DeCandolle, although it is referred to at the close of Decaisne´s independent and exhaustive article, in the Flore des Serres, 1881.
It can now be said that the wild plant to which Helianthus tuberosus has been traced is not H. doronicoides Lam., although it was confounded with that species in Torrey and Gray´s Flora. Lamarck´s plant is a sessile-leaved species. Decaisne´s remark that H. tuberosus is the only species of the genus which is at all tuberiferous may be qualified. A form of what appears to
✶In it reference was made to Lescarbot´s mention of roots "grosses comme Naveaux . . . ayans un goût retirant aux cardes," etc., and cited his Histoire de la Nouv. France, in the edition of 1612 (p. 840). In a subsequent edition (1618) cited by M. DeCandolle, Lescarbot adds that he had brought these roots into France, where they began to be sold under the name of Topinambaux and that their Indian name was Chiquebi. On this last point, Lescarbot was wrong. Chiquebi was an eastern Algonkin name for the tubers of Apios tuberosa the common "ground nuts," — not for those of Helianthus tuberosus. It is easy to see how Lescarbot was misled. Father Biard´s Relation de la Nouv. France was printed in 1616, and in it (chap. 22) there is mention of certain "racines appelées en Sauvage Chiquebi, which grow spontaneously under oaks: "elles sont comme des truffes, mais meilleures, et croissent sous terre enfilées l´une à l´autre en forme de chapelet," etc. Lescarbot doubtless caught the name from Biard and misapplied it. Father Paul Le Jeune (Relation, 1634, chap. 7) mentions these ground-nuts, "une racine que nos François appellent des chapelets, pource qu´elle est distinguée par nœuds en forme de grains." Lescarbot´s " Topinambaux" indicates a popular belief, in France, in the Brazilian origin of H. tuberosus. The Tupinamba Indians of Brazil—a division of the Tupi-Guarani family — had been allies of the French in the 16th century, and their name was probably well known in France through the relations of J. de Lery and other voyagers. Lescarbot (Hist. de la N. F., 1612, p. 178) follows Lery in writing the name Tououpinambaoult.
be H. giganteus, but is not yet very well known, grows in Minnesota and the Saskatchewan region, has been mentioned by Douglas under the name of Indian potato of the Assiniboine tribe, by Bourgeau as "H. subtuberosus" in herb. Kew, and by Dr. C. C. Parry in Owen´s Minnesota Report, p. 614, under the name of H. tuberosus. The scanty tubers which we have seen in dried specimens do not compare well with those of H. tuberosus; and that species has never been found wild so far north (that we know of), not even in the most southern parts of Canada West. The aborigines who cultivated it must have obtained it from the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi and their tributaries, where it abounds.
Helianthus annuus L., — the history of which was almost equally confused, and which we had identified with a widespread species of the Western United States—is omitted by DeCandolle, yet might claim a place; for Decaisne, who has treated it at length in the paper above cited, informs us that a form of it (called Russian Sunflower) is cultivated in Russia, for the oil of its large seeds, and, if we mistake not, for fattening poultry. Our Indians also cultivated it for the oil of the seeds, which they used for greasing their hair, also for eating and other purposes. Champlain noted this (in 1610?), and Sagard about a dozen years later.✶ The latter says (Histoire du Canada, 1636, p. 785); "Ils font estat du tourne-sol, qu´ils sement en quantité, en plusieurs endroits à cause de l´huyle qu´ils tirent de la graine," etc., piously adding; "Mais comment est-ce que ce peuple sauvage a pû trouver l´invention de tirer d´une huyle que nous ignorons, sinon à l´ayde de la divine Providence." The wild original of this Sunflower must have
✶ Champlain´s earlier record of the cultivation and use of the Sunflower is essentially like that of Sagard, and both relate to the same stations, namely, the Huron towns near the southeastern point of Georgian Bay. This Champlain reached by way of the Ottawa (R. des Prairies) and Lake Nipissing. The lamented Decaisne has here introduced some confusion into the history, which we hasten to rectify. In his article in the Flore des Serres (XXIII, p. 108, p. 2 of the pamphlet), he says, "Je trouve dans Champlain l´observation suivante (Voyag. Nouv. France, réimpress. 1830, tom. I, p. 110);"
"En remontant le St. Laurent et avant l´arriver au Lac Ontario, je visitai cinq des principaux villages fermés de palisades de bois, jusqu´à Cahiagué," etc., and so on to the mention of the "grande quantité de bled d´Inde (Maïs) qui y vient très beau, comme aussi des citrouilles, Herbe des soleil, dont ils font de l´huile, de la graine de laquelle ils se frottent la tête."
