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The Origin and History of Our Garden Vegetables, to Which Is Added Their Dietetic Values

Excerpt from The Origin and History of Our Garden Vegetables, to Which Is Added Their Dietetic Values The objects of this book are, first, the scientific one of showing how plants have varied under cultivation. Thus, the forms of the members of the Cabbage group have all been acquired from the Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea, L.) of our chalk cliffs. These grow to some three feet in height when in flower, and take a form like the cultivated Kales - or, rather, one should say that the latter are the least altered from the original stock; while Brussels Sprouts and the huge Cauliflowers are very different from the wild type. These many forms are now hereditary, for it is the experience of all cultivators and experimenters that the change of soil, &c., from the wild state to that of a garden acts directly upon the seedlings, so that they respond to the new influences of the prepared and improved environmental conditions by growing in adaptation to them; and that if a plant thus altered be grown for several generations under the same conditions, the new variation tends to become fixed, and as a rule does actually become so when, subsequently, it is more or less independent of the conditions under which it originated, and is "true to seed." The second object is to trace the history of garden plants from antiquity downwards - from, say, Theophrastus, of the fourth century B.C., whose writings are embodied in those of Pliny and Dioscorides of the first century A. D. - then to continue the investigation through the Middle Ages to the sixteenth century, in which many "Herbals" were written. Our existing plants will be compared with those described and figured by the authors of that date. The "Herbals" were, strictly speaking, medical books, for all plants were supposed to have their special healing virtues. But in the "Herbals" of that century we find culinary uses of many plants superadded to their medicinal values, and it is pretty obvious that they passed from one to the other by the "drug" becoming an "edible" plant by usage. Thus some are described as medicines, but also as "salads," showing how the change was made. E.g., the Green Celery was a drug with many virtues in the fourteenth century; but by blanching it became an edible plant, as well as by stewing the leaves - as is still done in Malta, where it is never blanched. All the so-called "kitchen herbs" used for flavouring were originally medicinal plants, and have undergone little or no change. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.
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