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Select African Diaspora Plant Inventory (Complete)


Black eyed peas, a staple of African-American cuisine.
Black eyed peas, a staple of African-American cuisine.

Over the past weeks, Gardening While Black has published an inventory of select African Diaspora plants in five parts. For your reference, this is the complete list. We have assembled more than 100 plants from various sources - books, publications, prototype gardens and conferences - in order to identify plants that inextricably connected to the descendants of the Middle Passage and the peoples of West Africa.


Our select African Diaspora plant inventory is currently North American and Caribbean-centric.  We will eventually add more plants from the gardening scene in West Africa, the Caribbean and South America.







PLANT

CLASS

BACKGROUND / ORIGINS

SOURCE

Ackee/Akee Apple

Blighia sapida

West Africa;  tropical;  Ackee and salt fish - popular dish in Caribbean;  fruit of Sapindaceae (Soapberry)

NYBG-Caribbean;  In the Shadow of Slavery:  Africa’s Botanical Legacy In The Atlantic World - 2009 (J. Carney)

Aloe

Aloe vera

Native to tropical and southern Africa, Madagascar, Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula and islands in the Indian Ocean

Amaranth:   Calaloo

Amaranthus spinosus

Domesticated in Africa, Americas and the Caribbean;  Vegetable amaranth

NYBG-Caribbean; Truelove Seeds;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Annatto

Bixa orellana

Orange-red condiment/food coloring;  thrives in warm, humid climates (India, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica and other locations)

NYBG-Caribbean; Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity (Slow Food Foundation)

Arrowroot

Maranta arundinacea

West Indian arrowroot;  from indigenous group, arawak; tropical root vegetable

Banana:  African rhino horn,  Grand Palm

Musa acuminata x musa balbisiana


Basil:  Besobela (Ethiopian Basil);  Vana Tulsi

Ocimum basilicum var. minimum;  Besobela - Ocimum spp/;  Vana - Ocimum gratissimum

Besobela - Ethiopia;  Vana - Africa, Madagascar, southern Asia,Bismarck Archipelago of New Guinea  Vana - West African culinary herb

Bay Laurel

Laurus nobvbilis


Bean (legume):  Black turtle, Kebariuka,  Red kidney bean (light),  Pole snap bean

Phaseolus vulgaris


Farming While Black:  Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land - 2018 (L. Penniman); NYBG-CaribbeanUjamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance

Bean:  Lima bean;  Speckled Brown Butterbean (Bush)

Phaseolus lunatus

Per Truelove, Speckled Brown Butterbean considered a traditional delicacy of North American South;  origin in South America

Bean:  Mbogo green

Lablab purpureus

Kenya;  East Africa;  Creator god Mbombo

Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Pennman);  In the Shadow of Slavery:  Africa’s Botanical Legacy In The Atlantic World - 2009 (J. Carney)

Butterfly milkweed

Asclepius tuberosa

Native to eastern and southwest North America

Cassava, manihot, yuca


Manihot esculenta;  Euphorbiaceae

Edible leaves and tuber;  requires special cooking technique to reduce poison;  Origin - tropics

NYBG-CaribbeanUjamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance;  Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science

Catnip

Nepeta cataria

Mint family;  medicinal properties

Chayote

Sicyos edulis (educe);  Sechium edule

Mexico-Central America-Caribbean;  Squash, in gourd family - cucurbitaceae;  used in many Cuban recipes;  hot tropical gardens

NYBG-Caribbean; Slow Food Foundation;  Heirloom Vegetable Gardening:  A Master Gardener’s Guide To Planting, Seed Saving, and Cultural History - 2018 (W.W. Weaver)

Cilantro (Coriander)

Coriandrum sativum

Edible annual herb likely native to the Mediterranean

Coffee (robusta)

Coffee robusta

West Africa

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Corn:  Sea Island White Flint

Zea mays

Crops from Sea Islands, Georgia, South Carolina

Cucumber:  Burr Gherkin, West Indian gherkin

Cucumis anguria

Angola to Caribbean

Farming While Black  - 2018 (L. Penniman);  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Cucumber:  Cerasee (African cucumber/bitter melon/balsam pear)


Momordica charantia 'big top’, charantia ‘goya’, 'jade dragon’, ‘cundeamor'

Bitter melon leaf used in Jamaica for healing properties of leaves

NYBG-Caribbean; Truelove Seeds;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Culantro