This, the latitude of 44.50° being stated, would refer Cahiagué and the Sunflower cultivation to the neighborhood of Ogdensburgh and Prescott, far away from the actual place (the Indian town mentioned being the Huron name of the mission station of San Jean Baptiste, in what is now Simcoe Co.), and it introduces a palpable anachronism, "Ontario" having been an unknown name in Champlain´s time. In fact, there is nothing answering to the early part of this pretended quotation, either in the original of Champlain or in the edition here cited by name and page. The excellent Decaisne could never have tampered with the quotation himself. He must have taken it at second hand and neglected to verify it.
been obtained by the Canadian Indians from beyond the Mississippi, and some degrees farther south. Judging from the breadth of the flower-heads soon after its introduction into Europe, it must in aboriginal hands have assumed much of the abnormal development which distinguishes the cultivated Sunflower from its wild original of the western plains.
Solanum tuberosum L.—The question of the Potato was fully discussed by DeCandolle in 1855; and the present review of it only confirms the now generally admitted conclusions. These are summed up in the statements, that the plant is spontaneous in Chili under a form quite identical with the cultivated species, that its aboriginal cultivation had extended as far north as New Grenada, but apparently no farther; that allied tuberiferous species, which our author regards as distinct (though others partly doubt it) are found along the Andes and through Mexico, and within the borders of the United States; that when known in Virginia and North Carolina in the second half of the 16th century, it was not derived from our Indians; and that it was carried to Europe first by the Spaniards between 1580 and 1585, and afterwards by the English.
Batatas vulgaris Choisy, Convolvulus Batatas L., the Sweet Potato, is one of a few cultivated plants which have attained to a very wide distribution over the warmer parts of the world in early times; and it is one which no botanist pretends to have seen in a truly wild state. The evidence inclines to an American origin; but it had reached the Pacific islands in prehistoric times, and was cultivated in China in the second or third century of our era. DeCandolle states that:—
" Clusius, one of the first to speak of the Batatas, says that he had eaten it in the south of Spain, where it was said to have come from the New World. He indicates the names of Batatas, Amotes, Ajes."
The testimony of Clusius (L´Ecluse) to the American origin of the Sweet Potato, though not of the highest value, might be more strongly stated. He visited Spain and Portugal in 1560. The first edition of his Historia Rariorum Stirpium was printed in 1576, and contains the description of Batatas, which M. DeCandolle cites from the edition of 1601. He gives a figure of the plant, of which, he says he had observed three varieties growing in the south of Spain. He states their American origin, not as a doubtful matter or with a "l´on pretendait," but as a well established fact; "Spontè nascitur in novo orbe, vicinisque insulis, unde primum in Hispaniam delata est." "Now," he adds, "it is planted in many places near coast of Andalusia; but those grown at Malaga are preferred, and are transported to Cadiz and Seville. We sometimes have them fresh in Belgium, but they will not germinate here, the
country being too cold." As to the name—he was as undecided as have been some botanists since his time; " the Spaniards call them Batatas, and also Camotes or Amotes ; some also Ajes ; yet, as they say, they differ among themselves, and the root of Batatas may be much the sweeter and the more tender."
