Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Edible plants used in Brazil during the 16th and 17th century according to historical reports.

Abstract

This work aimed to study the edible flora in Brazil during the 16th and 17th centuries from analyses of texts of 18 authors who visited the country during this period. The cited plants were identified by similarity through the descriptions and images in the studied texts, area of occurrence, popular name, and the analysis of other botanical studies. In all, 827 citations of food plants were found in the texts studied; it was possible to identify 183 species belonging to 61 different botanical families; 37 citations weren't possible to identify. Of the plants identified, 55% are native to Americas, including Brazil and other american countries, 8% are endemic to Brazil, 37% are exotic to Americas and for two plants it wasn't possible to find their origin. From this data it is possible to say that during the 16th and 17th century there was the use of a great cornucopia of plant species by the brazilian population, especially cassava, pineapple, genipap, sweet potato and corn. The presence of exotic and naturalized species native to the Americas shows the exchange of germplasm that already existed among pre-columbian populations. During the 16th and 17th century there was an intense exchange of plants with other regions of the world promoted by Europeans, which resulted in the introduction of many cultivated and exotic species that became important in the brazilian diet. Finally we can say that many of those plants used during that time are now neglected.