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Chapter 20 Family Fabaceae

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Family Fabaceae


Origin and History

Fabaceae, also known as the legume, pea, or bean family, is large and economically important.

Fabaceae is the third-largest plant family, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species (Stevens, 2012).

The family was known as Leguminosae for many years but was redesignated Fabaceae in the

1980s. Members are often simply referred to as legumes.

The common bean dates back approximately

7,000 years ago based on radiocarbon dating.

Singh et al. (1991) identified two distinct gene pools of common bean, one of Andean origin and the other in Central America and Mexico. The primary center of origin for bean is southern Mexico and warm regions of Guatemala, while the second center is in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. In the wild, the common bean is found in both low and high elevations as well as dry and humid locations.

European explorers spread the New World bean

(Phaseolus sp.), especially P. vulgaris, to other regions where they were quickly adapted and rapidly accepted (Zohary and Hopf, 2000).

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Chapter 3 Vegetable Seeds and Crop Establishment

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Vegetable Seeds and Crop



Most vegetable crops are grown from seeds and not vegetatively propagated. A seed can be defined as

“an immature plant in an arrested state” produced through sexual reproduction. If a plant produces seeds that germinate “true-to-type” and grow rapidly, it is cheaper, more efficient, and usually faster to propagate the crop by seed. True-to-type simply means that the plant that results from a seed has the same traits and appearance as the plant that produced the seed.

Vegetables that do not grow true-to-type from seed or that are difficult to propagate from seed such as potato, sweetpotato, or globe artichoke are vegetatively propagated. Vegetative propagation is a form of asexual reproduction of a plant where the stems, leaves, and roots, or other tissue not involved in reproduction are rooted. With vegetative propagation, the new plant is a clone that is genetically identical to the parent.

Seeds produced through tissue culture are sometimes called synthetic seeds. Synthetic seed can be defined as the artificial encapsulation of somatic embryos, shoot buds, aggregates of cells, or any tissues that have the ability to form a plant (Fujii et al., 1987). Synthetic seeds have been produced commercially but make up a small percentage of the commercial vegetable seeds sold in the world.

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Chapter 13 Family Poaceae

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Family Poaceae



Origin and History

Sweet corn, also known as green maize or sweet maize in many parts of the world, is a crop of New

World origin. Scientists believe that sweet corn was domesticated in southern Mexico very long ago

(Ranere, 2009). The progenitor of modern corn was a wild, annual grass, perhaps with a terminal flowering structure with male flowers above and female flowers below. Another theory suggests that the original plant had a terminal male spikelet with several small female spikelets at the nodes immediately below the male flower cluster (Goodman,

1988). Pollen samples collected near Mexico City were estimated to be 60–70,000 years old, illustrating how old corn is (Beadle, 1981; Sears, 1982).

Deliberate cultivation of corn began approximately

7,000 years ago. Teosinte (Zea mays spp. mexicana) may be similar to the wild plant from which corn was developed (Matsuoka et al., 2002). From the original

2.5 cm (1 in) wild pod, human selection has created a pod many times larger than the wild form (Galinat,

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Chapter 18 Family Asparagaceae

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Family Asparagaceae


Origin and History

Asparagus is a very ancient crop native to the eastern

Mediterranean region, Asia Minor, and possibly as far east as the Caucasus mountains (Rubatzky and

Yamaguchi, 1997). The Ancient Greeks (200 bc) and

Romans considered asparagus a delicacy that also had medicinal qualities for relieving toothaches.

Asparagus was gathered from the wild until the

Romans began cultivation. After the Roman

Empire ended, there was little mention of asparagus during medieval times (Vaughan and Geissler, 2009).

There are historic references to asparagus production in England in 1538 and Germany in 1567, and by the end of the 16th century asparagus was produced in France. Louis XIV enjoyed asparagus so much that he constructed hothouse beds for out-of-season production (Ilott, 1901). Asparagus was introduced to North America from Europe by 1672, and President Thomas Jefferson grew asparagus at his home in Virginia in the late 1700s.

Asparagus was first planted in California in the

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Chapter 11 Family Solanaceae

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Family Solanaceae


Origin and History

The potato is an ancient crop. Potatoes were used as food at least 8,000 years ago according to carbon dating of starch grains found in archaeological excavations in the Andean regions of Peru and

Bolivia (Brown, 1993). The potato was unknown to the outside world until the Spanish explorer and conqueror Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada (1499–

1579) and his men took it to Spain. The Spanish thought the potato was a kind of truffle and called them “tartuffo”. However, potatoes soon became a standard supply item on the Spanish ships because sailors who ate them did not suffer from scurvy

(Brown, 1993).

Both wild and cultivated potato plants survive well in soil because of their high moisture content and starch and other nutrient reserves, which enable repeated regeneration of shoots. Unharvested tubers remain dormant in the soil but sprout under favorable conditions, enabling continued survival without replanting. The Inca’s ability to preserve harvested potato tubers as chuño, a product made by the mashing and naturally drying tubers during repeated freezing and thawing cycles at high-elevations, increased their versatility as a food crop.

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