Monday, April 19, 2010

Brassica campestris to America

Brassica campestris to America
The turnips and other European cultivars of Brassica campestris have been introduced to the Americas in innumerable occasions.

The first record of introduction of turnips to eastern North America was in 1540 to Canada by Cartier. Turnips were being grown in the Virginia colony by 1609 and were widely grown in other colonies by the 18th century.

In Canada, B. campestris eventually became a huge oilseed crop.

Spaniards introduced turnips a soon after 1500 to Hispaniola, other West Indian islands and Panama. By about 1550 they were adopted into Indian gardens in Colombia.

Field mustard, the unimproved weed form of Brassica campestris was independently introduced to the Americas and spread widely as a volunteer in wheat and barley fields.

Indian farmers of the Andean valleys have accepted it as a useful weed. While they do not want it to dominate the grain fields, neither do they want to eliminate it.

They pull the young mustard plants out of the grain to cook as a green vegetable and for livestock fodder.

Enough of the weeds remain to produce another year’s crop. A similar situation is found among the Tarahumar of northwestern Mexico.

These Indians presumably obtained B. campestris as a weed of grain crops brought by early Spanish missionaries.

The Indians not only gather the weed for green, but also sow patches of it an an incipient domesticate, selecting seed for production of more greens and swollen roots.
Brassica campestris to America