- Major entries:
- Avena fatua Linn. Drake. Flaver. Potato Oat. Tartarean Oat. Wild Oat.
- Avena sativa Linn. Haver. Oat.
Avena brevis Roth. Gramineae. Fly's Leg. Short Oat.
Europe. The Germans call this species a native plant and say that it grows wild among grain. It is cultivated in mountainous districts of Europe, as in those of Auvergne and Forez, because it ripens quickly, where the country people call it piedo de mouche, or fly's leg, because of the appearance of the dark awns. In some parts of France, on account of its excellence for fodder, it is called avoine a fourrage.
Europe, the Orient and Asia. This is the common wild oat of California. It may have been introduced by the Spaniards but it is now spread over the whole country many miles from the coast. The grain is gathered by the Indians of California and is used as a bread corn. In 1852, Professor Buckman sowed a plat of ground with seeds collected in 1851 and in 1856 had for the produce poor, but true, samples of what are known as the potato and Tartarean oat. In 1860, the produce was good white Tartarean and potato oats.
Avena nuda Linn. Naked Oat. Peelcorn. Pillcorn.
Southern Europe. This is probably an oat produced by cultivation. The Chinese are said to cultivate a variety of it with a broad, flat rachis. It was growing in England, according to Turner, in 1538. It is now, and has been for some time, among the seeds of our seedsmen.
Avena orientalis Schreb. Siberian Oat. Tartarean Oat.
Southern Europe and the Orient. Although the name leads to the supposition that this oat had its origin in the dry table-lands of Asia, yet we are not aware, says Lindley, that any evidence exists to show that it is so. We only know it as a cultivated plant. Phillips says the Siberian oat reached England in. 1777, and Unger says it was brought from the East to Europe at the end of the preceding century.
The native land of the common oat is given as Abyssinia by Pickering. Unger says the native land is unknown, although the region along the Danube may pass as such. The oat is probably a domesticated variety of some wild species and may be A. strigosa Schreb., found wild in grain fields throughout Europe. Professor Buckman believed A. fatua Linn., to be the original species, as in eight years of cultivation he changed this plant into good cultivated varieties. Unger says the Celts and the Germans, as far as can be ascertained, cultivated this oat 2000 years ago, and it seems to have been distributed from Europe into the temperate and cold regions of the whole world. It was known to the Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. De Candolle, however, writes that the oat was not cultivated by the Hebrews, the Egyptians, the ancient Greeks or the Romans and is now cultivated in Greece only as an object of curiosity. The oat is not cultivated for human food in India.
This grain is not mentioned in Scripture and hence would seem to be unknown to Egypt or Syria. The plant is noticed by Virgil in his Georgics with the implication that its culture was known. Pliny mentions the plant. It is, hence, quite probable that the Romans knew the oat principally as a forage crop. Pliny says that the Germans used oatmeal porridge as food. Dioscorides and Galen make similar statements, but the latter adds that although it is fitter food for beasts than men yet in times of famine it is used by the latter. From an investigation of the lacustrine remains of Switzerland, Heer finds that during the Bronze age oats were known, the oat-grain being somewhat smaller than that produced by our existing varieties. Turner observes, in 1568, that the naked oat grew in Sussex, England. The bearded oat was brought from Barbary and was cultivated in Britain about 1640; the brittle oat came from the south of Europe in 1796; the Spanish oat was introduced in 1770; the Siberian, in 1777; the Pennsylvanian, in 1785; the fan-leaved, from Switzerland in 1791. In Scotland, the oat has long been a bread grain and, about 1850, Peter Lawson gives 40 varieties as cultivated. This cereal was sown by Gosnold on the Elizabeth Islands, Massachusetts, in 1602; is recorded as cultivated in Newfoundland in 1622; was growing at Lynn, Mass., in 1629-33. It was introduced into New Netherland prior to 1626 and was cultivated in Virginia previous to 1648. The Egyptian, or winter oat, was known in the South in 1800. In 1880, 36 named kinds were grown in the state of Kansas. The oat grows in Norway and Sweden as far north as 64° to 65° but is scarcely known in the south of France, Spain or Italy, and in tropical countries its culture is not attempted.
Avena strigosa Schreb. Bristle-Pointed Oat. Meagre Oat.
Europe. Pickering says this plant is of the Tauro-Caspian countries; it was first observed in. Germany in 1771 by Retz in Sweden in 1779; and the same year by Withering in Britain. Lindley says it is found wild in abundance in grain fields all over Europe. The smallness of the grain renders this oat unfit for cultivation except on poor, mountainous places, where nothing better may be had. The Germans, however, have much improved it.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.