- Botanical (not fruits)
- bulbs (leaves)
- mostly Near Eastern Center and Chinese Center
- lower toxicity
- less fiber
- larger plant parts
- more color
- many Brassica species
- Major cultivars
- Structure and function of stems and leaves.
CHAPTER 7 IN THE TEXT
These not discussed too much in chapter one. Stems provide support for
the above ground parts of the plant. They also house the conduction
system. Leaves are the usual site of photosynthesis in the plant.
Many different kinds of stems: Those of monocotyledonous plants are
quite different from those of dicotyledonous plants. See figure p. 156
Banana stems, e.g., are actually the bases of leaves rolled together.
The vascular bundles are scattered in plants such as corn but in circles
in plants such as sunflower (see diagram on page 156).
Meristems -- areas of active growth. Primary meristems. Produce leaves,
buds, stems, branches, and roots. Mainly responsible for increase in
length. Secondary meristems. Produce tissues such as wood and bark.
Mainly responsible for increase in diameter. See diagram on pg. 158.
Roots. Normally underground, but some are above ground. Some grow under
water and others in air. Roots don't have leaf scars and axillary buds.
Differ in many aspects of anatomy and physiology. Roots don't do
photosynthesis (normally). They have root hairs to absorb water and
dissolve nutrients. They have apical meristems but the pattern of growth
is different from that in stems. See diagram pg. 160, 161.
Vascular cambium in center and surrounded by a pericycle. Outside the
pericycle is the endodermis. Outside of the endodermis is the cortex.
These cells often accumulate starch in their vacuoles. Then comes the
In practice, roots vary a lot in the way they look although they have the
basic structures described above. See page p. 160.
In many biennial species, we let the roots store up products for the
second year and then harvest them at the end of the first (see pg. 162).
Table of leafy, root, tuber, rhizome, or bulbous crops on pg. 163.
These are not major in any culture but important in many. They add
variety, minerals, vitamins, and fiber to the diet. They are usually low
in starch, lipids, protein, and sugars. Many plant parts are eaten.
Edible Stems and Leaves.
There are thousands of plants that have been eaten in this manner in
many different cultures. In the last few decades, several of them have
achieved more significance although in some parts of the world minor
cultivars are still widely grown. Many locally cultivated species are
Table of production on pages 164-165. Important cultivated species listed pp. 166.
Store window with fruits and vegetables
In most of the temperate parts of the world, the major group of
cultivated leafy vegetables consists of members of the genus
Brassica(Brassicaceae or Cruciferae). The seeds and roots of many
of this group of plants are also utilized. These plants all contain
mustard oil glycosides.
Many of these vegetables belong to a single species: Brassica
oleracea. No good fossil evidence, but cultivated for at least 2500
years in S.E. Europe.
Forage kales (European black cabbage) are probably the forms that most
closely resemble the original cultivars.
Common cabbage includes both red and green forms. Head cabbage has been
known for many years also. Some about time of Christ. Modern headed
cabbage originated about 1000 A.D. in Germany.
Often used to make sauerkraut. Goes back in orient for long time.
Later introduced into Europe. Most members of this group very cold
tolerant. Some cultivated cabbage relatives on page 168 in text.
Brussel's sprouts. Look like miniature cabbages. Selected from a
mutant that appeared about 1750.
Kohlrabi. Exact origin not known.
Cauliflower and Broccoli.
Cauliflower known by Arabs in 12th century. Broccoli by at least 16th
century in Europe. Both are derived from the immature inflorescences.
In cauliflower most of the flowers are abortive.
Turnips, mustards, collards etc. are all eaten as "greens".
The young leaves are cooked and eaten directly. Turnips (Brassica
campestris) and rutabagas (B. napus) are also Brassica species.
