eCONTI

by
N.L Vavilov
Finally published in English, this book contains descriptions by Academician NI. Vavilov of the
expeditions he made between 1916 and 1940 to jive continents, in search of new agricultural plants
and conjil1nation of his theories on plant genetic divmity. Vavilov is ironic, mischievolls, perceptive,
hilariolls and above all scholarly. This book is a readable testament to his tenacity and beliefin
his work, in the foce of the greatest adversity .
..
This book is dedicated fa the memory of Nicolay Ivanovich Vavilov (1887-1943) on the
IIOth anniversary of his birth
..
N.!. Vavilov Research Institure afPlant Industry • International Plant Genetic Resources Institute
United States Agency for International Development • American Association for the Advancement of Science
United States Depanment of Agriculture • Agricultural Research Service • National Agricultural Library

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO
THE MEMORY OF
NICOLAY IVANOVICH VAVILOV
(1887-1943)
ON THE 11 Oth ANNIVERSARY
OF HIS BIRTH


FIVE CONTINENTS
NICOLAY IVANOVICH VAVILOV
Academy of Sciences, USSR
Chemical Technological and Biological Sciences
Editor-in-chief
L.E. RODIN
Tramldted ft-om the Russian by
DORIS LOVE
Edited by
SEMYON REZNIK
and
PAUL STAPLETON
1997

The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) is an autonomous international
scientific organization operating under the aegis of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural
Research (CGIAR). The international status of IPGRI is conferred under an Establishment Agreement
signed by the Governments of Australia, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Paso, Cameroon, Chile, China,
Congo, COSta Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guinea,
Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritania. Morocco, Pa!cisran,
Panama, Peru, Poland, Porrugal, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Sioval, Republic, Sudan, Switzerland, Syria,
Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda and the Ukraine.
IPGRI's mandate is to advance the conservation and use of plant genetic resources for the benefit of
presenr and future generations. IPGRI works in partnership with other organizations, underraking re-
search, training and the provision of scientific and technical advice and information, and has a particularly
strong programme link with the Food and Agriculrure Organization of the United Nations.
Financial suppOrt for the agteed research agenda of IPGRI is provided by the Governments of
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Getmany, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic
of Korea, Mexico, me Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the USA. the Asian
Development Bank. the International Development Research Center. the United Nations Development
Progranune, and the World Bank.
The designations employed and me presentation of material in this publication, and in its maps, do not
imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part ofIPGru or the CGIAR concerning the legal
Status of any country. territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers
or boundaries.
The text of this publicarion is set in Garamond, a typeface originally designed in the 16th century, but
revived in 1917, JUSt when Vavilov was starting his series of expeditions. Headings and titles are set in
Furura, which was first drawn in 1929, and quickly became a benchmark design for modern, clear. display
faces. The publication was laid Out in Windows NT and 95 operating systems using Adobe PageMaker
6.0. The maps were derived ftom Mountain High Map images, processed through MicrografX Picrure
Publisher 6.0a and Designer 6.0, and Adobe Photoshop 3.0.
This publication is printed on 'environmentally friendly' paper. This means that the wood pulp used to
make the paper was produced from susrainably grown plantations. and that no damaging chemicals were
released into the environment as a result of the production process. The paper was bleached using oxygen
rather than chlorine. As well as eliminating any potential damage to the aanosphere, this means that the
paper itself is chlorine free, so that it will not deteriorate or discolour with time.
Citation: Vavilov, NJ. (1997) Five Continents. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome,
Iraly.
ISBN 92-9043-302-7.
IPGRI, Via delle Serre Chiese 142,00145 Rome, Italy.
Cover illustration: Vavilov in 1927 after rerurning from a collecting mission in Ethiopia.
Published by the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, with the financial assistance of United
States Agency for International Development, in close collaboration with the N. I. Vavilov All Russian
Research Institute of Plant Industry and the United States Deparanent of Agricultute's Agricultural Re-
search Service and National Agricultural Library, the International Network for the Improvement of Ba-
nana and Plantain, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and especially the Russian
Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
©1997 IPGRI, RomeMR, St Petersberg
N.I. VAVILOV - ii- FIVE CONTINENTS

N.!. VAVILOV
N.I. VAVILOV -iii- FIVE CONTINENTS

EDITORIAL COMMITTEE
OF THE NAUKA PUBLISHING HOUSE, LENINGRAD, 1987
YuA Ovchinnikov, Academician (main editor)
D.K. Belyaev, Academician
l.A. Rapoport, Corr. Member, Acad. Sci. U.S.S.R. (deputy main editor)
Yu.N. Vavilov, Dr. Phys.-Marh. Sci.
S.l. Demchenko, Dr. Bio!. Sci. (departmental editor)
VF. Dorofeyev, Academician, Acad. Agric. Sci.
L.N. Andreyev, Corr. Member, Acad. Sci. U.S.S.R
YD. Esakov, Dr. Historical Sciences
S.R Mikulinskiy, Corr. Member, Acad. Sci. U.S.S.R
A.A. Sozinov, Academician, Acad Sci. Ukranian S.S.R and Acad. Agric. Sci.
N.I. VAVILOV
VE. Sokolov, Academician
Vl. Srukov, Dr. Cand., Bio!. Sci.
VA Trulrhanov, Dr. Cand., Bio!. Sci.
l.A. Zalrharov, Dr. Bio!. Sci.
- iv- FIVE CONTINENTS

CONTENTS
Preliminary molter
Edirorial Committee of rhe Nauka Publishing House, Leningrad, 1987 ............................................ iv
Editorial fOfe\vord ......................................................................................................................... vii
Fore\vord to the second edition ..................................................................................................... xvi
The Russian scientist Nicolay Vavilov, by Semyon Reznik and Yttri Vavilov ........................................ xvii
About the translation ................................................................................................................... xxx
Translator's acknowledgements .......................................................................................... xxx
Notes on the text of the translation of me 1987 version as published in English in 1996 ................. xxxi
Acknowledgements in me preparation of the 1996 edition ........................................................... xxxii
Maps ........................................................................................................................................ xxxiii
Expedition roAfghanistan (1924) .................................................................................. xxxiii
Expeditions in the Mediterranean countries (1926-1927) ............................................... xxxiv
Expedition in Abyssinia and Erirrea (1927) ...................................................................... xxxv
Expedirions in NorrhAmerica (1930,1932) and SourhAmerica (1932-1933) ................ xxxvi
Expedirions in Europe and Asia (1916-1940) ............................................................... xxxviii
Main centres of origin of cultivated plants ........................................................................... xl
Introduction ................................................................................................................................. xli
The text of the book
The basic principle behind the expeditions .................................... : .................................................. 1
In rhe Pamirs .................................................................................................................................. 5
Darvaz, Rushan and Shugnan (Expedirions Made in 19 I 6) ................................................... 5
Expedirion in Iran ......................................................................................................................... 17
Expeditions in Afghanistan ............................................................................................................ 22
Expedition in Nuristan .................................................................................................................. 34
Sourhern Afghanistan .................................................................................................................... 43
Along rhe lower Amu-Darya .......................................................................................................... 48
Western China .............................................................................................................................. 5 I
Expedirion in Japan ....................................................................................................................... 58
Science in Japan ................................................................................................................ 63
Expedition to Tai\van .................................................................................................................... 66
Expedition in Korea ...................................................................................................................... 69
The Mediterranean countries ......................................................................................................... 73
Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 73
Expedirion in Syria ....................................................................................................................... 77
Expeditions in Palestine and Trans-Jordania ........................................................................ 82
Algeria .............................................................................................................................. 87
Morocco ........................................................................................................................... 91
Tunisia ............................................................................................................................. 93
Expedition in Abyssinia ................................................................................................................. 95
Abyssinia .......................................................................................................................... 95
Inro rhe heart of Abyssinia ........................................................................................................... 102
In Eritrea .................................................................................................................................... 108
Expeditions in Greece, Cyprus and Crete ..................................................................................... 112
In Iraly ....................................................................................................................................... 115
Expeditions in Spain ................................................................................................................... 117
Spanish agriculture .......................................................................................................... 120
Cennal Spain .................................................................................................................. 123
Easrern Spain .................................................................................................................. 124
N.I. VAVILOV -y- FIVE CONTINENTS

Andalusia ........................................................................................................................ 125
Galicia .......................................................................................................................... 128
Asturias .......................................................................................................................... 129
The land of the Basques ................................................................................................... 131
Review of the agronomical investigations .......................................................................... 132
Expeditions in Brazil ................................................................................................................... 134
Expeditions in North and Soum America ..................................................................................... 146
1. Travelling conditions ................................................................................................... 146
2. Lecrures and addresses ................................................................................................. 147
3. The Sixth International Genetics Congress ................................................................... 148
Themes of me general sessions ............................................................................. 152
4. Major technical problems of Canadian agriculture ......................................................... 154
5. Irrigation of grain crops ............................................................................................... 155
6. Urilizarion of the planr resources of Cenrral and South America ..................................... 155
7. New plant material collected during my expeditions ...................................................... 157
Plant resources of the world and me work done towards meir utilization
by the All-Union Inscirure ofPlanr Indusrry ......................................................... : ........... 158
Lisr oflarin planr names .............................................................................................................. 161
Common plant nanles ................................................................................................................. 166
Phorographs ............................................................................................................................... 173
N.i. VAVILOV -vi - FIVE CONTINENTS

EDITORIAL FOREWORD
[ORIGINALLY APPEARING IN THE FIRST EDITION
OF 1962 IN RUSSIAN]
The author of this book, Nicolay Ivanovich Vavilov, was an internationally known scholar
of a wide range of subjects: agronomy, botany and plant breeding, genetics and the theory
of plant breeding, geographical distribution and travelling research. He was also a remark-
able organizer of wide-ranging and complicated expeditions, basic and fundamental major
instirutes, and of governmental activities on a grand scale.
N.I. Vavilov was born in Moscow on 25 November 1887. After completing his
studies at the Moscow Agricultural Institute (now the Moscow K. A. Timiryazev Agricul-
tural Academy) he remained there, preparing for a career as professor. From 1917 to 1921
he was professor at the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Saratov, and became
thereafter director of the Department of Applied Botany at the Scientific Committee in
Petrograd. This department was reorganized in 1924 into the Institute of Applied Botany
and New Crops, subsequently renamed The All-Union Instirute of Plant Industry (VIR).
Vavilov was also director of the National Institute of Experimental Agronomy (1923-
1929) and theInstirute of Genetics at the USSR Academy of Sciences (1930-1940). Dur-
ing the period 1929-1935 he was president and from 1935-1940 vice-president of the v: I.
Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Between 1931 and 1940 Vavilov was
also president of the Geographical Society of the Soviet Union.
Because of his work on the geogtaphy of plants and his research on the origin of
cultivated plants and their resistance to diseases, Vavilov became the first one among a
number of scholars to be presented with the Lenin Prize in 1926. He was decorated with
the N.M. przhevalskiy Gold Medal by the Geographical Society of the USSR for his
expeditions in Afghanistan.
Vavilov's work on the geogtaphy of plants also earned him gold medals from the
academies of many other lands. Vavilov was elected a membet of both the Royal Society of
London (the English Academy of Science) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (the Scot-
tishAcademy of Science); corresponding member of the Academy of Science, Halle (Ger-
many); honorary member of the All-Indian Academy of Science; corresponding member
of the CzechoslovaltianAcademy of Agricultural Sciences; honorary member of the American
Botanical Society, the Linnean and the Horticultural Societies, London; member of the
New York Geographical Society; honorary member of the British Association of Biolog-
ists; and a member of many other scientific societies. He was also honoured with doctoral
titles from the universities of Brno (Czechoslovaltia) and Sofia (Bulgaria). The name of
Vavilov adorns the title page of the major international journal, Heredity, together with the
names of Darwin, Linnaeus and othet great men of science. These names fotm a scroll of
honour. In addition, Vavilov was elected president and vice-president of international sci-
entific congtesses.
Between 1926 and 1935, Vavilov was a membet ofZ.I.K. USSR (the Central Ex-
ecutive Committee) and was many times elected a member of the V:Z.I.K. (All-Russian
Central Executive Committee)l as well, and a member of the Leningtad Soviet of the
Wotking People's Deputies.
lThese were both non-parry organizarions, similar ro membership of National Delegations. D. L.
N.I. VAVILOV - vii- FIVE CONTINENTS

In the person of Nicolay Ivanovich Vavilov we can find a successful man of enor-
mous talents, inexhaustible energy, exceptional capacity for work and wonderful physical
health, as well as a rare personal charm. It is often said that he radiated a kind of creative
energy which had an effect on his surroundings, acted as an inspiration and generated new
ideas. A single chat with Vavilov was enough to 'charge one's batteries' for a whole month.
He was fluent in English, French and German; spoke Spanish and Italian as well; and kept
up with international literature and all the latest news. He not only subscribed to scientific
papers but obtained them firsthand from the authors, the best scholars in the world.
Vavilov worked hard and with a rare intensity. Often the length of his working day
extended to 14 or 16 hours. He did not take a resr on holidays or the days of rest authorized
for evety Soviet cirizen. When too busy at his office, he ofren received students for consul-
tation and discussion at his own home, so that he had appointments at 11 or 12 o'clock at
night. But at 9 o'clock next morning he was, as always, at work. He ftequently spent
Sundays in the experimental fields or in greenhouses and laboratories among the cultivated
plants he collected himself, and during his holidays he travelled to institutions of agricul-
tural science, consulted with pupils about their different specialties, and obtained the latest
results of their investigations ftom them. Vavilov also visited the fields of cooperative and
state farms, rendering his full support to agronomists, the leaders of cooperatives, and
other farm workers. He was everywhere considered a desirable and welcome guest. For his
journeys he often used a car which he took turns operating together with a driver. He was
also accompanied by a photographer and a stenographer. After returning fro·m trips, it
often took months to work up the results drawn ftom them.
For a comprehensive study of plant-breeding resoutces, many expeditions were or-
ganized by Vavilov both within the USSR and in foreign countries. Expeditions made by
Vavilov himself or according to his plans for colleagues at the All-Union Institute of Plant
Indusny covered Mongolia, Afghanistan, Asia Minor, Iran, Spain, PortUgal, Italy, Greece,
Palestine, Trans-Jordania and Egypt. In spite of enormous difficulties, the investigations
carried out by Vavilov in Abyssinia, Somalia and Eritrea met with success.
In Asia a large material of seeds and plants was acquired for distribution to plant
breeding stations and others, and for building up a collection of cultivated plants; in Japan,
Korea and China (Taiwan and western China) a rich collection of seeds was made. North-
ern India, Java and Ceylon were studied to some minor extent.
The expeditions led by N.r. Vavilov in the New World studied thoroughly the
cultivated flora of Mexico, the countries of Central America and, in South America, Chile,
Peru, Columbia, Bolivia and Brazil. Less detailed studies were made in Canada, the USA
and Argentina. A number of expeditions were organized to the countries of Scandinavia
and Central Europe. The Caucasus and Central Asia were particularly well explored. Vavilov
was, for instance, enchanted by the Caucasus, where he travelled often and where he col-
lected unique material of varieties of cultivated plants and their wild relatives.
As a result of the work done by these expeditions, the Soviet Union possesses a
richer and more complete stock of cultivated plants in comparison with the varietal mate-
rial of other nations. The collections made by the expeditions are preserved, multiplied and
propagated by the All-Union Institute of Plant Industty and serve as the initial material
from which all the experimental and plant -breeding institutes of the USSR are supplied for
the creation of new varieties.
N.i. VAVILOV -viii - FIVE CONTINENTS

Vavilov organized a thorough srudy of the cultivated plants with respect to their
practical utilization under various narural conditions within the USSR. The 'geographical
plantations' ofVaviiov were located at 115 sites and furnished remarkable results for both
science and practical work.
The organization of the scientific and investigative work of the All-Union Instirute
of Plant Industry, of which Vavilov was director for 20 years, was always instructive.
Several Academicians, dozens of Ph Os, professors and doctoral candidates of science worked
there. Among them were scientists of international reputation, who founded scientific
schools within various specialties. There were agronomists, botanists, plant breeders, ge-
neticists, cytologists, anatomists, physiologists, selectionists, biochemists, entomologists,
phytopathologists, agroclimatologists, and geographers. In this Instirute all worked on a
single theme, a srudy of the world-wide resoutces of plants, which was broken down into
several subjects. Vavilov's theory of the centres of origin of cultivated plants formed the
basis for all this research. The many branches, departments, and laboratories of the insti-
tute carried out various parts of the general work, representing a very great investment in
science. The research by some was supplemented by that of others and thus major prob-
lems were solved. Every co-worker at the Instirute, from laborarory assistants to academi-
cians, considered it their utmost honout to be able to fulfill the wishes ofVavilov. Within
a large and many-sided scientific collective it is onen easy ro recognize the centrifugal force.
Vavilov was like a magnet, concentrating the forces on the problems handled by him.
In .spite of his high office, Vavilov was very unpretentious and always accessible.
Every coworker he met, be it an Academician or a field worker, he considered an equal,
someone he held his hand out to and joked with. Vavilovwas a great patriot of his home-
land, and his love for it also affected his co-workers. His activities during missions and
expeditions abroad invariably increased the authoriry of his country's science and aug-
mented the prestige of the Soviet Union.
The literary legacyofN.I. Vavilov consists of about 350 scientific papers and mono-
graphs, published in various languages of the world.
The book Five Continents, offered to his readers, was not completed by its author;
part of the manuscript is lost. The preservation of the major part of this book was done by
A.S. Mishina, for which we express our limitless gratirude. She worked with Vavilov from
1938 to 1940 as a rypist and stenographer and, in spite of the difficulties during the war
and the evacuation of Leningrad, she was able to protect many chapters of the book, by
hiding them .
As can be seen nom the original plan for Five Continents, the author intended the
book to be in fWO parts. The first part was to cover expeditions srudying the Old World,
the second part those to the countries of the New World. To make it possible to judge
which parts of the book were either not writren or are lost, we present [overleaflthe plan
outlined by the author.
N.I. VAVILOV - ix- FIVE CONTINENTS

PART 1. THE OLD WORLD
Expeditions in Italy
Three trips.
Plan for dividing Italy into
agricultural areas.
The excellent paper by Azzi, 'Wheat
Climate'.
Lombardy.
Central and mountainous Italy.
Coastal, Mediterranean Italy.
Apulia, Catania and Sicily.
Agronomical inquiry, its success.
The valley of Lombardy.
In the country of Virgil, in Mantua.
Rice fields.
Climatic features of Lombardy.
Venice.
Visit to Reggio.
The interior mountains in Italy,
its openness.
The grape, 'wedded' to the elms.
Fields and gardens.
Umbria.
Florence.
Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael
and Michelangelo.
The power of genius.
Romain Rolland on Michaelangelo.
The Florentine Colonial Museum and
its herbarium.
Portugal
A geographical formula of Portugal.
The historical role ofPorrugal.
The history of Portugal.
The voyages of vasco da Gama.
Portuguese ceramics.
Portuguese internationalism.
The main zones of Portugal.
The Mediterranean South.
The humid coast at Lisbon.
Portuguese chivalry.
Presents from companies.
The Lisbon Botanical Garden.
N.!. VAVILOV
The botanisrs Fiori and Kampanini.
Ancient Rome.
The srruggle for wheat.
The Rome International Institute.
The Colonial Deparrrnent.
A trip to Umbria together with Prof. Azzi.
The monastery of St. Francis.
A trip to Herculaneum and the ruins
of Pompeii.
Agronomical relics.
Naples.
The works of Commes.
The history of horticulture.
Sebastian.
Agronomist Botanieli.
In the foothills ofErna.
In the homeland of flax and lupines.
Wheats hybrids.
War against the drought.
The granary of Rome.
Agriculture in the manner of Virgil.
A trip to an estate in Sicily.
A garden in Palermo.
Sardinia.
The realm of hard wheat.
The strict morals ofItaly.
The philosophy of Italy.
The Colonial Museum, Lisbon.
Relicr plants.,
The northern mountain region.
Chestnut trees.
Lisbon Agricultural Institute
The godsend of Portugal.
Mimicry of bread grasses.
Diversity of wheat forms in Portugal.
Porruguese vetchlings.
Groves of cork oaks.
Brief philosophy of Portugal.
-x- FIVE CONTINENTS
Expedition in Bavaria
History of agriculture in Cenrral Europe.
The exaggerations of the pan-Germanists.
Tripolye culture.
Ancient agricultural sites in the mountains.
The southern mountains of Germany.
Pile dwellings.
Investigations by [Cheier?].
The realm of emmer wheats.
Triticum dicoccum and T monococcum.
Expedition in Denmark
Lecture to the Copenhagen
Botanical Society.
Andersen's Fairy Tales.
Jutland.
Expedition in Western Europe
Germany.
France.
The Caucasus
A philosophy of the Caucasus.
Sketch of the history.
Population.
Endemics.
Wild and cultivated flora.
Plant resources.
Ecological outline of the Caucasus.
The native land of wheat, rye, grape
and many fruit trees.