This confusion of names dates from the time of Columbus— for Clusius was not, by half a century, the first to speak of the Batata. (It may be worth noting, in parenthesis, that Batatas, the specific name adopted by Linnaeus, and as the name of a genus by Choisy, is the Spanish plural of Batata, the aboriginal name.) Even Peter Martyr and Oviedo do not agree, in all particulars, as to the distinction between Ajes and Batatas — a distinction which both recognize. In the 9th book of his second Decade, written about 1514, Peter Martyr (ed. 1574, p. 191) describing the fruits, etc., of the province of Uraba, Darien, names, for the first time, Batatæ; "They dig from the earth," he says, "roots that grow spontaneously (suapte natura nascentes), the natives call them Batatas [accus. plural], which when I saw I thought to be rapes of Lombardy [?´Insubres napos´] or great earth-tubers [Cyclamen Europæum? Rapum terræ and Tuber terræ of the old botanists]. In whatever way they are cooked, roasted or boiled, they yield in delicate sweetness,✶ to no confectionery or other eatable whatsoever." They are, he adds, "also planted and cultivated in gardens." In his 3d Decade (lib. 4, p. 240) he mentions "maize, yucca, ages and battatæ" as plants that grew in Honduras when Columbus landed on that coast in 1502; and in the same Decade (lib. 5, p. 261), he names the same four plants as the ordinary food of the people of Caramaira (east of Darien) "as of the others," and again takes occasion to name the battatas, as surpassing all else " mirâ quâdam dulci mollitie — especially if one falls on the better sort (nobiliores) of them."
Oviedo gives a good description of the Batata, which, when he wrote (1525-35), was commonly cultivated by the Indians in Hispaniola and elsewhere, and highly prized (Hist. gen., lib. VII, c. 4). It resembles the Ajes, he says, in appearance, but tastes better and is far more delicate. The leaf is more notched (harpada) than that of the Age, in nearly the same fashion. Some varieties are better than others, and he gives the names of the five kinds which are most highly esteemed, [Peter Martyr (dec. III, lib. 9, p. 302) included the same five names among the nine varieties of Ajes that he mentioned as distinct; but in this, as in other matters pertaining to natural history, Oviedo is the better authority.] " When the Batatas are well cured,
✶ The sweet potato was an inspiration to Peter Martyr, who rarely indulged himself in such a flight as " dulcorata mollities."
they have often been carried to Spain, when the ships happened to make a quick passage, but more often they are lost on the voyage. Yet," adds Oviedo, "I have carried them from this city of Saint Domingo in Hispaniola, to the city of Avila" in Old Castile.
The "Gentleman of Elvas" who wrote the "True Relation" of DeSoto´s expedition to Florida, in 1538, mentions Batatas, then growing in the Island of Terceira (belonging to Portugal). Cieça de Leon, who was in Peru in 1547, speaking of the fertility of the valleys near the Pacific coast, and the plants cultivated by the Indians, names among these, sweet potatoes (Chron. del Peru, c. 66). In the Quichuan language they were called apichu; in the dialect of Quito, cumar. Mr. Markham, in a note to his translation (Hakluyt Soc., 1864, p. 234) mentions, on the authority of Dr. Seemann, " the curious and interesting fact that kumara is also the word for sweet potato in Tahiti, the Fiji Islands, and New Zealand." Garcilasso says these roots " which the Spaniards call batatas and the Indians of Peru apichu" are of four or five different colors, etc. "The least good are those that have been brought from Spain."
Jean de Lery found them in Brazil in 1557, and described them under their Tupi name — Hetich, as he wrote it — of which "the soil of Brazil is as prolific as that of Limousin or Savoy is of rapes." He describes the Indian method of planting; yet, "since these roots are the principal article of food of this country, and are met with by travelers in various places, I judge that they grow spontaneously" (Hist. Navig. in Brasil, p. 165). Montoya (Tesoro, 1639) gives the Tupi-Guarani name, Yetĭ, and mentions numerous varieties.✶
Monardes, in the third part of his Simpl. Medic. ex Novo Orbe, published in 1574 (translated by Clusius, ed. 1593, p. 439) states that Battatæ "are now so common in Spain, that ten or twelve caravel loads are sent annually from Velez-Malaga to Seville."
DeCandolle (who has elsewhere printed a short article upon the subject) calls attention to the fact, which ought to be familiar, that sweet potatoes are roots, not tubers, and that Turpin long ago published good figures illustrating this; also that while these roots are free from acrid or noxious qualities, all the Convolvulaceæ with tubers, of which there are many, and not a few of large size, are inedible and acrid, — mostly as we know, violently purgative.
