History

The history of H. tuberosus has been described in a number of articles (Decaisne, 1880; Gibault, 1912; Gray and Trumbull, 1883; Hooker, 1897; Lacaita, 1919; Salaman, 1940; Schlechtendal, 1858; Trumbull and Gray, 1877), and the following is therefore a summary. Jerusalem artichoke is thought to be one of the oldest cultivated crops in North America. Although archaeological records are lacking, several Native American groups probably grew the plant centuries before European settlers arrived on the continent. The earliest mention of the crop by a European was by Champlain, who described its cultivation by North American Indians in 1605 (Champlain, 1613).

Tubers of H. tuberosus were most probably brought back to France by either Champlain arriving on October 1, 1607 (or possibly the 1608 voyage, which returned October 13, 1609) or Marc Lescarbot in the autumn of 1607. While Lescarbot did not reach New France (in present-day Canada) until approximately 12 months after Champlain observed the crop in cultivation, he presented the first published account in 1609. While it is not possible to definitively establish which of the two introduced the crop into France, or at least did so first, Lescarbot is perhaps a more likely candidate in that he was in charge of the gardens at Port Royal, where the Jerusalem artichoke was apparently grown (Lescarbot, 1609). However, in the first two editions of this book (Histoire de la Nouvelle France) he does not indicate bringing the "roots" back to Europe, though in the 1617 edition he claims to have done so. This omission in the early editions may have been due to the fact that initially the species was of minor importance. However, its increasing popularity during the subsequent decade may have spurred Lescarbot to provide a more detailed account.

In the 1617 edition of Histoire de la Nouvelle France, Lescarbot indicates that the crop had already acquired the name topinambaux or topinambours, by which they were generally referred to in France. He states that "they were in everybody's garden in Paris whilst still a rarity at Rome, and an absolute novelty in England" (Lacaita, 1919). If Lescarbot brought the tubers to Port Royal in the autumn of 1607, this would have given sufficient time (10 years) for them to have become common, leading to their subsequent introduction into England in 1617 (Hereman, 1868) and John Parkinson's description of the crop in 1629. Based upon this scenario, Lacaita (1919) believed "there can be little doubt that the roots were imported into France on the occasion of the return of Lescarbot's party of 1607." Early illustrations (Figure 2.2) support the idea that the crop was relatively well known in the early 1600s.

Fabio Colonna (1616) was the first botanist to describe the plant, which no doubt contributed to the incorrect impression that the tubers were distributed throughout Europe from the Farnese Gardens in Rome. The more probable route of introduction into England was by way of Holland, where Petrus Hondius was the first to grow the crop. H. tuberosus was not cited in the earliest Dutch literature of the 1600s (e.g., Pelletier and Schilders, 1610) until the 1618 edition of Dodoen's Cruydt-Boeck. In an appendix to this edition he lists exotic plants where the crop is mentioned as Batatas van Canada and Articiochen onder d'aerde. Hondius apparently planted the tubers on February 28, 1613. "This plant was first brought to this country from the French Indies that are called Canada, although it does not multiply its roots there so much as here, nevertheless here it does not bloom, except when the summers are hot and there is a long drought." Hence, they were

FIGURE 2.2 Early-17th-century botanical drawings of H. tuberosus by (a) Colonna (1616), (b) Lauremberg (1632), and (c) Parkinson (1640).

FIGURE 2.2 Early-17th-century botanical drawings of H. tuberosus by (a) Colonna (1616), (b) Lauremberg (1632), and (c) Parkinson (1640).

cultivated in the Low Countries prior to being mentioned by Colonna as present in the Farnese Gardens.

Helianthus tuberosus was not described in the English literature in the late 1500s or early 1600s, e.g., Gerarde's Herball of 1597. The earliest mention in England was by TobiasVenner in 1622, where he indicates "Artichoks of Jerusalem is a roote usually eaten with butter, vinegar, and pepper, by itselfe, or together with other meats." Goodyer in 1617 "received two small roots thereof from Mr. Franquevill of London, no bigger than hen eggs, the one I planted, and the other I gave to a friend: myne brought me a pecke of roots, wherewith I stored Hampshire" (Gerard et al., 1633). One of the earliest illustrations of the species (Figure 2.2) was in Parkinson's Theater of Plants (1640).