Eryngium foetidum

Culinary and medicinal leafy greens commonly used in Caribbean and Latin America

Curry tree

Murraya koenigii

Tropical and subtropical tree native to Asia 

NYBG-Caribbean

Eggplant:   Louisiana long green eggplant, Rosita, White Garden Egg

Solanum melongena

From Asia to Africa; fruits, Southern and Creole gardens

Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman)


Eggplant: Striped Garden Egg (Striped Toga Eggplant), White Garden Egg,  Rotunda Red Eggplant

Solanum aethiopicum var. Gilo

Rotunda Red Eggplant arrived in Europe from Africa by end of the 19th century 

Truelove Seeds Sistah Seeds; Slow Food Foundation;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Elderberry

Mentyha x piperita


Garlic:  Music

Allium sativum var. Ophioscorodom


Ginger, Peruvian yellow

Zingiber officinale


Gourd:   Birdhouse Gourd, Bradshaw’s  Bottle Gourd

Lagenaria siceraria


NYBG-African-American; While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Greens (Collard Greens):   Alabama Blue, Green Glaze,  Nancy Malone Wheat Purple, Variegated,  William Alexander

Brassica oleracea


NYBG-African-American;  Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  Truelove Seeds

Greens:  Dandelion

Cichorium intybus ‘Catalogna’


NYBG-African-American;  Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman)

Greens:  East African,  Ethiopian Blue Kale

Brassica carinata

Amara Ethiopia

Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  Sistah Seeds


Greens:  Efo Gburę, Waterleaf

Talinum fruticosum;  Talcum triangulare

Nigeria leafy vegetable

Greens:  Efo shoko, Lagos spinach/Nigerian spinach

Celosia argentea

Nigeria, Benin, Congo and Cameroon; type of Celosia;  related to Amaranth


Greens:   Eggplant, Gbognome collard

Solanum melongena;  Solanum macrocarpon

Togo, West Africa;  edible leaves

Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman); Sistah Seeds

Greens:  Lacinato Rainbow Mix,  Premier, Moses Smith Yellow Cabbage Collard

Brassica oleracea

Moses Smith Yellow Cabbage Collard is part of the heirloom collards project;  received by the Seed Savers Exchange in 2016.

Greens (Mustard):  Carolina Broadleaf, Southern Giant Curled

Brassica juncea


Greens  (Turnip):   Seven Top Turnips

Brassica rapa

1830s Virginia

Greens (Spinach):   Molokhia Egyptian Spinach

Corchorus olitorius

Ghana, Burkina Faso;  Palestine

Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  Truelove Seeds

Greens (Cress):  Creasy Greens

Barbarea verna

Commonly referred to as 

mountain cress

Guinea pepper

Xylopia aethiopica


In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Hibiscus (Sorrel):  Doc’s North, Florida, Roselle, Red

Hibiscus sabdariffa

Roselle, Hibiscus, Bissau

NYBG-African-American;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney);  NYBG-CaribbeanTruelove Seeds

Hibiscus (Sorrel):   Shoeblack Hibiscus

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Choeblack;  rose cayenne

Hibiscus (Sorrel):  White

Hibiscus albus

Senegal

Farming While Black  - 2018 (L. Penniman);  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Jamaican vervain

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

Grows in Caribbean and  Central America;  commonly used for medicinal purposes and tea

Jute Mallow:  ewedu

Corchorus Olitorius

West Africa;  Leafy green vegetable (soups/sauces)

Melon:  Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon

Citrullus lanatus

West Africa

Truelove SeedsNYBG-African-American;  Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman)

Melon:  Muskmelon

Cucumis melo L.

West Africa

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Melon:  Egusi melon

Cucumeropsis edulis (cucurbitaceous)

West Africa

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney);   Colonial Williamsburg Sankofa Heritage Garden

Millet:   Dragon’s Claw

Eleusine coracana

Finger Millet

Millet:  Pearl Millet; Guinea Millet

Pennisetum glaucum; Cenchrus americanus;  Brachiaria deflexa


NYBG-African-American; In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney); Colonial Williamsburg Sankofa Heritage Garden

Nut:  Bambara Groundnut, Goober pea, Zimbabwe Red Bambara

Vigna subterranea (formerly Voandzia subterranean)

