Could Captain John Smith's Mattoume Have Been Wild Rice?
AbstractAn early English explorer of North America, Captain John Smith reported use of a wild food called mattoume by native inhabitants of Virginia. Botanical identification of mattoume has been a mystery. In an attempt to solve the mystery of which plant species Captain Smith observed, I compare the botanical descriptions of wild rice and several
other possible species that were mentioned either in scholarly journals or in ethnobotanical literature as likely identifications of mattoume. It seems most likely that mattoume is maygrass, Phalaris caroliniana Walter, as the facts do not support an identification as wild rice.
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