Plants indigenous to one continent found on another.
From China to:
• lotuses and papyrus, false daisy (Eclipta prostrata)
• Could a vulgar limerick of unknown writers from older English be further evidence of the Chinese voyages?
“there was a young man of Australia,
tattooed on his bum was like an adelia” …. etc
The composer concludes that the man of Australia is an aboriginal. As the flower is described as being ‘like an adelia’ he concludes the tattoo must be of a local plant, which is similar to an adelia as adelia’s are native to Mexico and couldn’t possibly have existed in Australia in early English colonial times. This seems to further support the theory that the Chinese traveled to South America then onwards to Australia, bringing with them a large amount of indigenous plants and animals, and also possibly tattooing the aboriginals. (Simon Faneco)
- A widely-used Chinese herb ECCIPTA PROSTRATA is listed in the Encyclopaedia Botanica (Australian Edition) as native to Queensland and NSW, Australia. In fact the plant is indigenous to China, Taiwan and Japan. It is probably another of those plants introduced from China during the 1421-23 voyages. (Mark Parison).
North America – rice, poppy seeds, keteleria, Roses (R. Laevigata), hibiscus (Rosa Sinensis) (Dr Tan Koolin); Monterey pines (California) (Bruce Tickell Taylor/Sandy Lydon); “Chinese orchids” growing on Saddle Mountain, the northern most mountain in the Neakahnie chain (J Mark Angelus);
• Rhode Island bamboo?; the Torrey Pine – This tree that grows in the San Diego area, CA, also, grows on a Santa Rosa Island off the coast of California and in China; China rose – Everyone knows that the China Rose we call ‘Old Blush’ has been grown for centuries in California. It has been supposed that it was brought to the Spanish missions by Chinese traders. However, there is another Chinese rose, ‘Chi Long Han Zhu,’ (‘White Pearl in Red Dragon’s Mouth’) which was only imported from China in the last few years of the 20th Century. ‘Chi Long Han Zhu’ is now obtainable from several sources in the United States. It was NOT known in the United States prior to its 20th-Century importation from China. HOWEVER, the very knowledgeable Horticulturist Fred Boutin has found what appears to be ‘Chi Long Han Zhu’ growing as a feral plant in the Sierra Foothills of California (Jeri Jennings)
• J. Brophy unearthed an interesting extract from Michaux’ Travels (c 1800) written made by two early French botanists, father and son which concerned the widespread growth of Ginseng in North America. The article suggests that it had been there a long time. What we have not established though is whether the strain of Ginseng is Chinese, and therefore proof they brought it over.
Navajo Peach Trees – reader Helentia Ziegler has brought to our attention a PBS documentary about US Frontiersman Kit Carson. It mentioned that whilst rounding up the Navajo people of New Mexico c.1860′s he burned down their cherished peach trees. Where did these peach trees come from? The native Chinese fruit is widely believed to have been introduced to Persia and the Mediterranean region along the silk road before Christian times. The peach has long been associated with immortality in Chinese culture and is symbolic of long life. Could this fruit therefore have been a natural choice of cargo for Zheng He’s Fleets? Does anyone else have more information on this? Does anyone know of any Navajo myths relating to peach trees?
South Africa: Diana van der Westhuizen has sent in these pictures (see Gallery) of a possible ancient bonsai tree in Simonstown in the False Bay near Cape Point. Above this tree is a huge Midden believed to have been made by people called “Strandlopers” (beachcombers). Nearby there are also some strange carved rocks (pictured). Can anyone shed any more light on this fascinating tree?
Also from China to:
• Pacific Islands – eclipta prostrata, mulberries, hibiscus (Rosa Sinensis) (Mexican National Flower)
• Amazon (Goyaz)- rice (Paraguayan Chaco (c 229))
• Mexico – rice, hibiscus (Rosa Sinensis) (Secret Journal) Now a national flower.
• Mexico – Leonorus sibiricus (marijuana substitute).
• Mexico – Datura metel more commonly known as Devil’s trumpet or thorn apple
• Malaysia – (Rosa Sinensis) (Malaysian National Flower)
• Brazil – oats (Svetlana)
• USA, Virginia – mulberry trees; honeywort; paulownia tomen tosae trees (Pallowaddis); ‘yellow delicious’ apples (J Warsing). To Boston – tea!
