In the wild, eggplant grew in the Middle East, South Asia and India. It is there that you can meet the distant ancestors of eggplant, growing in the wild. The eggplant was first cultivated more than 1,500 years ago precisely in those parts, as evidenced by the ancient Sanskrit texts. This vegetable spread thanks to Arabs who brought eggplant in Africa in the 9th century. Europeans got acquainted with eggplant in the middle of the 15th century, however, they began to grow this culture widely later – only in the 19th century.
Courgettes, like all squaw, has its ancestry in the Americas, specifically Mesoamerica. However, the varieties of green, cylindrical squash harvested immature and typically called “zucchini” were cultivated in northern Italy, as much as three centuries after the introduction of cucurbits from the Americas. It appears that this occurred in the second half of the 19th century, although the first description of the variety under the name zucchini occurs in a work published in Milan in 1901. Early varieties usually appended the names of nearby cities in their names.
Although cabbage has an extensive history, it is difficult to trace its exact origins owing to the many varieties of leafy greens classified as “brassicas”. The wild ancestor of cabbage, Brassica oleracea, originally found in Britain and continental Europe, is tolerant of salt but not encroachment by other plants and consequently inhabits rocky cliffs in cool damp coastal habitats, retaining water and nutrients in its slightly thickened, turgid leaves. According to the triangle of U theory of the evolution and relationships between Brassica species, B. oleracea and other closely related kale vegetables (cabbages, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) represent one of three ancestral lines from which all other brassicas originated.
Both written history and molecular genetic studies indicate that the domestic carrot has a single origin in Central Asia. Its wild ancestors probably originated in Persia (regions of which are now Iran and Afghanistan), which remains the centre of diversity for the wild carrot Daucus carota. A naturally occurring subspecies of the wild carrot was presumably bred selectively over the centuries to reduce bitterness, increase sweetness and minimise the woody core; this process produced the familiar garden vegetable.
The cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellises or other supporting frames, wrapping around supports with thin, spiraling tendrils. The plant may also root in a soilless medium and will sprawl along the ground if it does not have supports. The vine has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruits. The fruit of typical cultivars of cucumber is roughly cylindrical, but elongated with tapered ends, and may be as large as 62 centimeters (24 in) long and 10 centimeters (4 in) in diameter.
Capsicum fruits have been a part of human diets since about 7,500 BC, and are one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Americas, as origins of cultivating chili peppers are traced to northeastern Mexico some 6,000 years ago. They were one of the first self-pollinating crops cultivated in Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America.
The name pepper was given by Europeans when Christopher Columbus brought the plant back to Europe. At that time, black pepper (peppercorns), from the unrelated plant Piper nigrum originating from India, was a highly prized condiment. The name pepper was applied in Europe to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste and was therefore extended to genus Capsicum when it was introduced from the Americas. The most commonly used name of the plant family, chile, is of Mexican origin, from the Nahuatl word chilli.
“Tomato” dates back to the Aztec name of the plant “tomato”. The word fell into Russian from French (tomate). “Tomato,” another popular name for the vegetable, comes from Ital. pomo d’oro – the “golden apple”. Both variants of the name are used in Russian (moreover, “tomato” is more common both in published literature and in search queries of Internet users).
Varieties of radish are now broadly distributed around the world, but almost no archeological records are available to help determine their early history and domestication. However, scientists tentatively locate the origin of Raphanus sativus in Southeast Asia, as this is the only region where truly wild forms have been discovered. India, central China, and Central Asia appear to have been secondary centers where differing forms were developed.
Radishes are annual or biennial brassicaceous crops grown for their swollen tap roots which can be globular, tapering, or cylindrical. The root skin colour ranges from white through pink, red, purple, yellow, and green to black, but the flesh is usually white. The roots obtain their color from anthocyanins. Red varieties use the anthocyanin pelargonidin as a pigment, and purple cultivars obtain their color from cyanidin. Smaller types have a few leaves about 13 cm (5 in) long with round roots up to 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter or more slender, long roots up to 7 cm (3 in) long. Both of these are normally eaten raw in salads.
The most common type of turnip is mostly white-skinned apart from the upper 1 to 6 centimetres (1⁄2 to 2 1⁄2 inches), which protrude above the ground and are purple or red or greenish where the sun has hit. This above-ground part develops from stem tissue, but is fused with the root. The interior flesh is entirely white. The root is roughly globular, from 5–20 cm (2–8 in) in diameter, and lacks side roots. Underneath, the taproot (the normal root below the swollen storage root) is thin and 10 cm (4 in) or more in length; it is often trimmed off before the vegetable is sold.
Beets were domesticated in the ancient Middle East, primarily for their greens, and were grown by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. By the Roman era, it is thought that they were cultivated for their roots as well. From the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood. Bartolomeo Platina recommended taking beetroot with garlic to nullify the effects of “garlic-breath”.
Allium sativum is a perennial flowering plant growing from a bulb, it has a tall, erect flowering stem that grows up to 1 m (3 ft). The leaf blade is flat, linear, solid, and approximately 1.25–2.5 cm (0.5–1.0 in) wide, with an acute apex. The plant may produce pink to purple flowers from July to September in the Northern Hemisphere. The bulb is odoriferous and contains outer layers of thin sheathing leaves surrounding an inner sheath that encloses the clove. Often the bulb contains 10 to 20 cloves that are asymmetric in shape, except for those closest to the center. If garlic is planted at the proper time and depth, it can be grown as far north as Alaska. It produces hermaphrodite flowers. It is pollinated by bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects.
In botany, the term herb refers to a herbaceous plant, defined as a small, seed-bearing plant without a woody stem in which all aerial parts (i.e. above ground) die back to the ground at the end of each growing season. Usually the term refers to perennials, although herbaceous plants can also be annuals (where the plant dies at the end of the growing season and grows back from seed next year), or biennials. This term is in contrast to shrubs and trees which possess a woody stem.
The word “salad” comes to English from the French salade of the same meaning, itself an abbreviated form of the earlier Vulgar Latin herba salata (salted greens), from the Latin salata (salted), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appears as “salad” or “sallet” in the 14th century. Salt is associated with salad because vegetables were seasoned with brine (a solution of salt in water) or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings during Roman times.