Cultivated Vegetables of the World: A multilingual onamasticon. Stanley J. Kays. 2011. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, The Netherlands. 828 pages. $179.00, Hardcover. ISBN: 978-90-8686-164-4.
This book is a collection of words that apply to cultivated vegetable crops of the World. The collection was prepared with several purposes that include facilitating accuracy in communication among people in agriculture and other fields related to vegetables, promoting consistency in terminology, and improving understanding of the extent and diversity of vegetable production around the World. Vegetables are a good topic for this endeavor because worldwide they comprise a major portion of the diet of humans. The text provides scientific names, synonyms, and common names for 404 commercially cultivated vegetables. Selected common names from 370 languages are presented.
The Introduction provides purposes for the book, explains the linguistic value and derivation of common names, and explains how to use the text. Users should read the Introduction before consulting other contents of the book. The term “vegetable” is defined here. Taxonomy based on scientific names and synonyms and changes in scientific names are discussed. Criteria for selection of common names and languages are described. Acknowledgements of individuals who contributed information concerning common names in various languages are made in the Introduction.
The listings are divided into chapters. Chapter 1 is a principal section for use of the text and lists common names of vegetable crops by taxonomic division; within divisions, listings are by family, and within family, listings are by species. Edible parts of the plants and methods of preparation are included by abbreviations. Users must read the first page of this chapter to understand the meanings of taxonomic divisions and the abbreviations. Divisions are not numbered, but each family and species has a paragraph number that is used in indexing. For example, in the division Pterophyta, families 2. Dennstaedtiaceae, 3. Osmundaceae, 4. Parkeriaceae, and 5. Polypodiaceae are listed. Species under Osmundaceae, for example, accordingly are numbered 3.1. Osunda cinnamomea L. and 3.2. Osmunda japonica Thunb. This system works well, but some experience is needed to find 30.56 Raphanis sativus L. Radicula group from an index. The scientific name of each species is listed in a numbered paragraph under which common names are given according to alphabetic order of languages, which are spelled out in capitals. The most widely used common name is listed first under the language and is followed by other lesser used common names. All possible common names are not listed. Scientific names are modern, but readers in their own writings might need to consult additional references for scientific names. Trinomials with subspecies and botanical varieties are given often, such as Lycopersicon esculentum var. esculentum P. Miller instead of the commonly used binomial Lycopersicon esculentum P. Miller. Sometimes the authors of the trinomials are given, and sometimes they are not. Names of diverse morphological groups created by plant breeding are used sometimes instead of more common botanical species or varieties. Conventions such as noting the author of an original scientific name than has been changed by another author have been used, such as for Centella asiatica (L.) Urban but not for Lycopersicon esculentum var. esculentum P. Miller. Reasons for using these taxonomic expressions are described fairly well in the Introduction.
Chapter 2 is an alphabetical listing of common names of vegetables. The listing includes the language of the common name and the paragraph number of the vegetable in Chapter 1. This listing is easy to use, but users might need to refine searches. In English, pepper is not listed, so readers have to look for bell pepper, bonnet pepper, hot pepper, or tabasco pepper since these vegetables are different botanical varieties or species. These peppers and others follow one after another in Chapter 1. Because of the many common names, this section occupies 400 pages of the book.
Chapter 3 is a listing of Latin binomials and synonyms. A synonym is considered as one of two or more scientific names of a vegetable. This listing is useful because currently used names may not be universally accepted and because binomials change. This chapter is useful in identifying a species of interest. The listing is in alphabetical order according to genus and species name within genus. The correct name is in boldface and is followed by a number that is indexed to Chapter 1. Each synonym is keyed back to the correct scientific name, which is used to find the crop of interest in Chapter 1. No difficulties were encountered in understanding use of this listing.
Chapter 4a lists common names of vegetables alphabetically and usually in English according to plant part for culinary use. Readers will need to search for the plant parts as they are not in alphabetical order, but limiting the species to English names restricts the length of this chapter and simplifies the search. Paragraph number for identification of the crop in Chapter 1 is given. Chapter 4b is a listing of edible parts of vegetables alphabetically by abbreviated correct scientific names, again followed by the paragraph number in Chapter 1.
Chapters 5a is an alphabetical listing in English of vegetables according to method of preparation, cooked, raw, or preserved. Chapter 5b is the listing according to abbreviated correct scientific names in alphabetical order. Each listing has a reference to the appropriate paragraph in Chapter 1.
Chapter 6 is a listing of languages. For each language, a three-letter identification code is given. This code does not seem to be used in Chapter 1. The number of people speaking the language is included along with countries or regions in which the language is spoken and other features of the language, such as classification and dialects. Chapter 7 lists synonyms of the languages listed in Chapter 6, and Chapter 8 lists dialects with references to the languages in Chapter 6.
A section of references by authors identifies citations made in the text. Appendices discuss diacritics, letters other than the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, and how these accents and other notations affect pronunciations and alphabetical listings of plant names.
The textbook is a comprehensive reference with information in a concise and readily accessible format. It represents a lot of work and organizational skills of the author. The book allows indentifying a vegetable from the common name in a diverse cross-section of languages and scientific names. It will be useful to diverse readers. The book will be used worldwide by university and governmental researchers, scientists, administrators, and diplomats. Librarians will use the book. Vegetable growers, shippers, packers, and buyers will have extensive use of the book. Workers in the grocery and food preparation industries will enjoy use of the book. The book is a sound, hardback book with good paper that will last with use and is reasonably priced.