Friday, June 17, 2016

1887 - Chinese Cabbage to Corn Salad - Part 7 of Sturtevant's HISTORY OF GARDEN VEGETABLES

It is raining outside on this June 11th and I just started a fire in the fireplace it felt so cold and damp in the house.  Good day for starting the next installment of Mr. Sturtevant's work.

(Continued from page 712.)

Chinese Cabbage.  Brassica chinensis.

BUT little appears to be recorded concerning the varieties of this cabbage, of which the Pak choi and the Pe-tsai only have reached European culture. It has, however, been long under cultivation in China, as it can be identified in Chinese works on agriculture of the fifth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.

Loureiro  (1790) says also cultivated in Cochin China ; and varieties are named with white and yellow- flowers. The Pak choi has more resemblance to a chard than to a cabbage, having oblong or oval, dark, shining-green leaves upon long, very white, and swollen stalks. The Pe-tsai, however, rather resembles a Cos lettuce, forming an elongated head, rather full and compact, and the leaves a little wrinkled and undulate on the borders.

Both varieties have, however, a common aspect, and are annuals. Considering that the round-headed cabbage is the only sort figured by the herbalists, and that the pointed-headed early cabbages appeared only at a comparatively recent date, and certain resemblances between the Pe-tsai and the long-headed cabbages, it is not an impossible suggestion that these cabbage-forms appeared as the effect of cross-fertilization with the Chinese cabbage; but until the Cabbage family has received more study in its varieties, and the results of hybridization are better understood, no certain conclusion can be reached.
It is, however, certain that occasional rare sports or variables from the seed of our early long-headed cabbages show the heavy veining and the limb of the leaf extending down the stalk, and suggest strongly ,the Chinese type. At present, however, our views as to the origin of our various types of cabbage must be considered as largely speculative.

Chives. Allium schoenoprasum L.
A master of botanical painting, Redouté is the artist who did this illustration.
Redouté, P.J., Les Liliacées, vol. 4: t. 214 (1805-1816)

Redouté by Louis-Léopold Boilly
These are small and unimportant members of the Onion family, found native throughout Europe, in Siberia even to Kamschatka,  and in North America, upon the shores of Lakes Huron, Superior, and northward; but the form found in the Alps comes the nearest to that under cultivation.

Although probably known to the ancients, yet we seem unable to fully identify them with the varieties of the onion named by Theophrastus, Columella, and others.

They were planted in gardens in Europe in the sixteenth century, and were in American gardens preceding 1806.

In England, described by Gerarde 3(1597), called "a pleasant Sawce and good Pot-herb" by Worlidge  in 1683, are among seedsmen's supplies  in 1726, and are recorded as formerly in great request, but now of little regard, by Bryant  in 1783.

Chives, sives, civet or sweth,  are called,

  • in France, ciboulctte, civette, appetit, cive, fausse echalote ; 
  • in Germany, schnittlauch, grasslatich ; 
  • Flanders and Holland, bieslook ; 
  • in Italy, cipollina
  • in Spain, cebollino
  • in Portugal, cebolinha ; 
  • in Denmark, graslog
  • in Poland, luczer-lupny ?, szczypiorek says Google

The only indication of variety I find is in Noisette,  who enumerates the civette, the cive d' Angleterre, and the cive de Portugal, but says these are the same, only modified by soil. The use of the leaves as a condiment is well known. The plant is an humble one, and is propagated by the bulbs, for, although it produces flowers, these are invariably sterile, according to Vilmorin.

Vilmorin's 1885 description of the chive

Chufa. Cyperus esculentus L.
See my post "Ha!! Buckbee Sells Chufus..."
The chufa was distributed from the United States Patent Office in 1854, and has received a spasmodic culture in gardens. It is much cultivated in Southern Europe, Asia, and Africa, becoming of importance at Valence, in Galicia, and in the environs of Rosetta and Damietta, in Egypt.

In Hungary it is grown for the seeds, used as a coffee substitute, but in general for its tubers, which are sweet, nutty, and palatable. These bulbs, says Bryant, are greatly esteemed in Italy and some parts of Germany, and are frequently brought to table by way of dessert. At Constantinople the tubers appear in the markets, and are eaten raw, or made into a conserve.

