Sunday, November 27, 2016

1855 - Thaddeus William Harris, Entomologist and All-around Squash Lover

(I am amused to think of all the people who would find the idea of an "enjoyable squash article from 1855" hilarious...)
When I was working my way through transcribing for online reading the E. Lewis Sturtevant series of articles called The History of Vegetables, I kept finding interesting articles that gave depth to the history by showing how involved, passionate even, people were with the new varieties. 

I found this article in The Farm Journal and Progressive Farmer  quoting a long letter by Thaddeus William Harris enjoyable to read so here it is!  He is careful to mention other books and articles he uses, leading the reader into other works worth a look.

Treatise on Some Insects
 Injurious to Vegetation
by Thaddeus William Harris
T.W. entered Harvard at age 16 in 1811, and later, among his many other projects, spent more than a decade involved with silkworms as the textile industry had dreams of silk plantations.  
 "For six years, he also taught natural history in Harvard College―Henry David Thoreau was one of his students―but his desire for a full-time professorship was never realized. He is chiefly remembered as a naturalist and is generally considered the "founder of applied entomology" in the United States." 
-C. A. Elliot (See end of post for source.)

I have broken up the printed version's paragraphs to make them easier to read online, and also bulleted some lists. Illustrations added as well.

Pumpkins and Squashes

We know of no vegetable genus in which there is so much confusion of names and characters among cultivators, as the Pumpkin and Squash tribe, or Cucurbita of Botanists. Their common names have so multiplied, that a farmer wishing to grow some for his stock, or his table, can hardly tell what to ask for at the seed stores, or what will be the character of his crops when obtained.

Knowing that T. W. Harris, the distinguished Entomologist of Massachusetts, had been paying special attention to this subject, with the view to some reliable and scientific classification, we addressed him the following queries, to which he has most kindly responded.

To The Editor Of The Farm Journal : 

—In your communication, you request to be informed what is "the distinction, if any, between the Boston and Vegetable Marrow Squash, also between the Connecticut Field Pumpkin and the Cheese Pumpkin; what is the Valparaizo Squash, and is it a desirable variety;  what are the distinctive marks of the Winter and Summer Crook-neck Squash, Early Egg or Apple Squash, Pattypan Squash, Turban Squash, Cashaw Pumpkin, Mammoth Pumpkin, Acorn Squash; what are the correct names and synonymous of these kinds; which of them is most valued in Now England for pumpkin pies, and which for stock and field culture?"

In September, 1834, Mr. John M. Ives, of Salem, Mass., exhibited in Faneuil Hall, Boston, a new squash, to which he subsequently gave the name of the "Autumnal Marrow Squash." It was figured and described in Fessenden's New England Farmer, vol. XIII, No. 16, Oct. 29, 1834, page 122, and again in Fessenden and Tescheinacher's Horticultural Register, vol. I, No. 3, March, 1836, page 93.   This fruit thus introduced and brought into notice, soon became a great favorite, and has ever since been extensively cultivated for table use, as a sauce and for pies, in the vicinity of Boston. 

So popular has it become in the market of Boston that it may well be called "the Boston Squash," though I never heard that name applied to it.  Mr. Ives, in his description of it, called it a variety of Cucurbita melopepo, which is an error.   If not a mere variety of Commodore Porter's Valparaiso Squash, it doubtless descended from the same stock as the latter.  

 It must not be confounded with the kind cultivated in England under the name of "Vegetable Marrow," a very poor vegetable, as I am assured by friends who have eaten it in London, and apparently one of the sorts which in New England would be called Summer Squashes. 

The "Autumnal Marrow" is eaten only when fully ripe; the "Vegetable Marrow," like your "Cymlings,' is eaten only in unripe state. The former comes into eating in September, but may be kept with care till March. 

When pure or unmixed by crossing with other kinds, it is considered as the very best autumnal and winter squash in New England.  

Many cultivators have allowed it to degenerate or become mixed with the larger and grosser Valparaiso, so that we do not often find it in entire purity in our markets.   It generally has only three double rows of seeds.  

 For a description of it, see the works before cited, also Cole's New England Farmer, vol. I, No. 12, May 26, 1849, p. 185.

I am not sure what is the fruit denominated Connecticut Field Pumpkin, and the Cheese Pumpkin is unknown to me except by its name in catalogues.

The Valparaizo Squashes, of which there seem to be several varieties, known to cultivators by many different names, some of them merely local in their application, belong to a peculiar group of the genus Cucurbita, the distinguishing characters of which have not been fully described by botanists.  The word squash as applied to these fruits is a misnomer, as may be shown hereafter; it would be well to drop it entirely, and to call the fruits of this group pompions, pumpkins, or potirons. 