Manihot utilissima, Manioc, Cassava-plant.— DeCandolle assigns good reasons for concluding (as did Robert Brown, without giving his reasons) that this important food-plant of the
✶ Hans Stade, who wast a captive in Eastern Brazil in 1549, briefly mentions these "roots called Jettiki, of pleasant taste." (Captivity, Hakl. Soc. ed., p. 166.)
tropics is American, not African. But be leaves unnoticed the convincing fact that Manioc and Manihot are Brazilian names, slightly corrupted, of a plant cultivated in St. Domingo and Cuba before the landing of Columbus, and which became known to Spanish and Portuguese discoverers before 1500, by its Haytian name, yuca, or hiucca.
Peter Martyr (1493) describing the food of the islanders, names "Iucca, from which they make bread" (Dec. I, lib. 1, p. 7; ed. 1574); in the third book of his second decade (p. 148) he mentions "lucca, Ajes and Maiz, as the three plants used by the natives for bread; in the third decade (lib. 5, p. 262) he describes the mode of propagation, by cuttings, of cultivation, and of the preparation of "Cazabbi" from the root; and he states that "there are many kinds of iucca" (p. 263). Oviedo (Hist. Gen. y Nat., lib. 7, c. 2) describes " the bread of the Indians that is called caçabi" which is " made from a plant they call yuca," and he distinguishes two species of the plant. Acosta (Hist. of the Indies, transl. by E. G.; Hakluyt Soc. ed., p. 232), 1588-90, gave a good account of the plant yuca, and the kind of bread made from it, called caçavi.
Peter Martyr (Dec. III, lib. 9, p. 301) relates the Haytian tradition of the origin of the cultivation of yuca in their island. " They say that a Boitius [i. e. magus, or diviner], a wise old man, after the lapse of many years, saw, on the banks of a river, a plant that was like a cane; pulling it from the earth, he made this wild plant a cultivated one. He who first ate the Iucca raw, quickly died. But because its taste was sweet, they determined that a way of using it should be diligently sought for. When roasted or boiled, it was less hurtful. At last they came to the knowledge of the latent poison in its juice," etc.
Gomara (Hist, gen., c. 71), Acosta (Hist. nat. y moral de las Indias, 1588-90; lib. 4, c. 17), Monardes (De Simplicibus medic., transl. by L´Ecluse, 1593, p. 437), and other writers of the 16th century gave good descriptions of the plant yuca, and of the caçavi or cazabi prepared from the root. By the blunder of European editors, in the last half of the 16th century, the Haytian name was transferred from the plant to which it belonged to one of another order, the Yucca of Linnæus and of modern botany. The mistake was pointed out by LobeL
Jean de Lery (Hist. Navig. in Brasil., c. 9) describes the two species that were cultivated in Brazil in 1557 — under their Tupi names, Aypi [M. aypi Pohl] and Maniot [M. utilissima]. Marcgrav (Hist. plant Bras., p. 65) mentions many varieties of both species, and gives Mandioca as the name of the root, Mandiiba or Maniiba for the plant. Of the products of the root, Cassava retains its Haytian name (caçavi) nearly ; Tapioca is a corruption of the Brazilian (Tupi) tipioca or tipiocui.
Dioscorea sativa, alata, etc. Yam. — DeCandolle informs us that these species, or their allies, are wholly unknown to botanists in a wild state; that, although cultivated in the East Indies, they have no Sanscrit names; that they seem not to have been "widely cultivated in Africa, but that the authors of the 17th and 18th centuries speak of them as widely diffused over the South Pacific islands, from Tahiti to New Caledonia and the Moluccas. In the summary they are assigned to Southern Asia (Malabar? Ceylon? Java?), and to the eastern Asiatic archipelago. Although a large part of the genus is indigenous to tropical America, it is thought that the cultivated species were probably introduced from the Old World. The following presentation of the evidence, as concerns America, may set the question in a different light:
The natives of Cuba and St. Domingo, when Columbus discovered those islands, cultivated two kinds of plants, for their roots. These were called, in the language of the islanders of St. Domingo, Ages or Ajes, and Yuca. Neither of these plants was known to the Spaniards. About Yuca there is no question ; it was the Manihot, or Manioc, of which we have already discoursed. It is nearly as certain that the Ages was a species of Dioscorea, to which, in their ignorance of the language of the islands, the Spaniards at first gave the name of Ñame, Niame, Igname, Inhame, or other corruptions of a foreign (probably African), name; and this name seems to have been occasionally misapplied both to the Yuca and the Batata.
