Featured: Hawaiian taro

Penny thinks traditional varieties are underrated:

Where Hawaii’s research stations and taro farmers practice good soil husbandry, timely harvests and plant stock culling practices, traditional taro varieties thrive. An old Hawaiian saying – nana i ke kumu; look to the source.

This was in reply to a Brainfood snippet on a recent paper by Vincent Lebot and colleagues: “Adapting clonally propagated crops to climatic changes: a global approach for taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott).”

Results indicated that hybrids tolerant to taro leaf blight (TLB, Phytophthora colocasiae Raciborski), developed by Hawaii, Papua New Guinea and Samoa breeding programmes outperformed local cultivars in most locations.

Jerry Konanui

Some bad news from Penny:

It is with great sadness that I convey the news that Jerry Konanui, of the giant kalo, cultural practitioner, traditional Hawaiian kalo and ‘awa cultivar expert, friend and colleague has passed. Jerry was a shining example of an indigenous scientist who bridged both research and traditional practice effortlessly and was highly respected in Hawaii and elsewhere for his work. He was instrumental in reviving interest in Hawaiian crop biodiversity in the Islands and I was honored to have spent almost two decades working on cultivar recovery and identification with he and his wife. His verification work led to the re-establishment of improved collections among botanical gardens and agriculture stations in Hawaii. Jerry shared his knowledge with great aloha and humor over the years, captivating and inspiring hundreds of students and farmers to plant and rediscover the unique and fragrant flavors of Hawaiian taro and ‘awa. Aloha ‘oe Jerry! You will be sorely missed.

huge taro

Aloha ‘oe Jerry!

Featured: Snap pea history

Was Calvin Lamborn the Father of the Snap Pea, or not? Pea lover thinks so, on balance:

He was well aware that heirloom varieties of Snap Pea had existed for years. However, it was HIS tireless efforts to introduce this “new vegetable” to chefs and food writers in the 70’s that began the journey to introduce the Snap Pea to the general public. I think with all of that, it is fair for him to claim the title of the “Father of the Snap Pea”.

Always tricky to pin any scientific breakthrough on a single person, but hell, why not?

Featured: Yam beans

Marc Deletre clarifies that yam bean paper:

Yep, you’re right, the species’ names should be in the reverse order [in the abstract]. As it is it suggests that P. ahipa is the progenitor, but actually it’s the opposite.

Sometimes, you just have to read the whole paper.