Saturday, April 30, 2016

1887 - Beet to Burnet - Part 4 - Sturtevant's History of Garden Vegetables

While I am having a good time learning about new vegetables and plant history while I look up plants, people, things and places, I am feeling like I will never finish this series!  I'm still in "B"!!!!
     Read an original with footnotes at

The Beet. Beta vulgaris, var. y L. 
Valentini, M.B., Viridarium reformatorum, vol. 1: (1719)

Bonelli, Giorgio, Hortus Romanus juxta Systema Tournefortianum, vol. 8: t. 47 (1783-1816)

THE beet is essentially a modern vegetable. 

It is not noted by either Aristotle or Theophrastus, and although the root of the chard is referred to by Dioscorides and Galen, yet the context indicates medicinal use.
Neither Columella, Pliny, nor Palladius mention its culture, but Apicius, in the third century, gives receipts for cooking the root of the Beta.

Athenaeus, in the second or third century, quotes Diphilus Siccineus as saying that the beet root was grateful to the taste and a better food than the cabbage. (Diphilus, who lived in the time of Lysimachus, first discovered the use of asparagus as a pot herb; and described for the first time the Persica coccumela or peaches.) 

It is not mentioned by Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth century, but the word bete occurs in English recipes for cooking in 1390. Barbarus, who died in 1493, speaks of the beet as having a single, long, straight, fleshy, sweet root, grateful when eaten, and Ruellius, in France, appropriates the same description in 1536, as does also Fuchsius in 1542; and the latter figures the root as described by Barbarus, having several branches and small fibres. In 1558, Matthiolus says the white and black chards are common in Italian gardens, but that in Germany they have a red beet with a swollen turnip-like root which is eaten. 
In 1570, Pena and Lobel speak of the same, but apparently as then rare, and in 1576, Lobel figures this beet, and this figure shows the first indication of an improved form, the root portion being swollen in excess over the portion by the collar. This beet may be considered the prototype of the long red varieties.

In 1586, Camerarius figures a shorter and thicker form, the prototype of our half-long blood beets. This same type is figured by Dalechampius in 1587, and also a new type, the Beta Romana, which is said in Lyte's " Dodoens," 1586 to be a recent acquisition. It may be considered as the prototype of our turnip or globular beets. One form we have omitted, — the flat-bottomed reds, — of which the Egyptian and the
Bassano of Vilmorin, as figured, may be taken as the type. The Bassano was to be found in all the markets of Italy in 1841, and the Egyptian was a new sort about Boston in 1869. I have ascertained nothing concerning the history of this type.

The first step in improvement gained from the chard beets was a smoothening of the root, and the contrasts are to be seen in the figures given by the herbalists, commencing with Fuchsius.   
(Leonhart Fuchs' The New Herbal -  below)

That this improvement was not continuous, but was contemporaneous with the less improved forms, may be seen by contrasting the figure of Beta nigra, given by Delachamp in 1587, and that given in Blackwell's "Herbal" in 1758, in which the roots are figured practically as of like form. Cultivation and selection have given greater size, greater thickness, smoothness of form, and other changes characterized by the term quality, but the type changes appeared at once as attention was directed to the value of the root. The first appearance of the improved beet is recorded in Germany about 1558 and in England about 1576, but the name used, Roman beet, implies introduction from Italy, where the half-long type was known in 1584 certainly. We may believe Ruellius's reference in 1536 to be for France. In 1631 it was in French gardens under the name of Beta rubra pastinaca and the culture of " betteraves" was described in "Le Jardinier Solitaire," 1612. Gerarde mentions the Romaine beete, but gives no figure, in 1597, and Bodaeus a Stapel apparently knew only this kind in Holland in 1644. In 1665, in England, only the Red Roman was named by Lovell, and the Red Beet was the only kind noticed by Townsend, a seedsman, in 1726, and a second sort, the common long red, is mentioned in addition by Mawe in 1778, and by Bryant in 1783. In America one kind only was in McMahon's catalogue of 1806, — the red beet, — but in 1828 four kinds are offered for sale by Thorburn. At present, Vilmorin describes seventeen varieties and names and partly de- scribes many others. The modern names of the beet are, — in France, betteraves potageres; in England, Garden Beet ; in Germany, Salat-rube, Beete, Rotke rube ; in Spain, re molacha Ziortelana. 

