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Wheat, and Whence it Came.

Wheat, which is now the bread corn of twelve European nations, and is fast supplanting maize in America, and many inferior grains in India, was no doubt widely grown in the prehistoric world. The Chinese cultivated it 2700 8.C., as a gift direct from heaven ; the Egyptians attributed its origin to Isis, and the Greeks to Ceres. A classic account of the distribution of wheat over the primeval world shows that Ceres, having taught her Triptolemus agriculture and the art of breadmaking, gave him her chariot, a celestial vehicle, which he used in useful travels for the purpose of distributing corn to all nations. Ancient monuments show that the cultivation of wheat had been established in Egypt before the invasion of the shepherds, and there is evidence that more productive varieties of wheat have taken the place of one at least, of the ancient sorts* Innumerable varieties exist of common wheat. ; Colonel de Conteur, of Jersey, cultivated 150 varieties. Mr Darwin mentions a French, gentleman who had collected 322 varieties, and the great firm of French seed-mer-chants, Vilmorin-Andrieux et Cie, cultivate about twice as many in their trial grounds near Paris. In their recent work on "LesMeilleursßles," M. Henry L.' de Vilmorin has described sixty-eight varieties of best wheat, which he classed into seven groups, though these groups can hardly be called distinct species, since M. Henry L. de Vilmorin has crossbred three of them, Tnticum vulifare, Triticum turgidum, and Triticum durum and has found the offspring fertile. Three small grained varieties of common wheat were cultivated by the first lakedwellers of Switzerland (time of Trojan war), as well as by the less ancient lakedwellers of Western Switzerland and of Italy, by the people of Hungary in the Stone Age, and by the Egyptians on the evidence of a brick of a pyramid in which a grain was imbedded, and to which the date of 3359 B.C. has been assigned. The existence of names for wheat in the most ancient languages confirms this evidence of the antiquity of its culture in all the ['most temperate parts of Europe, Asia, and ! Africa, but it seems improbable that wheat has ever been found growing persistently in a wild state, though the fact has often been asserted by poets, travellers, and historians. In the Odyssey, for example, we are told that wheat grew in Sicily without the aid of man, but a blind poet could not have seen this himself, and a botanical fact can hardly be accepted from a writer whose own existence has been contested. Diodorus repeats the, tradition that Osiris found wheat and barley growing promiscuously in Palestine, but neither this nor other discoveries of persistent wild wheat seem to us to be credible, seeing that wheat does not appear to be endowed with the power of persistency, except under culture. —Edinburgh "Review."

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900421.2.11

Bibliographic details

Wheat, and Whence it Came., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2406, 21 April 1890

Word Count
478

Wheat, and Whence it Came. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2406, 21 April 1890

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