Gerarde, in 1633, speaks of their extensive use in Italy, being hawked about the streets, and, at Verona, eaten as dainties.  They now appear in the English markets under the name of Zulu nuts.  It must also have been esteemed in ancient times, for tubers have been found in Egyptian tombs of the twelfth dynasty, or from two thousand two hundred to two thousand four hundred years before Christ.
Laurembergius, in his "Apparatus Plantarum," 1632, calls them Gramen amygdalosum, commonly called Thrasi veronensium ; conveniently called Dulcichinum, Dulcinium, Cyperus esculentiis, Cyperus angustifolius,  Juncus avellana, Margarita aegyptia, etc.

They are figured or described by nearly all the early botanists. The chufa, earth-almond, or rush-nut is called,

  • in France, souchet comestible, amdnde de terre, souchet sultan, souchet tubereux, trasi; 
  • in Germany, erdmandel; 
  • in Flanders, aardmandel ; 
  • in Italy, mandorla di terra, dolcicchini ; 
  • in Spain, chufa, eotu/a; 
  • in the Soudan, nebbon ; 
  • in Egypt, ab-el-azis ; 
  • in Arabic, hab-el-a, — i.e., granum dilectum? 

Notwithstanding the long-continued culture of this plant, I find no varieties described.

Clary. Salvia sclarea L. 

The common Clary was formerly much more cultivated in gardens than at present.
Townsend,  in 1726, says "the Leaves of it are used in Omlets, made with Eggs, and so must be in a garden."

In 1778, Mawe  gives three varieties, — the broad- leaved, the long-leaved, and the most wrinkled-leaved.

It is mentioned as cultivated in England by Ray, 1686; Gerarde, 1597; and it is the orminum of Turner,  1538. It was in American gardens preceding 1806, and now occurs wild in Pennsylvania, naturalized as an escape,  its home being the East Mediterranean countries.

The leaves are used for seasoning, but their use with us has been largely superseded by sage, and, although the seed is yet sold by some of the seedsmen, I imagine that it is but little grown. The Clary is called, in France, sauge sclaree, sclaree, toute- bonne, orvale ; in Germany, muscateller salbei.

In 1810, the seedsman William Booth, of Baltimore, offered Clary under the name "Horminum - Clary".  Search for Booth in this blog for more about this early American seedsman.

Claytonia. Claytonia perfoliata Don. 

The leaves of this plant are eaten as salad, or cooked like ordinary spinage. It is a native of Cuba, as also of North America, where the variety exigua Torrey is in popular use in California as a potherb.

 It was first described in 1794, but in 1829 was not named by Noisette  for French gardens, and in 1855 is said by De Candolle  to be occasionally cultivated as a vegetable in England.
It is now included by Vilmorin among French vegetables.

  • In England it is called winter purslane ; 
  • in France, claytone perfoliee, claytone de Cuba, pourpier d'hiver; 
  • in Flanders, doorwas
  • in Holland, winter-postelijn
  • in Spain, verdolaga de Cuba. 

Its synonymy is:

  • Claytonia perfoliata Don. Pursh, Fl. of N. Am., i. 170. 
  • C. perfoliata Don., var. exigua Torr. Brewer & Watson, Bot. of Cal. 
  • C. Cubensis, Humb. et Bonpl. Kunth, Syn., iii. 379.

Interesting plant with the flower coming up from the leaf!

Corchorus.  Corchorus olitorius L

This plant is valued as a spinage plant in warm countries.
It is mentioned by Pliny among Egyptian potherbs, and Alpinus, in 1592, says that no herb is more commonly used among the Egyptian foods. Forskal also mentions its cultivation in Egypt, and notes it among the cultivated esculents of Arabia.
In India it occurs wild, and the leaves are gathered and eaten as spinage.
In tropical Africa it is both spontaneous and cultivated as a vegetable, and it is cultivated in the vegetable-gardens of the Mauritius.
In Jamaica the plant is frequently met with in gardens, but has, in a great measure, ceased to be cultivated, although the leaves are used as a spinage.