Benincasa. Benincasa hispida Cogn.
This cucurbit has been lately introduced into European gardens, but it has been grown in Eastern Asia for a long period. According to Bretschneider, it can be identified in a Chinese book of the fifth century, and is mentioned as cultivated in Chinese writings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 

In 1503-8, Ludovico di Varthema describes it in India under the name of comolanga.  
In 1859, Naudin says it is much esteemed in Southeastern Asia, and particularly in China, and that the size of its fruit, its excellent keeping qualities, the excellence of its flesh, and the ease of its culture should long since have brought it into our garden culture. 

He had seen two varieties, - one, the cylindrical, ten to sixteen inches long, and one specimen twenty-four inches long by eight to ten inches in diameter, from Algiers ; the other an ovoid fruit, shorter, yet large, from China. 

The long variety, the seed from France, I grew in 1884, the fruit, oblong cylindrical, resembling very closely a watermelon while unripe, but when ripe covered with a heavy glaucous bloom. This plant is recorded in herbariums as from the Philippine Islands, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Feegee Islands, Tahiti, New Holland, and Southern China ; as cultivated in Japan and in China.
In India the Benincasa is called the Pumpkin, and White Gourd or White Pumpkin in English, by the natives chal koomra panee koomra," or petha ; in Japan, ko or jungaoo; in France, Benin-casa and Courge a la cire. This species is the Cumbulam of Rheede, Hort. Mai., 8, p. 5, t. 3; 
the Camolenga of Rumphius, Amb., 5, 395, t. 143; 
the Cucurbita Pepo of Louriero, Cochinch., 593 ; Benincasa cerifera, Savi., etc. 

Blite. Blitum sp. These spinage plants are almost of too little consequence for mention, yet they are included by Vilmorin among garden vegetables.

  The blites are mentioned by Petit as grown by amateurs in France on account of the singularity of their fruit, which resemble strawberries, and also by De Candolle' in 1815. Hence the English name Strawberry blite, and the French, Epinards-fraises.   They are not mentioned by Noisette in 1829, nor do the seed occur in American seed lists. The plant that commentators interpret as the blite was cultivated by the ancients, but the descriptions appear to us to be too indefinite to enable identification. 

B. capitatum  (Wikipedia)
Blitum capitatum L. 
B This species, if Linnseus's synonymy can be trusted, was known to Bauhin in 1623, and by Ray in 1686. Miller's "Gardeners' Dictionary" refers it to J. Bauhin, who received the plant in 1651. The species was during this time little known outside of botanical gardens. The first
mention of its garden culture that I find is by De Candolle, in 1815, for France.

B. virgatum (Wikipedia)

Blitum virgatum L. This species was cultivated in France in 1815, and also at Geneva and in Germany, but probably only in a slight degree. It is also grown in the vegetable gardens at the Mauritius. Clusius grew it in 1595. Ray in 1686 had probably never seen it in England, for he copies Clusius. 

(If you can eat the colorful lumps, which I assume are flowers, this plant might have salad appeal just on aesthetic appeal.)

Borage. Borago officinalis L.
Fuchs, L., New Kre├╝terbuch, t. 77 (1543)

This plant, of such little consequence in our gardens, yet finds place in our seed lists. 

Native of the Mediterranean countries, it was early cultivated for the use of the leaves and flowers in cooling drinks, in salad, and for garnishing. 

It occurs with blue, red, and white flowers, and also with variegated leaves, but the ordinary form is the blue flowered. 

Noisette says it is more used in Italy than in France, but in France Quintyne, the royal gardener in 1690, made several sowings during the summer for the supplying of its tender leaves. Ainslie says it is cultivated by Europeans in India, and it was among the plants enumerated by Peter Martyr as planted at Isabella Island by the companions of Columbus. 
Zorn, J., Oskamp, D.L.,
Afbeeldingen der artseny-gewassen met derzelver
Nederduitsche en Latynsche beschryvingen, vol. 2: t. 174 (1796)

It occurs in American seed lists from 1806 to the present date, and on account of its general use in England in Elizabeth's time probably came over with English colonists. 
The various colored flowering sorts of Borage are found noted or figured by nearly all the ancient herbalists. Borage is called 
  • in France bonrrache officinale, b. batarde, faitsse bourrache, langue-de-boenf, and langue d'oie
  • in Germany, borretsch gnrkenkraut ;
  • in Flanders, beruagie ;
  • in Italy, boragine, borrana ; 
  • in Spain, borraja ; 
  • in Portugal, borrajem ; 
  • in Greece, vouraza, armpeta, and arnopetra ; 
  • in Egypt, lissan el tor., i.e., ox tongue, as also in Arabic.