It is my belief that they were originally indigenous to the tropical and subtropical parts of the western coast of America; they are extensively cultivated from Chili to California, and also in the West Indies, whence enormous specimens are sometimes brought to the Atlantic States. 

How much soever these Valparaizo pumpkins may differ in form, size, color, and quality, they all agree in certain peculiarities that are found in no other species or varieties of Cucurbita. 

  • Their leaves are never deeply lobed like those of other pumpkins and squashes, but are more or less five-angled, or almost rounded, and heart shaped at base; 
  • they are also softer than those of other pumpkins and squashes. 
  • The summit or blossom-end of the fruit has a nipple-like projection upon it, consisting of the permanent fleshy stile. 
  • The fruit-stalk is short, nearly cylindrical, never deeply five furrowed, but merely longitudinally striated or wrinkled, and never clavated or enlarged with projecting angles next to the fruit. 
  • With few exceptions, they contain four or five double row of seeds. 
To this group belong 

  • Mr. Ives' Autumnal Marrow squash (or pumpkin) before named,
  • Commodore Porter's Valparaizo squash (pumpkin), the so called
  • Mammoth pumpkin or Cucurbita maxima of the botanists, 
  • the Turban squash or Acorn squash, Cucurbita piliformis of Duchesne,
  • the Cashew pumpkin, 
  • Cole's Connecticut pie squash, 
  • Stetson's Cuba squash, and his hybrid called the Wilder squash, with various others.

The variety introduced from Valparaizo by Commodore Porter, became known to me about the year 1830, since which time it has been more or less cultivated in New England both for the table and for stock.   It is of an oblong oval shape, of a pale reddish yellow color externally when ripe, nearly smooth, and very slightly furrowed, and often grows to a large size. It readily mixes with the Autumnal Marrow, but is inferior to it in quality.  
It may prove better and more valuable in the Middle and Southern States than in New England.
(Commodore David Porter, was famous for his escapades in the Pacific against the British during the War of 1812. There are many opinions of his actions.)
This is the plate referred to below.
The Turban, sometimes called also the Acorn squash, because when the fruit is small it resembles somewhat an acorn in its cup, seems to be the Cucurbita piliformis of Duchesne. The middle lower figure of the group on page 283 of the volume on "Timber Trees and Fruits," in the "Library of Entertaining Knowledge," seems intended for the Turban squash.

 It sometimes grows to a large size, measuring 14 or 15 inches, in transverse diameter, and looks like an immense Turkish turban in shape.  Specimens raised in my garden in 1851 were little more than ten inches in diameter,  and weighed ten pounds or more, having very thick and firm flesh, and but a small cavity within. They proved excellent for table use, equal in quality to the best Autumnal Marrows. They keep quite as well as the latter.

The earliest account of the Cashew pumpkin that has fallen under our notice, is contained in the English translation of Du Pratz's History of Louisiana, (vol. II, p. 8), where it is called Cushaw.  In the original French work, the name given to it is Giromon. 
Du Pratz described two varieties; one round, and the other curved, or of the shape of a hunter's horn. The latter was considered the best.  (Read Du Pratz's description of his first experience with watermelons; makes your mouth water!)

The Cushaw or Cashew pumpkin is not cultivated or much known in New England. I raised some specimens of the crooknecked variety, (which has only three double rows of seeds), a few years ago, from seeds received from New Jersey. They did not ripen well, and many of them rotted before half ripe. They are evidently too tender for a New England climate. From the account given of them by Du Pratz, they seem well suited to Louisiana, where they are much esteemed. See his work.
1774 - Le Page du Pratz
The genuine Mammoth pumpkin, or true Potiron (Cucurbita maxima), may be considered as the typical species of this group, having rather soft, roundish heart-shaped, and entire leaves, a short cylindrical fruit stem, a permanent flesh stile, and five carpels or double row of seeds. The form of the fruit is an oblate spheroid, depressed at the blossom an stem ends, and marked with ten or more wide meridianal furrows. It sometimes grows to an immense size, two feet or more in diameter, and sixty pounds or more in weight being light in proportion to its size, on account of the large hollow within. 

It is known to vary much in color and size and somewhat in form. In some of its variations, it may have lost its original characteristic form, so far as to be no longer recognized. If this be true, Cole's Connecticut pie squash, the round Valparaiso squashes, and several others may be merely varieties of the Mammoth pumpkin. To some of the varieties of this fruit the name Giromon or Giromont, otherwise written Giraumon and Giraumont, signifying a rolling mountain, seems originally to have been applied, in allusion to the form and size. French writers subsequently transferred this name to certain varieties of the Cucurbita pepo.