• Italy – rice (Evidence of rice cultivation in the Po Valley since early fifteenth century.) (Lionel)
• In Madagascar there is an abundance of lychee trees. Locals insist that these were transplanted from China by Zheng He’s fleets – Griff Lloyd
• Fig trees – in the old Chronicles of Grand Canaria there are reports of well developed fig trees found by the Spanish on their arrival there in the fifteenth century – J. Sanabria Diaz
• Oriental hemp found at an archaeological site on Easter Island – Gunnar Thompson
• Puerto Ricans call oranges ‘Chinas’ and orange juice ‘ jugo de Chinas.’ A reader claims that if you ask a Puerto Rican why they call them Chinas, they say that it is because they come from China. Apparently these oranges are different from American oranges with a thin green and yellow skin and yellowish orange colouring inside. Does anyone have any further information about this? (Will Larsen)
• Datura is native to China where the combination of Datura seeds with wine was used. Mam t’o-lo is the Chinese name for Datura and a Taoist legend refers to the plant as the flower of one of the pole stars. In China it was customary to mix Datura with Cannabis and wine The Chinese valued Datura as an aphrodisiac. In the Andes, Datura is taken as tea or smoked to induce visions. Ancient Peruvian healers and shamans employed Datura’s narcotic and anesthetic properties when performing ritual or medical operations (e.g. skull trepanations). The Auruks of Chile to this day use Datura in the same way their ancestor’s did. The native people of the south-west regions of North America hold Datura sacred. In Zuni tradition it belongs to the rain -priests who use it to appeal to their ancestor-spirits for rain. (Will Aust)
From Tropical Asia to:
• Pacific Islands – taro, yam, banana, turmeric, bottle gourds
• Amazon – bananas
• Peru – bananas
• New Zealand – taro, yam (Captain Cook).
From Malaysia to:
• Pacific Islands – arrowroot (pia)
• China – rubber (damar), pepper (Ma Huan)
From India to:
• China – cotton
• North Pacific Islands – sugar cane, wild ginger
• North & Central America – cotton (via China)
• North Africa and Cape Verde Islands – cotton (China via America)
• Marquesas – 26 chromosome cotton
• Pacific islands – cotton
• Brazil – sugar cane
• Across the world – 26 chromosome cotton.
• Oak Island - finds included a Chinese inscription, coconut fibres and pottery. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution had the coconut fibres from Oak Island tested and they dated both 1,000 and 800 years old and they came from the Middle East – Paul McNamee
From Africa to:
• Central Pacific – bottle gourds
• Puerto Rico – coffee
• Brazil – root crops.
From South / Central America to:
• China – maize
• South East Asia – maize
• New Zealand – kumara
• Pacific Islands – sweet potato
• Australia – (separate list of 74 items)
• Philippines – potatoes, maize (and metates)
• Creosote Bush from Northern Argentina – there is no good explanation for its movement to central Mexico – could this have been the result of a Chinese voyage? (David Charlton)
• Mauritius – Guavas known commonly as “Goivre de Chine” commonly believed by locals to have been transplanted by Zheng He’s fleets. Guavas originate from an area extending from southern Mexico into or through Central America – Grace Chew
• China – Peanut “What we have (and Needham provides the refs) is at least one clear case of peanut being found in ancient China during a professional archaeological dig. There’s also some other circumstantial evidence of peanut being known in the Old World before Columbus.” http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku/dif/a26.htm Dan Leigh
• The Frangipani flower (Plumeria), today a holy flower in Buddhism and used as an ornamental hair piece in Polynesia – is actually a tree native to Central America. How did it come to be depicted in wall paintings in Sri Lanka dating from the 5th century AD? This suggests that there was at least some knowledge about the existence of a continent at the eastern end of the Pacific – Marco
To South America (Brazil):
• Sugar cane
• Root crops
From South Pacific to:
• North Pacific (Hawaii) – bamboo, coconuts, kava, candlenut tree, hibiscus
• Central America (Pacific coast) – coconuts
• Brazil – coconuts
• Puerto Rico – coconuts
• New Zealand – miro trees from Pitcairn (C Bell)
• Easter Island – coconuts.
From Norfolk Island to:
• Campbell Island – Norfolk pines
From Indonesia to:
• China – spice
From Spice Islands to:
• China – pepper
From North America to:
• India (A 176)
• Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, Melanesia (F 027)
• Africa (before 1525) (J 058B)
• New Guinea (L 194)
• Californian Trees San Diego County Park (Ca) – markings on trees cut by Chinese explorers (Esther Daniels)
• China – Maize, amaranth and sequia (D Aeby).