L´Ecluse, who had traveled in the south of Spain and in Portugal, in 1568, says that the Colocasia (C. antiquorum) "first brought from Africa, was common in many places in Portugal, near streams of water, that it was sought for by negro slaves in Portugal, who ate it both raw and cooked," and that it was "called by the Portuguese, following the Moors, Inhame,—by the Andalusians, Alcolcaz" etc. (Rarior. Stirpium Hist., p. 299.) In a note to his translation of Garcia ab Horto (1574, p. 217), he says that "the plant called Inhame by the Portuguese has very broad leaves, and grows near the water, or in water, — not spontaneously, but when once planted it propagates itself from the roots," etc.
Some of the companions of Columbus had seen the Inhame (or Ñame) in Africa, and were ready to transfer its name to the first cultivated roots they saw in America. A few davs after the discovery of Cuba (Nov. 4, 1492), Columbus saw fertile fields "full of mames [´these are ajes or batatas, ´ notes Las Casas], which are like carrots (zanahorias), and other plants, including kidney-beans and beans (faxones y fabas) much unlike ours," (Navarrete, Colec., I. 200.) These mames are mentioned again, Nov. 6 (id., 208)—in both places, probably by
an error of the copyist, for niames; for, the next month, some natives of Hispaniola brought "bread of niames, which are roots that grow as large as rapes (rábanos) which they plant and cultivate in all their fields, and on which they live; and they make bread of them, boil them, and roast them; and they have the taste of chestnuts, and no one eating them would believe they were not chestnuts" (id., 238). A few days later, the Spaniards learned the name of these roots — or of others with which they were at first confounded. The Admiral sent a present to a friendly cacique. The officer who carried it reported, on his return, that "all this island (St. Domingo) and Tortuga are cultivated like the country about Cordova. The lands are planted with Ajes — which are little shoots (ramillos) that are planted, and at the bottom of each grow roots like zanahorias, which they use for bread," and these roots "are very savoury, and taste like chestnuts." " They have them here larger and better than he had seen in any place; for, he said, he had [seen] such also in Guinea" (id., p. 242). Again, the natives "brought bread made of niames, which they call Ajes" (id., 251); and, Dec. 26, they gave the Admiral a, "collation, of two or three kinds of Ajes, and of their bread that they call cazavi," etc. (id., 263). After this the name of niames gives place to ajes (or ages). On the second voyage of Columbus, the natives, near Isabella (in St. Domingo), brought great quantities of "'ages which are like rapes (nabos) very excellent eating," and "this age, the natives of Caribi (the Caribbean Islands) call nabi, and the Indians [of Hispaniola?] hage" (id., 368, 369).
In two or three of the passages to which reference has been made—particularly those in which bread is mentioned—the Spaniards seem to have confounded the ages with the product of the yuca (Manihot) or to have included both under the general name of niame (or its equivalents, Ñame, Igname, etc). Amerigo Vespucci — or some one of the several translators through whom the relation of his first voyage comes to us — says, that in 1497, " the common food of the natives of Paria was the root of a certain tree (arborea radix quædam), which they reduce to a good enough flour, and that some call this root Iucha, others Cambi, but others Ignami" (Navarrete, Colec., III, 216).✶
This confusion of names, in the first decade of discovery in America, was natural and unavoidable. The foreign name, niame, igname, was applied without much discrimination to roots cultivated by the natives of the islands and the mainland
✶ It is to this passage that Humboldt refers, in Nouv. Esp., 2d ed., II, 468 (cited by M. DeCandolle, p. 63), as evidence that the name Igname was heard on the continent of America, by Vespucci, in 1497; but, as will be seen, Vespucci (or his copyist) does not say that this name was used by the natives.