The plants of the foregoing Valparaizo, or Potiron group, are more tender and less hardy than those of the common pumpkin or Pepo group; they are also much more subject to the attacks of worms or borers (Aegeria cucurbita) at the roots. Their fruits, compared with common pumpkins and winter squashes, have a thinner and more tender rind, and finer grained, sweeter and less strongly flavored flesh, on which accounts they are preferred by most persons for table use.

Fearing Burr
The second group contains the 
  • common New England field pumpkin, 
  • Bell-shaped and 
  • Crook-necked Winter squashes, 
  • the Early Canada Winter squash, 
  • the Custard squash, 
and various others, all of which (whether rightly or not cannot now be determined,) have been generally referred by botanists to the Cucurbita pepo of Linnaeus. 

This group is readily to be distinguished from the first one by the following charcters. 
  • The leaves are rough, and more or less deeply and acutely five-lobed. 
  • The fruit has only three carpels or double row of seeds, and the stile drops off with the blossom. 
  • The fruit stem is long, and clavated or enlarged next the fruit, where it spreads out into five claw-like projections; and is five-angled and deeply five-furrowed. 
  • The fruit is eaten only when fully ripe, and it may be kept with care throughout the winter. 
  • The rind, though sometimes quite hard, never becomes a woody shell, and the flesh remains juicy and succulent till it rots, never drying up into a spongy or fibrous substance, in which respects these fruits differ from what are called Summer squashes. 
  • The seeds are not so broad, thick or plump, and white as those of the potiron group, but are smaller, thinner, and of a greyish color.
The common field pumpkin of New England, which formerly was extensively raised for stock, and is still used for the same purpose, and of which our pumpkin pies and pumpkin sauce were made, till the winter crook-neck and autumnal marrow came to be substituted therefor, 
(The common field pumpkin of New England) has a form 

  • somewhat resembling that of the mammoth pumpkin, but its
  • longitudinal often exceeds its transverse diameter,  
  • its color is of a deeper yellow or orange, 
  • the furrows on its surface not so deep or broad, 
  • and its rind much thicker and in some varieties quite hard.    
  • Its flesh is rather coarse, of a deep orange yellow color,
  • and of a peculiar strong odor.    

(Have you noticed how long sentences were in the 19th century?!  I thought Sturtevant was the winner but this dude is right up there!)

Mills - 1904

Baked pumpkin and milk, pumpkin sauce, and dried pumpkin for winter use have had their day, and gone out of fashion; and pumpkin pies are now mostly made of the autumnal marrow and crook-necked winter squashes, except by some of the old folks, who still prefer the pumpkin, baked in a milk-pan, and without any pastry.

The New England "crook-neck squash",  as it is commonly but incorrectly called, is a 
kind of pumpkin, perhaps a genuine species, for it has preserved its identity to our certain knowledge ever since the year 1686, when it was described by Ray. 
It has the form and color of the Cashaw, but is easily distinguished therefrom by the want of a persistent stile, and by its clavated (club-shaped; growing gradually thicker toward the top) and furrowed fruit stem.   (You don't see "therefrom" much anymore...)

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Miller Family Crookneck
Before the introduction of the Autumnal Marrow, it was raised in large quantities for table use during the winter, in preference to pumpkins, which it almost entirely superseded. Many farmers now use it instead of pumpkins for cattle; the vine being more productive, and the fruit containing much more nutriment in proportion to its size. 

It varies considerably in form and color. The best kinds are those which are very much curved, nearly as large at the stem as at the blossom end, and of a rich cream color. 
Baker Creek Heriloom Seeds
This is the Canada Crookneck.
Some are green, variegated with cream colored stripes and spots.   

 Some are bell-shaped, or with a very short and straight neck, and are less esteemed than the others; for the neck being solid and of fine texture, is the best part of the fruit. 

These crook-necks can be kept all winter, if not exposed to frost, and I have eaten of them when a year old. 

On account of its hardiness, its fruitfulness, and its keeping qualities, this is perhaps the most valuable variety to the New England farmer. 

It is said to degenerate in the Middle and Southern States, where probably Commodore Porter's Valparaizo or some kindred variety may be better adapted to the climate.

The Early Canada squash seems to be a precocious and dwarfed variety of the common crook-neck. It is smaller, with a short and often straight neck, and is of a dark and lirty buff color externally. It comes into eating early, quite as soon as the autumnal marrow, and was, indeed still is, much esteemed as a table vegetable.