It is now cultivated in French gardens for its young leaves, which are eaten in salads. It is recorded by Burr as in American gardens in 1863, but I have never seen the plant growing.

This plant furnishes a portion of the Jute fibre of commerce.

The Jew's mallow, or Corchorus, is called,

  • in France, corette potagere, guimauve potagere, mauve des juifs, brede malabare ;
  • in Germany, gemuse-Corchorus, nusskraut;
  • in Arabia, melochia ;
  • in Arabic, meloukhyeh ;
  • in Bengali, pat, koshta, bhungee, bhunjee pat;
  • in Hindustani, singin janaseha ;
  • in Sanscrit, putta ;
  • in Telegu, parinta?

 I find no varieties recorded.

Coriander. Coriandrum sativum L. 

The ripe fruits of the coriander have served as a spice and a seasoning from very remote times, its seeds having been found in Egyptian tombs of the twenty-first dynasty,  and a thousand or so years later Pliny says the best came to Italy from Egypt.
Plantarum indigenarum et exoticarum Icones ad vivum coloratae,(1789)

Cato, in the third century before Christ, recommends coriander as a seasoning; and Columella, in the first century of our era, and Palladius, in the third, direct its planting.

The plant was well known in Britain prior to the Norman conquest, and was carried to Massachusetts before 1670.

In China it can be identified in an agricultural treatise of the fifth century, and is classed as cultivated by later writers of the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. In Cochin China it is recorded as less grown than in China.

In India it is largely used by the natives as a condiment,  is grown at the Mauritius,  and has even reached Paraguay, and is in especial esteem for condimental purposes in some parts of Peru.

Coriander, called coryander and colander by Turner in 1538,  is called:
  • in France, coriandre ; 
  • in Germany, coriander ; 
  • in Flanders and Holland, koriander ;
  • in Denmark, koriander ; 
  • in Italy, coriandorlo ; 
  • in Spain, culantro, cilantro.
 The name is probably derived from the Greek koris, a bug, from the offensive smell of the leaves.
  • In Arabic, kouzbarak,  kuzeerah ;
  • in Bengali, dhnnya;
  • in Ceylon, cotumbaroo ; 
  • in Malay, mety ; 
  • in Persian, knshneez ; 
  • in Tamil and Telegu, cottamillie ; 
  • in Sanscrit, dunya, dhanyaca? 
Notwithstanding this extended period of cultivation, I find no indication of varieties under cultivation.
Merian, M., Der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft, (1646)

Corn. Zea mays L., var. saccharata. 

The history of sweet corn, so far as we have discovered it, is given in the American Naturalist for July, 1885.

It is first noticed in 1779.  In the "Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station" for 1884 I have described thirty-three sorts, and in the report for 1886 a new form collected from the Indians of Mexico is mentioned and partly described. This vegetable is grown far more in the United States than in Europe, and has become an object of field-culture for the supply of the canning industries.

The European names of sweet corn I do not find noted, except the mats sucre of the French. By Vilmorin the generic name of the species is applied to this variety in his synonymy.

The presence of three distinct types, varying not alone in appearance, but as well in their climatic adaptations, and the large number of varieties quite distinct in minor features, indicate a previous culture far more extended than appears in my recorded notes. It certainly does not seem reasonable to believe that sweet corn was confined until 1779 to North American aboriginal culture alone, and yet I have not even a clue that suggests otherwise.

Corn Salad. Valerianella olitoria Moench. (Synonyms -Valeriana locusta, Valerianella olitoria L.)

This annual plant has been found spontaneous in all temperate Europe as far as 60° north ; in Southern Europe to the Canary Isles, Madeira, and the Azores ; in North Africa, Asia Minor, and in the region of the Caucasus.
It seems quite a variable plant in nature, but as long ago as 1623 Bauhin  records its variability in size, and occurring with narrow, broad, and entire leaves. It is described by Lobel  in 1576, and by Dalechamp  in 1587, as also by Camerarius in 1588, but as occurring in fields, and without mention of culture, although its value as a salad is recognized. 

