grm at andrew.cmu.edu
Thu Oct 8 08:19:37 PDT 2009
--On Thursday, October 08, 2009 10:14 AM -0500 Judith Epstein
<judith at ipstenu.org> wrote:
> I made a blithe statement that "of course, cranberries aren't period for
> the Old World" once on this very list, and was corrected. Apparently
> cranberries WERE here before being brought from the Americas, but they
> were called fenberries or marshberries instead. Cranberry, the word,
> comes from crane-berry, yet another designator for this beautifully
> flavorful little fruit.
According to the OED, there are actually two different species under that
1. The fruit of a dwarf shrub, Vaccinium Oxycoccos, a native of Britain,
Northern Europe, Siberia, and N. America, growing in turfy bogs: a small,
roundish, dark red, very acid berry. Also the similar but larger fruit of
V. macrocarpon, a native of N. America (large or American cranberry). Both
are used for tarts, preserves, etc. The name is also given to the shrubs
The name appears to have been adopted by the North American colonists
from some LG. source, and brought to England with the American cranberries
(V. macrocarpon), imported already in 1686, when Ray (Hist. Pl. 685) says
of them 'hujus baccas a Nova Anglia usque missas Londini vidimus et
gustavimus. Scriblitis seu ortis (Tarts nostrates vocant) eas inferciunt'.
Thence it began to be applied in the 18th c. to the British species (V.
Oxycoccos). In some parts, where the latter is unknown, the name is
erroneously given to the cowberry (V. Vitis Idæa).
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