The custard squash or pumpkin is an oblong, deeply furrowed, and prominently ten-ribbed fruit, with a pale buff and very hard (but not woody) rind, and fine, light yellow flesh, much esteemed in the making of pies and puddings. For a figure and description of it, 

see Cole's New England Farmer, Vol. III, No. 4, Feb. 15, 1851, page 59.  (This is not what we might think of as a custard squash nowadays, the patty pan type. Check this one out!)

 (See end of post to read this article he mentions from The New England Farmer, plus another in the same issue.)

From seeds received from Paris, under the name of Patagonian squash, I raised a fruit exactly like the custard squash in form and size, but of a dark green color externally and entirely worthless as an article of food. Nevertheless I iner that the custard squash is merely an improved variety from the same original stock.

The fruits belonging to this second group probably originated in the eastern and central parts of the two Americas. They were cultivated by the Indians, and were found there in their gardens and fields by Europeans on the first settlement of the country. Pumpkins, or bell-shaped squashes as New Englanders would now call them, were found as far north as Saco, by Champlain, in 1605 and 1606. 

A similar variety was cultivated by the Iroquois Indians, and still bears their name in France. Pumpkins were found by Raleigh's Colony among the Indians, in North Carolina, and by early voyagers in the West Indies. There are indigenous kinds in Brazil; and we have seen that even Patagonia has added another to the common stock. 

Cultivation has doubtless improved their qualities, and has caused them to sport  numerous varieties, so that it is now difficult, if not impossible, to determine which of the known kinds are typical species, and which are mere varieties. 

A third group remains to be described. The representatives of it are the Cucurbita melopepo, ferrucosa, and ovifera , of Linnaeus. It includes all those kinds called in New England Summer Squashes, because they are eaten only during the summer, while they are soft and tender, and in an unripe state. 
These are the only two Squashes, if regard be had to the origin of the name, derived from the language of the Massachusetts Indians, by whom, according to Roger Williams, this kind of fruit was called "Askutasquash, which the English from them call Squashes." 

From the same authority, and from other sources, we learn that the Indian of New England
Bonnet de prêtre (Priest's Hat)
cultivated this kind of fruit or vegetable and used it for food; that some of their squashes were "of the bigness of apples, of several colors," while others are represented by Champlain, as being considerably larger, turbinated, and more or less puckered on the margin, and of the same form as that which in France is called
Bonnet de prêtre, probably the prototype of our Scalloped Squash, or Cucurbita melopepo.  

Another older Bonnet de prêtre type

<<< This may be closer to the older form of the Bonnet de prêtre.  

Bartram found a squash vine growing wild in the interior of East Florida, climbing to the tops of the trees, and bearing little yellow squashes of the form and size of an orange. 

Mr. Nuttall informs us, that the warted squash, Cucurbita verrucosa, was "cultivated by the Indian of the Missouri to its sources."  

It has generally been supposed, on the authority of Linnaeus, that the Egg Squash Cucurbita ovifera, was a native of Astrachan in Tartary.  On turning to the account of it given by Dr. Lorche, from whom Linnaeus received his specimens, I find it included in a list of plants, not natives of the vicinity of Astrachan, but cultivated only in gardens, where it is associated with such exotics as Indian corn or Maize, with which it was probably introduced directly or indirectly from America. We also learn from Lorche that this species varied in form, being sometimes pear-shaped; that it was sometimes variegated in color with green and white; and that the shell served instead of little boxes. 

Here we have plainly indicated the little gourd-like, hard-shelled, and variegated squashes, that are often cultivated as ornamental plants. For further account of the Squashes of the North American Indians, Wood's "New England Prospect",  Josselyn's "Rarities," and Vander Donck's "Description of the New Netherlands", may be consulted. From these and similar authorities, we conclude that Summer Squashes were originally natives of America, where so many of them were found in use by the Indians, when the country began to be settled by Europeans.

The following is from Vander Donck's "Description of the New Netherlands: 
 The natives have another species of this vegetable peculiar to themselves, called by our people quaasiens, a name derived from the aborigines, as the plant was not known to us before our intercourse with them. It is a delightful fruit, as well to the eye on account of its fine variety of colours, as to the mouth for its agreeable taste. The ease with, which, it is cooked renders it a favourite too with the young women. 
It is gathered early in summer, and when it is planted in the middle of April, the fruit is fit for eating by the first of June. They do not wait for it to ripen before making use of the fruit, but only until it has attained a certain size. They gather the squashes and immediately place them on the fire without any farther trouble.  
When a considerable number have been gathered, they keep them for three or four days; and it is incredible, when one watches the vines, how many will grow on them in the course of a single season. The vines run a little along the ground, some of them only two or three steps; they grow well in newly broken wood-land when it is somewhat cleared and the weeds are removed. 
The natives make great account of this vegetable; some of the Netherlanders too consider it quite good, but others do not esteem it very highly. It grows rapidly, is easily cooked, and digests well in the stomach, and its flavour and nutritive properties are respectable.


