This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Prof. J. Howard Gore contributes to the recently issued Smithsonian Report, an exhaustive paper on the "Tuckahoe," or Indian Bread. This is a large , "tuber," growing wholly underground, of a fungous character, supposed to be partly parasitical or feeding on dead roots, and to have been a very valuable food with the Indians. Specimens of it as large as cocoa-nuts are often found. Different writers have referred to it as starchy and nourishing; but as no starch has ever been found in a mushroom, the "Tuckahoe" has been invested with a special interest. Mr. Gore now unravels the mystery by showing that Tuckahoe was not applied by the Indians specially to this plant, but is a term in the Delaware and Cree dialects, applied to all esculent bulbous roots used by the Indians as food. In the writings of most of the early historians it is evident that the starchy roots of various Aroid plants were what they referred to as "Tuckahoe." In Smith's "History of Virginia," it is said that "the chief root they have for food is the Tockawhoughe. It grows as does a flag, in the marshes."Clayton, in his "Flora of Virginia," seems to have been the first of our authors to refer to the fungus under this name. He says: "Lycoperdon solidum, a very large tuber of the ground; outside rough, white within.
The Indians use it for making bread, commonly called Tuckahoe."Of late years the name has been exclusively applied to the fungus, which Fries calls Pachyma cocos. Torrey, in 1819, made an analysis and found no gluten, but that it was composed almost wholly of a peculiar vegetable principle, which he calls Sclerotin. A similar tuber is found in China, and is known as Fuh-ling and by other names. It has been found in all the seaboard States from New York to Florida, in soil free from prevalent moisture, and in fields that have not been farmed for several years, especially if timber has grown on the land within half a century, although the spores seem most likely to germinate at first on living roots of trees. These " spores have the power of converting the woody fiber of the root into their own substance, which forms underneath the bark." " It gradually grows in this manner, appropriating the bark of the root for its own covering until it becomes too large, during which process it forms a bark of its own." A very useful part of Professor Gore's paper is a catalogue of all papers on the Tuckahoe that have come under his observation - forty-one in all. - Independent.