Historical overview on domesticated plants in China with special emphasis on the Cucurbitaceae

Abstract

Cultivation of plants in northern China began at an early date. A number of domesticates were derived from native species, and others were introduced from southeastern Asia. Many vegetable species are included in myths and stories of ancient China. These traditional stories, as well as ancient agricultural and medicinal books, often mention cultivated members of the Cucurbitaceae. Twelve genera and 18 species of cucurbits are currently under cultivation in China. A number of them appear to be endemic to Indochina, while others were introduced from Western Asia and the New World. A recent trip to China and a survey of Chinese literature indicated that many cucurbits are consumed in the immature state as vegetables, some are eaten as fruits, and various species are used for medicine and a variety of other purposes.

Zusammenfassung

Resumen histórico de las plantas domésticas de la China con énfasis en las Cucurbitaceae. El cultivo de las plantas comenzó en una edad temprana en el norte de China. Varias plantas domésticas fueron derivadas de especies nativas, mientras que otras fueran introducidas desde el sudeste de Asia. Las historias y los mitos de la China antiqua cuentan de diversas especies vegetales. Estos relatos tradicionales, tanto como los viejos libros de las agricultura y medicina, frecuentemente mencionan los miembros cultivados de las Cucurbitaceae. Hoy en día se cultivan doce géneros y dieciocho especies de las familia en la China. Algunas Cucurbitaceae parecen ser endémicos de la Indochina, mientras que otras fueron introducidas desde el oeste de Asia y del Nuevo Mundo. Un viaje reciente a la China y un estudio de la literatura China indicaron que muchas Cucurbitaceae son consumidas en el estado inmaduro, algunas son comidas como frutas, y varias especies son utilizadas en medicina otros propósitos.

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Walters, T.W. Historical overview on domesticated plants in China with special emphasis on the Cucurbitaceae. Econ Bot 43, 297–313 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02858729

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Keywords

  • Melon
  • Economic Botany
  • Chinese Culture
  • Mature Fruit
  • Immature Fruit