In 1597, Gerarde  says it has grown in use among the French and Dutch strangers in England, and 
"hath beene sower, in gardens as a sallad herbe." He figures two varieties. 

J. Bauhin  describes two sorts, and gives Tabemae- montanus as a witness that it was found in gardens as well as in fields and vineyards. Ray,  in 1686, quotes J. Bauhin only, and Chabraeus,  in 1677, describes it as grown in gardens as a salad herb. Worlidge in 1683, Meager  in 1683, Quintyne in 1693 and 1704, Townsend  in 1726, Stevenson  in 1765, Mawe  in 1778, Bryant  in 1783, — all refer to its culture in England. In France, according to Heuze, it is spoken of as cultivated by Olivier de Serres, and is referred to as if a well-known cultivated salad in "Le Jardinier Solitaire," 1612. 
It was in American gardens previous to 1806.  Vilmorin describes four varieties, which are tolerably distinct. All these have blunt leaves.

The variety quite frequently distributed for American gardens is that which is figured by the herbalists as having pointed leaves, as, for instance, —
  • Phu minimum alterum. Lob., 1576,412; Lugd., 1587, 1127; 
  • Polypremnum. Lugd., 1587, 554; 
  • Lactuca agnina. Ger., 1597, 242; etc.
The round-leaved form, such as the mache ronde of Vilmorin, has its type figured by Dodonaeus in his "Pemptades," 1616, under the name of album olus.

 The names of the Corn salad, or Fetticus, or Lamb's lettuce, are,
  • in France, maclte commune, accroupie, barbe de chanoine, blanchette, blanquette, boursette, chuquette, clairette, coquille, doucette, gallinette, laitue de brebis, orillette, pommette, potde grasse, rampon (a Geneve), salade de ble, salade de chanoine, salade royale;
  • in Germany, ackersalat, feldsalat, lammersalat, mausohr, rabinschen, rapunzel, schafmaidchen;
  • in Flanders and Holland, koornsalad, veldsalad ; 
  • in Holland, veldsla
  • in Denmark, kropsalat ; 
  • in Italy, Valeriana, erba riccia, dolcetta, gallinelle, sarzet;
  • in Spain, canonigos ; 
  • in Portugal, herva benta ; 
  • in the Mauritius, mache, doucette 
Among the more ancient names are :
  • in Belgian, velt cropper, Lob., 1576; zvitmoes, veltecrop, elcerooge, Dod., 1616; gallo- belgian, sallade de chanoine, Lob., 1756; 
  • in English, lamb's lettuce, come sallade, Gerarde, 1597; 
  • in France, blanchette, potile grasse, Lugd., 1587; mache, " Le Jard. Solit," 1612. 
Illustrations below from Vilmorin,
where there is information on each variety and culture in general.

(To be continued.)


Thursday, June 16, 2016

1918 - Romance of the Velvet Bean

I had never heard of this bean until the other day when I saw it in the 1938 Library of Congress photo.  I have to confess that this bean's name is what first attracted me to it.  But then I read it was originally used as a trellis plant to provide shade in Florida and that clinched it...I want this bean!!  When I checked it out in a normal (not Google Books) search I see it is now being marketed as a libido enhancer  as well as for various medicines.

In honor of E. Lewis Sturtevant's style I have to list the following from Feedipedia.

Velvet bean is called:
  • in English -  Mauritius velvet bean, Bengal bean, Florida velvet bean, Yokohama velvet bean, cowage, cowhage, cowitch, lacuna bean, Lyon bean, itchy bean, krame, buffalobean, pica-pica, kapikachhu; 
  • in French - pois mascate, dolic, haricot de Floride, haricot de Maurice, pois velus, haricot pourpre, pois du Bengale ;
  • in Spanish -  grano de terciopelo, fríjol terciopelo, picapica, chiporro, nescafe, mucuna, fogaraté, café incasa, café listo, fríjol abono ; 
  • in Portuguese - feijão-da-flórida, po de mico, fava coceira; 
  • in Dutch - fluweelboon; 
  • in German - Juckbohne [German]; 
  • in Haitian creole - pwa grate ; 
  • in Indonesian - Kara benguk; 
  • in Vietnamese - đậu mèo rừng, móc mèo; 
  • in Bengali - আলকুশি ; 
  • in Burmese - ခွေးလှေယားပင်
  • in [Chinese - 刺毛黧豆;
  • in Hindi -  किवांच ;
  • in Japanese - ハッショウマメ ;
  • in Malayalam  നായ്ക്കുരണ;
  • in Nepali -   काउसो ;
  • in Persian مکونا پرورینز ;
  • in Punjab -  ਕੌਂਚ ਫਲੀ;
  • in Russian - Мукуна жгучая ;
  • in Telugu -  దూలగొండి ;
  • in Thai - หมามุ้ย 

