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Introduction of the Potato into Western and Central Europe

Naturevolume 191pages518519 (1961) | Download Citation



THE botanist Clusius, who prepared one of the first descriptions of the potato plant1, indicated not only the time (the beginning of 1588) of his receiving from Philippe de Sivry (Prefect of the City of Mons, Belgium) two potato tubers and a berry, but also when Philippe de Sivry himself obtained the tubers. Clusius wrote that Philippe de Sivry had received it in the preceding year from a certain friend of the Papal Legate in Belgium under the name of ‘Taratouffli’. (“Is a familiari quodam Legati Pontifici in Belgio se acceptisse scribebat, anno praecedente Taratouffli nomine”). Roze, the author of Histoire de la Pomme de Terre 2, translating into French Clusius's description, erroneously omitted the words “in the preceding year”. The same mistake was repeated by Redcliffe Salaman in his monograph The History and Social Influence of the Potato 3. Fuess4 in Germany, as a result of Roze's fault and evidently having no original text by Clusius, erroneously supposed the time of potato introduction into Mons to be the year 1566. Roze admitted the second mistake in the French translation of Clusius's potato diagnosis. Clusius describes the shape of his potato berries as “orbiculata”. That strictly means not globose or rounded but disk-shaped, and his description is very true to the picture. In Salaman's English translation of Clusius's diagnosis, the same lack of punctiliousness is observed.

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  1. 1

    Clusius, Carolus, Rariorum plantarum historia (Antverpiae, 1601).

  2. 2

    Roze, E., Histoire de la Pomme de Terre (Paris, 1898).

  3. 3

    Salaman, R. N., The History and Social Influence of the Potato, p. 89 (Cambridge, 1949).

  4. 4

    Fuess, W., Die Urheimat der Kartoffel, ihre Einführung und Ausbreitung in Europa. Ernähr. d. Pflanze, 31 (17), 288 (1935).

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  1. All-Union Crop Husbandry Research Institute, 44 Herzen Street, Leningrad, 1



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