BrocoliBrassica oleracea botrytis, cymosa, Broccoli De C.

The differences between the most highly improved varieties of the Brocoli and the Cauliflower are very slight ; in the less changed form they become great. 

Hence two races can be defined, the sprouting brocolis and the cauliflower brocolis. 

The growth of the Brocoli is far more prolonged than that of the cauliflower, and in the European countries it is grown as a hyemial plant, bearing its heads in the year following that in which it is sown. It is this circumstance that leads us to suspect that the Romans knew the plant and described it under the name of cyma. "Cyma a prima sectione prsestat proximo vere", "Ex omnibus brassicse generibus suavissima est cyma," says Pliny.  
He also uses the word cyma for the seedstalk which rises from the heading cabbage. These excerpts indicate the sprouting brocoli, and the same additional use of the word cyma then as exists in Italy now with the word brocoli, which, for a secondary meaning, is used for the tender shoots which at the close of winter are emitted by various kinds of cabbages and turnips preparing to flower. It is certainly very curious that the early botanists did not describe or figure the brocoli. The omission is only explainable under the supposition that it was confounded with the cauliflower, just as Linnaeus brought the cauliflower and the brocoli into one botanical variety. 

The first notice of the brocoli that I find is quoted from Miller's Dictionary, edition of 1724, in which he says it was a stranger in England until within these five years, and was called sprout colli-flower, or Italian Asparagus. 

In 1729, Switzer says there are then several kinds that he has had growing in his garden near London these two years, viz. : " that with small, whitish yellow flowers like the cauliflower; others like the common sprouts and flowers of a colewort ; a third with purple flowers; all of which come mixed together, none of them being as yet (at least that I know of) ever sav'd separate." 

In 1778, Mawe s names the Early Purple, Late Purple, White or Cauliflower-brocoli, and the Black. In 1806, McMahon mentions the Roman or purple, the Neapolitan or white, the green, and the black. In 1821, Thorburn names the Cape, the White, and the Purple, and in 1828, in his seed list, mentions the Early White, Early Purple, the Large Purple Cape, and the White Cape or Cauliflower-brocoli.
(In 1866, James Vick says in his catalog,

The first and third kind of Switzer, 1729, are doubtless the heading brocoli, while the second is as probably the sprouting form. These came from Italy, and as the seed came mixed, we may assume that variety distinctions had not as yet become recognized, and that hence all the types of the brocoli now grown have originated from Italy. It is interesting to note, however, that at the Cirencester Agricultural College, about i860, sorts of brocoli were produced, with other variables, from the seed of the wild cabbage. "The Sprouting or Asparagus Brocoli represents the first form exhibited by the new vegetable when it ceased to be the earliest cabbage, and was grown with an especial view to
its shoots;
after this, by continued selection and successive improvements, varieties were obtained which produced a compact white head, and some of these varieties were still further improved into kinds which are sufficiently early to commence and complete their
entire growth in the course of the same year ; these last named kinds are now known by the name of Cauliflowers." — Vilmorin. The names of the Brocoli are, — 
  • France, chaux brocolis, Chou- fleur d'hiver; 
  • Germany, broccoli, brockoli, spargelkohl ; 
  • Flanders and Holland, brokelie ; 
  • Denmark, broccoli, asparages kaal ; 
  • Italy cavol broccolo ; 
  • Spain, brocidi ;
  • Arabic, sjami ;
  • India, chootee phool kobee

Brussels Sprouts. Brassica oleracea, bullata, gemmifera De C. 
This vegetable, in this country only grown in the gardens of amateurs, yet deserving of more esteem, has for a type-form a cabbage with an elongated stalk, and bearing groups of leaf-buds in the axils of the leaves. Sometimes occurring as a monstrosity, branches instead of heads are so developed, as I noted in 1883. 