• New Zealand – Chenopodium album (Durdock Riley, Dave Bell) discovered by Cook 1769). Marsh cress (Navajo cosmetic).
• German/Austrian border – Redwood Trees native to California found on, Isle of Mainau, Lake Constance – Did the Chinese transport these trees? More research needed (Edward James)
• Canary Islands – In a conference in the 1980’s there was discussion by Wilfredo Wilpret de la Torre of several aromatic plants that existed on the Canary Islands that only existed there and in the coastal zones of some countries in the southern Caribbean – J. Sanabria Diaz
• Sri Lanka - From 1410, Sri Lanka was a tributary of China for many years. Prior to this there was regular intercourse between China and Sri Lanka. One extremely interesting link is revealed by Prof SR Kottegoda: ‘ it might be appropriate to make reference to the status of plumeria (Frangi-panni), arguably the most widely distributed flowering tree in tropical Asia. One of the comely damsels in the wall painting of the famous 5th C. rock fortress, Sigiriya, in Sri Lanka, holds a 5-petalled flower in her right hand almost indistinguishable from plumeria, the original home of which is tropical America; it is hardly likely that during this period there was any intercourse between the New World and Sri Lanka. If the flower is indeed plumeria, the tree could have come to the island via China to which country it could have been introduced from tropical America. One of the comprehensive records of life in Sri Lanka was that of the Chinese Buddhist traveler, Fa-hsien, who spent two years in Sri Lanka in the early
5th C. Relevant to plumeria in the Chinese context is the fact that the Hindi name for Plumeria acuminata, which originated in Mexico, means “the Rose of China.” It is also of interest to find that Trimen, who visited Java in 1892, has quoted authority for the involvement, at some unspecified
period, of Chinese merchants in the introduction of plumeria to the Indonesian islands of Ternate and Amboya from Cambodia.’ Ref- Kottegoda, S R, Flowers of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Royal Asiatic Society
of Sri Lanka, 1994; pp xiii-xiv (Vinod Moonesinghe, Sri Lanka)
• Two books, “Tales of the Ginseng” by Andrew Kimmens and “The Book of Ginseng” by Stephen Fulder support contact of the Chinese with the natives of New England. The Koreans started cultivation of ginseng in the 1300’s. American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) is found in the Himalayas near Southern China where the concubines were from. Did they carry ginseng as an aphrodisiac or herb to promote staying power for their lovers? The Menonini and the Cherokees call American ginseng “the little man” in their respective languages. It seems that the use of ginseng by Native Americans is very similar to how it is used by the Chinese – for febrile diseases, to aid the digestion… (Colleen Morris, L.Ac. Herbalist)
• Reader Carlos Jimenez was puzzled to come across a sculpture of a pumpkin when visiting an exhibition of the famous Xi”An terracotta warriors from Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi”s burial complex. The objects in the exhibition are all dated to be from the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC) or the Han Dynasty (206BC-220 AD). If, as most encyclopedias will tell you, pumpkins originated in the Americas, how did this sculpture come to be part of this fascinating collection? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. To view the sculpture please click here.
From Mexico to:
• Philippines – Tobacco, sweet potatoes, maize seen by Magellan (first European)
Possibly pineapple, arrowroot, peanut, lima and yam beans, balimbing, cassava, chico, papaya, zapute, tomato and squash (Magellan does not record seeing these).
• India and S E Africa – cochineal
• China – the tomato, a New World fruit that Europeans were renowned for believing to be poisonous, is ubiquitous in China. Nearly all Chinese people are aware that it was introduced from a foreign land, as evidenced by its name (Xi hong shi, meaning “Western Red Fruit”) Could the Tomato have been introduced by Zheng He’s treasure fleets?
• Australia – plantations of Prickly Pear Cactus found at site of Gympie Pyramid, Australia
• Sri Lanka – From 1410, Sri Lanka was a tributary of China for many years. Prior to this there was regular intercourse between China and Sri Lanka. One extremely interesting link is revealed by Prof SR Kottegoda: ‘ it might be appropriate to make reference to the status of plumeria
(Frangi-panni), arguably the most widely distributed flowering tree in
tropical Asia. One of the comely damsels in the wall painting of the famous
5th C. rock fortress, Sigiriya, in Sri Lanka, holds a 5-petalled flower in
her right hand almost indistinguishable from plumeria, the original home of
which is tropical America; it is hardly likely that during this period
there was any intercourse between the New World and Sri Lanka. If the
flower is indeed plumeria, the tree could have come to the island via China
to which country it could have been introduced from tropical America. One
of the comprehensive records of life in Sri Lanka was that of the Chinese
Buddhist traveler, Fa-hsien, who spent two years in Sri Lanka in the early
5th C. Relevant to plumeria in the Chinese context is the fact that the
Hindi name for Plumeria acuminata, which originated in Mexico, means “the
Rose of China.” It is also of interest to find that Trimen, who visited
Java in 1892, has quoted authority for the involvement, at some unspecified
period, of Chinese merchants in the introduction of plumeria to the
Indonesian islands of Ternate and Amboya from Cambodia.’
