Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/84

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74
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and of the pine wood of the luncheon-boxes, they appear to be worthy of a trial in onr horticulture, and I therefore deal with one or two in greater detail.

Prof. Georgeson, whose advantages for acquiring a knowledge of the useful plants of Japan have been unusually good, has placed me under great obligations by communicating certain facts re- garding some of the more promising plants of Japan which are not now used here. It should be said that several of these plants have already attracted the notice of the Agricultural Department in this country.

The soy bean {Glycine hispida). This species is known here to some extent, but we do not have the early and best varieties. These beans replace meat in the diet of the common people.

Mucuna {Muouna capitata) and dolichos {Dolichos cuUratus) are pole-beans possessing merit.

Dioscorea; there are several varieties with palatable roots. Years ago one of these was spoken of by the late Dr. Gray as pos- sessing "excellent roots, if one could only dig them."

Colocasia antiquorum has tuberous roots, which are nutri- tious. 1 • T, • V J

Conophallus Konjak has a large bulbous root, which is sliced, dried, and beaten to a powder. It is an ingredient in cakes.

Aralia cordata is cultivated for the shoots, and used as we use

asparagus. . i i. vi

CEnantlie stolonifera and Cryptotc2nia canadensis are palatable salad plants, the former being used also as greens.

There is little hope, if any, that we shall obtain from the hot- ter climates for our southern territory new species of merit The native markets in the tropical cities, like Colombo, Batavia, Singa- pore, and Saigon, are rich in fruits, but, outside of the native plants bearing these, nearly all the plants appear to be whol y m estab- lished lines of cultivation, such, for instance, as members of the gourd and nightshade families.

Before we leave the subject of our coming vegetables, it will be well to note a na/ive caution enjoined by Vilmorm m his work, Les Plantes Potag^res.*

"Finally," he says, "we conclude the article devoted to each plant with a few remarks on the uses to which it may be applied and on the parts of the plants which are to be so used. In many cases such remarks mav be looked upon as idle words, and yet it would sometimes have been useful to have them when new plants were cultivated by us for the first time. For instance, the giant edible burdock of Japan [Lappa eduUs) was for a long time served up on our tables only as a wretchedly poor spinach, be-

  • Loc. cit. Preface in English edition.