In the Wurttemberg mountains.
The ancestor of pears.
Peasants' breeding.
Relicts.
Main groups of relict mountain plants.
The Carpathians.
The South-German mountains.
The Alps and the Pyrenees.
The land of'squealers'.
Future of the agriculrure.
The advancement of agriculture towards
the north.
Holland.
England.
Lenkoran'.
Dagestan.
The mountains of Armenia.
Karabalth.
Georgia.
Ossetia.
Travelling conditions.
A clue to a mystery.
Review of the First Part of the Book Five Continents
Old and new. Developmental stages.
At the source and in the periphery. Agricultural resources.
The complex ways of evolution. Enormous space.
Many kinds of forms. The Old World as the homeland
The unity of the evolutionary process. of humanity.
North-trending agriculture.
From the second part of the manuscript, containing the expeditions of Vavilov to the
countries of the New World, only the chapter 'Expedition in Brazil' has been found. The
complete outline of this part according to the intentions of the author might have been as
follows overleaf:
N.I. VAVILOV -xi- FIVE CONTINENTS

PART TWO: THE NEW WORLD
The USA
Washington.
The Department of Agriculture.
The Bureau of Plant Introductions.
New York.
Botanical Gardens.
Evolutionary stations.
Journeys ro experimental stations.
California and Florida
The seven wonders of the world.
Guayule plantations.
Lecturing in California.
Universities of California.
Stanford Institute of Nutrition.
Among the giants of the plant world.
Florida.
Expedition in Canada
Manitoba.
Ottawa.
Winnipeg.
Alberta.
The greatest achievements of
plant breeding.
Expedition in Mexico
In the native land of the Mayas.
A philosophy of Mexico.
Brief geographical oudine.
Collections of guayule.
Expedition to the Yucatan Peninsula
Chichen-Itza.
The ruins.
Expedition in Guatemala
A volcanic country.
Remains of a high-level civilization.
The highest spring in the world.
Expedition in Honduras
British Honduras.
Guest of Dr Popenoe.
The tropical forest.
Guest of the president of the Universiry
of Arizona.
Expedition among the Indians.
Yellowstone National Park.
Journeys together with Wilson.
Kansas.
The State of Colorado.
Texas.
Gainesville.
Miami.
A visit with Edison.
In the homeland of the pumpkin.
The landscape of Florida
Guest of Dr. Fairchild.
American persistence.
The Russian landscapes of Canada.
The Dulthobors.
Resources of Canada.
In Lethbridge.
Organizing expeditions to
search for guayule.
The native land of maize.
Relics of the Mayan civilization.
Short stop in Merida.
Flora and fauna.
A map of Guatemala.
The border between Guatemala and Mexico.
German influences.
A homeland of fruit trees.
The kingdom of the banana.
The White Fleet.
N.J. VAVILOV - xii- FIVE CONTINENTS

Expedition in the Republics of Central America
(El Salvador, Cosra Rica, Nicaragua and Panama)
The fight against malaria. History of the Panama Canal.
Tropical forests. Gardens of introduced plants.
Travelling by Air around South America
Route. Stops.
Travelling conditions. The best rravelling route.
Types of aircraft.
Peru and Bolivia
Lima, the capiral of Peru.
Archeological museums.
Guano.
An Eldorado of archaeologists.
Cuzco.
Arecana.
The native land of the potato.
Chile
Antofagasta.
Attention to a Soviet ttaveller.
The nitrate deposits of Chile.
Santiago.
Expedition in Argentina
The Pampas.
Agricultural resoutces of Argentina.
Wheat producrion.
Companion travellers.
The Republic of Uruguay
Dr Berger.
The history of wheat.
Uruguayan tea.
Expedition in Brazil
Southern Brazil.
The influence of the Germans.
Pernambuco.
Rio de Janeiro.
The Botanical Garden.
The royal palms.
Plantations of sugarcane and bananas.
Resources for cotton cultivation.
Dr Franco.
The coffee kingdom and its tragedy.
N.I. VAVILOV
A megalithic civilization.
In search of quinine trees.
Lake Titicaca.
Endemic planrs of Bolivia and Peru.
Llamas and alpacas.
The Atamaca desert.
Student demonstration.
Travelling ro the South.
The island of Chiloe.
By air from Santiago to Argentina.
Mechanization of agriculture.
The crisis of the Argentinian agriculture.
The slaughterhouses.
Buenos Aires.
Old customs.
By car.
The Srate of Sao Paulo.
The compositions of the crops.
The coffee monopoly.
Mega-hygrotropics.
The tropical vegetation and its peculiarities.
The animal world.
The investigations by Wallace.
The kingdom of cacao.
The Amazon river valley.
Voyage along the Amazon river.
- xiii - FIVE CONTINENTS
Expedition in Brazil - continued
Alligator country.
Dinner party and its menu.
Histoty of the Ford plantations.
The Island of Trinidad
Visiting Dr Harlan.
A tropical world.
The Island of Cuba and its Tragedy
Indigent professors.
Jesuits.
Havana cigars.
The land of agaves.
Histoty of the sugarcane.
Gardens of introduced plants.
Review of the Book
Investigarions made by assistants.
The expeditions ro Turkey, India,
Ceylon and Java.
Geography of specific variation.
Sources of varietal richness.
Theoty of plant introduction.

Flying through French, British and
Dutch Guiana.
A stop on St. Vincent Island.
San Fuegos.
The island ofPuetto Rico.
Introduction nurseries.
A philosophy of the island.
Flying back ro Miami.
General philosophy of worldwide
agriculture.
The origin of cultivated plants.
Practical results.
Dreams about the future.
Orienting investigations.
To mal<e up for the parts of the book which are lost we inserted at the end of the book
some abridged papers by Vavilov, taken from his Around North and South America and
published in Izvestia on 29 March 1933. They were not intended by the author for the
bookFive Continents but represent an account of his missions ro North and South America.
The loss of parts of the manuscript does not, however, affect the great value of the
work. Distinguished by its lively and approachable style, the book is at the same time full
of substance. In it, the reader will find not only interesting information about the geogra-
phy of cultivated plants but also descriptions of nature and cities, observations on the
mode of life of farming populations, information on the state of agriculture and plant-
breeding science in different countries, and interesting episodes and encounters with for-
eign scholars, governmental institutions, and more. The diversity and the richness of its
contents mai<es Five Continents interesting not only for specialized geographers and work-
ers within agriculture but also for ordinary readers.
All the accounts of his expeditions are reproduced in the form in which they were
finished by Vavilov in 1940. The editorial committee found it also appropriate not ro
make any changes on the political map of the world or in the economic or political life of
countries such as they existed at the time of the journeys of the author. The reader should
keep this in mind, especially when it is a matter of names of countries and the number of
N.I. VAVILOV -xiv- FIVE CONTINENTS
------------------------a------------------------
inhabitants as well as the mode of life, civilization of populations, and so on. Comments
have been made in exceptional cases only. The transcription [imo Russian] of geographical
names has been corrected and the presem names of populated areas have been given within
brackets. The book is illustrated by original photos taken by Vavilov himself during the
expeditions.
N.i. VAVILOV -xv- FIVE CONTINENTS

FOREWORD TO THE SECOND EDITION
[ORIGINALLY APPEARING IN
THE SECOND EDITION IN RUSSIAN]
This book appears on the occasion of the 1 DOth anniversary of rhe birth of its author. This
date has a special meaning in the Soviet Union. The organizarion of the United Nations for
problems of education, science and culture (UNESCO) decided on 1 October 1985, to
"celebrate the year of outstanding people" duting 1986-1987 and included the following
text in their calendar, widely distributed allover the world: "N.r. Vavilov. Soviet scholar
and geneticist, cultivator of plants, geographer, creator of the modern scientific basis for
plant breeding and the theory of world centres of origin of cultivated plants, Academician;
on the occasion of the 100 year anniversary of his birth."
In addition to the Editorial Foreword in the first edition, it remains to be stated that
in accordance with the intentions of Vavilov we have also included his paper "Pl£mt Re-
sources of the World and the Work Done Toward Their Utilization by the All-Union Imtitute of
Plant Industry." When published (in 1939) it summed up in a condensed form a review of
the worldwide resources for plant breeding. In addition, some papers printed in various
less well-known and now hard-to-get publications have been located. Different pieces of
Vavilov's essays, printed in journals contemporary with him, have been added in corre-
sponding places in the book or are inserted in full into Five Continents.
The illustrations should be especially mentioned. We have not succeeded in locat-
ing all the negarives and the original photos included in the first edition. In connection
with this and in exchange for the missing ones, some photos similar with respect to subject
are furnished. They have not been previously published but were taken by Vavilov himself
and were stored in the Leningrad branch of the Archives of the Academy of Sciences of the
USSR (in the N.r. Vavilov Fund no. 805, Inventory No.5, Nos. 173 and 181). Material
preserved by N.R. Ivanov, a close associate ofVavilov at the All-Union Institute, and saved
by his wife, K Y. Ivanova, who was also an associate at the Institute duting the time of
Vavilov and after it ended, is also included.
The editors express their great appreciation to KY. Ivanova for presenting them
with these photographs and negatives. References in the form of corresponding indices
have again been compiled.
N.I. VAVILOV -xvi- FIVE CONTINENTS

THE RUSSIAN SCIENTIST NICOLAY VAVILOV
SEMYON REZNIK AND YURI VAVILOV
written in 1996 for the English edition
Nicolay lvanovich Vavilov (1887-1943) was one of the most outstanding scientists of the
twentieth centUty: a biologist, geneticist, geographer, explorer, agronomist and plant breeder.
During three decades of tireless scientific work he travelled over five continents, amassed
the largest collection in the world of species and strains of cultivated plants, and developed
theories on how to Utilize them for breeding new strains. The activities of Vavilov were
extraordinarily varied, but they were all focused on one single objective: to increase agricul-
tural production and to provide hmnanltind with more food.
le is hard to give the name of even another single being in all the world who made so
much for so many in order to provide people with bread. But Vavilov himself died of
starvation; nobody gave him a piece of bread. Slandered, disgraced, racked by torture, he
died in the prison of the Russian city ofSaratov on the Volga. However, the facts about his
death and even its vety date were kept secret by his executioners for many years; withheld
from his wife, sons and brother, students, and friends as well as from the scientific commu-
nity of the world.
Nicolay Vavilov was a member of academies and scientific societies of many coun-
tries, and in 1942 he was elected a member of the Royal Society in London, UK. This high
honour is awarded only to the greatest scientists, known all over the world. However,
according to the rules of this Society, members can never be elected posthmnously. There-
fore later on, after the Second World War, the directors of the Society bombarded the
Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the Soviet Government with numerous questions
about the date of the death ofVavilov simply in order to clear up whether his election was
acceptable or whether his name should be stricken from the list of members of the society.
But they never obtained any answer to their inquiries.
Twentyyears passed before the exact date of death, 26 January 1943, became known,
and many years more went by before the place of his interment in the Saratov cemetery was
learned, and then only apptoximately. Now a large marble monument is erected there
although not at the grave of the scientist, which still remains unknown, bUt in the centre of
the cemetery. Almost 50 years passed before the son of Nicolay Vavilov, one of the authors
of this paper, obtained copies of two secret docmnents concerning his father's arrest and
death.
The main document reads:
"ORDER OF ARREST No. 529. August 7, 1940. Issued to Comrades Kobtsev
. and Koslov of the National Security for executing the arrest and search ofVavilov,
Nicolay Ivanovich, address: Zemlyanoy Val no. 21/23, apt. 54, Moscow, or where
found.
People's Commissar ofInternal Affairs of the USSR
[NKVD 1 -(signature),
Head of the Third Special Department of the NKVD of the USSR
-(signature). Reference: 37.
Arrest sanctioned by the Public Prosecutor of the USSR." [1].
The unknown official, who should fill oUt the standard form of the order, was in
such a hUtty that he did not write down the rank of the officers in charge of this imponant
N.J. VAVILOV -xvii- FIVE CONTINENTS
II
mission. Indeed, he had to hurry up because the order was issued only arrer the event, since
Vavilov was actually arrested the day before, on 6 August.
These characteristics of the punitive system of the totalitarian Soviet regime do not,
however, mean that the arrest by the punitive organs of a learned man with a world-wide
repuration should be regarded as a rourine event. On the contrary, such an operation was
prepared well in advance of which the second document, obtained together with the first
one, bears witness. It was entitled: 'Decree Concerning the Arrest.' The fifteen rypewritten
pages of this document are full of facts, names, dates and quotations. It is dated 5 August
1940, bur judging from its content, it can be seen that based on it many people had secretly
been condemned to labour for months or even years [2J. While Vavilov, as he expressed it,
"hunted allover the globe" and allover the Soviet Union for new kinds of cultivated plants,
the totalitarian leviathan hunted for him. The 'Decree Concerning the Arrest', to which we
shall return, clearly illustrates the atmosphere under which the life and work of the most
gifted biologist of the rwentieth century went on [IJ.
The great traveller, roaming all over the world, was the grandson of an indentured
peasant, who in his days could not move from his remote village withour the permission of
his master. Little difference was made berween serfs and slaves. Their master could flog
them, forbid them to marry or, else, force them to marry against their will, and he could
sell them to another master, forever separating them from their families. Such were the
conditions under which the grandfather of Nicolay Vavilov lived in the poor village of
Ivashkov on the outskittS of the Province of Moscow. There, in 1863, JUSt rwo years arrer
the abolishment of the law of serfdom, the father of the scientist, Ivan Vavilov, was born.
The poor family could hardly feed its members, and ten years old, Ivan was sent to
work in Moscow. There he showed unusual talents for business and although he had no
education he succeeded to become one of the co-owners and directors of the 'Prokhotovskiy
Factory', a very large textile company with millions in capital.
Ivan Vavilov married in 1884 and had four children: rwo sons and rwo daughters.
He wanted them to go into business, but it turned our that all four became scientists. The
brother of Nicolay, Sergey Vavilov (1891-1951) became one of the greatest physicists in
Russia. In 1945, rwo years arrer the death of his brother, he was made President of the
Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Within the hierarchical Soviet sociery, this meant that
he was appointed by Stalin as scientist number one. The works ofSergey Vavilov on physi-
cal optics, especially luminescence, made him known allover the world and have still not
lost significance. Both the sisters became biologists. The younger, Lydia, died at a young
age, bur the older, Alexandra Ipat' eva, received her doctor's degree in microbiology and
acquired a great repuration among her colleagues. However, obviously, the greatest talent
in rhis gifted family was Nicolay. -
After completing high school in 1906, Nicolay Vavilov entered the Moscow Agri-
cultural Institute [3], one of the most respected schools of higher education in Russia.
From his first course on, he distinguished himself by his enormous energy and remarkable
abilities. At the end of the course he already performed scientific work: arranged excur-
sions, collected for and developed an herbarium, made experiments in the laboratory and
on research plors, and delivered scientific lectures.
As a post-graduate Vavilov started extensive research on the resistance of plants
against diseases and worked out a genetic theory of resistance, permitting him to look for
resistant strains in natute or to create them by hybridization and selection [4].
N.I. VAVILOV - XVIII - FIVE CONTINENTS
II
The post-graduare programme included extensive studies and work at foreign scien-
tific centres. In 1913 Vavilov went to England, where he became the pupil and friend of
William Bateson (1861-1926), one of the most important pillars of the still very young
science ofherediry. Bateson was the scientist who named this science generics. The selec-
tion made by the Russian post-graduate was not accidental. Already then Vavilov under-
stood that genetics opened totally new perspectives for the study of cultivated plants, and
he wanted to get to the bortom of thar young science.
After spending several months in England, Vavilov went to France, where he worked
on probation at the Pasteur Institute under one of the creators of the rheory of resistance,
the Russian scientist lIya Mechnikov (1834-1916), but also in the well-lmown agricultural
firm of the Vilmorins. Following this, he went to Germany to work with the famous Ernst
Haeckel (1845-1919), but soon the First World War broke out and Vavilov found himself
in a hostile country. With grear difficulties he succeeded in making his way back home. But
the steamer, on which he sent his luggage to Russia, ran into a mine and sank.
In 1916 Vavilov undertook the first successful of his expeditions, that is, to northern
Iran and the Pamirs. In 1917 he was made professor at the University in Saratov and
started together with his students the extensive research on his already at that time rather
large collection of strains of culrivated plants.
The start of this work coincided with one of the greatesr events in the countty. In
February of 1917, a revolution had overthrown the Czar. This met with general rejoicing.
However, shortly after this the front broke down (the First World War was still going on).
A provisional government wanted to democratize the country but with each day thar
passed ir lost further COntrol. In October the government was overthrown by the Bolshe-
viks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin.
The Bolsheviks nationalized private property and introduced the so-called military
communism. They forbade trade and private enterprise and created a special 'Provisioning
Army', which roamed the villages and robbed the peasants of their provisions in order to
distribute them to the utban populations. The so-called 'sutplus' of agricultural products
was confiscated by the provisioning army units. In facr, they took everything they could
find. Any atrempt at resistance or to hide grain or other products was punished with death
on the spot without any investigation or trial. This policy led to a complere cessation of
economic activity, to anarchy and banditry.
A civil war broke Out, which enveloped all the countty, and cold, hunger, sickness
and the brutality of this policy, together with pogroms, led to considerably more devasta-
tion than caused by military activities. The father of Nicolay Vavilov turned overnight
from millionaire to pauper and left the countty. However, Nicolay Vavilov and all the rest
of the family stayed on.
Judging from letrers wrirten by Vavilov at this time (1917-1920), he hardly paid
artention to the events around him. In Saratov, situated in the midst of an extensive agri-
cultural region, he continued his research with enormouS enthusiasm and created a scien-
tific school of his own, consisting almost exclusively of young women, since the men were
fighting the war and few of them attended universities. Many of students 'fell in love' with
their young, handsome and charming professor. They worked gladly on his research and
roiled day and night in the laboratory or on the research plots just in order to earn his
praise. But he himselfloved only science, for the sake of which he never spared himsel£ As
he later wrote to his future wife, Yelena Barulina: "I really believe deeply in science; it is my
N.i. VAVILOV -xix- FIVE CONTINENTS

life and the purpose of my life. I do not hesitate to give my life even for the smallest bit of
science," [5].
During the summer of 1920, while the civil war still raged and the general devasta-
tion reached unbelievable proportions, an All-Russian Congress of Plant Breeders took
place in Saratov. Vavilov had taken the initiative on it and directed all the work for its
organization. In spite of an almost complete paralysis of the transportation system, abour
180 participants succeeded in attending the congress [6], - so great was the thirst for scien-
tific intercourse, without which scientific progress is impossible. The central event of the
congress was the lecture by Nicolay Vavilov, in which he set forth one of his most impor-
tant discoveries: 'The Law of Homologous Series for Inherited Variation' [7].
When comparing numerous strains of related species and genera of plants, Vavilov
established that within each group there are similar hereditary characteristics in the form of
regular series and that the more genetically close to each other the species examined are, the
more similar are the series of variation. Vavilov produced tables of variation. There were
many gaps in the tables, but they did not trouble the scientist. Vavilov confidently declared
that with time these gaps would be filled. For the first time biologists were given an oppor-
tunity of predicting the presence of forms, still neither found nor described.
At the end of the lecture, the hall exploded in applause. All the participants in the
congress rose to their feet and one of them shouted through the din: "Biologists, praise
your Mendeleyev!" [8]. And when the noise had abated another scientist stated: "Russia
shall not perish as long as there are people like Nicolay Vavilov".
After a year Vavilov moved to Petrograd [9], where he became director of the small
Department of Applied Botany [10] and took over the chair of Robert Regel (18671920),
who had died of typhus. He soon moved the department into a building, vacated by the
czarist Department of Agriculture and turned it into a major scientific institute. What this
meant under the conditions then existing can be understood from a letter by Vavilov,
addressed to his friend in Saratov, Peter Pod'yapol'skiy: "There are millions of troubles. I
am fighting the cold in the premises, I am fighting for furniture, accommodations and
provisions ... It is no mere trifle to build up new laboratories, research stations and to
arrange food and lodging for sixty people" [11].
At that time the civil war had ended and the Bolshevik leadership found it necessary
to resurrect the country from the ruins. Lenin was forced to abandon the policy of military
communism and to start the so-called 'new economic policy', permitting some private
enterprise, trade and ownership. The farmers were taxed only for a modest portion of their
harvest and were allowed to keep the major portion of their products for their families and
to sell the surplus on the market.
In order to restore the ruined economy, a large number of professionals with knowl-
edge and experience within the various fields of economy, science and culture were needed.
The majority of these professionals were scions of the upper classes, because of which the
Bolsheviks considered them 'bourgeois' specialists and suspected them of disloyalty to the
proletarian system. But to manage without their help was impossible for the rulers.
During the years of civil war the majority of the specialists had either emigrated or
perished from hunger or illness. A lot of them had been executed in the torture chambers
of the political police for various reasons or none at all. The fewwho survived and were lefr
in the country were so much more valuable. One of these 'bourgeois specialists' was Nicolay
Vavilov [2].
N.J. VAVILOV -xx- FIVE CONTINENTS