The story of the velvet bean is really one of the romances of agriculture. Introduced into Florida about 1875 from some unknown source, it first attracted attention as a forage crop about 1890. Until 1914 it was little grown outside of Florida. In 1915 the crop was certainly less than 1,000,000 acres. In 1916 it had increased to 2,500,000, and in 1917 to about 6,000,000 acres. 

The explanation of this remarkable increase was the finding of earlier "sports." Three of these appeared independently. One in Alabama, two in Georgia. These early varieties immensely increased the area over which the velvet bean can be grown, so that now it embraces practically all of the cotton belt.
 These early sports of the old Florida are most grown, but the Chinese velvet bean and the hybrids developed by the Florida Experiment Station are important. In spite of vigorous search, the native home of the Florida velvet bean yet remains unknown, but is probably in the Indo-Malayan region of Southern Asia.
The importance of the velvet bean to the livestock industry now developed in the South can scarcely be over-estimated. Grown with corn, it increases the corn crop year after year, and besides furnishes a large amount of nutritious feed to be eaten by the animals for market. 

This year the velvet bean has been no small factor in helping out the great shortage of foodstuffs, quantities of them having been shipped to Texas. Finally, it has resulted in a new industry for the South, namely, the manufacture of velvet-bean meal which has already won for itself a large demand.

from FLORIDA: An Ideal Cattle State,  Copyrighted 1918 by THE FLORIDA STATE LIVE STOCK ASSOCIATION

Florida claims to be the original home of this wonderful bean, at least it is the mother country where first grown in the United States. Some claim really the bean came from South America, or the West Indies. At any rate this bean flourished in Brazil, Cuba, Porto Rico, Jamaica, and all the Islands in that part of the world.
The first velvet beans grown in Florida were only used as trellis climbers, or to make shades over porches. The vines sometimes grow to a length of thirty feet.
The first velvet bean was known as far back as the '70's,  (1870s) but the value of it as a land-builder and renovator and as food for cattle and hogs was not known until about 12 or 15 years ago. Since that time Florida has developed more than one variety, the most popular at that time was the Florida speckled velvet bean. The original family or species from which this bean came is known as the Mucuna Genus, originating in Brazil, and Mucuna utilis is the botanical name of the velvet bean.
The bean is now grown in all the Southern States to a certain extent and even as far North as Tennessee, North Carolina and Arkansas. It is now recognized to be the greatest soil-renovator and sweetener known. It will eradicate all weeds and foul growth; it is the greatest known source through which to supply humus and nitrogen into the soil. As compared with cowpeas, it is far more valuable.
It furnishes a better and cheaper supply of protein than any other foliage crop; the beans themselves will not rot in the field through the winter months when left as they grew. The bean vines after frost are greedily eaten by cattle and hogs, and they fatten fast without any other food. It has been estimated that an animal will fatten ready for market on one acre of good crop velvet beans. Good velvet bean hay contains 8 per cent of protein. Meal made from the beans and pods ground together furnish 17 per cent protein and about 5 per cent fat, and meal made from hulled beans contain 22% per cent protein and 6% per cent fat. The meal made from the beans alone should be mixed with some other more bulky food substance before feeding, as it would be too rich to feed alone.  It has been claimed that in one instance one acre of velvet beans produced 49 bushels of shelled beans, but an average crop on medium land would be from 20 to 30 bushels yield per acre.
There are a number of varieties of the velvet beans already developed, but the most popular are the Florida Speckled, the l00 Days Speckled, the Yokahoma, the Lion, the Chinese and Oceola. The Florida Speckled, 100 Day and Yokahoma seem to be the most popular. The Speckled is a small round bean, the Yokahoma a flat white bean, similar to the Lima; the Lion is flat and white, but smaller than the Yokahoma; the Chinese is a plump, light bean as well as the Osceola. Not only has it been found that these beans are good for stock to eat, but it is claimed they are good human food and not many years hence people will be eating them.
To cook the velvet bean, put in boiling water for 60 minutes, then remove and place in cold water for 30 minutes; after this the skins will slip off by manipulating the beans with the fingers; then after the skins are removed boil another half hour. They are then ready to prepare in several different ways for the table.
Hon. Emmett A. Jones, of the Agricultural Department of Alabama, gave a velvet bean dinner to a number of his friends last winter, and the menu was as follows: 
Velvet Bean Puree 
Creamed Velvet Beans 

