Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/84

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and of the pine wood of the luncheon-boxes, they appear to be worthy of a trial in our 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 regarding 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 (Mucuna capitata) and dolichos (Dolichos cultratus) 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 possessing "excellent roots, if one could only dig them."

Colocasia antiquorum has tuberous roots, which are nutritious.

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.

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

There is little hope, if any, that we shall obtain from the hotter climates for our southern territory new species of merit The native markets in the tropical cities, like Colombo, Batavia, Singapore, and Saigon, are rich in fruits, but, outside of the native plants bearing these, nearly all the plants appear to be wholly in established 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 naïve caution enjoined by Vilmorin in his work, Les Plantes Potagères.[1]

"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 edulis) was for a long time served up on our tables only as a wretchedly poor spinach, be-

  1. Loc. cit. Preface in English edition.