Tuckahoe, the aboriginal name of a curious subterraneous vegetable production, also called Indian bread and Indian loaf, found from New Jersey southward to the gulf and westward to Arkansas. It is in roundish masses, from the size of a pullet's egg to that of a cocoanut or much larger; its brownish surface resembles that of a loaf of coarse bread, while within it is a homogeneous whitish mass, with an earthy odor, and on drying cracks and becomes hard. It is usually found at planting time, when it is turned up by the plough, and presents no indications of having been attached to the roots of plants, or to a mycelium, as are most fungi. Under the supposition that it was a fungus, Clayton, and afterward Schweinitz, placed it with the puff-balls as lycoperdon solidum, and Fries called it pachyma cocos; but there is no reason for considering it a fungus, other than its underground manner of growth, and its somewhat distant exterior resemblance to the truffle (see Truffle); on account of these it has been mistaken for the truffle. From the entire absence not only of reproductive organs, but of all cellular structure, and the lack of all knowledge of it in an early stage of its development, the tuckahoe has long been a puzzle to naturalists.
About 30 years ago the late Prof. John Torrey made a chemical examination of it, and, while he was unable to detect by chemical tests the presence of starch, which the microscope had also failed to show, ascertained that the mass consisted almost entirely of pectin, which in some of its modifications is the jelly of fruits. It has been suggested by Berkeley and others that the tuckahoe is a secondary product, caused by the degeneration of the tissues of the root of some flowering plant, in which a change has occurred similar to that which converts animal tissues into adi-pocere, and that the cellulose and all other principles are transformed into a body of the pectose group; this is a conjecture only, against the probable truth of which is the fact that no intermediate states have been found, wtiile none, large or small, present any trace of plant structure. The name tuckahoe is said to have been applied by the Indians to several edible roots, and indicates that they used this as food; it is employed in the southern states, boiled in milk, as a nutritious diet in diseases of the bowels, instead of arrowroot, and has been recommended in a medical work as a starchy food, while it contains no starch.