— primarily, to ajes, occasionally to yuca (Manihot), and perhaps to batatas. In the relations of the voyages of Columbus only two cultivated roots are named—Ages and Yuca. The first book of Peter Martyr´s first decade (dated 1493, but probably revised before its publication in 1511), names only these two; and in the third book of his second decade he mentions the use of the same two roots by the natives of Comagra, in Darien (p. 148); but in a subsequent chapter (dec. II, c. 9., p. 191), he adds—as has been mentioned in a preceding note — a third kind of roots, which the natives of the province of Darien call Batatas, that grow in their country spontaneously. From this date to the middle of the 16th century the distinction between these roots, though occasionally lost sight of, is generally observed. Oviedo (Hist. Gen., l. VII, cc. 2, 3, 4; p. 268-73), describes the caçabi and two species of the plant (yuca) that yields it; ajes; and batatas. The ajes, he says, were cultivated in Hispaniola, and in all the other islands, and on the continent; they were of various colors—white, reddish, inclining to mulberry, and tawny, but all white within, for the most part; the stem of the plant extends itself like that of correhuela (Convolvulus or Bindweed), but stouter; the leaves cover the ground, and are shaped much like correhuela and nearly like ivy or panela, with some delicate veins (unas venas delgadas), and the little stems (astilejos), on which the leaves hang, are long and slender, etc. The leaf of the Batata, he says (p. 274), is more toothed or notched (harpada) than that of the Aje, but of nearly the same fashion; and the two plants are much alike, but the Batatas are sweeter and more delicate, etc.; some of the Ajes weigh four pounds each, or more. In some parts of Castilla del Oro (in Darien), there are Ajes that are small and yellow, etc. (p. 278). His description of the two plants permits no reasonable doubt that his Ajes were of the genus Dioscorea. Moreover, they were not identical with— though they resembled—the imported ñame or "yam;" for Oviedo states (Hist. Gen., lib. VII, c. 19, p. 286), ""that name (called nnames), is a foreign fruit, not natural to these Indies, which has been brought to Hispaniola and other places, and is suited to this evil race of negroes, and a profitable and good subsistence for them. .... These nnames seem to be ajes, but are not the same, and generally are larger than ajes." They had already multiplied greatly in the islands and on the mainland.
The distinction between Ajes and Batatas, though clearly apprehended, was sometimes lost sight of. Peter Martvr (dec. III, lib. 9, p. 302), says that "the species of Ages are innumerable — the varieties being distinguished by their leaves and flowers;" and he gives the American names of nine of the
varieties; but five of these nine are named by Oviedo (p. 274), as varieties of Batatas. [See Batatas, ante.]
The "Gentleman of Elvas," who wrote the narrative of DeSoto´s expedition, mentions a fruit, at Santiago, Cuba, called batata, the subsistence of a multitude of people, principally slaves, and which now (1538) grows in the island of Terceira, belonging to Portugal… It looks like the ynhame, with nearly the taste of chestnuts" (Relaçam Verdadeira, ch. 5).✶
Jean de Lery, who was in Brazil in 1557, though he gives a good description of the Batata, does not mention the Yam; but it is figured and described by Piso (Hist. Nat. Brazil, 1648, p. 93), as Inhame of St. Thomas, called Cara by the natives of Brazil, and Quiquoaquecongo by the Congo negroes. Ruiz de Montoya has the name Cará in his Tupi dictionary, 1639, and mentions five varieties. As the Tupi name for the Virginia potato (Solanum tuberosum) Carati (i. e., white yam), is formed from that of the Inhame, it would seem that the latter was of earlier introduction. So, in the Mpongwe—a language of the Congo group — the potato is called mongotanga ´whiteman´s yam.´
Portulaca oleracea, Purslain. — Botanists have taken it for granted that this weed of gardens and other cultivated grounds was transported to America from the Old World. But Nuttall found it apparently indigenous on the upper Missouri forty years ago, and Dr. James in Long´s Expedition, along the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains in what is now the State of Colorado. From thence to Texas it grows wild along with two other nearly related species. Moreover the following evidence tends to show that its introduction, if introduced by human agency, took place before the landing of Columbus. On their first sight of the new world, the Spaniards were much impressed by the strangeness of all forms of animal and vegetable life; "all the trees are as unlike ours, as day is to night"—wrote Columbus, Oct. 17th, 1492, six days after landing at San Salvador: "and so are the fruits, and so the plants, and the stones, and all things" (Navarrete, I, 183). On the 28th, on the north shore of Cuba, he saw —apparently for the first time — a familiar plant; "halló verdolagas muchas y bledos," — he found much purslane and bletum (id. 192). It seems hardly possible that the Admiral and his companions could mistake a strange plant for a salad herb so well known as " verdolagas" to Spanish eyes and palates. Again, Oviedo, writing about 1526, in a list of "plants in the island of Hispaniola which are like those of Spain, and which were before
✶ In one Indian language of the south, the Choctaw, the sweet potato is now called ahe; while the Virginia potato (S. tuberosum), takea the adopted prefix of "Irish," Ilish ahe, or is sometimes called ahe lumbo ´round ahe.´
the Christians came to these parts, and are natives of this land, and were not brought from Spain," names "verdolagas or pertulaca" and "bledos or bletum" (Blitum).