In addition to his unusual scientific achievements, enormous capacity for work and
his personal charm, rhanks to which he attracted all kinds of people, Vavilovwas possessed
by a wider-ranging scientific vision and was able to pose problems for large groups of
research workers. He convened rhe Department of Applied Botany into a large Institute of
Plant Industry; ~ d attracted to it rhe best scientists in Russia, most suited as specialists of
different crops: wheat, maize, conon, potatoes, citrus fruits and so on. Jokingly, Vavilov
called them 'Icings'. Thus, Gavriil Zaitsev, who directed a large plant breeding station in
Central Asia, affiliated wirh rhe Institute of Plant Industry; became rhe 'Icing' of conon,
Leonid Govorov 'king' ofleguminous plants and Constantine Flyaksberger rhat of wheat.
Constantine Pangalo was made 'king' of citrus fruits and Nicolay Kuleshov rhar of maize.
Vavilov also built up departments of genetics, physiology and plant biochemistry, to which
rhe best specialists were similarlyanracted: Georgi Karpechenko, Nikolay Maksimov and
Grigory Levitskiy. The work of rhe young geneticist Karpechenko, enjoyed an especially
wide-ranging reputation.
Every scientist in rhe Institute had full freedom in rhe choice of subjects and merh-
ods used for investigations but rhe general direction was found in rhe flow ofVavilov's ideas
and projects. Full of new ideas he gladly shared rhem wirh rhose around him, never both-
ering about priority. He possessed rhe ability to read very fast in many languages and to
write quickly: in one to rwo days he could dictate hundreds oflines in shorrhand for his
papers and books. Always in a hurry he slept very little: he claimed rhat he had inherited a
special gene for rhis from his morher. Vavilovwas able to retain in his memory an unbeliev-
able amount of information. His co-workers were impressed by rhe ease, wirh which he
worked. Gavriil Zaitsev (1887-1929) wrore to his wife from Pettograd in 1922: "He
reminds me very much of Mozart, who according to Pushkin's Salieri, was an 'idle reveller.'
But nobody can do as much as or equally well as he does ... He is very companionable and
very straightforward, in spite of his worldliness" [12].
Vavilov's enthusiasm for science and rhe artistic ease of his work, his straight-for-
wardness, his accessibility, and his readiness to always be of assistance provided rhe Institute
wirh an atmosphere of joy and happiness. There nobody envied rhe success of a colleague;
if somebody had a stroke ofluck it was accepted as a general success. People worked, did
not count rhe hours, did not spare rhemselves and it was always like a holiday rhere. The
'Babylon', as rhe co-workers jokingly called rhe institute, was a fairyrale island of freedom
in rhe stormy sea of Bolshevik despotism, where every living and independent rhought was
suppressed or subjected to persecution.
The All-Union Institute of Plant Industry, extending a nerwork of research srations
across all rhe country - from rhe oases of Central Asia to rhe polar lands and from rhe
Leningrad area on the Baltic to Vladivostok on rhe Pacific - was rhe favorire child of
Vavilov. But in addirion to rhat, he also direcred rhe small laboratory of genetics of the
Academy of Sciences in Moscow, which he took over from its founder, Yuri Filipchenko
(who died in 1930), and which he turned into a major institure. In 1929, when rhe Acad-
emy of Agricultural Sciences was esrablished, Vavilov was appointed its president, becom-
ing "rhe foremost agronomisr in rhe country," and in 1931 he was elecred president of rhe
All-Union Geographic Society [6].
In 1921 Vavilov obtained an invitation from rhe US Department of Agriculture to
take part in rhe Phyroparhological Congress in New York, planned for August of rhat year.
At rhat time rhere was in Russia a famine of unprecedented proportions, especially in rhe
N.I. VAVILOV - xxi- FIVE CONTINENTS

area around the Volga. This was a consequence of the policy of military communism,
aggravated by a severe drought.
It was necessary to quickly organize a supply oHood for areas affected by the famine
and, in addition, to buy large amounts seeds for crops from abroad, since all the grain for
seeding had been consumed. The question was, what kind oHoreign strains and crops were
best suited for the area around the Volga? Only specialists could answer that. The foremost
among these was Vavilov, who has spent three years in the Volga area and completed a book
on the agricultural crops of this discrict [13]. Therefore the invitation to Vavilov from
America could not have come at a better time.
After seven years of isolation from abroad, caused by the World War and the Civil
War, Vavilov was able to visit the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada and other coun-
tries, but the major part of the time was spent in the United States.
At that time the cooperation between Vavilov and the Buteau of Plant Industry of
the US Department of Agriculture started, in particular that with Fairchild, Meyer, Hansen,
and other American 'hunters' of plants. The Bureau of Plant Indusrry sent over an exten-
sive collection of species and scrains of cultivated plants, collected in many countries of the
world. However, when Vavilov tried to find Out what general ideas directed the American
scientists, when selecting itineraries for their expeditions, it turned out that there was no
general concept. The American colleagues operated on intuition.
Utilizing the opportunities offered, Vavilov visited almost every part of the country,
collecting plants and making acquaintance with the work oflocal scientific establishments.
On 15 November 1921, he wrote Peter Pod'yapol'skiy:
"I am studying northern United States, keeping an eye open for what can be utilized
from there in Russia. There is much of interest. People are friendly and cooperative ...
Thousands of things have been accomplished. How I wish I could cart away books, Imowl-
edge and strains. I am trying to establish social relations between America and Russia
within the field of applied botany" [14].
Vavilov even organized a special branch of the Deparrrnent of Applied Botany in
America. It operated for fiveyears afrer his departure, sending seeds of plants and scientific
literature to Russia. .
The laboratory of Thomas Morgan (1866-1945) at the Columbia Universiry at-
tracted the special attention ofVavilov. Morgan was the creator of the chromosome theory
of heredity. In spite of the fact that the main object of his investigations was the fruit fly,
Drosophila, and not cultivated plants, Vavilov understood that this theory provided a fun-
damental basis for science, according to which it was necessary to operate also for himself,
a plant breeder, agronomist and hunter of plants. After a few days Morgan and his young
co-workers, Bridges, Sturtevant and Muller, had become friends ofVavilov. Especially cor-
dial relations developed between him and Herman MUlIer (1890-1%7), who went to
Soviet Russia the next year, where he delivered a large number of lectures on the chromo-
some theoty.
Vavilov came twice more to the United States: in 1930 (on his way to Mexico) and
in 1932 (on his way to South America). In 1933-37 at the arrangement ofVavilov, Muller
worked in Moscow at the Institute of Genetics. He directed the work of a number of
talented scientists and put a noticeable mark on Soviet science [6].
Although Vavilov worked within so many different fields of science, his activities
struck a chord of harmony and purposefulness. After postulating the law of homologous
N.I. VAVILOV - xxii- FIVE CONTINENTS

series, Vavilov pointed our that a large treasure of culrivated plants still remained to be
revealed to science. Logically, the question arose abour where to find these natural reser-
voirs. Searching for an answer, Vavilov worked our his original phytogeographical method
of research and this led to his main discovery: the theory of the centres of origin of culti-
vated plants. The centres turned our to be located in several comparatively small geo-
graphical areas on the globe, especially in the mountain areas of Asia, Africa, along the
Mediterranean coast and in South, Central and North America. At first Vavilov distin-
guished five centres of origin, then their number grew to eight bur in his last papers he
distinguished only seven basic centres.
As a byproduct of these investigations, ancient periods in the history of mankind
were disclosed. According to the generally accepted theories at that time, agricultural civi-
lizations originated in the valleys of major rivers such as the Nile in Africa, the Tigris and
Euphrates in the Middle East, the Indus and Ganges in India, and the Yangtse-kiang and
Huang-ho in China. However, Vavilov's investigations indicated that in all these regions
the composition of the variery of cultivated plants was not very rich. He also demonstrated
that the valleys of the large rivers could not be the cradles of agricultural civilizations for
another reason as well: once established, the new settlements there lacked protection and
could become victims of devastating raids. Agricultural civilizations could evolve only un-
der conditions of considerable isolation from the rest of the world. Only when they had
reached a definite size could they expand into the river valleys and there reach the pealts of
civilization that still captivate the imagination of investigators and tourists.
Vavilov demonstrated that in each of the centres of origin, an agricultural civiliza-
tion developed on the basis of the plants native to the given area only, that is, they devel-
oped there independently and were not adopred from any other centre. Thus, for the first
time it was scientifically proven that the different human races are equally favoured in
respect to creativity. During an era when in Europe the Hirlerian theoty of the superiority
of the Aryan race, said to be more creative than all other races and repuredly capable of
imitation only, was spreading, the revelation ofVavilovwas not only of scientific bur also of
enormous humanistic importance. However, his contemporaries hardly understood the
revolutionary character ofVavilov's idea abour a mountain origin of civilizations, because
of which in the 'Five Continents' he repeatedly returns to his hypothesis as if arguing with
invisible opponents. If he had made only this single discovery, his name would forever be
inscribed in the annals of science.
At present, when science, following the pathway broken by Vavilov, has amassed
considerably more facts, the scientists recognize twelve independent Vavilovian centres.
Obviously, the data will be revised and made more exact again. However, the ideas and
methods of Nicolay Vavilov constitute still and will always form the basis for all such
investigations.
The singular beauty of Vavilov's study is that the centres of origin of cultivated
plants were discovered 'at the tip of a pen', that is, purely theoretically. As a logical conse-
quence, the scientist decided to send our expeditions to these centres in order to collect a
large number of species and strains from them for replenishing his collection and to be able
to prove his basic hypothesis. For this purpose he himself, visited five continents, and
penetrated into inaccessible mountain areas, enduring hardships and risking his life.
Of course, reality interfered with the plans of the scientist. The planet seethed with
military and revolts. Soviet Russia with its insane international policy provoked the mis-
N.!. VAVILOV - xxiii - FIVE CONTINENTS

trust of all the world so that every person from that country, fenced offby the Iron Curtain,
was considered a potential spy, fulfilling a damaging mission for the communistic authori-
ties. Hence the disttust and the refusals of entrance visas about which Vavilov writes bit-
terly in his book. These artificially created difficulties forced him to change his itineraries
and sometimes he had to be content with not visiting a centre of origin itself but only the
areas contiguous with it. This fact is, of coutse, also reflected in Five Continents.
To this we have to add what he could not write about in Soviet Russia. The disttust
of himself was two-faced. While abroad Vavilovwas often called 'Red'; in Russia he was
considered a 'bourgeois specialist' and ptone to suspicions. After 1933 Vavilov was alto-
gether forbidden to leave the country. Like his grandfather, he had become a serf of his
master, the communist government.
Nevertheless, he had succeeded in visiting almOSt all the centres established by him-
sel£ To those countries where he could not go himself, he sent his co-workers and students.
In total, between 1920 and 1940 no less than 140 expeditions were sent out within the
Soviet Union and 40 expeditions allover the world, visiting 64 different countries.
By 1940, the year when Vavilov was arrested, the collection of cultivared plants
amassed in the Institute of Plant Industry amounted to 200 000 specimens. This was the
largest in the world. The seeds were not only catalogued but every year duplicated on
experimental plots allover the country. Different strains were used for hybridization to-
ward a deeper understanding of their genetic nature. The strains most suitable for each
zone were direcrly introduced into cultivation or used as genetic material for hybridization
or selection. All this work by thousands of scientific co-workers was executed according to
a general programme, worked out and constanrly perfected by Nicolay Vavilov.
At that time the centres of origin remained still essentially isolated from the world
and the agriculture there stood almost at the same level as a thousand years ago. In our
days, the conditions have changed. The expansion of the present civilization has led ro the
Vavilovian centres becoming threatened. In order to preserve the wealth of strains concen-
trated within these centres, international organizations have directed more and more expe-
ditions into them. However, even the richest collection cannor replace natural storage of
genes and therefore the world's communiry of nations anxiously wants to preserve the
Vavilovian centres. The UN and other international organizations are at present occupied
with this problem [15].
After Lenin had proclaimed the 'new economic policy', the producriviry of agricul-
ture in Russia gradually increased. This could be explained not leasr by rhe progress of
science, although only with great difficulry could newly selecred strains be introduced into
the agriculture and be used for the new technology.
The slow but steady growth came to a halt in 1929, when Stalin started his cam-
paign for mass-collectivization of agriculture. The peasants were forced to unite into collec-
tive farms from which the government demanded contributions in the form of obligatory
provisions of grain, meat, milk and other products. Often the requests of the government
exceeded the capacities of the collective so thar the peasants there were left with nothing of
the harvest reaped and were still in debt to the government.
The consequences of collectivization, completed in 1932, were catasrrophic. Mil-
lions of peasants perished from repression and hunger; the producrivity of the fields and
the yields of the catrle declined sharply; in the ciries a rationing system was introduced. The
authorities needed scapegoats and, as before, these were the 'bourgeois specialists', - this
time agronomists and plant breeders.
N.I. VAVILOV - xxiv- FIVE CONTINENTS

Among those arresred were the closest co-workers ofVavilov: Victor Pisarev, Nicolay
Maksimov, Victor Talanov and others. They were accused of creating a conspiratory anti-
Soviet organization under the name of the Peasant's Labor Parry (PLP; in Russian TPK),
which, of course, never exisred. By means of torture, battery and deprivation of sleep, those
arrested were forced to confess to crimes never committed and to name accomplices. Evi-
dence against Nicolay Vavilov was demanded with such special persistence that he was
even said to be leader of this fictional organization.
The 'Decree Concerning the Arrest', mentioned in the beginning of this article,
preserves between its lines rraces of the desperate resistance of those accused, who were
forced to give false evidence against Vavilov. Thus, Victor Pisarev was forced to admit that
in the Insritute of Plant Indusrry a 'conspiratory organization' was established and thar in it
"a considerable number of specialists on agriculture with a so-called Eserian [socialist-
revolutionary] mind [16] and populist spirit found asylum". However, to obrain direct
evidence against Vavilov from Pisarev was, evidently, impossible. Nicolay Kuleshov 'ac-
knowledged' that during the year when he joined the VIR [All-Union Institure of Plant
Industry] he, too, entered the PLP and, after additional pressure, he added that "Vavilov
was part of the organization". Neither could Professor Talanov withstand the treatment he
received; he was forced to admit that the leadership of the PLP was in the hands ofVavilov,
Tulaykovand Pisarev.
Not suspecting that he, himself, was in danger, Vavilov wrote petitions for the re-
lease of the scientists arrested, warranting their innocence. Later on he was accused for this
as well; his petitions were interpreted as attempts to save 44 of his partners from persecu-
tion. However, ar that time Vavilov himselfwas ,not arrested. The material against him was
only srored away for the future. The Bolsheviks liquidated only those 'bourgeois specialists'
who, in their opinion, had already completed their tasks and could be replaced by 'socialist
scientists', newly educated and originating from labourers and peasants.
Vavilov still occupied a special posirion. His theoretical concepts formed the basis
for the work at scientific research institutes, research stations, laboratories and university
departments, and so on. His arrest would compromise these concepts and lead to paralysis
of the entire system of work since there were no other guiding principles. The Bolshevik
leadership could not yer afford to get rid ofVavilov.
True enough, a 'socialist' student, Trofim Lysenko, the son of a peasant, had already
appeared on the scene. He had suggested the method of a preliminary treatment of seeds,
called 'vernalization.' Lysenko firmly claimed that an extensive use of vernalization in prac-
tice would provide the country with millions of additional hundredweights of grain.
His method was not subjecred to strict, experimental verification. The scientists, of
course including Vavilov, considered its practical application premature and detrimental.
But the Bolshevik leaders embraced Lysenko's enterprise with enthusiasm. They were eager
to believe thar by means of'socialistic science' it would be possible to restore what had been
disrupted by collectivization. Lysenko also suggested other fraudulent innovations; they
were all framed in Bolshevik rhetoric, and any doubts about him were considered crimes
against socialism. But in 1933 Lysenko had still not claimed the role of 'the foremosr
agronomist in the countty.' Therefore it was still impossible to replace Vavilov.
Already in 1935 Vavilov understood thar he had fallen into disgrace. He was re-
moved from the post as President of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the au-
thoriries unexpectedly forbade the celebration of the 25-year anniversary of his scientific
N.J. VAVILOV
-)ON-
FIVE CONTINENTS
II
activities. Invitations to the anniversary had already been sent out all over the world. In
reply Vavilov obtained a multitude of congratulations.
The Austrian scientist, Eric von Tschermak, one of the founders of genetics, wrote:
'Thanks to your extremely prominent activities you have earned the recognition ofbiolo-
gists all over the world."
Another of the founders of genetics, the Dutchman Hugo de Vries, stated: "Please
accept my sincere congratulations ro your 25-year anniversary and be assured of my deep
esteem for your scientific activities. We are all obliged to you for the statement that 'the
formation of species took place mainly in the mountains and only secondarily in the
lowlands'. Your photo ... stands in front of me and serves me as a daily and dear reminder of
. "
our conversations.
Still another Dutch scientist, Professor Brokbam, wrote: 'The work performed by
you and your institute is the most important monument to the adaptation of science to
agriculture during this century ... You have succeeded in penetrating into the spirit of the
people and your creations shall never die. I hope that you shall be able to work for a long
time yet and demonstrate to all the world what can be done on the basis of an organization
with such wide horizons" [17].
However, in his native country threatening and darkening clouds thickened around
Vavilov. The authorities increasingly and more overtly supported Lysenko, who already led
an offensive against the fundamental laws of nature, calling them the invention of bour-
geois science. He denied the existence of genes and stated that new, productive strains
could be created by growing the plants under the special environmental conditions neces-
sary. Thus he advanced opinions that science had rejected more than a hundred years
before. Vavilovwas forced to engage in open arguments with Lysenko and to put himself at
the head of the opposition to the 'socialistic science.'
In December of 1936, a decisive battle took place at an extraordinary session of the
Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Lysenko and his henchmen attacked the scientific argu-
ments ofVavilov, Muller and other geneticists, using political charges and demagoguery.
After this session the Soviet government cancelled the Seventh International Genetic Con-
gress, which was planned for Moscow during August 1937 [18]. The situation became so
alarming that in a daily newspaper, the New York Times, a notice appeared about the arrest
ofVavilov and the Kievian geneticist l.l. Agol as well as about restrictions against another
well-known geneticist, Solomon Levit. (Agol was in fact arrested, but in respect to Vavilov,
the news turned out to be inaccurate.) This report forced an American geneticist, Charles
B. Davenport to turn to the Secretary of State of the USA with a request to pass on a
protest, "in an appropriate, diplomatic form," to the Soviet authorities. In his letter Daven-
POrt writes about Vavilov:
"Vaviloff [sic] has been regarded by geneticists everywhere as the leading geneticist
of the USSR. His great learning, his broad ideas, his tremendous energy are of incalculable
value not merely to the USSR but to agricultural science all over the world. Owing to the
relation between the progress of genetics and that of national wealth in agriculture and
other basic departments of national life, to interfere with the work of a man like Vaviloff is
committing not only national suicide but dealing a blow in the face of civilization" [19].
The State Department refused to accept the official protest but informed Davenport that
he, himself, as a private person could turn to Soviet authorities.
The fate of Vavilov worried many others of his foreign friends, something well
known to the Soviet political police. Most likely, this was the main reason why even in
N.I. VAVILOV - xxvi- FIVE CONTINENTS
II
1937, when Stalin's persecution reached its peak and almost all of the leaders of agriculture
and agricultural sciences were arrested, Vavilov was not among them. However, the hunt
for him intensified. In the 'Decree Concerning the Arrest', excerpts are quoted from evi-
dence given by Academician Tulaykov, arrested in 1937 and shot shortly thereafter. He was
a close friend of Vavilov and a very courageous man, because of which it is especially
painful to read the evidence he presented. Tulaykov told about some imaginary delibera-
tions in 1928 with Nicolay Bucharin (the main foe of Stalin's among the Bolshevildeaders)
concerning the guidance of the Peasant's Labor Parry and mentioned Vavilov as one of the
participants in that meeting. Outing this conference the question was said to have been
repeatedly discussed "whether the foreign connections of Kondrat' ev, Chayanov, Makarov,
Vavilov and others could be used for mobilizing 'an international public opinion' against
the All-Union Communist Parry policy of collectivization of the agricultute of the USSR".
Even more terrible slander was included in the evidence given by Academicians
Aleksander Mutalov and Georgy Meister, Professor Aleksandrov, Professor Sychev and
others.
The noose around Vavilov's neck continued to tighten for yet another three years. In
1938 Lysenko became President of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences and put mon-
strous pressute on Vavilov. He wanted to force his main opponent to publicly acknowledge
his 'errors' and to agree to Lysenko's own false concepts. Vavilov understood that ifhe made
such a formal statement, he had a chance to save his life. In his time Galileo had done so
when dealing with the Catholic inquisition, and history does not blame him for it. But
Vavilov could not make himself betray science.
In 1938 he let his American friend, Professor Harry V. Harlan, know that he was
fighting with his back against the wall but would never surrender [20]. Outing one of the
discussions with the adherents of Lysenko, who had succeeded in infiltrating the Institute
of Plant Industry, Vavilov stated: "You can bring me to the stake, you can burn me, but I
will not renounce my convictions" [21]. Finally the authorities realized that they would
never succeed in bringing Vavilov to his knees. Then there was only one solution: CATCH
HIM!
The investigation of Vavilov's case stretched over almost a year but the rrial took
only a few minutes. In the torture chamber of the Secret Police, Nicolay Vavilov under-
went more than fout hundred interrogations lasting for 1700 houts. He was sentenced to
death but then hypocritically 'pardoned'. The immediate execution was replaced with 20
years of imprisonment [22]. Actually he was slowly starved to death in the prison. Owing
to the birter irony off ate, this took place in the very ciry ofSaratov in the Volga atea, where
Vavilov in the early period of his turbulent activities had done so much to reduce famine all
over the world.
The tragedy ofVavilov was that he tried to remain a free scientist in a totalitarian
country; that he was an unselfish seeker of truth in the camp of obscutantism; and that he
was a man of high morals among villains.
Shortly after Vavilov's atrest many of his co-workers and students were also arrested
and brought to the Gulag archipelago. Among those who were overlooked by Stalin's
executioners, some met their death in other forms.
During the years of the Second World War, when Leningrad was blockaded by the
Germans and hundreds of thousand of people perished there from hunger, the 'kings' of
the different departments of the Institute of Plant Industry turned into guardians. They
defended Vavilov's precious collection from being plundered by starving people. They
N.I. VAVILQV - xxvii- FIVE CONTINENTS

themselves had not enough to eat, even died from hunger, but the collection was never
touched. Vavilov had long since been arrested, there was no information about him, no-
body knew whether he was dead or alive, but the 'Babylon' upheld the moral standards and
principles of the Vavilov school. Just like he himself, its scientists were ready to give their
lives for "the least bit of Science". And they did so.
Vavilov was brought down in the middle of his flight, JUSt like a wounded bird.
Ignoring the noose tightening around him, he kept on doing scientific work to his last day.
He was full of new plans and had started but not finished many papers. Among those was
this book Five Continents, in which Vavilov had decided to tell a wide circle of readers
about his travels.
For about 20 years the book was considered lost. But his stenographer, A.S. Mishina,
to whom he dictared his reminiscences, had, risking her life, hidden the precious manu-
script. In the early 1960s when posthumously the political charges were lifred from Vavilov,
she revealed that she had saved the manuscript.
Vavilov never finished Five Continents but kepr a plan for the book. Guided by this
plan, the Sovier editors included in the book some essays and articles already published by
Vavilov, dealing with countries which he visited but about which he never succeeded to tell
in his memoirs. Though they supplement the texr of Five Continents quite well, theyocca-
sionally differ from it in style and strucrure.
Although for the description of his travels Vavilov did not mention his polemics
with Lysenko, the echo thereof is still present in the book. Accused of anti-Marxism,
alienation of agricultural practices, and disloyalty to the Soviet regime, Vavilov sometimes
tried to dissociate himself ftom these charges and began to speak, not in his own language
but that of Soviet ptopagandists. However, such instances in the book are few; they are
only brief and practically never reflect on its contents.
N.!. VAVILOV - XXVIII - FIVE CONTINENTS

NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. The original is preserved in the archives of the KGB of me USSR in Moscow (now the Archives of the Deparrment
ofSecuriry of the Russian Federation). The authors have a copy.
2. The original is in the same place as that above. The authors have a copy.
3. Now [he Ttmiryazev Agriculrural Academy, not to be confused with the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences,
founded in 1929 with Nicolay Vaviloy as its first president.
4. Vavilov, N. 1. 1919. Immunitet rasreniy k infektsionnym zabolevaniyam, [Resistance of plants (0 infectious
eases]. Moscow.
5. The original is in me archives ofYuri Vavilov. Quoted from: Reznik, S. 1968. Nicolay Vavilov. In the book series:
Lives of Remarkable People, p. 109, Molodaya Gvardiya, Moscow.
6. Bakhteyev, F. Kh. 1988. Nicolay Ivanovich Vavi!ov, Novosibirsk.
7. Vavilov, N. 1. 1920. Zakon gomologicheskikh ryadovv nasledsrvennoy izmenchivosri, Gubpoligrafordel, Sararov.
Larer: Vavilov, Nicolay 1922. The Law of Homologous Series in the Case ofVariarion. ]. Genet. 12(12) 47-89.
8. In 1869, Dmiuiy Mendeleyev (l834-1907), a Russian chemist, esrablished the periodic table of chemical elements
and predicred the presence of elements not yet discovered.
9. Later renamed Leningrad; now it has taken up the original name ofSankt Petersburg.
10. The Department (originally Bureau) of Applied Botany was established by the Depanment of Agriculture in
Russia in 1894. In 1925 it was reconstructed into the All-Union Institute of Applied Barany and New Crops. In
1930 this was renamed the All-Union Institute of Plant Industry (VIR), and now it is the All-Russian Vavilov
Institute of Plant Industry.
11. The original belongs to the Pod'yapol'skiy family, Moscow. Quoted from: Nicolay lvanovich Vavilov. 1980. Iz
Epistolyarnogo Naslediya, 1911-1928. [From Epistolary Legacyl, p. 41. Nauka, Moscow.
12. Zaitsev had Alexander Pushkin's rragedy 'Mozart and Salieri' in mind. The quotation was based on thewell-known
but fictitious statement about Mozart by Salieri, a less gifted composer, who allegedly poisoned Mozart, that
Mozarrwas a useless idler. The original letter is preserved in the family archive ofM. Zaitsev and B. Makrushenko,
Moscow. Quoted according to: Reznik, S. 1981. Zaveshchanie Gavriila Zaitseva, [the Will of Gavriil Zaitsevl,
Detskaya Lirerarura, Moscow.
13. Vavilov, N. 1. 1922. Polevye kul'tury Yugo-Vostoka, [Field Crops of the South-East], NKZ, Petrograd.
14. The original belongs to the Pod'yapol'skiy family, Moscow. Quoted from: Nicolay Ivanovich Vavilov. 1980. Iz
Episrolyamogo Naslediya, 1911-1928. [Fwm Legacy], pp. 42-43. Nauk., Moscow.
15. Gore, A. 1992. Earth in rhe Balance. Ecology and the Human Spirit. pp. 132-136. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston,
New York, London.
16. Esery, abbreviated name of a Revolutionary Socialisric Party. Before the 1917 Revolution it was one of the most
radical revolutionary parties. After the revolution it tried to compete with the Bolsheviks for power butwas crushed
as a counter-revolutionary mcrion. The 'populists' or Narodniki (from the Russian word narod, people, nation),
political imellecruals, were close to the Esery but nor affiliated with that parry.
17. The originals of these leuers are kept in the Archives of Scientific and Technical Documents, file no. 9780 (the VIR
file), Sankt Petersburg. Quoted from Reznik, S. 1968. 0; cit.
18. The congress was relocated to Edinburgh and took place in 1939. Vavilov was elected President. However, the
Soviet Government refused him an exit visa. In his opening address ro the Congress, Professor Crew, who had
instead been made its President, stated: "You have invited me to fill the role which could have been grandiously
performed only by Vavilov. You are putting his mande on my unwilling shoulders, and ifI look awkward, do not
forget: this mande was made for a much greater man." Quoted from Reznik, S. op. cit., p. 308.
19. The originalleuer of 17 December 1936, is in the National Archives of the USA, \Xfashingron, DC, 592.6A 771,
pp.2-3.
20. See: Cohen, B., 1980. Nicolai Ivanovich Vavilov - His Life and Work. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin.
21. Thestenogram is preserved in the Archives of Scientific and Technical Documentation, file no. 9708 (the VIR file),
Sankr Petersburg. Quoted from: Reznik, S. 0;. cit., 1968. In the 'Decision Concerning the Arrest', this statement
was reproduced in the free wording of the interrogator in the following form: "You can bring me to the stake for my
opinions but I shall not concede my position to anybody." p. 15.
21. Letters from Nicolay Vavilov to Lavrenciy Beria.
N.I. VAVILOV - xxix- FIVE CONTINENTS

ABOUT THE TRANSLATION
The Russian text has been as faithfully translated as the abilities of the translator and the
English language allow.
For those interested in the scientific results of the expeditions, I refer to the English
version ofN.I. Vavilov: Origin and Geography of Cultivated Plants, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge, England, 1992.
The spelling of geographical and personal names caused trouble at times when
unfamiliar to the translator. The Geological Survey has kindly checked over the Russian
names and updated them, since they so often have changed, and the same service was
provided to me for the Japanese names by a former student of my husband and mine, Dr
Shoichi Kawano, now director of the Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Kyoto,
Japan. In other instances when I failed to locate names on maps or was unfamiliar with the
scientists mentioned, I have simply transcribed the names given in Russian such as Vavilov
perceived them. I hope they can still be identified by interested readers.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Throughour the work on the translation I have been encouraged and supponed especially
by Dr Henty L. Shands, Genetic Resources, US Department of Agriculture, BeltsVille,
MD, and his staff, for which I am vety grareful. My sincere thanks also go to Dr Semyon
Reznik for all the information he provided and for his concern with the quality of the
rranslation, and to Dr Yury Vavilov, for allowing me to translate this book and providing
me with importanr documents and letrers concerning his famous father. Special thanks go
to Dr WA Weber, University of Colorado, Boulder, for all help rendered and to Dr
Shoichi Kawano (address above) for looking over the chapter on Japan. The addresses of
these gentlemen are given in the previous paragraphs. I am also obliged to the editors of the
text, who substantially improved it.
N.I. VAVILOV
- xxx-
Doris Love
San Jose, California, 1993
FIVE CONTINENTS

NOTES ON THE TEXT
OF THE TRANSLATION OF THE 1987 VERSION
AS PUBLISHED IN ENGLISH IN 1996
The text that is published here is a translation of the 1987 version of the book Five Conti-
nents by Nicolay' Ivanovich Vavilov, that appeared in Russian produced by the Nauka
publishing house in Leningrad. In comparison with the first edition, published in 1962, it
also includes papers by Vavilov appearing in different popular-scientific publications which
considerably enhance and entich its content. In addition, more references were added
(names of authors and Latin and Russian plant names) by the Russian editors.
The Latin plant names in the text are valid according to Terrell, E.E. et aL (A Check-
list of3000 Vascular Plants of Economic Importance in U.SD.A. Agricultural Handbook
no. 505, rev. ed. 1986) or Mansfeld, R (Vorlaufiges Verzeichnis landwirtschafclicher oder
garrnerisch kultivierter Pflanzenarten in Die Kulturpflanze, Berlin, 1959)).Triticeae is treated
according to Love, A. (Conspectus of the Triticeae, in Feddes Rep. 91 (7-8): 425-521,
1984).
I have made minor editorial amendments to the English text that Henry Shands
sent me late in 1994, but the sryle of Doris Love's original translation has been carefully
preserved. A short section of the text detailing the universities of Japan, library holdings,
etc. has been deleted as it would hold lime interest for the present-day reader. Copies of the
10 pages of original text are, however, available from· IPGRI and are on permanent me at
the USDA's National Agricultural Library. The translator of this version has included some
comments, marked as [ ... D.L.l.
Many political borders have changed since these words were wrirten. References to
the 'USSR' and the 'Soviet Union' have been lefr in the text. The maps in this edition have
been produced without borders, specifically because of this reason. Areas that Vavilov refers
to as India are now in Paltistan. These are indicated in the text. Mer World War I, the
territory constituting present-day Israel was awarded to the UK as a mandate by the United
Nations. In 1922 the British divided the mandate into two parts, designating all lands west
of the Jordan River as Palestine, and those east of the river as Transjordan, or 'Trans-
Jordania'. Throughout book, 'Palestine' as Vavilov uses the word signifies the lands west of
the River Jordan.
Since Vavilovwanted to distinguish between the mountain flora of interior Asia and
that of the desert areas, north of it, the translator decided to use the epithet 'Inner Asia' as
a botanical term rather than the geographical term of Central Asia. The larter term is in
Russia used for all of Uzbekistan, Turkestan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, southern Kazakhstan,
as well as western China, and Mongolia. 'Inner Asia' covers only the mountain portions of
these areas, not the desert portions thereof for which Vavilov used 'Central Asia.' 'Inner
Asia' was chosen over the literal 'Middle Asia' to avoid confusion with the 'Middle East'.
Paul Stapleton
January, 1997
International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy
*There are a number of different transliteracions in English of Va vi loy's first name, e.g. Nikolai, Nikolay,
Nicolai, Nicolay, Nickolai, Nickolay. All of them are equally valid. The staff of VIR decided to adopt
'Nicolay' in this volume. This spelling is also favoured by Vavilov's son, Yuri.
N.I. VAVILOV - xxxi- FIVE CONTINENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
IN THE PREPARATION OF THE 1996 EDITION
Many people were involved in bringing this work in English ro final publication. The idea
of producing an English edition of Five Continents was raised for the first time at a meeting
in the United States National Agricultural Library (NAL) on 5 February 1992 on the
initiative of Dr Yuri N. Vavilov. The project was supported by Dr Michael Strauss (of the
Direcrorate for International Programs, American Association for the Advancement of
Science), Dr Henry Shands (US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Ser-
vice), Dr Joseph H. Howard (NAL), Dr Edgard Poe (Department of Agriculture, USA)"
Logwin Overchuk (Agricultural Arrache of the Russian Embassy in Washington), and Ms
Deborah Strauss (Diversity magazine).
USDNs Agricultural Research Service, with the assistance of the NAL, funded the
translarion of the rext from Russian into English by Mrs Doris Love. Dr Semyon Reznik
edited the original translation. Dr Victor Dragatsev assisted in editing the manuscript at a
later stage. Ms Maria Pisa and Ms Susan Fugate (NAL) also contributed ro the work.
Paul Stapleron ofIPGRI re-edited the English text for publication. He also realized
the maps, page layour, cover and overall design, prepared the final text for printing, and
supervised the production of the volume. Thanks are due ro Talcura Iwanaga (Rome) for
painstakingly rranslating the place names on the maps inro English using only the Japanese
edition of Five Continents and an adas.
At the proof stages, Yury Vavilov, and Sergey Alexanian and other staff at VIR, made
further considerable efforts to render the text acceptable, especially in matters of textual
accuracy, in the presentation of place names, and locating phorographs. Particular mention
should be made of Mrs Tatiana Lassan, Head, VIR Archives, Member of the Vavilov
Heritage Commission; Mr Sergey Shuvalov, Foreign Relations, VIR; and Mrs Margarita
Sinorova, Edirorial and Publishing Department, VIR.
Thanks are due ro Professor Gennady Romanenko, President of the Russian Acad-
emy of Agricultural Sciences, who waived any possible copyright claims, ro allow the pro-
duction of this edition ro proceed.
The publication of this edition was made possible by financial assistance from USAID,
through the efforts of Emile Frison, Direcror, International Network for Banana and Plan-
tain, IPGRI, Montpellier, France. Thanks are also due ro Dr Geoffrey Hawrin, Dr Thomas
Gass and Ms Helen Ager ofIPGRI.
N.I. VAVILOV - xxxii- FIVE CONTINENTS
EXPEDITION TO AFGHANISTAN (1924)
I. Kushka
14. Zibak
2. . Herat
15. Eshkashem
3. Balarnurghab
16. Sanglich
4. Meymaneh
17. Magnaul
5. Mazar-e-Sharif
18. Tli
6. Saigan
19. Shku
7. Barnian
20. Varna
8. Charikar
21. Barkanday
9. Kabul
22. Jalalabad
10. Khindzhan
23. Mukur
11. Kala-Afghan
24. Quandahar
12. Feyzabad
25. Girishk
13. Dzhurm or Chakaran
26. Farah
N.J. VAVILOV
- xxxiii-
FIVE CONTINENTS
r
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,
EXPEDITIONS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES (1926-1927)
I. Paris
2l. Bern
2. San Sebastian
22. Rome
3. Pamplona 23. Naples
4. Santander 24. Messina
5. Gijon 25. Palermo
6. Lugo
26. Corsica
7. Leon
27. Cagliari
8. Vauadowal 28. Marseilles
9. Madrid
29. Algiers
10. Lisbon 30. Ora
II. Linares 3l. Rabat
12. Cordoba 32. Casablanca
13. Sevilla 33. Marrakech
14. Granada
34. Tiaret
15. M : i l ~ a a
35. Setif
16. Almeria 36. Biskra
17. Cartagena 37. Ouargla
18. Alicanre 38. Tunis
19. Valencia 39. Sfax
20. Barcelona
N.i. VAVILOV - xxxiv- FIVE CONTINENTS

-.
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EXPEDITION IN ABYSSINIA AND ERITREA (1927)
l. Djibouti 6. Fiche
2. Dire Dawa 7. TanaLake
3. Harer 8. Aksum
4. Addis Ababa 9. Asmera
5. Ankober 10. Mits'iwa'
N.I. VAVILOV - lOOI.V- FIVE CONTINENTS
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EXPEDITIONS IN NORTH AMERICA (1930, 1932)
AND SOUTH AMERICA (1932-1933)
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I. Buenos Aires 28. San Diego
2. Montevideo 29. Los Angeles
3. Porro Alegre 30. Merced
4. Siio Paulo 31. Oakland
5. Rio de Janeiro 32. San Francisco
6. Beiem 33. Sacramento
7. River Amazon 34. Chico
8. Paramaribo 35. Oklahoma City
9. Trinidad Island 36. St. Paul
10. Puerto Monti 37. Madison
11. Santiago 38. Chicago
12. laPaz 39. St. Louis
13. Lima 40. Washington
14. Quito 41. Philadelphia
15. Bogota 42. New York
16. Panama 43. Boston
17. Puerto Cortes 44. Cleveland
18. Bania 45. Ottawa
19. Guatemala 46. Winnipeg
20. Torreon 47. Prince Albett
21. Guadalajara 48. Richmond
22. Guaymas 49. Charleston
23. EIPaso 50. Jacksonville
24. Tucson 51. New Orleans
25. Phoenix 52. San Antonio
26. Salt Lake City 53. Miami
27. Mexicali 54. Havana
N.I. VAVILOV - xxxvii- FIVE CONTINENTS
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1. Sapporo
22. Beograd 43. Palermo
;;;: 2. Tokyo 23. Sofia 44. Athens
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3. Kyoto
24. Berlin 45. Damascus
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4. Kagashima 25. Amsterdam 46. Rostov-on-Don
5. Taipei 26. Copenhagen 47. Maycop
6. Chiayi 27. Oslo 48. Tbilisi
7. Seoul 28. Stockholm 49. Tehran
8. Vladivostok 29. Helsinki 50. Mashhad
9. Khabarovsk 30. Leningrad 52. Balm
10. Blagoveshchensk 31. London 53. Khiva
11. Irkutsk 32. Wien 54. Bukhara
12. Ulan Bator 33. Paris 55. Herat
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13. Novosibirsk 34. Madrid 56. Kabul
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14. Alma-Ata 35. Lisbon 57. Khorog
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15. Frunze 36. Marseille 58. Samarkand
I 16. Kashgar 37. Rome 59. Tashkent
17. Yarkand 38. Algiers 60. Addis Ababa
18. Moscow 39. Rabat 61. Mits'iwa
19. Kiev
40. Marrakesh 62. Djibouti
20. Chernovtsy
41. Casablanca
21. Warzawa
42. Tunis
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:::! I. The Tropical Centre; If The East Asiatic Centre; III. The Southwest Asiatic Cent'" (colltaining (a) the Caucasian Cmll', (b) the Near East Cenll·e,
~ (c) tbe Northwestern Indian Centre); IV, The Mediterranean Centrej \,; Abyssinia; VI. The Central American Centre (containing (aJ the mountains of
Oil sOllthem Mexico; (b) the Central American Cenll'; (c) the West Indian island); and VII. The Andean Centre.

INTRODUCTION
In 1938 an extremely interesting book appeared in rbe United States. It was written by my
friend, David Fairchild, a long-time director of rbeAmerican ptogramme for rbe introduc-
tion of new seeds and plants at rbe US Department of Agriculture. In rbis book, entitled
The World War My Garden: Tinvels of a Pktnt Explorer (New York, 1939), Fairchild gives a
review of his journeys allover rbe world and rbe enormous work done by him when
collecting a multitude of rbe most different plants.
At rbe same time he describes rbe United States' programme for the utilization of
rbe plant resources of the world. The wide scope of rbis work and rbe capacity for utilizing
what is best from allover rbe world is typical of rbe USA. Fairchild, Carlton, Hansen,
Meyer, Westover, Harland, Swingle and orber investigators of plant resources crisscrossed
rbe world in search of rbe vety best plants and rbe most outstanding varieties.
The appearance of the book by Fairchild allowed us to carry out a comparison
between the introduction of plants to rbe USA and to rbe USSR.
The account ofrbeAmerican experience wirb introduction of plants furnishes much
information; but at rbe same time it is evident rbat rbe effort was not based on a single
dominating principle rbat is necessary for such a field of research - rbat is, a hyporbesis
about rbe phytogeography, the evolution of rbe plant kingdom, rbe succession of stages,
rbe variability in space and over time peculiar to cultivated and wild plants. By contrast, rbe
plans for our expeditions and journeys were based on rbe rbeoty of rbe origin of rbe
cultivated plants and rbeir evolution. The routes and rbe collecting were planned accord-
ing to this principle. A comparison between rbe work in rbe USA and rbat in rbe USSR
reveals rbat rbe successful eclecticism of rbe American investigators was contrary to our
systematic botanical research, which focussed on rbe pools of elementary species formation
and subsequent srages of dispersal of cultivated plants.
In our country rbe organization of rbe work on rbe introduction of plants belongs
to rbe Soviet era. Actually, already during rbe 1890s a large expedition, led by Professor
A.N. Krasnov and rbe agronomist LN. Klingin, carried out rbe first investigations of sub-
tropical plant resources. However, rbis expedition was interested mainly in becoming ac-
quainted wirb cultivated tea and in obtaining seeds of tea. The practical results of rbis first
serious introduction are at present being applied wirbin rbe Soviet Union in its humid
subtropical areas. However, not long ago we were, on rbe whole, rarber a supplier of plants
to rbe New World, which adopred many kinds from our country. The wealrb of rbe fields
of Canada and rbe USA depends to a great extent on cereals from our country, and rbe
gardens of Canada are almost filled wirb Russian varieties of apples and pears.
During rbe first years of our investigations wirbin rbe field of plant breeding, it
became evident to us rbat we would have to use a broad approach roward systematic
mobilization of plant resources for rbe purpose of regular utilization in order to improve
existing crops and varieties. Investigations wirbin rbe field of resistance of various varieties
to diseases compelled us to test a very large quantity of specimens collected from different
countries in rbe world. Soon rbe haphazard character of rbe European collection became
absolutely clear to us, JUSt like rbe absence of some single principle for procuring material.
N.i. VAVILOV -xli - FIVE CONTINENTS

It became a logical necessiry to study the evolution of the plant resources of the world, their
evolution and their dispersal from original centres.
The first frugal expedition of the author to Iran in 1916 led to the discovery of a
multitude of wheat and rye varieties, until then not known to science. The untouched
resources of the world had become very obvious even with respect to the most important
crops, just like the necessiry for systematic studies of the cultivated plants at the localities of
their origin.
In order to improve cultivated planrs it is necessary to have the 'building material'
required, to have access to original species and varieties, and to utilize them within existing
areas for spontaneous crops or to use their most valuable qualities for hybridization. In the
course of the more than 20 years (1916-1939) a considerable territory of the globe has
been covered by the personal research of the author. The overwhelming majoriry of culti-
vated planrs originated in Asia, southern Europe, Africa and North and South America.
Australia is the only continent that has not known agriculture until the Europeans arrived.
Many valuable planrs that we have obtained from Australia and New Zealand during the
past century were taken into cultivation from the stock of wild flora within the Australian
territory, such as eucalyptus, acacias, casuarinas, New Zealand flax, decorative veronicas
and other planrs.
In contrast to the Americans we are interested mainly in planrs from the temperate
wne. Unfortunately, a wealth of planrs from southern Asia, tropical Africa, CentralAmerica,
and Brazil can be used within our country only to a limited extent.
The climate of the Soviet subtropics is more severe than that of southern Florida,
Puerro Rico, the Hawaiian islands, and the Philippines. Therefore our efforrs were directed
rather toward studies of wheat, barley, oars, flax and legumes, which make up the basis of
our agriculture. Thus, we had to work out a plan for the e.xplorations. The theory of
evolution, the direction of our arrention first and foremost to areas of initial species for-
mation, tracing of acculturation, and an opportuniry for fully embracing every species and
irs evolution constituted the core of our research. We were interested not only in the native
lands of the cultivated planrs, ofren associated with mountain areas, but it was also neces-
sary to know what was grow!). in Argentina, the United States, Canada, and the West
European countries. Consequently, e.xpeditions were sent our to the five continenrs.
In addition to myself, a large number of scientisrs from the All-Union Instirute of
Plant Industry took part in the expeditions, e.xecuting a large number of investigations.
Especially remarkable resulrs were obtained by the long e.xpeditions ofSergey Bukasov and
Sergey Yuzepchuck to Mexico and Central and South America for the purpose of studying
potatoes, maize and cotton, but also by the e.xpeditions of Vladimir Markovich to India,
Java and Ceylon, and that of Eugenia Sinskaya to Japan.
On the whole, almost all the agricultural areas of the world were visited by the
expeditions and an enormous amount of material was collected, which did not correspond
quantitatively or qualitatively to the resulrs of our friends in the United States. The itiner-
aries of Dr. Fairchild and myself were only in part the same. His embraced mostly the
tropics and the tropical islands with their rich vegetation. Accor1ing to the logic of our
own investigations we paid more attention to the more severe mountain areas, ofren close
to deserrs, as well as to areas of semideserrs and deserrs themselves where it is frequently
possible to find resulrs of the great work done by the agriculturalisrs in the oases.
N.I. VAVILOV - xlii - FIVE CONTINENTS

I shall deviate from the usual chronological accounts of travellers who deal with
country after country. The long period of time, the large number of countries, the inevit-
able eclecticism in the sense of order of succession, and the difficulties met by Soviet expe-
ditions when penetrating into a number of countries call for digression. Therefore it seemed
more correct ro me and in the interest of the reader to break with the chronology of both
the mastering of the results and the acquaintance of the countries by uniting notes on
adjacent countries.
When penetrating into each country, we wanted to achieve as much as possible: to
understand the 'agricultural soul' of that country and its conditions; to master its specific
and varietal composition; and to gain the most use from this information while integrat-
ing it and the evolution of worldwide agriculture and plant breeding into a single unit.
The geographical literature is extensive, but everybody observes different things depending
on which filter the facts are strained through or how the investigator approaches them. It
has been the true desire of the author to provide the reader with an opporruniry for looking
together with him at the enormous territory of remarkable areas in the world where mag-
nificent agricultural civilizations originated, developed and still exist. Where this was fea-
sible we have documented what we saw by photographs and sketches, and pictures. The
huge amount of material obtained thanks to the Soviet expeditions is in part already being
used on Soviet fields, in part still being worked on at plant-breeding stations, and in part
serving to elucidate the evolution of cultivated plants and the evolution of worldwide
agriculture. The author has tried to join subjects otherwise difficult to unite, such as geog-
raphy, botany, agronomy and the history of civilizations into a complete understanding of
the fact that it is necessary to do even better than already done. The deeper and the wider
an investigator penetrates the facts, the betrer he can grasp the scope of subsequent work,
analytical and synthetical.
N.i. VAVILOV - xliii -
N. I. Vavilov
30 March, 1939
FIVE CONTINENTS