Stuffing for Turkey 
Baked Velvet Bean, Plain 

Baked with Tomato Sauce 
Velvet Bean Pudding 
Velvet Bean Cheese

The velvet bean is a very hard bean to hull, the hulls being very tough and hard and it is difficult to free them from the hulls, but since a machine has been perfected for hulling these beans from the dry pods, it is possible to hull them without cracking, splitting or wasting the beans.

As the velvet bean does have chemical content that effects humans there is quite a bit of discussion on the web which I am not getting into, BUT this is an interesting cookbook!  
For info on the medicinal effects try this link to The Magic Velvet Bean of Mucuna pruriens published by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
1918 - Bean-bag, Volume 1

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

1916 - Newly Appreciated Velvet Beans, Mucuna pruriens

I followed the sign in the seed tub from yesterday's post as I didn't know about Velvet Beans.  I can see growing them for the flowers! 

Edwards's Botanical Register, (1838)

While the following USDA New and Rare Seed Distribution circular is from 1920 the newspaper article is 1916.  The Velvet Bean proved itself in Alabama it seems and then was promoted.

The Florence Times, (Alabama)
 Department Circular 121.
 Bureau of Plant Industry, 
 (New and Rare Seed Distribution). 
 WM. A. TAYLOR, Chief.


 Object of the distribution. — The distribution of new and rare seeds has for its object the dissemination of new and rare crops, improved strains of staple crops, and high-grade seed of crops new to sections where the data of the department indicate such crops to be of considerable promise. Each package contains a sufficient quantity for a preliminary trial, and where it is at all practicable the recipient is urged to use the seed for the production of stocks for future plantings. 

It is believed that if this practice is followed consistently it will result in a material improvement in the crops of the country. Please make a full report on the inclosed blank regarding the results you obtain with the seed. 


 Velvet beans are rampant-growing leguminous annuals, making vines 20 to 75 feet in length, according to variety and conditions.

 They grow well on soils too light and sandy for most other legumes and produce an immense yield of forage, which is excellent feed for cattle and hogs. They also make a very good hay if cut soon after the first flowers appear, but the vines are so long and tangled that harvesting is difficult. Velvet beans are excellent for newly cleared lands, as the growth is so rapid and dense that it smothers out the grass and brings the soil into a cultivable condition better than any other crop. They also have great value for green manuring and as a restorative for soils needing nitrogen and humus. Like other legumes, velvet beans draw nitrogen from the air, the proportion of nitrogen contained in the plants being about the same as in cowpeas, and as the total yield is much greater the total amount of nitrogen and humus added to the soil is correspondingly larger. A crop of 3 tons contains as much nitrogen as a ton of cottonseed meal, while the amount of humus will be three times as great. 

 Planting should not be done too early, but at about the same time as cotton, as the beans do not make a thrifty growth until the soil has become well warmed. One bushel of seed will plant 3 to 6 acres, according to variety and conditions. The vines should be given some sort of support to keep them up from the ground; otherwise, they will not fruit heavily or make the most vigorous growth. Poles may 186942°— 20 be used for the purpose, but are troublesome and expensive. 