Africa - Ethiopia, Mali Angola, Northern Nigeria/Caneroon; Bambara nut, Pindar

NYBG-African-American; Farming While Black - (L. Penniman); In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney);  Ujamaa Cooperative Farming AllianceColonial Williamsburg Sankofa Heritage Garden

Nut:  Peanut (Goober nut), Carolina Runner, Peanut Black Runner;  Black Pindar Peanut

Arachis hypogaea

Native to South America

NYBG-African-American; Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman); NYBG-Caribbean; 100 Vegetables - 2000 (W.W. Weaver);  Colonial Williamsburg Sankofa Heritage Garden

Nut:  Kola nut

Cola nitida;  Cola acuminata

West African

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Okra:  Alabama Red, Burgundy, Cowtown, Hill Country Red, Puerto Rico Everblush, Sea Island Red, White Velvet; Catawba Freedman Okra 

Abelmoschus esculentus;  Hibiscus esculentus

Sea Island Red (Gullah Geechee community);  White Velvet (variety provided to William Woys Weaver in the. Mid-1990s)

NYBG-African-American;  Farming While Black - (L. Penniman);  Truelove SeedsSistah Seeds;  The Whole Okra - 2019 (Chris Smith);  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney);  Heirloom Vegetable Gardening - 2018 (W.W. Weaver);  Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance

Okra:  Moody Family Okra

Abelmoschus caillei

West Africa

Onion:  Alisa Craig, New York Early, Red Wethersfield, Figaro Rodriguez

Allium cepa;  Allium cepa var. Aggregatum


Onion:  Chives

Allium schoenoprasum


Onion (Scallions):   Evergreen White Bunching

Allium fistulosum


NYBG-Caribbean;  Heirloom Vegetable Gardening - 2018 (W.W. Weaver)

Palm:  Coconut Palm

Cocos nucifera


Palm:  Oil Palm

Elaeis guineensis

Guinea, West and Southwest Africa

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Pepper (hot):    Buena Mulata, Fish Pepper;  Ole Pepperpot

Capsicum annuum

Collected and preserved by painter Horace Pippin and reintroduced by William Woys Weaver.

NYBG-African-American; Truelove SeedsSistah Seeds; 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From - 2000 (W.W. Weaver)

Pepper (hot):   Aji Dulce, Chocolate seven pot, Scotch Bonnet, Tobago, Trinidad seven pot, West Indies Red

Capsicum chinense 


NYBG-African-AmericanNYBG-Caribbean;  100 Vegetables - 2000 (W.W. Weaver)

Pepper (hot):   Mboga, Tabasco;  Piri Piri Pepper Mix (African Bird’s Eye Chili)

Capsicum frutescens

Vegetable pepper Zanzibar

Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  NYBG-CaribbeanSistah Seeds

Pepper (hot):  Melegueta Pepper

Aframomum melegueta


In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Pepper (low heat):  Trinidad Seasoning Pepper

Capsicum Chinese

Popular cooking pepper in Trinidad and Tobago

Parsley:  Giant of Italy

Petroselinum crispum


Pea:  Red peas, Sea Island;  Purple Hull Pinkeye,  Sea Island Rice Pea; Ezell Family Fish Eye Blackeyed Pea, Brown Crowder, Iron and Clay, First Lady Northern, Whippoorwill 

Vigna unguiculata

West Africa; Gullah Geechee variety;  Beecher red pea

Truelove SeedsSistah Seeds; Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  NYBG-African-AmericanNYBG-Caribbean;  Heirloom Vegetable Gardening - 2018 (W.W. Weaver);   Colonial Williamsburg Sankofa Heritage Garden

Pea:  Pigeon peas, Gandules, Gungo peas

Cajanus cajan

Gandules in Spanish;  Gungo peas in Jamaica

Plantain

Plantago major


Plantain:  Dwarf Puerto Rican

Musa


Potato:  Irish Potato

Solanum tuberosum


Potato:  Dazo/Fingerling

Plectranthus esculentus

West Africa

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Potato:  Hausa potato/piasa

Solenostemon rotundifolius

West Africa

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Potato, Sweet Potato:   Beauregard, Boniato, Pumpkin yam sweet potato

Ipomoea batatas

“Diasporic King of Crops”;  in North America, sweet potatoes became a substitute for true yams from Africa;  Boniato is a sweet potato with dry, white flesh