N.i. VAVILOV FIVE CONTINENTS
THE BASIC
THE

PRINCIPLE BEHIND
EXPEDITIONS
In the lecture, 'A Review ofa HundredYears ofPktntPhysiologj delivered in 1901 by Kliment
A. Timiryazev in the assembly hall of Moscow University, it was stated: "Success in life can
only be achieved by the one who sets up great tasks for himself, who proceeds step by step
while checking up on himself and who stops from time to time to look back at what has
been done and forward to what remains to be done."
These statements were considered especially important for the great work planned
by the All-Union Institute of Plant Indusrry. Firsr of all, a scientific basis was necessary for
the plan of mobilizing plant resources and for the exploratory work directed toward mas-
tering the wealth of the world's plants.
All the flora of higher flowering plants in the world, known to botanists, amount to
approximately 200 000 species. This figure is far from correct. There are still mountain
areas in southern Asia, Central America and Africa in need ofinvestigation. However, the
figure still intlicates the abundance of the flora of the world. One of the most important
principles of phytogeography is the fact that the variery of species is not evenly distribured.
Some territories of the globe are tlistinguished by an exceptional wealth of species. Almost
one-third of the world's variery of species is located in southeasrern Asia. The floras of
Brazil, the Cortlilleras, Central America, the countries around the Medirerranean, and
South Africa are tlistinguished by an enormous abundance of species. On the other hand,
wide territories of northerly counrries, e.g. Siberia, Canada and northern Europe, are tlis-
tinguished by a comparative uniformiry and poverty of their floras. Twenry to thirty species
mal<e up the main woody flora of northern Europe and Asia. The herbaceous plants of that
parr of the world are more tliverse, bur they are also significanrly inferior in number in
comparison with that of subtropical and tropical countries. The Republic of Cosra Rica,
for example, surpasses the USA (inclutlingAlaska) and Canada tal<en together with respecr
to their wealth of plant species.
These facts, well established and confirmed by more new data every year, demon-
strate the importance of exploratory work for the principles of phytogeography explained
above. Within the area of the Soviet Union there is a particular wealth of species in the
territories of the Caucasus mountains and the'mountains and foothills ofInner Asia and
the Far East. To a significant extent, this concerns also the cultivated plants.
The main agricultural areas of the world are at present determined to cover approxi-
mately 850 million hectares, malcing up abour 7% of all land areas. The total number of
cultivated species, not inclutling the decorative ones, is esrimared by us to be around 1500-
1600. Our investigation of the geography of these species and their provenance from
certain territories has revealed that the great majoriry of cultivated plants is linked to seven
basic geographical centres of origin:
I. The Tropical Centre includes the territories of tropical Intlia, IndoChina, southern
China, and the islands of southeasrern Asia. One third of the plants cultivated at present
originated inirially from this centre. This is the native land of rice, sugarcane and the
majoriry of tropical fruit and vegetable crops. Not less than one-fourth of the world's
population (more than half a billion people) lives at present in tropical Asia. In the past the
comparative population of this territory was even more significant.
N.I. VAVILOV -1- FIVE CONTINENTS

II. The East Asiatic Centre includes the central and western pares of China, Korea, Japan
and the major portion of the island of Taiwan. This is the native land of such planes as
soyabeans, different species of millet, many vegetable crops and an enormous number of
fruits. According to our estimate, about 20% of all the world's cultivated flora comes
originally from eastern Asia. Within this territory lives approximately one-fourth of the
inhabitanes of the world.
III. The Southwest Asiatic Centre embraces the territory of the interior mountains of Asia
Minor (Anatolia), Iran, Afghanistan, Inner Asia and northwestern India. This is joined by
the Caucasus, the cultivated flora of which is genetically related to that of the Near and
Middle East, as shown by ies investigators. This cenae can be subdivided into the following
zones:
Ca) the Caucasian Centre with a large number of the original species of wheat, rye
and fruit trees. As shown by comparative studies, this is the most imporrant
centre of specific origin in the world as.far as wheat and rye are concerned.
(b) the Near East Centre, comprising Asia Minor, interior Syria and Palestine, Trans-
Jordania, Iran, norrhern Afghanistan, and Inner Asia, together with Chinese
Turkestan.
(c) the Norrhwestern Indian Centre, including, besides Peshawar and the adjacent
provinces of norrhern India and Kashmir, also Beluchistan and southern Af-
ghanistan. About 14-15%of all the cultivated planes in the world came initially
from this territory. Here the wild relatives of wheat, rye and many European
fruit trees are concentrated in an exceptional variety of species and here it is still
possible to aace an unbroken line from the cultivated species back to the wild
forms, i.e. to establish the links preserved between the wild and the cultivated
strams.
IV: The Mediterranean Centre covers the counaies distributed along the coast of the
Mediterranean. This remarkable geographical centre, characterized in the past by great
ancient civilizations, furnished originally 10-11 % of all species of cultivated planes. Among
these are such kinds as olives, the carob tree and a multitude of vegetable and forage crops.
V. The small area of Abyssinia seems to be an independent geographical centre, character-
ized by a number of endemic species and even genera of cultivated planes. Among these are
the grain called teff [Emgrostir alryssinica Link.], the peculiar oil plant named ramtil or niger
seed [Guizotia alryssinica Cass.], a special kind of banana [Emete ventricosum (Welw.)
Cheesman], and the coffee tree [Coffea arabica 1.]. The total number of species of culti-
vated planes, linked to Abyssinia with respect to their origin, does not exceed 3-4% of the
world's cultivated flora.
Within the area of the New World two strikingly localized centres of species forma-
tion of cultivated planes have been established:
VI. The Central American Centre, covering a rather large portion of southern Norrh
America, including southern Mexico. Within this centre it is possible to distinguish three
sub-centres:
N.I. VAVILOV -2- FIVE CONTINENTS

(a) the mountains of southern Mexico;
(b) the Central American Centre; and
(c) the West Indian islands.
About 8% of cultivated plants came originally from the Central American centre,
e.g. maize, long-staple cotron and other American cottons, a number of bean species,
pumpkins, the cocoa or chocolate tree and many fruit crops, such as guava, cherimoya, and
avocados.
VII. The Andean Centre is in South America and associated with the Andean mountain
range. This is the native land of many tuber-bearing crops - first and foremost potatoes.
The quinine tree and the coca bush, too, came originally from there.
As can be seen from the geographical centres enumerated, the predominant number
of plants taken into cultivation are associated not only with floristic areas distinguished by
a rich flora, bur also with those having ancient civilizations. Only comparatively few plants
were taken into cultivation in the past from the wild flora outside the geographical centres
mentioned. The seven geographical centres enumerated correspond to those of ancient
agricultural civilizations.
The South Asiatic tropical centre is associated with the very old Indian and Indo-
Chinese civilizations. The most recent excavations have demonstrated the great antiquiry
of these civilizations, synchronous with those of the Middle East. The East Asiatic centre is
linked to the ancient Chinese civilizations and the Southwest Asiatic one to the ancient
civilizations ofIran, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and that of the Assyro-Babylonia. Thou-
sands of years before our era, the Mediterranean was the cenrre of the Etruscan, Hellenic
and Egyptian civilizations. The unique Abyssinian civilization had deep roots and coin-
cided with the Egyptian civilization. Within the New World, the Central American centre
is linked to the outstanding Mayan civilization, which arrained enormous success in both
science and arrs before Columbus. The Andean centre coincides in development with the
striking pre-Incan and Incan civilizations.
Of course, there is no correlation between the quantiry of the species of wild plants
in the different territories of the world and the number taken into cultivation. The rich
flora of tropical South America, numbering more than 50 000 species of flowering plants
(i.e. one-fourth of the worldwide flora), has furnished rather few cultivated plants. Tropical
Africa, also characterized by a rich flora (more than 13 000 species), has provided very few
plants for cultivation. The Cape Province with its strikingly rich flora, estimated at 7000-
8000 species, has only recently been utilized, mainly within the field of decorative plants.
In the past, the qualitative composition of the flora, the development of agricultural
civilizations and the presence of a large number of agricultural populations played a deci-
sive role in the utilization of the wild flora. Many species of cultivated plants, characteristic
of geographical centres, have not dispersed beyond the limits of their original areas of
species formation. The majority of these species are still utilized mainly by the natives, who
first took them into cultivation. Out of the total number of cultivated plants (as men-
tioned above, estimated at between 1500 and 1600 species, not including the decorative
ones) not more than one fourth have dispersed beyond the borders of the original centres
where they were first taken into cultivation.
N.!. VAVILOV -3- FIVE CONTINENTS

These facts are of primary importance and should be used for exploratory work. It
is a matter ofinvesrigating entire species but also, to an even greater extent, of varieties and
smaller intraspecific taxonomic units, represented by local strains.
In my book, Centres o/Origin o/Cultivated Plants, Leningrad, 1926, I outlined the
initial plan for exploratory work as a result of the basic phytogeographical facts mentioned
above. Different plants, long since dispersed by people migrating far beyond the borders of
their native land, have been subjected to the effects of natural and artificial selection so that
they have produced new forms and sometimes new subspecies and species, which are of
great interest. Thus, for instance, wheat and barley brought from southwestern Asia into
China have, owing to the effects of the monsOOn climate (heavy summer rains), produced
special subspecies tl,ere which are sharply different from the original forms.
Thanks to the persistent work of plant breeders in many countries, who have crossed
varieties obtained from different localities, new strains of great practical interest have been
produced. Of course, we outselves utilize first and foremost varieties from countries close
to ours with respect to climate: Canada, the USA and western Europe. When searching for
varietal material it is necessary to proceed on a broad base, while talting into consideration
data on phytogeography, the history of civilizations and the history of ancient and modern
plant breeding.
We are interested mainly in plants suitable for cultivation in our own COUntry. There-
fore the main attention is focussed on countries with a temperate climate but also on
mountain areas of tropical and subtropical territories characterized by temperate climates.
In connection with the interests of the Soviet plant industry, expeditions were directed
accordingly. The basic idea for the organization of such expeditions takes into consider-
ation the regularities of the phytogeographical evolution of cultivated plants and its pro-
found connection with the history of the agricultural crops. For a radical improvement of
Out own varieties, it was necessalY to organize a wide-ranging collection of varieties from
the plant resonrces of other countries. It is natural that, in particular, attention was directed
roward knowledge of Out own country and especially of the adjacent Caucasian and Cen-
tral Asiatic republics with their rich mountain floras and outstanding localities of varietal
material, but it was also directed toward acquaintance with the cultivated plants of
neighburing countries. Owing to the development of the exploratory work, the inves-
tigations went far beyond the borders of our own country and embraced, in fact, all the
main agricultural territories of the entire world.
N.!. VAVILOV -4- FIVE CONTINENTS

IN THE PAMIRS
DARVAZ, RUSHAN AND SHUGNAN
(EXPEDITIONS MADE IN 1916)
The Pamirs represent a high plateau on the border between Turkestan, India and Afghani-
stan. They appear as a gigantic junction from which mighty Asiatic mountain cbains radi-
ate in all directions: Tien-Shan, Hindu Kush, KuenIun, the Karakorum range and the
Himalayas. The Pamirs themselves, 'the Roof of the World', are represented by a desert-like
mountain steppe with a poor vegetation. They are sparsely settled by camps of nomadic
Kirghizes.
According to information from a border post in the Pamirs the yearly precipitation
does not exceed 60 rom. This dry climate excludes opportunities for growing agriculrural
crops and therefore the Pamirs represent a countty unfavourable for agricultural investiga-
tions. As an agronomist I was nevertheless attracted to the western region of the Pamirs, the
so-calIed Gorno-Badalthshan, the area of the upper Amu-Darya and Pyandzh rivers and
the rivers flowing into them: the Gunt, Vancb, Bartang and Shalthdara. Here, in narrow
mountain valleys, an Aryan agricultural population has since ancient times found refuge.
An expedition there might make it possible for one to become acquainted with an original
upper-montane agricultural civilization.
This area belongs to the Bultharan Khanate and is divided administratively into
three rural districts: Darvaz, Rushan and Shugnan. The route of my expedition was as
follows: from Kokand via the village of Zardaly over the Demri-Shaurg glacier and the
valley of the Karagushkhana river and Karategin [Garm], Kalay-Khumb, to Khorog and
the Gunt valley along the gorge of the Dusulthdara and the Dzhaushangoz [the upper
Shalthdara river]' then back to Khorog and via Kalay-Khumb and Kulyab to Termez and
home to Moscow.
The objective of my journey to the Pamirs was to collect samples of early ripening
agriculrural crops, much needed for our northern provinces. It could be predicted even
before the journey that in the valleys of the western Cis-Pamirs, on an average situated at an
elevation of more than 2000 metres and cbaracterized by short vegetative periods, it should
be possible to grow early-ripening varieties of grain crops. For example, the naked-grained
barley of the Pamirs differs from the closely related Himalayan barley by its extraordinary
early ripening. In 1915 a large number of crosses of different varieties of barley had been
made with the naked-grained barley from the Pamirs.
Before describing the expedition and the agriculrural civilization of the Pamirs, let
me first briefly consider the cultivated flora of this region. Sergey 1. Korzhinsky, who visited
Rushan and Shugnan in 1893, listed·the altitudes to whicb various agricultural crops reached
there. These altitudinal limits are, as fur as I can see, somewhat underestimated. Korzhinsky
himself noticed that some crops reached higher than his stated limits. In general, it is
necessary to add 300 metres to his figures for them to agree with reality. It has to be
admitred that it is very difficult to determine the elevation of fields and different crops in
the Pamirs. For this it is necessary to ascend steep slopes on foot in mountains, far from any
roads.
, The flora of the region can be grouped into three wnes, representing altitudinal
limits. In the first, or highest, zone naked-grained barley reaches higher than the other
agricultural crops. This barley is exclusively naked grained and hexasticbous, with a rare
admixture of distichous types. Among the naked-grained barley, forms with yellow grains
N.i. VAVILOV -5- FIVE CONTINENTS

predominate, i.e. Hordeum coeleste 1. var. himalayense Rittig. bur there are also many forms
with greenish grains, extremely close to the Himalayan barley, i.e. H coelestevar. pamiricum
Vav. After further and more thorough studies, additional forms may also be discovered. I
collected the samples of grain crops too lare; in September and October a significant por-
tion of the sheaves had already been threshed. The barley grain is not only used as cattle
feed but for flat cakes, which people malre for themselves. Bread as we understand it does
not exist in the Pamirs and yeast is not known. The flat cakes, substituting for bread, are
produced from practically everything: vetchlings, ordinary peas, beans, millet, rye and
wheat or mixtures of all these Ctops.
Next in importance after barley within the first zone is the ordinary pea, Pisum
sativum 1., mainly a rype with dark green seeds. There are many kinds of peas here, cer-
tainly different from Out ordinary ones. Barley and peas reach the highest altitudinal limit
and spring wheat and spring rye match them. According to statements from the natives
and the officers at the frontier post, the limit for growing spring wheat has recently been
raised, thanks to the introduction by a Tajik farmer, Abdul Nazarov, of an extraordinarily
early-ripening wheat from the Mghan mountains in the viciniry of Kabul. Where it previ-
ously was possible to gtow only barley, early-ripening wheat can now be successfully har-
vested. Locally this is called 'gandum-dzhal'dak' which means 'early-ripening wheat'.
The composition of the wheat is very variable. I collected comparatively few samples
but when analyzing them, I saw that a multitude of forms were cultivated there. The crops
are mainly mixed. On a single field it is possible to find a mixture of forms differing not
only in morphological characteristics but also in various degrees of early ripening. The
wheat of the Pamirs is very different from the European one. The awnless wheat with
round glumes attracted special atrention and reminded me of the strucrure of some of the
Chinese wheats that have been described. Crops are sometimes encountered which are
infested by a smut, causing hard pollen. It is interesting that the Tajiks often wash the seed
grain to rid it of the smut.
Rye is exclusively a spring crop. It is often sown together with leguminous crops
such as peas, vetchlings and beans. From a phytogeographical point of view the rye grown
in the Pamirs is of great interest. The fact is that throughout southwestern Asia, rye is
almost never known in cultivation. It is not found among the crops of Turkestan, India,
Iran, Mghanistan and China but everywhere in southwestern Asia it is encountered as a
serious weed in the crops of barley and wheat. The Pamiri districts of Rush an and Shugnan
therefore represent an interesting phenomenon as far as rye is concerned. In my 1917
paper on the origin of rye I demonstrated that cultivated rye developed from the weedy rye
of southwestern Asia and that it seemed ill,ely that the mountains of the Pamirs with their
poor but ancient crops could be one of the original centres of cultivated rye. However, we
shall not dwell further on the details of the origin of rye here. As fur as its position as a crop
is concerned, rye occupies third Or fourth place.
Oats are not grown by the Tajiks of the Pamirs but at the frontier post at Khorog,
situated at an altitude of2100 metres, it is grown with fair su=s by the Russians. The
turnip, Brassica campestris 1., occurs also within the uppermost agricultural zone of the
Pamirs. Its seeds are used for food and for producing 'canelles'. Twigs of willows or other
woody species are smeared with a paste of ground rape seeds and inserted into chinlrs in the
huts. Such 'canelles' sparkle baelly, not unlilce Our Russian wooden splinters, when used as
rorches. Ofren, seeds of flax and safflower are also used for producing such 'canelles'. The
oily seeds frequently substitute for pastes of ground berries of sea buckthorn.
N.!. VAVILOV -6- FIVE CONTINENTS

The second altitudinal wne contains a richer assortment of crops, including, of
course, all rhose mentioned above. However, here millet and foxtail millet occur as well.
These plants reach an altitude of2500 metres. The grains of millet are used for soups, gruel
and flat cakes.
Tobacco is an inevitable accessory of every farmstead. Small plots facing sourh are
usually allotted for it. In rhe Pamirs only rhe peasant tobacco, Nicotiana rustica L., is
grown. The Pamirians usually do not smoke bur chew it, so even when rhere is a wretched
crop, it can possibly lead to economical gains. I was rarher astonished rhat in rhe narrow
ravines, where rhe fields occupy areas measuring only a few square metres, small plots were
set aside for tobacco side by side wirh barley and wheat. Flax also belongs to rhe second
wne. It is widely grown but exclusively for obtaining oily seeds, from which oil for fla-
vouring mash is produced.
Some plots are reserved for saffiower. It is here used for producing dye for fabrics
but also for obtaining oil. Many beans, vetchlings and chickpeas [Cicer arietinum L.] also
belong wirhin rhe second zone and are mainly used by rhe people rhemselves.
The rhird zone contains even more crops. Among rhe field crops there is much
cottpn a1rhough it is encountered to a minor extent wirhin rhe second zone as well. Crops
of cotton reach here rarher higher up rhan in rhe villages in rhe valleys of rhe district of
Fergana. These annuals give a pitiful impression: 20-30 cm, wirh a pair ofleaves and few
capsules. It is hard to tell directly wherher rhere is a special kind of cotton here. The Pamiri
botanical kind of cotton is referred to Gossypium herbaceum L. and it reminds one very
much of a Turkestani or Persian sttain, a cotton wirh closed capsules and short fibres. The
harvest of rhis cotton is insignificant but rhe Pamiri are forced to be satisfied wirh it. The
Pamiri dress in homemade woollens but are in great need of cotton fibres [for rhread]. In
rhe Pamirs flax is not grown for rhe fibres, a1rhough rhere is no reason not to tlo so. There
is also extremely little hemp. In some villages rhere are stands of hemp among rhe fields of
cotton and along rhe fences. At first I rhought rhat rhis hemp was used for twine. Later it
became evident rhat rhe hemp was sown to obtain hashish, rhus replacing here rhe cultiva-
tion of poppies, forbidden by rhe Russian border guard.
Sesame for oil is cultivated on a small scale within rhe rhird zone togerher wirh
castor beans, usually among crops of cotton of a pure Persian rype.
The rhird zone is also rich in trees. There are many mulberry trees. There are trees
even in villages where rhere is no arable soil. The mulberries, togerher wirh some apricot
trees here and rhere, appear to be rhe main sources of food. The paper mulberry plays an
enormous role wirhin rhe second zone and rhe upper portion of rhe third one. It replaces
wheat and barley for which rhere is not space enough. The fruits of rhe mulberry tree are
dried and ground and in rhat form rhey are used for consumption not only as sweets but
also instead of bread. I brought samples of such mulberry bread, so-called 'tut-pikht', from
rhe Pamirs. It is a lime sweet but has great nutritional qualities, keeps for several monrhs
and does not require baiting. 'Uryuk,' dried apricots, is also a food but is used more as a
sweetmeat.
At 2000 metres altitude one begins to meet grapevines, rhe fruits of which usually
do not ripen fully. This completes rhe composition of rhe cultivated flora in rhe Pamirs.
There are no vegetable gardens.
Let us return to rhe peoples of rhe Pamirs and rhe expedition itseIE On rhe one hand
it turned out to be much harder, but on rhe orher hand to be much easier rhan expected.
When back from Persia in the autumn of 1916, I intended as a matter of fact to go to
N.!. VAVILOV -7- FIVE CONTINENTS

