The quest for new crop plants and domestic animals is a recurrent theme in human history. The discovery of agriculture replaced the collection of products of indigenous plant and animal species with the cultivation of crops and rearing of domestic animals. This led naturally to the search, discovery, and introduction of new crops from travel, trade, warfare, and conquest. The discovery and exploitation of new crops as a dividend of conquest might be distinct from direct exploration to find new useful species, but often these two methods become intertwined. This brief review emphasizing fruit crops will discuss the exploration and discovery of useful plants from antiquity to the 18th century largely from a Western perspective.
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