Quite frequently an early cabbage, after the true head is removed, will develop small cabbages in the leaf-axils, and thus is formed the Brassica capitata polycephalos of Dalechamp, 1587, which he himself describes as a certain unused and rare kind. Authors have stated that the Brussels Sprouts has been grown from time immemorial about Brussels, in Belgium, but, if this be so, it is strange that they escaped the notice of the early botanists, who would have certainly noticed a common plant of such striking appearance and have given a figure. Bauhin, indeed, in 1623 gives the name Brassica ex capitibus pluribus conglobata (wow!!), and adds that some plants bear fifty heads the size of an egg, but his reference to Dalechampius as a synonyme would lead us to infer that the plant known to him was of the same character as that figured by Dalechampius, above noted. Lobel again in 1655 refers to a cabbage like a Brassica polycephalos, but as he had not seen it he says he will affirm nothing. Ray again in 1686 refers to a like cabbage. 

As an aside, I found this eyebrow raising fact...
What in the world is a weresprout?!  A tiny, hairy cabbage with fangs!!??

A. P. Decandolle in 1821 describes the Brussels Sprouts as commonly cultivated in Belgium, and implies its general use in French gardens, but Booth says it is only since about 1854 that it has been generally known in England. A correspondent of the Gardeners' Chronicle in 1850, however, refers to the Tall sorts as generally preferred over the Dwarf by the market gardeners about London. In American gardens it is mentioned in 1806 and this implies its general use in Europe. But two classes are known, the Tall and the Dwarf, and but a few minor variations in these

classes. The tall is quite distinct in habit and leaf from the dwarf, the former having less crowded "sprouts" and a more open character of plant, with leaves scarcely blistered or puckered. As, however, there is considerable variation to be noted in seedlings, furnishing connecting links, the two forms may legitimately be considered as one, the differences being no greater than would be explained by the ob- served power of selection and of the influences for modification which might arise from the influence of cabbage pollen. This, fact of their being but of one type, even if with several variables, would seem to indicate a probability that the origin is to be sought for in a sport, and that our present forms have been derived from the propagation of and selections from the seedlings derived from a suddenly observed variable of the Savoy cabbage type, and, as the lack of early mention and the recent nature of modern mention presupposes, some time scarcely preceding the last century. The names given in various languages to the Brussels Sprouts are as follows : 
  • France, chou de Bruxelles, ch. rosette, ch. a jets, ch. ajetsetrejets, ch. spruytde Bruxelles ; 
  • Germany, rosenkohl, sprossenkohl ; 
  • Flanders and Holland, spedtkool ; 
  • Denmark, rosenkaal ;
  • Italy, cavolo a germoglio ; 
  • Spain, bre tones de Brusselas ; 
  • Portugal, conve de Bruxelas d'olhos repolhudos. 

Buckshorn Plantain. Plantago Coronopus L. A salad plant of very minor importance. It is mentioned as grown in gardens by Camerarius, 1586, and by very many of the other botanists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ; is described by Ray in 1686 as cultivated in England, and not differing from the wild plant except in size and in the other accidents of culture. 
Fuchs, L., New Kre├╝terbuch (1543)
Townsend, in 1726, says the seed is now " in all the Seedsmen's Bills, tho' it is seldom in the Gardens." It is described and figured by Vilmorin among French vegetables. During the three hundred years in which we find it pictured, we find no evidence of any essential changes produced by cultivation. The names in the European languages are, — 
  • English, buckshorn plantain, star of the earth ; 
  • in France, Corne-de-serf courtine, pied-de-corbeau, pied-de-comeville ; 
  • in Germany, hirschhom salat ;
  • in Flanders, vevcrsblad, hertshoom ; 
  • in Italy, corno di cervo, coronopo, erba Stella; 
  • in Spain, estrellamar, cuerno de ciervo. 

By the ancient botanists, Coronopus, Comu cervinum, and Herba stella. 

Bunias. Bunias orientalis L. The young leaves and shoots are rather recommended by Vilmorin either as a salad or boiled. It is named by Tournefort Crambe orientalis, dentis leonis folio, erucaginis facie. Vilmorin gives its native country as Western Asia. 
I do not know of its appearance in American gardens. It is called 
  • in England Turkish Rocket ; 
  • in France, Bunias d Orient. Burdock. Arctium lappa L.

Flora Danica

The use of the succulent stems of the Burdock as a spinage is noted by many authors, as by Ray in England in 1686, and Bryant in 1783, as also by Gerardes in 1633.  

