A. Candolle 1890. Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 387–397 D. Appleton and Company, New York.
“Maize is of American origin, and has only been introduced into the old world since the discovery of
I consider these two assertions as positive, in spite of the contrary opinion of some authors, and
the doubts of the celebrated agriculturist Bonafous, to whom we are indebted for the most complete treatise
I used these words in 1855, after having already contested the opinion of Bonafous at the
time of the publication of his work.
The proofs of an American origin have been since reinforced.
tempts have been made to prove the contrary, and as the French name,
blé de Turquie,
gives currency to an
error, it is as well to resume the discussion with new data.
No one denies that maize was unknown in Europe at the time of the Roman empire, but it has been
said that it was brought from the East in the Middle Ages.
The principal argument is based upon a charter
of the thirteenth century, published by Molinari,
according to which two crusaders, companions in arms
of Boniface III, Marquis of Monferrat, gave in 1204 to the town of Incisa a piece of the true cross.
.. and a
purse containing a kind of seed of a golden colour and partly white, unknown in the country and brought
from Anatolia, where it was called
The historian of the crusades, Michaux, and later Daru
and Sismondi, said a great deal about this charter; but the botanist Delile, as well as Targionitozzetti and
Bonafous himself, thought that the seed in question might belong to some sorghum and not to maize.
old discussions have been rendered absurd by the Comte de Riant’s discovery
that the charter of Incisa is
the fabrication of a modern impostor.
I quote this instance to show how scholars who are not naturalists
may make mistakes in the interpretation of the names of plants, and also how dangerous it is to rely upon
an isolated proof in historical questions.
blé de Turquie,
Turkish wheat (Indian corn), given to maize in almost all modern European
languages no more prove an Eastern origin than the charter of Incisa.
These names are as erroneous as that
given to an American bird.
Maize is called in Lorraine and in the Vosges
Roman corn; in Tuscany, Sicilian corn; in Sicily, Indian corn; in the Pyrenees, Spanish corn; in Provence,
Barbary or Guinea corn.
The Turks call it Egyptian corn, and the Egyptians, Syrian
This last case
proves at least that it is neither Egyptian nor Syrian.
The widespread name of Turkish wheat dates from the
It sprang from an error as to the origin of the plant, which was fostered perhaps by the
tufts which terminate the ears of maize, which were compared to the beard of the Turks, or, by the, vigour
of the plant, which may have given rise to an expression similar to the French
fort comme un turc
botanist who uses the name, Turkish wheat, is Ruellius, in 1536.