The Summer Squashes, like the plants belonging to the second group, have acutely five-lobed, rough leaves, and large yellow flowers, a clavated five-angled and five-furrowed fruit stem, and a deciduous stile. Their seeds also resemble those of common pumpkins and winter squashes, but are smaller and thinner, some of them are runners and climbers, others have a dwarf erect habit, and hence are sometimes called "bush squashes." 

They differ from all the foregoing kinds in having when ripe a hard and woody rind or shell to the fruit, with a slimy and fibrous pulp, which when dry become a mere stringy and spongy mass. Hence, these fruits are only eaten while they still remain tender and succulent, and never in a ripe state. On account of their woody shells, they are sometimes mistaken for and miscalled gourds, from which they are not only distinguished by their oval and thin seeds, but by the largeness and yellow color of their flowers, those of gourds being smaller and white, and by their deeply lobed and rough leaves, those of gourds being entire, or at most only slightly angular and downy.

Under the name of Cucurbita melopepo is to be included what in New England is called Scalloped Squash, and in the Middle and Southern States, Cymlings; perhaps the Patty-Pan Squash is another synonym for the same. 

This melopepo is a very broad and thin or compressed fruit, with scallop edges, and more or less warted surface; it ensures often ten or eleven inches in transverse diameter, and three to four from stem to blossom. It varies in form, being sometimes much thicker, and more or less turbinated or top shaped, when it takes the name of Bonnet de pietre or priest's cap; perhaps this is really its original form. Other varieties nearly round, are sometimes seen.

The Cucurbita verrucosa is the cucumber-shaped warted squash, generally with a slightly curved neck. In the West Indies there is a much larger , oblong, ovoid squash, with a somewhat warted surface, which is also referred to the Cucurbita verrucosa. Intermediate between these, there is another, which may be described as pestle-shaped, measuring ten inches or more in length, and quite smooth on the surface. These two kinds, namely the Cucurbita melopepo and C. verrucosa, with all their varieties, are generally of a dwarf habit, with erect stems.

Cucurbita ovifera, with its varieties auriantiaca, the Orange or Apple squash, and the pyriformis or pear-shaped and variegated squashes, has a running or climbing stem. Some of the orange squashes are the very best of the summer squashes for table use, far superior either to the scalloped or warted squashes.

The Vegetable Marrow, as it is called in England, has been considered by botanists as a variety of the Cucurbita ovifera of Linnaeus; if this be correct, cultivation has forced it to a most unnatural size, and has greatly changed its original form. 

Additional reading:



Gentlemen :—Permit me to recommend a winter squash, which is new to me, and probably is but little known in this vicinity. The seeds came from Shrewsbury, where the fruit was raised in the summer of 1850, and was there called the acorn squash. Of its origin and history nothing further is known to me. Its characters, as grown in my garden this summer, are these. The vine runs prodigiously, throwing out strong tendrils and even roots from its joints, and enormous leaves, many measuring twenty inches in length, and as much or more in breadth. These leaves are unlike those of the pumpkin and common kinds of winter-squash, being of a rounded.heart-shape, and not divided into lobes, but marked with five rounded scallops on the outer edge, and ending with a very short point in the middle of the largest curve. The smaller leaves, however, which are produced late in the season, near the extremities of the vines, are five angled, or slightly five-lobed. The flowers are wide in the throat, where they grow out of the young fruit, and have at least four and sometimes five stigmas; whereas, in the common pumpkin and winter-squashes, the stigmas are rarely more than three in number. 'When the flowers and the five arrow calyx-leaves drop off, they leave, at the place of their origin, a depressed ring-like scar, of a large diameter, in the centre of which ring there is a little tubercle, formed by the adhering base of the style. In this stage, the fruit somewhat resembles a huge acorn surrounded by its cup, which seems to have suggested the name it bears. As it increases in size, Hie circular ring enlarges also, and, in the full-grown fruit, measures four inches, or more, in diameter, the part within the ring forming the apex of the fruit, growing equally with the rest, and being marked with dark green lines radiating from the little knob at the summit. At maturity, this squash weighs from eight to ten pounds or more, and measures about two feet and eight inches in circumference, and five inches in its shortest diameter, or from the stem to the blossom cud. It is depressed at the stem-end, and from its squat shape, and the singular formation of the upper end, it may be compared to an old-fashioned tea-kettle, the blossom-end with the ring representing the lid. The color of the rind, at first green, subsequently varies from slate-blue, mottled and striped with yellow, to deep yellow. The surface in some is perfectly smooth, or only furrowed and puckered round the top, in others more or less lough, with slight elevations like a nutmeg-grater. The flesh is very thick, firm, and fine-grained, and of a rich orange-color. The carpels or seed-cavities, four and sometimes five in number, contain double ranges of large plump seeds like those of the marrow squash. The fruit-stem, like that of the latter, is short, thick, more or less obliquely inserted, nearly cylindrical, and not five angled, nor deeply furtowed. A good idea of the form of this squash may be got from the middle figure on page 283 of the volume of the "Library of Entertaining Kno-vledge," treating of "Timber-trees and Fruits;" and this figure may have been designed to represent our acorn-squash. In cooking, both when plainly boiled and when made into puddings or pies, this squash fully equals the very best of the marrow squashes.