Mongolia to collect plants; but suddenly a Kirghizian uprising occurred in Semirech' e and
consequently the route to Mongolia via Tutkestan was closed. For 2 months and perhaps
even more, not even mail arrived in Semirech' e. When Cossacks were sent to suppress the
revolt, the Kirghizes started to escape to Bukhara and Mghanistan and into the mountains,
so that the ordinary and comparatively comfortable route to the Pamirs via Daraut-Kutgan
from Skobelev [Fergana] into the Alai valley was occupied by them.
I had to choose between returning to Moscow or using a little known route through
high passes, not situated near any villages. Such passes are difficult because of the possibili-
ties for obsttuction by snow in September and October. The governor of Fergana and the
district commander in Kokand seriously utged us to return to Moscow. However, after
consulting with Dmitry D. Bukinich, with whom I had travelled in Turkestan, I decided
not to follow the advice of the governor. The first route along the Isfara river, along which
Bulcinich and I had advanced, turned out to be impractical. After walking almost to the
pass, I became convinced that it was already filled with snow. The guides refused to con-
duct me through it. It was necessary to return and try another route. The local Kirghizes
and Tajiks suggested a route over a glacier and along the Tutak river to the Karagushkhana.
This route turned out to be completely impassable. The ice bridge, the usual kind of bridge
at this locality, over which it was possible to cross the Ak-Su river, had collapsed. However,
somehow I succeeded in malcing my way into the district of Karategin with the help of
Kirghizian guides, alas losing part of the luggage. It was necessary to use horses and to walk
on foot when travelling. One horse was adequate for the luggage at the start of the journey
but at its end we needed three of them.
The route over the Demri-Shautg glacier was difficult. Where possible we had to
make our way along its edges since the centre was full of fissutes; these made it hard for the
horses to proceed and they had to be led around them. Three to fout houts were required
to advance 3-4 km. The glacier itself stretches 25-30 km; below the 15-km milestOne, it is
covered by a moraine of shale so that you know you are walking on a glacier only where
there are large fissures or cracks. This was a difficult and peculiar landscape such as I had
never seen before. The glacier ofDemri-Shautg is the soutce of the Tutak river and anorher
small stream, originating from the melting glacier. The soutces of these rivers were easy to
see. Snow was already falling and closing some of the fissutes in the glacier, malcing it
difficult to follow this path. The passage over the pass was made on 18 September. This
route is absolutely unsatisfactOrily marked on the 10: 1 verst [1 verst = about 1 km] military
map, the only one existing for this area. Leveled roads or trails are not marked on the map.
A road across the glacier would also be difficult to make. It is not more than 4 km from the
village ofRaut to the outskirts of the village ofZardalu, but this distance took us exactly 5
houts on very good horses.
During this journey the Bukharan official, attached to me by the Russian political
agent in Bukhara as an aide and escort on all roads within the Bukharan domain, proved to
be a great asset. Such assistance is customary in Bul1kara for all travellers sent by govern-
ment agencies. Although my mission had nothing to do with any government agencies, I
had letters from the Moscow Agricultural Institute and from the Moscow Society ofInves-
tigators of Nature, which in particular proved to be impressive.
Let us have a lookat Khan Kil'dy Mirza-Bashi, the official Bukharan in his travelling
outfit. His oriental robe, with colossal flowers in all the colours of the rainbow and a silver
belt, was so splendid that when he appeared with me in Kolcand, our starting point, I felt
N.I. VAVILOV -8- FIVE CONTINENTS

awkward. It appeared that it was not he who escorted me but I him. He was 50 years old.
It also disturbed me that he mighr refuse to cross over the pass, where it was necessary to
walk on foot. But all turned out better than I had dared to believe. In Bukhara, Mirza-
Bashi obtained horses comparatively quickly and cheaply and alleviated our progress by
notifYing district heads in advance so that shelter and night quarters were always ready and
often more than comfortable for the Pamirs. Mirza-Bashi became very interested in col-
lecting plants and in questioning local people. He knew a little Russian and acted as inter-
preter and was in general not a bad assistant. He somehow got across the Karagushkhana,
although constantly stating that in all his life, travelling all over the mountains ofBukhara,
he had never seen a more wretched area.
The most difficult problem in the Orient, the horses, turned out to be compara-
tively simple in Bukhara and after Persia, where I had worried about them almost daily, all
was here solved cheaply and easily. In general all changed for the better after entering
Bukhara. The Karagushkhana river and the Demri-Shaurg glacier are still within Fergana.
In Bukhara the journey became completely safe since, according to officials in Kokand and
Fergana, shortly before I arrived, the Bultharan emir had dispatched a circular to all the
Bukharan governors with severe threats, all the way ro hanging, if something untoward
happened to the Russian. We shall not go into details about this Russophilic policy of the
emir. At that time, with the uprising among the Kirghizian population in the district of
Fergana, one could expect to encounter unpleasant events.
In the district of Karate gin the roads also turned better. The trail became completely
unobstructed and sometimes it was possible to advance even at a trot. From the pass the
road descended to a comparatively low-lying area. Karategin, which translates as 'Black
Valley', was swathed in green. This is a rich area of abundant crops. It should be mentioned
that the journey into the Pamirs in this direction, via the Karategin district ro the main
Pamiri military post at Khorog became feasible only in 1915 thanks to the field engineers
of the Pamiri post, who, intending to speed up communication with Fergana, made the
trail about a metre wide by using dynamite and gunpowder canridges from Khorog along
the Pyandzh river, where previously it was possible to proceed only on foot. The difficult
places on this road are the small ravines. Where it is impossible to construct a base for the
path, artificial ledges, called ovrings, are built. Rods are driven into the rock and poles and
branches are placed over them and flat stones and soil on rop of that. Passing such ravines
has to be done with great caution. Here and there the ledges have broken down. Above the
main ones there are frequently overhanging cliffs so that it is necessary to stoop low. It is
especially unpleasant when a horse, frightened by something, bolts.
Other difficulties were encountered when crossing rivers. Bridges are beginning to
be constructed mainly around frontier posts. The Yasgulem bridge was carried away three
times by the high waters of a mountain stream. The major part of the existing bridges have
planking of wattle and it is difficult to ride across them. Usually, unloaded horses have to be
led by the rein over such bridges. In many places the original manner of crossing rivers was
on raITs, so-called 'gupsars'. From ten to twelve goat skins are used for constructing such a
small raft. The inflated skins are held within a frame on the four sides and all is tied
together. The passenger, too, is tied to the raft with a rope. A Tajik swims along behind the
raft and directs it to the opposite shore, while from time to time reinflating the skins. The
raft usually reaches the shore far below the place where it was launched. During this jour-
ney this passenger is often frightened to almost death. Luckily for me, this was a 'pleasure'
N.I. VAVILOV -9- FIVE CONTINENTS

to be enjoyed in small doses since during autumn the majority of the rivers could be waded
on foot. The danger then was that a horse might fall into a deep hole and be carried away
by the current.
In Shugnan, which is under the conttol offrontier posts, the roads are almost always
good. From Khorog to ash there is a four-wheeled horse-drawn mail carriage and there are
plans for repairing the road for automobile traffic during summers. However, the high and
narrow pass atAk-Bayral constitutes a problem and there, perhaps, part of the way must be
made on horseback.
The staff of officers at the Khorog frontier post was unusually active and energetic.
There, the energy of the Gunt river was used for electric illumination. In the officer's mess
there is a piano, which with great difficulties was carried in from ash. There is also a
library. Thus, in the vety shadow of the Pamirs, it was possible to enjoy European condi-
tions for several days.
The major portion of the road from Karategin into the Pamirs runs along the Pyandzh
river, which separates Bukhara from Mghanistan. Mghan soldiers could be seen at posts on
the Mghan side of the river. Mghanistan is inaccessible, even for peaceful purposes: only
with grear difficulties did I succeed, thanks to the Tajikfarmer mentioned above, in obtain-
ing a small quantity of seed samples from Mghanistan.
The peoples of the Pamirs are of Aryan origin. Many faces differ litde from Euro-
pean ones and some ethnographers consider the Tajilts a very pure type of the original
Aryans. With respect to dialect, the inhabitants of Shugnan and Rushan differ from the
people in Darvaz, who speak a purely Tajik language. This circumstance attracted my
atrention since in addition to the difference in language there were also some things con-
cerning the appearance of the composition of the cultivated flora, used by the Pamiri
Tajilts, which were different from what is common to the inhabitants ofDarvazand Kulyab.
Rye is only gtown by the Pamiri Tajilts and the epithets of rye are there completely differ-
ent. It is called 'loshak' and the straw of the rye is named 'kal'k', while in all of Persia,
Mghanistan, India and Turkestan, rye is called 'dzhoudar' or 'choudar'. According to infor-
mation from [?Aginson], rye is also called 'gandum dora' in Mghanistan, which literally
denotes 'a plant that infests barley or wheat.'
I think that there is still much work to be done by ethnographers and linguists in the
Pamirs. During the past couple of years the Russian ethnographer, A. A. Semenov, has
been successfully studying the Pamiri Tajiks, but I have not had the opportunity to meet
him personally.
The number of inhabitants of the Pamirs is not exactly known but according to the
most tentative figures it may amount to 30 000 people. The personality of the Tajilts is
kind and friendly and, in contrast to the Persian one; their mOSt simple and occasionally
loud, everyday conversations are marked by garrulity and gesticulation. Timidity in front
of Europeans is absolutely absent. The people dress mainly in bright colouts. In contrast to
the village women ofIran and Darvaz, the Tajik ones do not hide their faces although they
try to avoid men. The litde children are somewhat frightened by the appearance of a
stranger with a camera.
We had to stay twice with the chief of Gorno-Badakhshan, the governor of the
Pamirs, in the rural district of Rushan. There we were treated to 'galiza,' a special food
made of minced beef, which is prepared only once a year. At the request of my official,
since he wanted to enjoy this treat, the day before the feast we made 90 instead of the usual
40-50 km, thus ensuring that we would be in time for it. On this day all the officials, local
N.I. VAVILOV 10 - FIVE CONTINENTS

chiefs and personalities in aurhoriry received colourful gowns as gifts. My official, who was
one of rhe most important guests at rhis feast, also got a robe.
k far as nourishment in rhe form of grain is concerned, rhe Tajiks are at a 'low level.'
According to a scheme set up by Mauritio and compiled on rhe basis of information from
many countries, rhese are rhe following stages in rhe development of alimentation: [I] a
kind of soup, prepared from boiled raw or roasted grain; [2] rhe stage of gruel, a con-
centrated type of soup; [3] rhe stage of baking flat cakes [wirhout leavening]; [4] prepara-
tion ofleavened bread from a mixture of grains; [5] rhe stage of black rye bread; and [6] rhe
stage of white, wheaten bread. This is only an outline. Some of rhe initial stages of alimen-
tation are, of course, common in Europe as well, but in general rhis outline of rhe progress
of food preparation is probably correct.
The Tajiks are 'lime advanced' according to rhis scale. The main food of rhe Pamiri
is a soup made of peas, barley; wheat and millet. They make mainly flat cakes. The prepa-
ration of bread wirh yeast is entirely unknown. k already stated, rhe flat cakes are made
from practically everyrhing: millet, foxtail millet, peas, vetchling, barley, rye and wheat. A
mash of a mixture of grains is also used, to which seeds of flax or safflower are often added.
Meat is consumed only at feasts. The preferred meat is murton. In rhis part of rhe agricul-
tural Pamirs, cattle raising is little developed. Horned cattle increase towards rhe East. In
the wne of mulberry trees, rhe bread called 'tut-pilrht' is used not only as a sweetmeat bur
also as a serious source of nourishment. Walnuts, almonds, or apricot pits and dried apri-
cots are also included as important component of rhe diet.
I made rhe acquaintance of rhe Pamiri plant breeder, Abdul Nazarov, from Porshnev.
This is a very intelligent man. Under suspicion because of illegal dealings wirh rhe Mghani,
he was exiled by rhe Russians to rhe province of Saratov. The suspicion turned our to be
groundless, but he profited from rhe journey to Russia and now he is rhe most educated
chief in all of Shugnan. Through his Mghan wife from rhe left bank of rhe Pyandzh river
he learned rhat near Kabul an unusually early-ripening wheat was grown, which ripened
up to 20 days before rhe ordinary Pamiri wheat. Wirh great tlifficulty; seeds of rhis wheat
were obtained, which turned out, indeed, to be very early. Now it is grown all over rhe
Pamirs under rhe name 'dzhindam-dzhal' -dak,' i.e. literally, 'early-ripening wheat.'
Several kinds of wheat could be seen on rhe fields of Abdul Nazarov. He was able to
characterize every kind. One furnished a good flour, anorher yielded many grains. In addi-
tion to wheat he had also obtained peas from Mghanistan, among which he noticed borh
black and white seeds. He planted rhem separately and now he had crops of pure white and
pure black peas. I also discovered a[tempts at plant selection among orher Tajik fumers.
Once I watched rhe careful sorting of a sheaf wirh a mixture of rye and wheat. The wheat
was carefully picked out for sowing rhe following year.
The agriculture is of a primitive nature. Besides simple wooden plows harnessed to
a pair of oxen or cows, rhe Tajiks of rhe Pamirs know of no orher implements. Often rhe
plots to be sown are so small rhat rhere is no space for plowing. Then rhe soil is worked by
hoes. To put rhe soil in a condition satisfactory for seeding, it is often necessary to starr by
collecting heaps of stones from rhe plot. The hay is, as a rule, stored on rhe roofS of rhe
houses.
The villages are usually situated in small valleys on narrow riverine terraces and it is,
in parr, difficult to see where rhere is any space for crops. Only a few dozens of square
metres are left for seeding. The villages are ordinarily very small and consist of only four to
seven houses. Precipitation is extremely low and rhe crops are usually irrigated wirh water
N.J. VAVILOV -11- FIVE CONTINENTS

from mountain brooks. The irrigation ditches are very narrow and furtows conduct water
to the entire surface of the fields. Not only level plots are cultivated, but also steep slopes.
To reach such fields, winding paths have been made by the people. Rain and c10udbutsts
are very rare here and therefore erosion of the soil is minimal. In Darvaz the harvest is, in
parr, brought down from the fields on sleds. Oxen prevent the sleds from sliding down toO
fast. When the sleds can be released, the oxen walk down to the villages over the pebbly soil.
Larger villages lead a communal life. The threshing and winnowing of the grain is
done by common labonr. The thteshing is done by the hoofS of oxen; thereafter the threshed
grain is shovelled together and winnowed by the wind. It is stored in special small granaries
bnilt of stones, but also in pits in the ground. Such pits are lined with stones; large flat
stones are placed on top of the grain and all is buried under soil.
Water is conducted from the ditches via wooden pipes to the water-driven mills
typical of the Pamirs. The water sets small, flat millstones in motion. The agriculture is very
poor and at the upper altitudinal limit it does not provide the essentials for the existence of
the people. Towards spring all the bread is consumed and the search for roots and spring
greens begins. However, in places the modest agriculture does yield enough for making a
surplus of bread . The Kirghizes of the Pamirs, who mainly raise cattle, have none and in tile
autumn one can see caravans ofKirghizes in the valley of the Gunt going to the Tajiks for
bread. In exchange for the bread the Kirghizes offer wool and skins of animals.
About 100 km from Khorog, the agriculture in the valley of the Gunt river comes
to a halt. The altitude there is about 3600 metres. There cattle are replaced by yaks. The yak
endutes the rarified atmosphere very well and is indispensable for travelling through snow-
drifts during winter. When it is necessary to proceed through obstacles of snow, the yaks
push forward and make paths for the horses. It is also possible to ride yaks, and they serve
as milk producers.
We found the highest crops grown along the upper course of the Gunt. At the
mouth of the Dusulthdara river, the barley can barely ripen and is used as a green fodder for
came. This is the limit of agricultural crops. Beyond begins the Pamirs themselves, an area
of sparse, cattle-herding Kirghizian populations.
It could be said that a plant breeder and botanist have no business looking for new
plants to cultivate among the mountains and deserts of Middle Asia, a region where the
plateau of the Pamirs is one of the most characteristic natural areas.
In contrast to the classical geographical scheme of the European mountains, includ-
ing the Caucasus, the mountains of Inner Asia are characterized by a totally different
pattern as far as the distribution of precipitation is concerned. In the mountains of the
Caucasus the amount of precipitation usually increases in relation to altitude. Precipitation
in Inner Asia [in the Hindu Kush and the Pamirs] and also in Central Asia [in the moun-
tains ofTibet and the Altai mountains] decreases the higher up one ascends. To his amaze-
ment a traveller finds himself there in an alpine desert or, at best, a semi-desert. The mean
annual amount of precipitation according to data from the military posts in the Pamirs is
60 mm a year [for comparison we remind you that for Moscow and Leningrad a mean
annual standard of precipitation is 500-600 mm]. So, what should an agronomist do in
the Panlirs?
Out search in Iran for new kinds of wheat has demonstrated that within the limits
of southwestern Asia, in countries contiguous with the former Russian Tutkestan, we ap-
proach the SOutces of agricultural crops. Already the acquaintances made with a wealth of
N.i. VAVILOV - 12- FIVE CONTINENTS

wheats, an abundance of wild barley, closely related to our cultivated strains, and the excep-
tional variety of the flora in the foothills and mountainous areas when following caravans
through the Kopetdag range and approaching Afghanistan and its mountainous areas made
us want to penetrate deeper into that countty. But to think of an expedition to Afghanistan
was Out of the question: this was a closed countty into which before the October Revolu-
tion not a single Russian scientist was admitted. Instead there was the possibility of a long,
1500 km trek around the borders of Afghanistan. The Pamirs, where China, India, Af-
ghanistan and Out own countty meet, were especially alluting. Although only for an orien-
ting understanding of the cultivated flora of this country, an opportunity existed at this
junction where a number of important evolutionary problems might be solved. Within
the areas of crops at high altitude it actually turned out to be possible to find cold-resistant
forms, suitable for Out northerly areas as well as early-ripening forms, adequate for utiliza-
tion in our northerly areas without black soil.
In 1924 we had an opportunity to reach Eshkashem, the upper reaches of theAmu-
Darya and the river Pyandzh from the interior of Afghanistan. When in 1929 we were
making our way into western China from Osh along the Alai valley, we could again explore
the area of the Pamirs but along a new version of the route.
The events of 1916 were very unpleasant for travellers to the Pamirs. The mobiliza-
tion of the Kirghizian population by the tsarist government led to rebellion. Groups of
Kirghizes, embittered by the cruel repression, had escaped into the mountains. My appeal
to the military governor to provide a caravan with military protection was rejected. The
general declared that the time for scientific expeditions was bad. He was not in a position
to provide a detachment of 15-20 Cossacks for military reasons and to attach three or four
Cossacks only was not sensible. I was advised to postpone the expedition to a better time or
to try my luck at my own risk and responsibility.
According to the custom at that time, when travelling in the domain of the emir of
Bulthara, where the Cis-Pamirian territory is situated, it was necessary to present oneself in
Bulthara by a personal visit to the chancellor of His Highness and to apply for permission
for an official to escort the expedition. I was referred to an official of lower rank, Mirza-
Bashi. The tirle Mirza-Bashi indicates learning, or at least the ability to read and write. At
first the official attached to me [he weighed more than seven poods [more than 100 kgl]
caused me great doubts as to whether he was suitable for travelling among the Pamiri
slopes. Fortunately, Mirza-Bashi turned out to be quite a good fellow traveller. He knew
well the area where the expedition went, was able to organize the caravan and was accus-
tomed to the difficulties of mountain expeditions.
To use the ordinary route along the Alai valley turned our to be impossible. That
was exacrly the area of the greatest disorder. It was necessary to select a more difficult route
along the Isfara river through the Paltshif pass in the direction toward Garm in Karategin.
A small party was organized, consisting of the author, Khan KiI'dy Mirza-Bashi, also func-
tioning as an interpreter, and two guides. At the end of August we travelled south toward
the pass on six horses. There were only a few days left favourable for travelling. Some passes
were already covered by snow. It became necessary to hurry.
The passage turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated; at that time I
was still an inexperienced traveller. The military maps were very unsatisfactory and could
serve only for general orientation. It was better when following an unusual route to take
advantage of the knowledge oflocal guides. The help of Mirza-Bas hi turned our to be quite
N.I. VAVILOV -13 - FIVE CONTINENTS

essential, particularly in connection with the difficulties with the languages. In Fergana the
Uzbek language is spoken. The Kirghizian language of the guides was rather different from
the Uzbek we had used in Tajikistan, where they speak Farsi [Persian].
The caravan proceeded slowly along a barely passable path, stopping overnight in
small villages. The trail toward Garm was cut almost into twO by an enormous, almost
perpendicular cliff. Later on we encountered many complicated mountain passes but, very
likely, this one was the worst.. The horses had to be led below it through mountain rivers.
The guides, spanning a chasm more than a metre wide, formed a human bridge over
which I and Mirza-Bashi had to pass. Mirza-Bashi turned out to be particularly difficult
because of his great weight.
After the passage through the gorge a considerable portion of the path went along
the edge of a glacier. We had to camp overnight among the rocks. We had not calculated on
a night camp along a glacier. The lack of warm clothes forced us to start moving earlier.
Almost freezing to death for two days was not very pleasant and it was alleviated only by a
common loweting of expectations, by indifference to all that happened.
We were faced with passages over the so-called ovrings, which are familiar to all
travellers in the Pamirs. To this day I still remember one of the most difficult passages. The
trail wound its way like a thin snake along the Pyandzh river along a steep mountain above
an abyss, some 1000 m deep. Every now and then the natural trail was replaced by ovring
shelves. Sometimes the little trail narrowed, sometimes it got wider; but ofren it was like a
staircase with high steps over which the horses, even though accustomed to mountains,
could move only with great caution. It seemed that we had finally passed this very difficult
trail so that we could mount the horses and continue on. But suddenly from the cliff above
the trail, two gigantic eagles flew out from a nest, circling on enormous wings. My horse
shied and bolted, galloping along the trail and the ovring. The rein was unexpectedly torn
out of my hand and I had to hang on to the mane. Above my head were cliffs but below
me, 1000 metres down in the deep ravine, rumbled the beautiful, blue Pyandzh, the upper
reaches of one of the great rivers ofInner Asia. That is the experience, which afretwards this
traveller remembers best. Such moments steel one for the rest of one's life: they prepare a
scientist for all difficulties, all adversities and everything unexpected. In this respect my first
great expedition was especially useful.
More new adventures awaited the caravan. The guides led the horses with great
caution along the steep slopes and the crooked trails. As if for fun nature had here created
natural fortresses in the form of enormous and steep hills between which run rumbling
rivers at an altitude of 3000-3500 m; the valleys are partially covered with ice and snow,
through which rivers formed channels. But shouts and noise from behind announced
something unpleasant. On a steep ascent through the rapids of a mountain river, one of the
packhorses had fallen with the books, notes, journals and collected material. The churning
river carried the ill-fated horse together with the trunk and pushed it below the ice. The
horse disappeared. A search lasting several houts along the river bed, which was covered by
a kind of natural bridge of ice, was unsuccessful.
But there was Karategin and its capital, Garm, situated in a wide, green, charming
valley, covered with fields and gardens. The difficult trail had ended and the caravan could
proceed unhampered. Here began a major collection of original, local varieties of wheat,
barley, rye and samples of highly productive crown flax. The crops were almost exclusively
irrigated. Before reaching Garm, our atrention had been caught in the village ofZardalu by
an interesting crop consisting of spring rye, peas and vetchling that were highly productive
NJ. VAVILOV - 14- FIVE CONTINENTS