Cornstalks are more commonly used. Some strong-growing variety, like the Mexican June corn, will give all the needed support. The corn should be planted early and when about 2 feet high the beans are planted between the hills. After planting, the crop should be cultivated until the vines shade the ground. The vines make such a heavy growth that little corn can be gathered from the field, but when grazed little of the corn or beans will be lost. The only expense for growing the corn is the planting, and that will be more than repaid in the increased yield of the beans. 

 The principal value of the velvet bean is for winter grazing, and for that purpose it is one of the best crops which can be grown on the light soils and in the long season of the immediate Gulf coast. It is usual to allow the crop to grow until killed by frost, after which it is grazed through the winter, as the vines and leaves decay so slowly that they retain their palatability a long time. 

The matured beans are quite hard when dry, but are eaten well in the fall, or whenever they become slightly softened either by rains or by lying on damp soil. The field of seed from a fair growth of vines is usually from 20 to 30 bushels per acre, and much heavier yields are often secured. One hundred pounds of the pods will shell about 60 pounds, or 1 bushel of seed. They do not need to be shelled for feeding cattle, and make an excellent gram feed for winter use. 

Experiments made at the Agricultural Experiment Station of Florida indicate that for feeding 3 pounds of the beans in the pods are worth more than 1 pound of cottonseed meal. 

  •  Florida velvet beam. — The Florida velvet bean is the best known and oldest cultivated variety. A late, vigorous grower, seldom ma- turing pods north of Atlanta. Flowers purple, pods black-hairy, 2 to 2| inches long. Seeds nearly round, gray and brown marbled. One bushel will plant 4 to 6 acres. Plant about 5 feet apart.
  •  Lyon velvet bean. — In growth and date of maturing much like the Florida velvet bean. Flowers white, pods 4 to 6 inches long, nearly smooth. Seeds large, flattened, white; yield 25 to 40 bushels per acre. One bushel will seed about 4 acres. Plant about 5 feet apart
  •  Chinese velvet bean. — Just like the Lyon bean, but about six weeks earlier. Vines not so large. Yield of beans very heavy. One bushel will seed 4 acres. Plant about 4 feet apart. This is the best early velvet bean known. Will mature in Tennessee and North Carolina.
  •  Yokohama velvet bean. — The earliest variety, maturing as far north as Washington, D. C, ripening in about 100 days. Pods 4 to 6 inches long, with close gray hairs. Seeds large, flattened. gray. Yield of seed often 35 to 50 bushels an acre. One bushel will plant 3 acres. Plant about 3 feet apart.
  •  Early Florida velvet bean. — The Early Florida velvet bean, or Hundred-Day Florida velvet bean, as it is sometimes called, is very similar to the original Florida velvet bean, except that it makes a much smaller vine and is much less prolific: but as it matures in about four months from planting it can be grown profitably as far north as Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia velvet beans.
    Two somewhat different strains of the early Florida velvet beans are now distinguished as the Alabama velvet bean and the Georgia velvet bean, the latter a little the earlier. The Alabama variety is very extensively grown. Both varieties are confused under such names as Early Florida, Early Speckled, and Hundred-Day velvet bean.
  •  Osceola velvet bean. — A hybrid between the Lyon and Florida varieties that ripens much earlier than' either. The pods are dark velvety, but strongly ridged on the sides. A vigorous, prolific variety, ripening in 150 to 160 days. Seeds large, mottled brown and white. Plant 4 to 5 feet apart. A popular, extensively grown variety. 

 June 8, 1920. 

This following list of reasons to grow Velvet beans are from a Velvet Bean book, Velvet Bean Varieties, 1919.  It isn't a bad read   :-)  The internet is a wonderful thing...
This is nice, isn't it?
Rheede tot Drakestein, H.A. van, Hortus Indicus Malabaricus, vol. 8: t. 35 (1688)
And lastly, check out Grower Jim's blog that has nice photos and detailed information on the Velvet Bean, plus he sells the seeds.

1938 - A Good Photo: Seed Store

These photos are from the Library of Congress.  Great resource!!