The vines, like those of the marrow and other delicate squashes, are liable to be attacked by borers at the roots, before the fruit is half grown: and, if neglected at this stage, will almost certainly perish. The remedy, after extracting the borers with a wire, or killing them in their holes, consists in pegging down the vines at the joints with forked sticks, and drawing a little earth around these joints, which will encourage the formation of roots there, whereby the whole vine will be sustained, even after its original roots have been nearly destroyed. 

Yours, truly, H.
For the New England Farmer.


For the New England Farmer.
 Mr. Cole:—Having raised this squash, the last summer, and proved its qualities, I herewith send to you a description and figure of it, with a parcel of the seeds for distribution.

It is a winter squash with a hard rind, and is said to have been brought from the city of New York to Waltham, where some of the fruit was grown in the summer of 1849. The friend who gave me this account, favored me with seeds, which were planted on the 25th of last May. Previously, however, in February or March, I saw the same kind of squash in Boston market, and was told that it came from the West Indies, and I think it highly probable that it originated there. Nevertheless, it is perfectly well adapted to our latitude and climate, having grown and ripened in my garden, the last summer, which was not a favorable season for this kind of fruit.

My squashes were gathered on the 8th of October. Some of them were soon used for puddings or pies, as they are often called, and were found to be very good for that purpose. The flesh, when stewed, was tender throughout, and lighter colored than that of our common winter squashes, but inferior in flavor. It was easily separated, by scraping from the thin and tough rind which, did not become tender by cooking. As a sauce, with meat, it is not so good as the crook-necked, 'and much inferior to the marrow squash.

One of these squashes was kept till the 22nd of January. It weighed 18 1-2 pounds; was 16 1-2 inches long, and 2 feet, 2 inches in circumference around the middle. Form, elongated elipsoidal; slightly depressed at each end; longitudinally tenribbed, five of the ribs corresponding with the an§Ies of the stem, more prominent than the others. car at the blossom-end small, about one-quarter of an inch in diameter. Rind smooth, with a few irregular elevations on it; harder than that of the crook-necked winter squash, but not woody, about as thick as press-paper and of a dark cream or cheese color. Flesh 1 1-4 inch thick, deep yellow, very firm and fine-grained throughout. Seeds numerous, whitish, oblong oval, truncated at base, and, like those of pumpkins and squashes, furrowed all round within the margin.* Like the latter, also, they are connected by orange-colored fibres to the Bides of the fruit, in six parcels, each parcel consisting of three ranks of seeds. The membranous partitions, dividing the cavity of the squash into three cells, though broken away from the sides, had not entirely disappeared. Fruit-stem C inches long, slightly enlarged next the fruit, with five rounded edges of angles, and as many deep intervening furrows, in the bottom of each of which was also an elevated line or ridge.

The vines, leaves and blossoms do not differ essentially from those of the common winter pumpkin and winter squash.

Yours, truly. T. W. Harris.

Cambridge, Jan. 25, 1851.

Remarks.—We are much obliged to Dr. Harris, for his valuable contribution. We have already distributed most of the seeds. A very fine specimen of this squash weighing 16 Ibs. is now before us, raised by Mr. Raynolds, one of our publishers, on his place in Concord. He thinks much of them as to their quality, production and keeping. They ripened well last season, though it was rather cool for plants from a tropical climate. Dealers in the market, who frequently have this squash from the West Indies, say that it sometimes succeeds well here, but is rather uncertain.—Ed

Thursday, November 17, 2016

1890 - Charming Bird's Eye View Engraving of John Lewis Childs' Floral Park

I can't resist these engraved bird's eye views!