An ancient crop. Appear in Indian writings of 2000 B.C. In Europe only
about 12th century. Turnips are often eaten in Europe in the winter as
that was about all that was available. Rutabagas have a stronger
flavor. They may be derived from hybridization between cabbage and
turnips. Rape or canola seed oil is also from other cultivars of this
Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are also from the Brassicaeae. In the
U.S., they are eaten as a garnish, but in other places, e.g., the Orient,
they actually are important food items. 4000 years ago in Egypt. Very
important in Japan. The large white radishes are called daikon.
The ancestor of radishes not known with certainty.
Lettuce, chicory, and endive all belong to the Asteraceae (or
Compositae). This is a large family with over 35,000 species.
Sunflowers in this family also. Few are eaten by man.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an ancient species. Cultivated at
least by 4500 B.C. in Egypt. Bitter tasting and was probably first
domesticated as a medicinal plant. The Romans ate tossed salads with
leafy lettuces. The wild ancestors are not known with certainty although
Lactuca serriolais a possibility.
Many different cultivars have been selected.
Endives and chicories belong to the genus Cichoriumthat is
closely related to Lactuca. The roots of chicory are roasted and
used as a coffee adulterant. Blanched leaves of these and related species
are used for salad greens, especially in Europe.
Carrots and their relatives.
The Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae) contains many plants used as vegetables.
Among these are carrots, celery, parsley, parsley root, fennel, and
In the case of celery (Apium graveolens), we use the swollen
bases of the petioles. Celery has been cultivated since Greek and Roman
times. Celery root is popular in Europe, but available here also.
Carrots ( Daucus carota) and parsnips ( Pastinaca sativa)
are root crops of some importance. Carrot cultivars were originally
purple and later yellow. Orange forms were selected later.
Carrots probably were also domesticated for medicinal purposes. They
contain carotene, which is a precursor for vitamin A. Parsnips similar
except pale color instead of orange. They are sweeter tasting.
Parsley (Petroselinum sativum) is usually eaten fresh or as a
garnish in the U.S. It is a major cooked vegetable in many Near Eastern
Beets (Beta vulgaris) are members of the Chenopodiaceae. The
older types are usually called mangel or wurzel. Swiss chard is a
cultivar of the petioles of the leaves. Sugar beets are forms that have
been selected for higher sugar concentration.
Red beets are comparatively recent. Beets and chard have been eaten for
thousands of years in the Near East and the Mediterranean area. The
ancient Greeks mentioned these plants in their writings.
Bok choi is a Chinese form of Beta vulgaris that is commonly seed in
Oriental grocery stores.
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is also a member of the
Chenopodiaceae. Spinach is sometimes substituted for lettuce in salads.
Native to western Asia. Domesticated after the time of the Roman Empire.
New Zealand spinach
This plant (Tetragonia expansa) is in the Aizoaceae and not the
same family as spinach. It is eaten in much the same way.
In this case, the petioles are also eaten. This plant (Rheum
rhaponticum,Polygonaceae) was also probably first domesticated for
Perennial green vegetables.
The artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a member of the Asteraceae.
The immature receptacles of the flowers and the bracts around them are
eaten. See figure on page 176.
Popular in the Mediterranean area where they are native.
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is in the lily family
(Liliaceae). Also native to the Mediterranean area and North Africa.
The young sprouts are eaten. See diagram on page 177.
Bamboo shoots (many species) are commonly eaten in the Orient.
Vegetables from bulbs
Onions, leeks, garlic, and shallots are all in the genus Allium of the
Liliceae. All of these have been cultivated for thousands of years.
Many species are wild harvested in many parts of the world.
Onions (Allium cepa) and garlic (A. sativum) probably
originated in central Asia and leeks (A. ampeloprasum) in the Near
Eastern center. All were cultivated in Egypt by 3200 B.C.
Chives (A. schoenoprasum) are eaten for the leaves alone. See the
diagrams on page 179 in the text).
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Revised February 2005
© David S. Seigler, Integrative Biology 363, Plants and Their Uses,
Department of Plant Biology, 265 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave., University of Illinois,
Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA. 217-333-7577. email@example.com.