In his description of "perebeneçuc," written in 1525, he says, that plant grew, in great abundance, in Saint Domingo and in many places on the continent, in the woods and fields ; even "purslane (verdolagas) is not more abundant here"(id., lib. XI, c. 5, p. 378.)
Jean de Lery, in Brazil in 1557, was as much impressed by the novelty of the flora, as Columbus had been, in the West Indies. "I declare," he wrote (Hist. Navig. Brasil., 168), "as far as it was permitted me to discover in wanderings through the woods and fields, that there are no trees or plants, or any fruits, that are not unlike ours, these three excepted, portulaca, ocymum and filex" (in the original French edition, 1578, p. 217, "pourpier. basilic, et fougière.").
Capt. John Smith, in Virginia in 1606, found "many herbes in the spring, commonly dispersed throughout the woods, good for broths and sallets, as Violets, Purslain, Sorrell, etc.; besides many we used whose names we know not" (Smith´s Gen. History, 1632, p. 26; and repeated by Strachey, Travaile into Virginia, p. 120). Smith´s purslain was probably Sedum ternatum.
Sagard-Theodat, in the relation of his Grand Voyage du Pays des Hurons, in 1624 (p. 331), says that the Hurons make little use of herbs, "although the pourpier or pourcelaine is very common there, and grows spontaneously in their fields of corn and pumpkins."
W. Wood, who was in New England from 1629 to 1633, names "Purselane" among plants growing "in the woods, without either the art or the help of man" (N. E. Prospect, pt. 1, c. 5). We doubt its growing literally in the woods, as unlike its natural habit, and place more confidence in the statement of Champlain, who, in his earlier voyages, 1604-11, found plenty of excellent pourpier, for his salads, on the coast of New England, growing among the Indian corn ; "the savages making no more account of it than if it were a noxious weed" (Voyages, ed. 1632, p. 80).
Humulus Lupulus, Hops.— Although the matter has nothing to do with the introduction of hops into cultivation, it is noticeable that DeCandolle assigns the home of the plant only to Europe and Western Asia. It is undoubtedly indigenous to North America also, and is mentioned as such in the American works. In Gray´s Manual, besides the printing of the name in the type appropriate to indigenous species, the plant is expressly stated to be "clearly indigenous." But, through some oversight, in the Prodromus (XVI, 29), it is stated, in connection with this very reference, that the plant was introduced.
Oca.— Considering that Maté and Coca find place in this volume, although perhaps rather employed than cultivated (at least the former), the absence of Oca (Oxalis tuberosa and O. crenata) is noticeable. This esculent root deserves mention, if only for the antiquity of its culture in Peru. The name, which is Quichuan, appears to have belonged, specially, to Oxalis tuberosa. Another root "like the oca in shape, hut not in taste," called in Quichua añus, was less esteemed. Both were cultivated in Peru in the time of the Incas, and in the districts where no maize grew, the crop of these tubers was of much importance (Garcillaso, Comment., b. v, c. 1; b. VIII, c. 10.) J. de Acosta, 1588-90, says "there are an infinite number" of roots used for food in the Indies," but the Papas (potatoes) and Ocas be the chief for nourishment and substance" (Nat. and Moral Hist. of the Indies, lib. IV, c. 18).
Our notes upon plants cultivated for their herbage, tubers, roots, etc., have run to such a length, that the remainder, concerning some plants cultivated for their fruits and seeds, must be left for another article.