NYBG-African-American;  Farming While Black;  NYBG-Caribbean;  100 Vegetables - (W.W. Weaver);  Colonial Williamsburg Sankofa Heritage Garden

Pumpkin:   Calabaza, Haitian pumpkin


Cucurbita moschata

Joumou pumpkin

NYBG-Caribbean;  Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  Heirloom Vegetable Gardening - (W.W. Weaver)

Pumpkin:  Fluted pumpkin

Telfairia occidentalis

West Africa

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Purslane

Portulaca oleracea



Rabbits tobacco:  Sweet everlasting

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium


Rice

Oryza Glaberrima


Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas - 2001 (J. Carney)

Rice:  Buffalo, Carolina Gold, Djubuh, M’Bale, WAB 56-104

Oryza Sativa


NYBG-Caribbean;  Black Rice - 2001 (J. Carney)

Sesame:   Blue Sesame, Sea Island Benne, Beniseed

Sesamum indicum;  Sesamum radiatum

West Africa

Truelove Seeds; Sistah Seeds; NYBG-African-American;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Sorghum:   Coral, Sugar Drip (Guinea Corn)

Sorghum bicolor

South of Sudan to Mauritania

NYBG-African-American;   Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  Truelove Seeds;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney);  Colonial Williamsburg Sankofa Heritage Garden

Spices:  Turmeric, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Nutmeg, Allspice, Curry;  Allspice

Turmeric-Curcuma longa; Cardamon-Elletaria cardamomum;  Cinnamon-Cinnamomum verum;  Vanilla-Vanilla planifolia (orchid family-Orchidaceae);  Nutmeg-Myristica fragrans;  Allspice-Pimenta dioica; Curry-Murraya koenigii;  Allspice-Pimenta dioica


Squash:   White bush scalloped squash

Cucurbita pep

North American indigenous people

Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman)

Squash:  Green-striped Cushaw pumpkin

Cucurbita mixta;  Curcurbita argyrosperma


Farming While Black - (L. Penniman);  Sistah Seeds

Sugar Cane:   Bourboriat Suriname,  Homeowners green, Jamaican stripe, Purple Ribbon,  Red variety

Saccharum officinarum



Sunchoke:  Jerusalem artichoke

Helianthus tuberosus


Sweet flag root

Acor acorus calamus var. americanus

Used by Native American tribes for ceremonies, medicine and trade.

Tamarind

Tamarindus indica

Native to tropical Africa; used for foods, beverages and medicines;  legume family

NYBG-Caribbean;   Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science

Taro

Colocasia esculenta

Food staple, root vegetable;  African, Oceanic, East Asian, Southeast Asian

Tomato:   Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad Tomato,  Moyamensing (Eastern State Prison),  Goose Creek,  Paul Robeson,  Plate de Haiti, Purple Calabash

Solanum lycopersicum

According William Woys Weaver, the Plate de Haiti has been grown in Haiti and the Dominican Republic since before the 1560s.

Truelove SeedsSistah SeedsNYBG-African-American;  Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  From Seed to Skillet:  A Guide to Growing, Tending, Harvesting and Cooking Up Fresh, Healthful Food to Share with People You Love - 2010 (Jimmy Williams)

Tomato:  Black nightshade;  Nightshade

Solanum nigrum; Solanum macrocarbon


Farming While Black - 2018 (L. Penniman);  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Tomato:  Chiapas, bitter tomato

Solanum pimpinellifolium;  Solanum incanum


NYBG-Caribbean;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Yam:  African White

Dioscorea rotundata

West Africa

NYBG-African-American;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Yam:  Guinea Yam, Yellow Yam

Dioscorea cayenensis

West Africa

NYBG-African-American;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Yam:  Indian Yam, Inhame, Cush-Cush

Dioscorea trifida

Caribbean, Central/South America

Yam:  True Yam (Air potato yam)

Dioscorea bulbifera


NYBG-Caribbean;  In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Yam:  Three-leaved bitter yam

Discorea dumetorum

West Africa

In the Shadow of Slavery - 2009 (J. Carney)

Yam: Yam potato

Solanum tuberous

Plant migrated from South Carolina to England in the 1700s;  Weaver: “a living artifact of African-American history…”

100 Vegetables - 2000 (W.W. Weaver)

Yautia Lila, Malanga blanca

Xanthosoma sagittifolium

Root vegetable;  South America and the tropics; Puerto Rican starchy tuber;  substitute for potatoes or yams


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