Kalm, before 1770, records the use of the tender shoots as a salad in the region about Lake Champlain, and Bretschneider the use of the roots and tender leaves in China in the fourteenth century.

It remains for Japan to cultivate it as a common vegetable. 

"This root," says Kizo Tamari, a Japanese commissioner to the New Orleans Exposition, "comes third in general estimation among our vegetables. It grows in some districts a foot in circumference and three feet in length, is soft and delicious. It will take a year to get such roots, but generally they do not exceed one inch and a half in diameter." 

This is Japanese testimony; but Penhallow, who spent a year or so in Northern Japan, says the roots are tasteless, hard, and fibrous. As grown at Geneva, N. Y., 1884, the testimony was not in favor of any desirable quality. It was introduced to Europe from Japan by Siebold, and the seed was offered in his trade list of 1856.
  • In Japan it is called gobo and uma busaki;  
  • in English, Edible Gobo ; 
  • in France, Bardane geante a tres grandes feuillcs ; 
  • in Germany, Japanische klettee ; 
  • in Italy, lappola.
This long-cultivated plant presents no differences except in size from the neglected plant of our waysides and fence corners. 

Burnet. Poterium sanguisorba L. (sanguis sorbere - to draw blood; it was thought to help staunch blood and draw the edges of a wound together) The young and tender leaves of the Burnet taste somewhat like a green cucumber, and are employed in salads. It is rarely cultivated in the gardens, but occurs in all our books on gardening. Three varieties are described by Burr, — the Smooth-leaved, the Hairy-leaved, and the Large-seeded. This latter he deems but a seminal variation and a sub-variety only.

The following synonymy seems clear : I. Pimpinella sanguisorba minor Icevis. Bauh., Phytopin., 1596, 282. Poteriitm sanguisorba, var. B. Lin., Sp., 141 1. Smooth-leaved. Burr, 1863, 319. II. I find it recorded for American gardens in 1832, and it then was doubtless a long-known plant. It is now grown in the Mauritius.
  • Sanguisorba minor. Fuch., 1542, 790.
  • Pimpinclla and Bipinella. Ang. Burnet, Ad., 1570, 320; Lob. obs., 1576, 412; ic, 1591, i. 718.
  • Small or Garden Pimpernell. Lyte's Dod., 1586, 152.
  • Pimpinella minor. Lugd., 1587, 1087.
  • Pimpitiella sanguisorba minor hirsuta. Bauh., Phytopin., 1596, 282.
  • Pimpinella vulgaris sive minor. Ray, 1686, 401.
  • Poterium sanguisorba. Linn., Sp., 141 1.
  • Hairy-leaved Burnet. Burr, 1863, 319.
The garden culture of Burnet is implied in Lyte's name, 1586. Ray, however, a hundred years later, does not mention culture. In 1693, Quintyne grew it in the royal vegetable garden in France, and in 1726, Townsend says it is "a good plant for Sallads," and Mawe, in 1778, says it has long been cultivated as a salad plant; while Bryant, in 1783, says it is so frequently cultivated in gardens that to describe it would be unnecessary.
  • in Portugal, pimpinella.
  • In France the Burnet is called pimprenelle petite ;
  • in Germany, garten-pimpinelle ;
  • in Flanders and Holland, pimpernel ;
  • in Italy, pimpinella, sclvastrello ;
  • in Spain, pimpinela ;
I found this other bit of more interesting burnet lore from 1855 -
This species of Burnet seems to be that which has acquired so much celebrity as the toper's plant, for it was customary to infuse it in various liquors, and with the Borage and some other flowers it helped to compose that celebrated beverage, called a cool tankard. 
The old herbalists, who called it Pimpinella and Bipula soldegrella, prized it very highly.    "It is," says Culpepper, "an herb the sun challengeth dominion over, and is a most precious herb, little inferior to betonythe continual use of it preserves the body in health, and the spirits in vigour, for if the sun be the preserver of life, under God, then his herbs are the best in the world to do it." 
He adds, " It is a friend to the heart and liver. Two or three of the stalks put into a cask of wine, especially claret, are known to quicken the spirits, refresh and clear the heart, and drive away melancholy. It is a special help to defend the head from noisome vapours, and from infection of the pestilence."