I missed this one when I posted on John Lewis Childs

To make it even better I notice it is an engraving by my favorite horticultural artist and engraver, A. Blanc.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a model train toot-tooting
around a model of this farm?!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Odds & Ends and Old Photo of Proud Morning Glory Lady

Vick's floral guide for 1875

A while ago I posted an old article extolling the virtues of petunias as a winter window plant.

Now I find another summer favorite, the morning glory, might also be a good winter plant!   In an 1877 issue of the Fruit Recorder and Cottage Gardener a Mr. Rowe says it does very well. 

 This comment is backed up 20 years later by James Vick in his Vick's Illustrated Monthly Magazine so I think it must be good advice.

If they are, it would certainly go a long way towards making the cold days of February and March more bearable!

The proud lady gardener's dress pattern seems a small version of the pattern made by her morning glories!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

1835 - Mr. Ives and his Squash

I'm a sucker for people who love their particular vegetable and push it...

The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries 
and Improvements in Rural Affairs, Volume 1, 1835

Mr. Ives of Salem Massachusetts appears in the horticultural journals for many decades presenting his squash. Starting around 1835, everyone seems to agree is really a good squash for pies and winter keeping. Incorrectly identified at first as a variety of the summer type, Cucurbita melopepo, it is a Cucurbita maxima, in spite of having a thinner skin than you might expect.

Mr John M. Ives, of Salem, Mass. has furnished us with the above cut and the following description of a very useful vegetable. 
Fruit obovate, depressed on one side; stem very large, and inclined upwards, almost at right angles with the fruit; a small truncate callosity at the other extremity. Color reddish cream, with spots or dashes of bright ochre when in maturity. Flesh orange, seeds large, pure white, with an elevated margin; average weight, eight pounds. 
The above new variety of Squash, Cucurbita melopepo var. has been lately brought into notice in this vicinity, on account of the delicacy of its grain, and excellence of flavor. We have called it "Autumnal Marrow" as it comes in succession to the summer varieties, but may be kept throughout the winter.
A peculiarity in this variety is the extreme thinness of its skin, being of the consistency of the inner envelope of an egg. 
We recommend it to all lovers of this vegetable for its many excellent qualities: we speak thus confidently from the testimony in its favor of those who have used it at their tables.
We find there is nothing gained by forcing the plants in a hot bed, as there is no difficulty in ripening the fruit in almost any season, provided the seed is sown as early as the first of June, or at the time of sowing the Canada Crook-neck, as it ripens much earlier than that variety. We think the plants are stronger and healthier raised in the open air than under glass. 
The greatest difficulty in the cultivation of the Autumnal Marrow is to keep it from the large squash bug (Egeria cucurbitacece.) If care is taken to destroy them previous to the depositing of the eggs there is but little trouble in checking them. 
With regard to the proper soil for their culture, we find that newly broken up grass land is better than highly manured soil, as in the latter they run and grow so vigorously as to form the fruit too late in the season. In a quantity which we had raised on a highly manured spot, their average weight was but about five or six pounds; whereas others grown upon old grass land turned up in the spring of the same year, averaged from nine to twelve, and some larger. They should be thinned out on the appearance of the third leaf, to three plants in a hill. 
This vegetable is well worthy of cultivation not only for its fine quality, but for keeping well in winter. I have a number perfectly sound, which have been kept in the same situation with the Crook-neck since they were housed in October last.
A current source of the seeds can be found at Victory Seeds. From their catalog...
"Early mentions of 'Boston Marrow' describe it as weighing from five to six pounds. By the mid-1930s, its size had been increased to what we now see today. The fruits have reddish-orange skin and measure about twelve inches in diameter by about sixteen inches in length. Weighing from eleven to over fifty-two pounds each, they average about twenty-five pounds. The flesh is fine-grained, yellow-orange, and bakes to a bright orange color. 
The leading seedsmen of the late 19th Century referred to 'Boston Marrow' as the "true pie squash," and seemed to prefer it over the drier varieties. It can be used as a table squash as well as for pie filling."

Monday, November 14, 2016

1872 - A Particular Turban Squash

I came across this article when looking for squashy stuff for the Sturtevant series.  It is pleasantly opinionated, I liked it, so here it is!

Turban Squashes.