on srony soil. There, under peculiarly severe conditions was a modest assortment, repre-
sented by special low-grown forms which had been selected out and which we later distin-
guished as new varieties.
A group of people, sent by the mayor of Garm to search along the river where the
horse had perished with the trunk, met with no success. The Kirghizian guides responsible
for the caravan raised their hands in despair while calling upon Allah ro witness that this
was not their fault. After a short time I tried ro reenter from memory into my diary the
basic results of the previous investigations, but it was not easy to recall all the essential
details of the collections. This became a lesson for the future.
In Garm the caravan was reequipped. The Kirghizes had retutned home, taking the
horses with them. With the help of the mayor's people a new small caravan was organized
with Tajik guides. Some knowledge of the Farsi language, acquired during the expedition
to Iran, allowed me ro talk fairly fluently about subjects of interest ro me, to easily collect
the necessary material and to freely obtain information about the number of irrigation
ditches, the time of sowing, the yields and distances.
From Garm the route went in the direction ofDarvaz along picturesque places at an
altitude of2500-3000 m among the mountains. This was already a considerably better and
well-beaten path. The frequent villages offered the possibility of hospitality and the collec-
tion of cultivated plants went on without interruption. Soon we were in Shugnan and
Rushan with the splendid village ofKalay-Vamar. What we found at an altitude of about
2500 m exceeded our wildest expectations: gigantic rye up to one and a half metres tall and
with rigid culms, large ears and large grains and among it absolutely original forms of so-
called nonligulate rye, undoubtedly initially established there. Afterwards it turned Out
that this rye was distinguished by unusually large anthers and large pollen; no doubt an
endemic plant! For tlle sake of it alone, it was worth coming to the Pamirs.
Then we came to Khorog, a major settlement and centre of the government of the
Pamirs. There was a rather good library and even a piano, brought in with great difficulty
on yaks. From Khorog the expedition went deep into the Pamirs, along the valley of the
Gunt and Shakhdara, rivers with blue water, flowing down from an altitude of 3500 m.
This was the realm of an endemic wheat, previously totally unknown ro science. It had
beautiful, white grains and characteristic, inflated ears. Among others there was a large
amount of peculiar, nonligulate wheat. No doubt such wheat had never been seen by any
botanist before.
The crops of wheat were mixed with spring rye, peas, chickling vetch and so-called
bitter vetch [Vicia eTvilia Willd.]. The crops were exclusively irrigated. The lack of rain
caused an exceptional whiteness of the ripening bread grains. There is neither rust nor any
mildew here. Indeed, much of the covered smut is washed off in the mountain brooks,
where the grains are placed in a sieve under jets of water.
The discoveries of cultivated plants in the Pamirs exceeded all our expectations. Full
understanding of these finds became feasible only as a result of much subsequent work -
comparative studies of crops harvested, investigations in other countries and comparisons
with the development of all the cultivated crops in the world. The essence of the genesis of
this cultivated flora is, in brief, the following: mankind in its difficult struggle for existence
within the densely populated areas of southwestern Asia, including Inner Asia, had long
since been forced to settle at almost inaccessible altitudes. Saving themselves from oppres-
sion, the poor had fled to the mountains. The mountainous areas of southwestern Asia
had, just like the mountains of Mrica, the Cordilleras, the Central Asiatic highlands and
N.i. VAVILOV - 15- FIVE CONTINENTS

alpine Caucasus, been settled thousands of years ago by agricultural populations. The con-
ditions for existence were difficulr. It was necessary to fighr for every parcel of land. The
fields in the Pamirs often measure only a few square metres; they have to be isolated behind
stonewalls and then irrigated. All this requires a lot of work. However, fortunately; there is
enough heat, light and water. Under the conditions of high altitude and isolation, remark-
able and highly productive forms of plants were developed, which differed by early ripen-
ing, rapid growth and tolerance of/ow temperatures during the nighr, even during sum-
mertIme.
The isolation promoted selection of forms not known on the lowlands, so-called
recessives, typical representatives of which are, for instance, non-ligulate wheat and rye
with simplified leaves. The mountains are the realm of barley, peculiar, high-altitude Asi-
atic peas and blue chick/ing vetch with small, dark seeds. Side by side with profoundly
primitive forms, linking the cultivated varieties and the initial, wild forms, it is possible to
see original results of inbreeding there in the form of the non-ligulate, recessive bread
grains. All bears wirness to a production here of entirely new and little known forms under
conditions of a strange environment. The originality of this flora corroborated more and
more the understanding of this territory as one of the centres for the formation of culti-
vated plants. For me, as a scientist, it became increasingly clear that it was necessary to
penetrate deeper into southwestern Asia into Afghanistan, Chitral, Nuristan [formerly
Kafiristan 1 and northwestern India.
In essence, the Pamirs are, so to say; a natural laboratory, b.ut this area is, of course,
not a primary centre. It was only extreme need that had forced the population to escape
into such a natural confinement. There the cultivated flora itself had in respect of its mor-
phological propetties a clearly secondary character. Over centuries and millennia peculiar
forms developed in this truly natural laboratory, which indicates the enormous plasticity of
the species. The most recent research has demonstrated that agriculture in the Pamirs can
reach altitudes of up to 3900 m, where vegetables, potatoes and barley can be successfully
grown. It is known that in Tibet, agriculture reaches its highest altitude, all the way up to
4600 metres.
The expeditions to the Pamirs had to a considerable extent determined the direc-
tion of future expeditions. The role of the mountainous area of southwestern Asia had
become completely clear. The presence in the mountain areas of wild relatives in the form
of wild barley; wildAegilops [closely related to wheat], wild rye and wild lentils had demon-
strated before our own eyes that there it was possible to solve the most fascinating and the
most complicated ptoblems of evolution.
N.I. VAVILOV - 16- FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITION IN IRAN
The Asian continent, occupying the largest area, has also furnished the largest nurnber of
cultivated plants. As demonstrated by phytogeographical research, approximately 70% of
the species of the entire cultivated flora carne initially from Asia. About 17% arose in the
New World. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Australia had no cultivated plants and it
is only during the last century that its eucalypruses and acacias began to be cultivated in
other tropical and subtropical areas of the world.
In 1916 we made our first expedition into Asia for research on cultivated plants,
covering the territory of the northern half of Iran and the area adjacent to Soviet Central
Asia. As is well known, a general imperialistic war [World War I - P.S.] was going on that
year. While attacking Turkey, Russian troops penetrated into Iran and occupied a consid-
erable territory in the northeastern portion of that country. The food for the troops billeted
in the northern provinces of Iran [Asterabad, Mazanderan and Gilyan] caused frequent
illnesses, and a kind of intoxication due to the consumption oflocal bread. To clear up the
cause of this phenomenon the author of these lines was ordered by the Department of
Agriculture to work there. Previously I had worked in the Cis-Caspian area and did re-
search on the agriculrural crops.
The immense territory of Iran has peculiar geographical characteristics. The borders
of the COUntry are fringed with mountain ranges. The wide territory inside these mountain
chains consists of desert areas where agriculrure is feasible only by means of irrigation. The
northern part ofIran, adjacent to the shore of the Caspian Sea, differs by virrue of its great
humidiry, similar to that of the Russian Lenkoran'. Northern Iran, toward the south sepa-
rated by the mountains of Khorasan with the peak of Damavend reaching an altirude of
5600 m, is represented by its own disrinctly peculiar territory, which is sharply different
from that of interior Iran. This is mainly an area of dense deciduous forests, an exceptional
wealth of wild fruit trees and a mild, subtropical climate suitable for the production of
citrus fruits. The city of Ashraf, siruated in this part ofIran in the ptovince ofMazanderan,
has long been famous for its orange groves.
The investigation of the varietal composition of wheat in northern Iran, mainly
carried out from the European parts of Russia, revealed an exceptional infestation of the
crops by a poisonous Darnell ryegrass [Lotium temulentum L.] but also a distribution there
of fusariosis. Fields where the infestation of weeds did not amount to 50% were rare. Hot
bread, made of wheat contaminated by weeds as well as fusaria, caused the well-known
appearance of intoxication ['bread drunl(enness']. The cause of the illness was absolutely
obvious and, accordingly, the conclusion was drawn that the use of bread for the nourish-
ment of the trOOps in northern Iran should be forbidden.
The province of Gilyan, adjacent to Mazanderan, is one of the main areas for grow-
ing rice in Iran. There a large area, several tens of thousands of hectares, is devoted to an
intense cultivation of rice. The industrious setders of the province of Gilyan, the Farsi-
speaking Talysh, employ the method of transplanting the crops of rice and preparing the
seedlings on special plots. In that manner the rice is freed from weedy plants such as
barnyard millet [Panicum crus-galli L.] and other grasses. When harvested the fields are
carefully weeded. The rice of the province of Gilyan is distinguished by its high quality.
According to its morphological and biological characteristics it does not differ from the
N.i. VAVILOV - 17- FIVE CONTINENTS

rice ofLenkoran' so that, in essence, Lenkoran' and Gilyan represent a single phytogeogra-
phical area, characterized by the same cultivated plants.
After finishing the investigations in northern Iran, I decided to organize a small
expedition into the central parts ofIran, in the direction of Hamad an and Kermanshah.
The time was very favourable. It was at the end of}une and the beginning of}uly, when the
bread grains were ripening and being harvested.
The fact was that among the general assorrment of wheat [at that time to a great
extent made available to us from West Eutopean seed firms] we had found a peculiar form,
called the 'Persian.' This wheat was difficult to cross with ordinary soft wheat and later on
it was distinguished by me as a special species [Triticum persicum Vav.] because of its aggre-
gate of biological and morphological characteristics. Within the entire assortment then
lmown, 'Persian wheat' distinguished itself by a practically absolute immuniry against mil-
dew. With the object of finding this specific wheat in Iran [i.e. Persia, to which its name
alluded], we planned a complicated route, which allowed us to cover the main agricultural
areas ofIran. On the recommendation of the Russian consul, an Iranian citizen, Armenian
in respect to origin and with a satisfactory command of both Russian and Persian lan-
guages, was invited as a guide. The modest caravan consisted of three horses, one for the
luggage and two for riding. During those years Iran was still essentially a closed country.
The villages of interior Iran were like genuine fortresses, surrounded by walls 4.5 m high.
The northern mountain slopes up toward Menzil' were covered with a wealth of
vegetation, reminiscent of the area ofZuvand within the borders of our own country. The
expedition fully justified itsel£ The farther we penetrated into the interior ofIran the more
variable the wheat fields became with respect to the composition of the varieties. On these
fields it was possible to observe a multitude of forms so far unknown to botanists.
In June and July the air in the interior ofIran is filled with the pleasant scent of the
Persian clover called shabdar [Trifolium resupinatum L.], one of the most widespread forage
plants ofIran. Enormous fields of opium poppies [Papaver somniflrum L.] alternated with
crops of wheat and shabdar. In the mountains around Menzil' we encountered thickets of
wild, perennial flax [Adenolinum perenne Reich.] with mature seeds and, of course, we
carried away samples of this interesting plant, in the meantime inadvertently approaching
the sentries of a detachment of Russian Cossacks guarding the post during an advance of
the Russian troops in the direction of the Tigris river. Our occupation appeared suspicious
ro the guards of the detachment as also, apparently, the foreign appearance of the expedi-
tion. We were taken to the guard post, where we were subjected to careful inspection. The
habit after my education in England of writing my diary in English and the mainly foreign
reference books in English and German provoked extraordinary suspicions from the com-
mander of the guard pOSt. We were taken to a special 'destroyer of vermin' and declared to
be German spies. His ardour was apparently strengthened by the high reward, up to 1000
gold roubles, for catching those kinds of fellows. Therefore all our explanations appeared
hardly believable. The herbarium and the parcels with ears of grains were highly suspect, in
spite of the actual discovery of a paper from the Department of Foreign Affairs, which we
had on hand. Three days passed before the commander arrived at the decision ro send for
verification of our documents via telegraphic routes.
Our adventures were only beginning. Unexpecred fesrive receprions in some major
setrlements and absolutely unmerited ceremonies and honours were difficult for my then
poor knowledge of the Farsi language. When leaving one of the villages our little caravan
was accompanied for a long time by a large crowd of riders. Suddenly some enormous
N.I. VAVILOV - 18- FIVE CONTINENTS

documents with hundreds of circular seals attached were handed ro us. This rurned out ro
be a perition ro the Russian tsar about the intolerable tyranny of the provincial governor
and the desirability of his removal. The urgent delivety of this solicitation and the difficulty
due ro my ignorance of the language avetted direct intercession, of course, with sincere
regrets; but ro speed up the procedure the villagers forced me ro put the petition in my
pocket for later on handing it over ro the Russian consul.
I found our from our interpreter why we encountered such unnecessary and unde-
served ceremonies. To my surprise I learned from him that in our interesr he had said that
I, a Russian botanist, was the brother of the tsar's wife! This, of course, promoted the
satisfacrion of his specularive inclination for which already from the vety first day he had
shown a decisive tendency. Ar each marketplace there was invariably some sort of com-
merce resulting in a consrant increase in the luggage of the interprerer. A rifle purchased in
MenziJ' was exchanged for a rug, which later was exchanged for three rugs. The value of the
property rose with evety passing day. It became necessary ro seriously contemplate getting
rid of this unnecessary but dexterous companion.
The area of Kazvin was ro a considerable extent filled with Russian troops. The
attack of the Turks at Kasr-e-Shirin had forced the Russian army ro withdraw, so that in its
rum a replenishment of a fresh detachment, sent ro assist the corps, had become necessaty'
At this time it was commanded by General Pararov.
The collections of samples of wheat and barley grew evety day. The remarkable
discoveries increased, considerably widening our knowledge and making ir necessary ro
again revise the classification of the sofr wheats. For the first time we were faced with an
absolutely and utterly startling concentration of a wealth of varieties of wheat, to a great
extent associated with an ancient centre of agricultural civilizarion.
It was just at the height of the July heat. The temperarure reached up ro 50°C in the
shade. Usually the caravans statted only in the evening and sropped in the morning. How-
ever, because of our mission, it was necessary for us ro be on the move during the day,
srudying and collecting wheat. As an interesting facr the first thing we encountered was an
exceptional salinity of the ground surfaces. They were covered with a crusr of salt as white
as snow. At the same time there was early-ripening wheat with plump grains.
Hamadan, roo, rurned out ro be full of Russian troops and we had ro seek lodging
in the teahouse of a nearby rown. The headquarters of the commanding army were not
very far from Hamadan. To our surprise, we encounrered an extremely benevolent atti-
rude. We were not only allowed ro go into the vicinity of Kerman shah, rowards which the
Russian troops were advancing, but were also promised a small detachment as our escort.
We wanted to go ro Kermanshah ro look for a wild wheat that had already been discovered
there by a German scientist, Kotchi. At this time the front exrended around all of
Kermanshah. But unfortunately the site of the wild wheat was behind the line of military
action. Nevertheless, the headquarters promised me some 50 Cossacks ro make an excur-
sion 40 -50 km behind the front. A guide was found and all was agreed upon. In the
morning, however, as might have been expected, there was no sign of the guide. Thus we
did not succeed in confirming the find ofKotchi or in collecting that wild wheat. We were
just able ro supplement our collection with the remarkable hard wheats of this area.
Our caravan was now directed ro the mountainous area of the Kurds, living in their
nomad rents in the Sil'var mountains. This excursion led to the discovery oflarge quantities
of wild mountain rye, growing in a typical perennial form on the mountain precipices. The
fields of winter wheat in the interior ofIran rurned out ro be heavily infested by weedy rye.
N.i. VAVILQV - 19- FIVE CONTINENTS

Frequently, in particular when ascending into the mountains, rhe rye displaced rhe wheat.
The discovery of close wild relatives made it possible to outline a general picture of rhe
genesis of [cultivated] rye and to associate the wild, perennial rye wirh rhe field weeds.
Primarily we were again faced wirh rhe problem of rhe origin of rye from weeds, in rhe past
contaminating mainly crops of wheat. Our visit to rhe Kurdish settlement was associated
wirh one of the most singular hyporheses, which later became an argument of a lecture I
presented in December of 1916 to rhe Russian Botanical Association and was accepted by
a sympathetic audience and in particular by rhe, at rhat time, well-known specialist on
cultivated plants, R. E. Regel, who was present at the meeting.
The previous plan for the penetration into Mesopotamia [now Iraq], to rhe TIgris
and into the area of ancient agriculture, collapsed owing to rhe retrear of rhe Russian
rroops. We reached no farrher rhan Kermanshah but had to go back directly to Qom in the
direction of rhe capital ofIran, Teheran. The retreat of rhe Russian troops had been quickly
capitalized on by rhe inhabitants. The occupation of a portion ofIran had, naturally, met
wirh ovelwhelming dissatisfacrion. The passage to Teheran was associated wirh rhe risk of
encountering counter-revolutionary robber bands, so-called basmachi, who were at rhar
rime common in Iran. Apparently, we were saved by moving during rhe day, which in the
eyes of rhe Iranians was most unusual during rhe intense heat of rhe summer. Nevertheless,
sometimes we had to change our route in connection wirh information received abour
groups of suspicious characters.
At rhat time Teheran was already a major centre and had, in parr, been provided
wirh electriciry and semi-European hotels as well as wirh a large number of irrigation
ditches. It was planted wirh many trees and had very large markerplaces. The mixed popu-
lation of Teheran and rhe presence of natives from various parts of rhe country meant rhat
a fairly complicated mixture of strains of cultivated plants could be found here. In the
Armenian sertlements we unexpectedly found emmer [Triticum dicoccum] and peculiar
weedy oats of a specific type, later on distinguished by myself as a special variery. The
cultivation of rhe emmer wheat turned out to be definirely associated wirh the Armenian
settlements.
Even more so than before, rhere was in Teheran some very unpleasant information
about rhe retreat of rhe Russian ttoOps. It was only wirh great difficulry that we could
quarter horses and put togerher a caravan. Obviously, during rhe passage rhrough rhis
country one felt an unfriendly artitude towards kafirs, i.e. to rhose who were not Moslems.
Making our way into one of the caravansaries, we only by luck avoided blows from bricks,
which rained down from a roof On our side.
Iri Teheran it was good to get rid of rhe interpreter. My knowledge of rhe Farsi
language had grown considerably during rhis time and was already fairly adequate for
getting along wirhout an interpreter. I decided to take advantage of rhe stage-coach that
went along rhe highway from Teheran to Mashhad, rhe more so since rhe conditions
allowed me to stop anywhere I wanted: in a field to collect ears of grain or in some village.
The service of rhe srage-coach was at rhat rime almost regular. Since rhe general aspect of
interior Iran was already fairly clear to me, it might now be possible to furrher study the
desert areas.
The slopes of the Khorasan mountains had allowed me to concentrare on a wealrh
of non-irrigated wheats, large amounts of which had been collected. In rhe vicinity of
Mashhad we met up wirh more and more strange caravans wirh long black loads. When
N.I. VAVILOV - 20- FIVE CONTINENTS

halting at one of the caravansaries, I tried to find out what odd cargo was being directed
toward Mashhad. It turned out that according to a custom in Iran, the deceased were sent
from allover the country to the sacred ciry of Mashhad, which held the grave of Ali, first
cousin of Mohammed. To be buried in Mashhad meant eternal bliss for the true believers
of the Moslem faith. Hundreds of such bundles in black boxes made up the strange and
frighrening caravans in the deserts of the Khorasan.
And there was Mashhad with its beautiful sky-blue mosque! It is a major centre with
enormous crops of wheat, suitable for dry conditions but not previously known to the
world. This was undoubtedly one of the ancient centres of agricultural civilization. A
distichous, wild barley, contaminating the wheat fields, also grew around Mashhad. The
variable composition of the varieties of wheat also indicated the primitive character of the
crops. This was almost exclusively the origin of the soft wheats. The sampling was finally
concluded. We had found very many black-eared soft wheats, but none of the genuine
'Persian wheat' recenrly described by me. The riddle of the 'Persian wheat' had to remain
unsolved until much later. Its main area of origin proved to be in the high mountains of
Dagestan.
After organizing a small caravan in Mashhad, we moved on, together with two
Cossacks provided us by the consul, along forest trails toward the railroad at Dushet'.
Along the road we met large caravans with tragacanth gum, formed on leguminous plants,
Astragalus gummiftr Labill., which grow plentifully in the I<horasan mountains. The gum,
widely used as a dye, is one of the important products for export from the Khorasan.
The general aspect of the cultivated plants of inner and northern Iran had become
clear. There for the first time we had discovered dozens of new varieties of soft wheats, not
known from Middle Asia; we had revealed the genesis of cultivated rye from weedy forms
of rye contaminating wheat; and we had also cleared up the exceptional value of the soft
wheats of northern Iran.
N.i. VAVllOV - 21 - FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITIONS IN AFGHANISTAN
In 1857 the traveller Ferrier wrote in his memoirs:
"A who happens to find himse/finAfihanistan, must be under a special protec-
tive sky, if he shall escape from there in a healthy state, unharmed and with his head on
his shoulders"
J. P. Ferrier, Caravan Joumeys andWanderillgf in Persia, Afghanistan, Turkistall and Beloochistall, 2nd
edn., London 1857, p. 534.
In spite of the fact that our Middle Asiatic republics border on Afghanistan for a clistance
of about 1500 km, evidendy none of the Russian scientists was able to penetrate into that
country before the Soviet era. Our knowledge of it was limited to a few chance samples of
botanical and zoological material, gathered in our own adjacent provinces.
The keys to solving many genetic problems dealing with the origin of our most
imponant cultivated plants are located in poorly investigated countries. The centres of
variation of many agricultural plants gravitate definitely towards the mountain regions of
southwestern Asia and nonhernAfrica. In this connection previous investigations in Bukhara
and Russian Turkestan led to a suggestion concerning the exceptional significance of Af-
ghanistan where it borders on those Russian areas as well as on Inclia. In particular the
study of the origin of rye and wheat, the most imponant field crops, motivated us to turn
our attention just to this country. In 1916, when I stuclied areas bordering on Afghanistan,
I discovered many interesting varieties of rye and wheat there, which at that time were
unknown in Europe. These discoveries led me to suggest that the centre of variabiliry of
these plants could be found in Afghanistan itself Thus was the idea born about the neces-
siry of visiting this country. In addition, Afghanistan attracted attention because of its
general status as an unexplored area.
Afghanistan is mainly an agricultural country. The entire lives of its inhabitants are
connected with agricultural products. Cities are of comparatively lesser impottance. From
an agronomical point of view, Afghanistan is of extreme interest because of its unusual
variery of rypes of agriculture, which range from the most primitive, here associated with a
complete noninterference from the outside as a result of the isolated position of the coun-
try, to the most intensive rype, similar to the Chinese kind of agriculture. The most primi-
tive rype of rural economy is found in Kafiristan [now Nuristan]; the southernmost por-
tion of that area borders on Inclia [now Pakistan].
Shordy after the October revolution the Soviet country recognized the indepen-
dence of Afghanistan and at the end of 1919 Soviet cliplomatic representatives appeared for
the first time in Kabul. In 1922 a Soviet embassy was fully established there, with three
consulates in the provinces of Her at, Meymaneh and Mazar-e-Sharif, adjacent to the So-
viet Middle-Asiatic republics. However, in spite of the increasingly friendly relations with
Afghanistan, the conditions for entering the country turned out to be far from simple:
eliminating obstacles of a political nature and obtaining visas and provisions for an expedi-
tion and monetary means, etc., in general took a year and a half of trouble. To get this done
I, the leader of the expeclition, had to return from Turkestan to Moscow. Only thanks to
the sympathetic attitude toward the expedition of the People's Commissariate of Foreign
Affitirs in the persons ofits responsible leaders, Comrade G. V Chicherin; Comrade Zucker-
N.i. VAVILOV - 22- FIVE CONTINENTS