Ref- Kottegoda, S R, Flowers of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Royal Asiatic Society
of Sri Lanka, 1994; pp xiii-xiv
(Vinod Moonesinghe, Sri Lanka)
From New Zealand to:
• Spain – Pohutukawa Trees, who origins lie in NZ, can be found in Spain, a few in the city of La Coruna, at least two being very ancient and at least another can be found in the little village of Pontedeume close by. They are named “Metrosidero” in Spanish and “arvore das bruxas” in Portuguese (witches tree). The locals believe the old ones to be over 500 years old and therefore older than the first European voyages there (NZ).
The area is also plagued with a plant that “during the Ming Dynasty was honoured as the ‘most beautiful flower under the heavens’”: the camellia (see http://www.camelias.net), and you can find over there the most ancient camellias of Europe (there and in the northern-western coast of Spain – Galicia and Asturias) It also seems the River Eume is clothed in Eucalyptus trees (from Australia) – of course these could have been relatively recent imports – Festa Fotra
Can anyone shed any light on this anomalous find? – Darryl Best
• ‘New Zealand Holly’ growing in gardens in Isle of Syke – more research needed (Margaret Lindsay)
Found in Hawaii by early Europeans
• Tropical America – sweet potatoes.
• India – wild ginger.
• Pacific Islands – bamboo, breadfruit, candlenut trees, hibiscus, kava.
• Tropical Asia – taro, ti plants, yam (five leafed), banana, turmeric.
• Malayan Archipelago – arrowroot.
• East Asia – paper, mulberry.
Found on Easter Island by early European explorers
• South America – totora reeds (originally from Egypt), tomato, tobacco, sweet potato,
26 chromosome cotton.
• South Pacific – coconuts
• South East Asia – yam
• Meso America – papaya
Note: Chinese carved stone lion.
Found in New Zealand by early European explorers
• South America – kumara. Many varieties, not least high altitude ones. By the time Europeans arrived in NZ the kumara was as thin as a finger, and of little value as a food. The Maori were facing starvation as it was a staple food. This is interesting because it shows no real knowledge of true cultivation and management of plant stock, so the likelihood of them bringing it in canoes and carefully tending it seems more of a myth than ever – Dave Bell; cut-leaf, broad-leaf geranium
• South Pacific – coconuts
• Colombia – ‘scented grass’
• Asia – dove’s foot geranium. Cheilanthes tenufolia.
• China – taro.
• N America – Chenopodium album and marsh cress. Winter cress (toi) for salad
• Hawaii – paper mulberry – used for tapa cloth; hue (gourds) used for food; Black nightshade.
Note: No Polynesian DNA found in S. America (Bryan Sykes).
No S. American DNA in Polynesia (Matt Hurles)
Tobacco - Pre-Columbian dispersion
Found in Australia
Australia – One part of the bay at Port Stevens, Australia is named Lemon Tree Passage due to lemon trees being discovered by the first settlers in the area. This is just north of Newcastle where the reasure fleet had stopped for mineral exploration. (Gary Gaffney) Another reader has written in to inform us that there is a native plant called a Cheesebush which is similar to a lemon tree. Could the visitors have mistaken the cheesbush for lemon trees? Any further information would be greatfully received.
Shell Mounds- on uninhabited islands which Chinese passed (Shells stacked in a distinctive way – inside of shell facing outwards.)
• Caribbean (Bimini)
• Pacific: Kuriles; Aleutians; Kamchakatka; Chukchoi.
• New Zealand – more than 20 (Cedric Bell)
• Florida – canal at Gordon’s pass.
Found in Mauritius
Guava that grows in the jungle in Mauritius is called “goivre de Chine” (Grace Chew)
To read John Sorenson’s ’Scientific Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic voyages to and from the Americas, part 2′ please click on the following link: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display-print.php?table=transcripts&id=155