Thus, the path of early introduction was from North America to France in 1607, and then, based on first statements in the literature, to Holland in 1613, Italy in 1614, England in 1617 (either via the Netherlands or directly from France), Germany in 1626, Denmark in 1642, Poland in 1652, Sweden in 1658, and Portugal in 1661 (Wein, 1963). From this initial distribution, H. tuberosus has traveled to all corners of the world, though finding greater interest in temperate regions in which it is adapted. For example, the Jerusalem artichoke reached Russia in the 18 th century under Peter the Great (1672-1725) (Vavilov, 1992). Subsequent movement of the crop has in many cases been bidirectional, fluctuating with each oscillation in interest in the species and its path essentially impossible to document accurately.

While the storage organ of the Jerusalem artichoke is anatomically a tuber (i.e., an underground structure consisting of a solid thickened portion or outgrowth of a stem or rhizome, of a more or less rounded form, and bearing eyes or buds from which new plants arise (Simpson and Weiner, 1989)), in the early literature it is referred to as a root. This is because the term tuber, derived from the Latin tuber, was not in the English language until 1668, when it was first used by Wilkins in his "Essay towards a Real Character, and Philosophical Language" (Wilkins, 1668).

Surprisingly, botanists and gardeners of the 17th and 18th centuries had a fairly good understanding of the crop. For example, Brookes gives the following description of the Jerusalem artichoke (listed as Helianthemum tuberosum or Helianthemum indicum tuberosum) in 1763:

One /talk or more ri/es from each root, which is green, /treaked, rough, hairy, and attains the length of twelve feet or upwards, full of a white /pungy pith. The leaves are many, placed in no order, and from the bottom to the top, and are greeni/h, rough, broad, and acuminated like tho/e of the common /unflower, but not /o much wrinkled nor /o broad. The /talks /oon after their ri/e are branched, and the leaves decrea/e in /ize from the bottom to the top. The flowers grow on the top of the /talks, and are of the /ize of marygolds, and radiated. The di/k con/i/ts of many yellow floretts, with a crown compo/ed of twelve or thirteen /treaked pointed gold coloured /emi-floretts, placed on embryoes in a /caly villous cup. The embryoes turn into /mall /eeds, and the /talk emits /everal /lender creeping roots, that /pread themfelves on all /ides, between which there are many tubero/e roots, /ometimes adhering to the chief foot, and /ometimes connected to long fibres a foot di/tant from them. One root will produce thirty, forty, fifty, or more potatoes. The/e are reddi/h or whiti/h without, and con/i/t of a whiti/h /ub/tance, or fle/h, with a /weeti/h ta/te, and are often bigger than a man's fi/t. They continue in the ground all the winter, and the next year they /pring again. This plant has been greatly propagated in England for this forty or fifty years pa/t; for though it was brought from America in 1623 it was not much cultivated before, becau/e they were then thought only fit for poor people; but now they are in general e/teem. It always u/ed to be ranked among the kinds of /olanum, and by Linnxus it is placed under tho/e of the Lycoper/icon, or the Love Apple. It is propagated here by the roots, which if large are into pieces, pre/erving a bud or eye in each; but the be/t method is to plant the fine/t roots entire, allowing them a pretty large /pace of ground between the rows, as al/o each root, and then tho/e that are produced will be large the following autumn. A light /andy loam is be/t, if not too dry or moi/t, and it /hould be will ploughed two or three times, and the deeper the better. They are of little u/e for any thing but food, and /ome pretend they are very windy, while others in/i/t upon the contary; however they are very nouri/hing, abate the acrimony of the blood and juices, and are con/equently good in di/orders of the brea/t. There are /ome people in France that eat them raw with /alt and pepper.

For a time after its spread around Europe (Bagot, 1847), the tubers of H. tuberosus were a significant source of dietary carbohydrate. However, its importance declined after the introduction of the potato (Solanum tuberosum L.). It has had surges in cultivation, for example, after WWII in France and Germany, when potatoes were scarce. The extent of its popularity is indicated by the number of books and monographs (~35) published (predominantly in French, German, and Russian) on the crop since 1789 (Table 2.3). Today, Jerusalem artichoke has the potential to once again become an important crop, on the basis of a wide range of nonfood and food applications.

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