Below from: 
American Agriculturist, 
Volume 31, 1872

A gentleman who called at our office some weeks ago mentioned a very fine squash, the seeds of which he obtained at Florence, Italy, from the palace garden of Victor Emmanuel
Victor Emmanuel II was King of Sardinia from 1849 until 17 March 1861, when he assumed the title King of Italy to become the first king of a united Italy since the 6th century, a title he held until his death in 1878.

We expressed a wish to see this squash, and sometime after received from Mr. Caywood, of Clarksburgh.W.Va., a specimen raised by him. We give an, engraving of the one sent, which seems to be a highly exaggerated Turban squash. 

In the ordinary Turban variety the projection, at the blossom end is small in proportion to the body of the squash. 

In this Florentine one the main bulk consists of this projection while the body proper is small. In our specimen the projecting portion is very deeply three lobed and the skin of a dull cream-color; the body part is dark orange, with green splashes. 

We do not find any description that quite agrees with our specimen, though it is like the Turban squash of the French with the projecting portion much larger than ordinary.

Mr. Gregory, in his work upon squashes, says in speaking of the French Turban, it is 
"the most worthless in quality of all the varieties of squash that have come to my notice." 

This remark certainly can not apply to our squash, as upon trial it proved very fine, and quite equal in quality to those we consider standard varieties. The "Improved Turban" is said by Burr to be probably an acclimated sub-variety of the French Turban, while Gregory claims that the "American Turban," which is the same thing, is the result of hybridizing, owing its form only to the French Turban and all its excellent qualities to the Hubbard or other varieties with which it may have been mixed. 

In the American Turban the projection before referred to has been by selection so much reduced in size as not to be conspicuous. Perhaps in the squash we have figured the selections have been made with a view of securing the greatest amount of protuberance. At all events here is a squash quite as good as tho American Turban, with the shape of the condemned French Turban intensified. We shall look with interest to the progeny of this squash.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

1840 - 1930s -The Elliotts of Pittsburgh, Seedsmen, Nurserymen, Writers

Family businesses always catch my interest.  The passing down of an interest in horticulture along with ability to successfully run a business is a chancy scenario!  

The Elliott family had not shown up in my readings until this month.  With 1848 as the entry of the first generation into horticultural business, and two (found so far) succeeding generations continuing, growing, and changing the business, the Elliott's have left their mark on the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area and horticulture in general.  The son and grandson have left books available online to read.

I found this envelope image on eBay and went in circles trying to track down W. R. Elliott.  At first I only found J. W.'s business, then a reference to B.A. and finally the New York Botanical Garden's page which beautifully puts the family, and its individuals, in perspective.  It is a good read...with many tantalizing threads to follow even though it primarily outlines the most recent Elliott's career. 

This 1871 envelope is from the first in the line of Elliott men who had been in business at this time for almost a quarter of a century.  It was William R. Elliott (a former blacksmith) who founded the first Elliott nursery in Pittsburgh in 1840.

Benjamin A. Elliot was next in the business.  While he loved his roses and carnations which he raised in the nursery, he also offered seeds.  Like his father he appears to have let the printer design his envelope! 

He had been in business at the time of this stationary for thirteen years.

Benjamin A. also began lobbying for the use of plants that were hardy.  
To this end he wrote a book, A few flowers worthy of general culture : an effort to win for hardy plants a recognition of their great wealth of beauty.

April, 1888

Benjamin A. competed in the 1882 Pennsylvania Agriculture Exhibition in Pittsburgh, racking up a respectable number of awards.  Below are snippets of the awards.

J.W. Elliott on the right.

I am sad that I could not find an envelope for the more famous grandson. I wonder why, since he was so very prominent in the trade.  It will turn up on eBay someday I am sure!

It was J. Wilkinson Elliott who had the personality to make it big on the national and international horticultural scene.

If you are interested in his career and travels, do go to the NYBG page and read it.

J. W. was, it seems to me, more of a business man and horticultural writer and educator than a nurseryman.

He was dedicated to improving gardening through better plants and was extremely involved in the horticultural world, but I have the impression his hands stayed much cleaner than his father's and grandfather's.  

The catalogs I have looked at always acknowledge another man's nursery as growing his stock for him, and he retains the exclusive right of distribution.   These nurseries are all over, and he appears to have specialists caring for specific plant types.

J. W.'s 1902 book; READ HERE

Another very excellent paper is from the Journal of the California Garden & Landscape History Society . It explores J.W.'s move to California when he was older.  This wonderful photo is from that PDF.

Related????  No indication at this time... Elliott Brothers & Burgess Nurserymen and Florists Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  A subscription to would come in handy!

I guess that is it for now.  Time to iron clothes...tomorrow is a school day.