This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
We have already noticed in our magazine what Dr. Rothrock had discovered concerning the Chia plant of California. Dr. R. has communicated some further facts about it to the London Gardener's Chronicle which we reproduce here:
" During the summer of 1875," writes Dr. Rothrock, "my attention was called, while in Southern California, to a mealy preparation in popular use. On inquiry I found it was called 'Chia.' Further examination proved that it was furnished by the seeds of Salvia columbariae, Bentham. The seeds [nutlets] are collected, roasted, and ground in the native way, between two stones. It is used as food by mixing it with water, and enough sugar to suit the taste. It soon develops into a copious mucilaginous mass, several times the original bulk. The taste is somewhat suggestive of linseed meal. One soon acquires a fondness for it, and eats it rather in the way of a luxury than with any reference to the fact that it is exceedingly nutritious besides. It is in great demand among the knowing ones who have a desert to cross, or who expect to encounter a scarcity of water, and what there is of bad quality. By preparing it so thin that it can be used as a drink, it seems to assuage the thirst, to improve the taste of the water, and, in addition, to lessen the quantity of the water taken, which in hot countries is often so excessive as to produce serious illness. As a remedy it is invaluable, from its demulcent properties, in cases of gastro-intestinal disorders.
It also holds a place among domestic remedies for the same purpose that flaxseed occasionally does with us - i. e., a grain of the seed is placed in the eye (where it gives no pain), to form a mucilage by means of which a foreign body may be removed from the organ. I have found it of great service as a poultice. As a matter of archaeological interest, it may be noted that quantities of this seed were found buried in graves several hundred years old. This proves that the use of the seed reaches back into the remote past. Indeed, I find several allusions to it in Bancroft's great work on the Native Races of the Pacific States. 'Chianpinoli' appears to have been made by the so-called Aztec races from corn which was roasted and ground as the chia was. Chia was, among the Nahua races of ancient Mexico, as regularly cultivated as corn, and often used in connection with it. Indeed, it was one of the many kinds of meal in constant use, and which appears to have gone then, as now, under the generic name of 'pinoli.' "