man who attended to matters concerning the Middle Eastern countries; Cornrade Stark,
ambassador to Afghanistan; as well as Comrade Smirnov of the People's Commissariate of
Agriculture, did we succeed in overcoming all the obstacles.
After this it became possible to organize a scientific expedition into Afghanistan. In
addition to the writer of these lines, the staff consisted of agro-engineer D. D. Bukinich
and the agtonomist-plant breeder V. N. Lebedev. Means for the expedition were provided
by the department of Sakharotrest, a bureau handling sugar production, which was inter-
ested in securing new strains for practical plant breeding at their stations.
On 19 June 1924, the first Russian expedition crossed the border into Afghanistan
from Kushka along the bed of the Kushka river, which separates our country from Af-
ghanistan, and proceeded via the border post Childulthtaran into the province of Herat.
The customs ceremonies detained the caravan for 24 hours. We were badly prepared and
did not know the customs of the country. Misfortunes began from the very start. We had
to fire the interpreter, hired in Herat and a Russian by nationality because, as soon became
evident, of his ignorance of the Farsi language and his inclination toward alcoholic bever-
ages. I therefore immediately had to set about to perfect my own knowledge of this lan-
guage; there was no other way out. I rose early in the mornings and memorized the boring
Farsi grammar, in addition, by means of an Arabian textbook. Nevertheless, this provided
me with a minimum knowledge of the spoken language and made it possible to get along
for a great part of the way without an interpreter; in complex situations we relied on
assistance from the Soviet representatives in Herat, Meymaneh, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul.
Conditions for travellers in Afghanistan were rather difficult. According to the regu-
lations established for foreigners, it was necessary to obtain permission to go from city to
city and to everybody some Afghan soldiers were attached for protection. This meant
expenses for the maintenance of the convoy and the horses. The inhabitants themselves
were well armed and weapons were openly sold in all cities. Here and there the road crossed
mountain ridges impassable for wheeled vehicles and even the main route, indicated ac-
cording to information, was passable only by caravans of horses, donkeys, or camels. When
crossing the Hindu Kush there was great danger for the caravans on roads that were not
properly prepared. Our expedition had to proceed through the pass of Salang, through
which, according to legend, Alexander the Great also passed with his army on the way
from Macedonia to the war against India.
For a natutalistand agronomist Afghanistan is of great interest because ofits unusu-
ally varied landscapes, which correspond to different types of rural economy and a great
diversity of crops and varieties. When passing from Kushka to Herat, the traveller crosses
through a wide area of northern Afghanistan, which rerninds one of the landscape in the
foothills of Kopetdag in Soviet Turkestan. The caravan proceeded over comfottable and
well-beaten trails, along loess-like slopes of an undulating country with a rich herbaceous
vegetation. There was often wild, distichous barley. This was the realm of wheat grasses and
bulbous barley [Hordeum bulbosum L.] together with an infestation of beautiful, gigantic
eremurus olgae Regel]. Even in July it was possible to see an abundance of
inedible herbage here. Wild pistachio grew as single trees along the steep slopes and was
used by a roaming population. Junipers rJuniperus sp.] covered the mountains.
All the foothills of northern Afghanistan can be characterized as an area of predomi-
nantly loess-like soils, pastures, dry meadows and unirrigated fields. The caravan found an
abundance of forage there. During summer an enormous herd of variegated sheep and
black long-eared goats arrived from all over Afghanistan. While proceeding along the trail,
N.J. VAVllOV -23 - FIVE CONTINENTS

the caravan every now and then encountered the black tents of southern nomads [Maydars],
different from the tents of the Turkmenian nomadic population. We later saw such black,
curtained tents during our expeditions to Syria, Trans-Jotdania, Palestine and Morocco.
Beyond a pass at 1700 m, the country changed sharply. The Paropamisus plateau
really carries the traveller into a totally new world of sagebrush [Artemifia spp.J semi-desert
with copses of Ephedra and saltworts [Salsold spp.J here and there. A natural barrier in the
form of a barren mountain range separates the area of Badkhyz from southern Afghani-
stan. After passing through the mountain range and crossing the Paropamisus Range, the
traveller finds himself in the wide, cultivated valley of the Harirud river. Along it the Herat
valley opens up like an endless lake of green. The ciry of Her at rises up from the ground
with its minarets, mosques, cemeteries, gardens and fields. The city proper is behind a wall;
it occupies only an insignificant area, while the width of the valley around it measures up to
30 km. It becomes narrower from east to west. The oasis is intensively cultivated. One
village borders on the next, forming a continuous row of towns and gardens, cities and fields.
The gently sloping banks of the Harirud with its deep alluvial soil, easily irrigated,
favoured the establishment here of an intensive agriculture, reminescent of the type of rural
economy of the most intensively cultivated oases of the Near East, in Damascus and in
Egypt. Protected on all sides, the oasis of Herat has undoubtedly since the distant past
attracted to it a permanent agricultural population. Every inch of the soil, which is acces-
sible ro irrigation, is utilized here. A dense network of regularly distributed irrigation chan-
nels spreads from nine main lines from the Harirud, which creates considerable difficulties
for access to the city. The allotments are extremely small, from one-half to one hectare per
farmer, which makes an even more intensive agriculture necessary. The plots are broken
into small cells with individual fields fenced offby earthen dikes. Manure is widely applied.
Women and children diligently collect dung in the streets of Her at and around the villages.
Dovecotes are typical of the entire province of Her at. They have their own buildings
with a lot of openings for the nests. At a distance, they can be mistaken for mosques.
Occurring by the hundreds in the oasis of Herat, they give a characteristic architectural
aspect to the province. The dovecotes are not built for breeding doves but apparently for
collecting the excrement of the birds, which is always valued as a potent fertilizer.
The rural economy of the Herat area is characterized by extremely varied field and
vegetable crops and an enormous age of leguminous and forage plants, operated by a
system of rotation where leguminous plants and forage alternate. This kind of intensive
management is not repeated in other parts of Afghanistan, because of careful utilization of
every inch of the soil, the presence of a perfect irrigation system, the use of complex of
tools, and because of the special sttuctures built for collecting bird excrement.
The outstanding agriculture in the province of Her at, one of the areas of the country
recently liberated from English domination, is not reflected in the lifesryle of the city, with its
unpaved, badly lit streets and incredible filth. Around every house along the narrow streets of
Herat there are open sewers of various dimensions, in which sewage is collected. The inhabit-
ants of Her at live in two-srorey, mud-brick houses with the animals located on the lower floor,
the people on the upper. In the villages, refuse is thrown from the second storey into gutters
running in a slight depression down the middle of the street. An unwary passerby risks being
hit by what is thrown out. On the major streets the sewage collects from the gutters into small
ponds overgrown with algae. The green lakes of Her at' could also mean these peculiar 'irri-
gated fields' in the very centre of the towns. These filthy basins along the large streets also serve
as drinking water for people and animals.
N.!. VAVILOV -24- FIVE CONTINENTS

During the summer months there is an unbearable stench and an oppressive heat all
over Herat, causing an accidental passerby to hurry away from the interesting oriental
bazaar. Infectious diseases are rampant. Tuberculosis, syphilis and trachoma are common
companions of the natives of Her at. The inhabitants have an exhausted look, to which the
smoking of opium contributes. The city, beauriful from afar and embedded in verdure
against a background of mountains, presents during the summer months a monstrous
aspect owing to the lack of hygiene. It is as if all the worst of what represents city life had
been assembled in the midst of the most developed agricultural oasis of Mghanistan, bear-
ing visual witness to the contrast existing between the concepts of 'civilization' and 'cu-
ltivation' .
The Soviet consulate is situated in a garden behind the city. It was nice to be able to
make excursions in various directions from there. Already the first visit to the fields fur-
nished information of primary importance. The composition of the crops is extremely
varied here and corresponds to the needs of the large agricultural population: wheat, barley,
millet, maize, all kinds of grain legumes, beginning with 'bokii', i.e. faba beans [Vicia faba
L.], sesame [Sesamum indicum L.], flax, opium poppies [Papaver somnifirum L.], winter
cress [Bm·barea vulgaris L.], castor oil plants and large areas under cotton [long-staple], .
lupines and Persian shabdar clover [Trifolium resupinatum L.], fenugreek [Tiigonella flenum-
graecum L.], hemp [Cannabis sativa L.] and tobacco [Nicotiana rustica L.]. The gardens are
overflowing with apricots, apples, pears, plums, figs, pomegranates [Punica granatum L.]
and peaches. Mulberry trees [MonlS spp.] are planted along the edges of the gardens. In-
stead of trellises there are peculiar earthen walls for suppOrt of grapes, whose vines creep
along the wall. The vegetable gardens, placed nearer the villages and usually enclosed by
earthen walls, are also planted with a multitude of crops: eggplants, turnips, radishes,
onions, garlic, carrots, spinach, cucumbers, tarras [Cucumis melo L. subsp. jlexuosus [L.]
Greb.], gourds, bottle gourds [Lagenaria vulgaris Ser.], luff a [Luffo cylindrica [L.] Roem.]'
dill, coriander [Coriandrum sativum L.], garden thyme [Thymus vulgaris L.], ommu
[Ti-achyspe17num ommi [L.] Sprague] and mints.
Instead of the soli: wheat, common in Inner Asia, a kind of wheat imported from
Mesopotamia, i.e. Triticum turgidum L., was cultivated here and yielded more than any
other in the world. It is widely grown under the local epithet of'Saffron'. The crops of the
local wheat were infested by rye. This usually occurs in the East, bur hete there was some-
thing new. Here the eats of the weedy rye break up when ripening and fall to the ground,
i.e. sowing themselves, an attribute typical of wild plants. Externally it does not differ from
cultivated rye; however, the rye of Herat retains this indispensable characteristic of wild
plants. Thus, we happened to find a link connecting cultivated rye with the wild types.
Together with plants with brittle ears it was also possible to see less brittle and non-britrle
types and, thus, to follow the evolution toward cultivated rye.
The facts, established during our study of the cultivated flora of Iran were even
better supported by the discoveries in Mghanistan. The market place of Her at was a source
of a large number of new local varieties. The direction of the expedition had been correcrly
selected; there was no doubt abour that. Here we were at the origin of the variation of the
plants cultivated in Europe.
The illness of our companion Bukinich made it necessary to split up our caravan.
One part had to go by the shortest route straight to Kabul via the Khazariy road along the
Hindukush. I decided to use up the remaining 2 or 3 weeks of the expedition by tiling the
N.I. VAVILOV -25 - FIVE CONTINENTS

longer route through northern Afghanistan and, after reaching Mazar-e-Sharif, continuing
through the Hindu Kush to Kabul, there to rejoin my comrades.
From the point of view of nature, northern Afghanistan appears to be a continuation
of Soviet Middle Asia. The western portion of it forms something of an extension of
Turkmenia. Its inhabitants are predominantly Turkmenian. There are also many nomads
here, who go to the mountain pastures during the summer months. Their characteristic
black tents and primitive camps were found all along the route followed by the caravan.
The major part of the nomads were visitors from afar, from Seistan and Qandahar. The
central portion of northern Afghanistan is to a great extent inhabited by Uzbeks. The
centre of this part of the country is Mazar-e-Sharif, a large ciry with mosques and a large
market. The eastern portion of northern Afghanistan, immediately adjacent to the Pamirs,
has much in common with Soviet Tajikistan. One nation simply replaces the other. The
central mountainous area of the Hindu Kush is occupied by a Turkic people. The genuine
Afghan population is concentrated on the other side of the Hindu Kush, toward the south.
A considerable number ofIranians, residing in the country and either Iranians by birth or
so-called bedouins, have to be taken into account, together with natives of Beluchistan.
Such is the motley conglomerate of the population of Afghanistan, the general number of
which is estimated at six to eight million. Out of this about one third are nomads.
A historical source [Vazirabakh] tells us that "thousands of towns existed in Balkh"
and indeed the endless appearance of cemeteries and tuins oflarge villages indicate a civi-
lization of the past.
We made our. way from Mazar-e-Sharif to Balkh on an invitation from the head of
a French archeological expedition, Fouche. "The present BaIlth," the French archeologist
Godard writes, "is Bacrria, 'the Mother of cities,' repeatedly ruined and rebuilt. Bactria, the
residence of the legendary emperor of Persia and the homeland of the legendary Zoroaster,
is according to tradition the capital of the Greco-Bactrian realm." I
Until recently Afghanistan had barely been studied by natural scientists and arche-
ologisrs. Starting only in 1922 a French archeological expedition under the direction of
Professor Fouche began to excavate ancient settlements in Afghanistan. He and his assis-
tant, Dr. Aquin, kindly acquainted us with the results of their work in the excavation of
Ballth.
As is well known, northern Afghanistan, situated in the centre of the ancient Orient
where the roads from Asia Minor, China and India meet, served as a gate through which
many people passed. The Hindu Kush [in translation: 'the death of the Hindi'] could not
halt any enterprising conquerors. From ancient Bactria [the present province ofMazar-e-
Sharif] roads led through the passes of the Hindu Kush directly into Punjab, into the heart
ofIndia [now Pakistan]. In 328 BC, after conquering the Bacrrians, Alexander the Great
crossed the Hindu Kush [as mentioned earlier, reputedly through the Salang pass] and
entered the valley of Kabul. In 326 BC he crossed the Indus and proceeded into India. The
Godards write: "No other country has seen such a variery of nationalities or passed through
the hands of so many rulers. The territory of Afghanistan was subsequently occupied by
Assyrians, Mindans, Persians, Greeks, Scyrhians, Farsi, Kushans, Huns, Turks, Arabs and
Mongols."
The most ancient monuments found by Fouche in Afghanistan, date from the first
century after Christ. These are Buddhisr srupas: sacred buildings, temples of immense
lSee 'Exposition de recemes decouvertes er de recent travaux archeologiques en Afganismn er en Chine' by M. and
Mmme. Andre Godard of the French archeological delegation from Musee Guimer, 14 March, 1925.]
N.i. VAVILOV -26- FIVE CONTINENTS

dimensions, often reaching a height of20 metres. The upper portion of a stupa, a cupola,
'symbolizes a water bubble, according to the usual interpretation, to which Buddha com-
pared human life to indicate its impermanence. Such stupas can be seen on the road
toward Kabul and in Balkh itself.
Ancient colossal statues of the Buddha are the second most important monuments.
They are well-preserved in niches in the ancient ciry of Bamian, situated along the road
from India toward ancient Bactria. To the disappointment of Fouche and Aquin, the
archeological investigations of the Bactrian realm have not furnished any basic results. All
that has been revealed by the spade so far is hard to distinguish from present earthen
structures or from the flat, earthen lodgings typical of present northern Afghanistan. Only
the stupas of solid bricks can be distinguished ftom the citadels of the walls of old Bactria,
made of the same kind of bricks.
Our agronomical studies of northern Afghanistan and the area of the Bactrians
agreed essentially with the conclusions drawn by the French expedition. The present natu-
tal history and agricultural aspect of the areas ofMazar-e-Sharif, Tashkurgan, Sheberghan
Andkhvoy, Agcheh, Meymaneh and all of Afghan Turkestan as far as to Feyzabad, includ-
ing Balkh, indicate that in the past, just as at the present, there were no favourable condi-
tions hete for the formation of permanendy setded civilizations analogous to those of
Mesopotamia, Egypt or India. All the territory of Afghan Turkestan is one large open space
for nomadic or semi-nomadic management of beautiful pastures and a major production
offorage. At the same time it is without defense from assault and lacking in large rivers that
could attract the masses of a serued population. A considerable area east and west ofBalkh
is occupied by saline soils. The area immediately adjacent to Balkh is full of marshes and
not suitable for cultivation. Malaria is rampant in Balkh itself, where members of the
French expedition fell victim to it.
All the importance of ancient Bactria was due to its central situation on the major
trade route ftom India to Mesopotamia and to the abundance of cheap forage. In fact,
nowhere else in all of Afghanistan today is it so inexpensive for a caravan as here. The
Bactrian realm, so favorably situated for caravans to stop after a long passage from the last
halt, has always been a market centre where merchants from different countries could
meet. In Balkh itself and in adjacent villages a large amount of coins ftom the first century
after Christ can still be discovered. The legend about 'the thousand cities of Bact ria' is to a
great extent justified by the large number of towns and ruins from Balamurgab to Mazar-
e-Shari£ The 'cities' now correspond to inns or caravansaries, where caravans can stop.
·After the mountains and deserts, the Afghan Turkestan undoubtedly appears as a favourable
area for halting the caravan and stocking up on forage and food stuff.
From Mazar -e-Sharif there is a well-beaten path to Kabul, stretching for 540 km,
which took us 13 days. After leaving Tashkurgan, situated at an altitude of 580 metres, the
road continues up into the mountains. Where the ascent begins there are gardens, grain
crops, melon fields and flax. At an altitude of 1100 metres the village of Aybak [in trans-
lation, 'the merry garden'] appears in a well-watered area. Aybak is a small marketplace,
surrounded by gardens and crops of millet and melons. Here, on the border of the prov-
ince ofKattagan [Kunduz], the ascent into the Hindu Kush begins, the road following the
winding course of the Khol'm river.
The inn at Khurram is situated at an altitude of 1635 metres; this is the most
important garden area in all of Afghanistan, no doubt setded long ago. After ascending up
to 1960 metres, a descent rol200 metres begins. The gardens disappear and a barren area
N.J. VAVILOV -27- FIVE CONTINENTS

comes into view. Again there was an ascent up to an altitude of2200 metres. The inn at Rui
is at an altitude of2000 metres and then there was again a descent down to 1200 metres.
On the road for five days [our ofMazar-e-Sharif], we again made an ascent to 2360
metres; on to the inn at Duab and on higher up, to 2860 metres. Up again and down again
we went and up again to the Kara-Kutal pass at an altitude of 3060 metres. Then a steep
descent to the village of Mador. A large part of the road had to be taken on foot among
rubble and rocks and sliding stones. The road is still not well blazed. Only dynamite can
imptove this path. At about the middle of the descent the road suddenly lowers steeply inro
the depths of a canyon, into which a mountain brook bursts. Mador, the population of
which consists ofKhazaritsi, is situated at an altitude of2000 metres. Then on we went, up
again and down again. Around Saigan where there are gardens and crops, the peaks of
Hindu Kush could now be seen. The altirude is 2240 m. Suddenly horsemen came speed-
ing. They halted the caravan and explained to our guides, the Afghan soldiers, that we had
to wait for their leader. They agreed that we could wait for him at the halt, the Kamerd inn.
It was apparent that somedling unpleasant was abour to happen. Somebody had fired
at their leader and, apparendy, badly wounded him. An operation and the intervention of a
physician were necessary. Any European in this counrry appears to be synonymous with a
doctor, able to heal all illnesses. In the inn there was great commorion. Not all of the rapid
patter was understood bur one thing was clear: shordythe wounded leader would be brought
in. Night was already falling bur there was light in the street, where an enormous crowd of
some hundred men with torches had gathered.Theleader, the governor of the area, was brought
in on a stretcher and pur down in the teallOuse where our caravan had established itself The
wound looked severe. The bullet had penetrared into the body. We searched for the good
English disinfectant, purchased in Mazar-e-Sharif Water was boiled and we poured all the
iodine we had on the carefully washed wound, after which the injury was bandaged.
Apparendy this operation was of some use. In the morning, at dawn, when our
caravan was already on its way, we were overtaken by the rerinue of the governor and given
expressions of gratirude. The patient had slept well and, indeed, the wound was not so
serious. Our soldiers received a large amount of dried apricots and nuts as a gift. It seemed
that this first artempt of ours at doctoring had met with success. Perhaps in connection
with the rumor abour our art, during the following nights in every inn we were sought after
by a large crowd of every kind of sick people. As far as possible we supplied them widl
quinine or, at least, aspirin. Very many were af!1icted by trachoma, for which zinc drops
were dispensed. In any case, the medical arsenal at our disposal was beginning to run low.
It was now the eighth day on d,e road [from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kabul] for the
caravan. The trail gradually ascended up to 3400 metres between Sulmte-Chinar and Ak-
Rabat. The population consisted of Khazaritsi. In the distance we could see an impressive
panorama of the Hindu Kush covered with snow. The cultivation of grains here reached up
to 3380 metres. A large quantiry of naked-grained barley was grown.
From Ak-Rabat we proceeded toward Bamian. It is siruated on the very road from
India into ancient Bactria. The localiry is an alpine valley at an altirude of 2550-2700
metres, around the edges of which a large agricultural population has found asylum in
natural and man-made caves in the foothills of loess and conglomerates. Here crops of
wheat, barley, peas, beans, Persian clover [Trifolium resupinatum L.] and lucerne are widely
grown. The seruers spoke Farsi, so it was possible to talk to them.
There are some 12 000 caves in the area of Bam ian. In a special cave ciry in a sheer
cliff, in polished niches, there are enormous statues of Buddhas. The tallest is 53 metres
N.I. VAVILOV - 28- FIVE CONTINENTS

high, the smallest 35 metres. A Chinese traveller of the seventh century, Suan'-Tsan, had
mentioned the Bamian collossi and described them thoroughly. A moonlit night around
the giant Buddhas and among the snow-covered peaks of Hindu Kush creates an especially
solemn mood. It could be said that one looks into the depth of thousands of years.
On the ninth day on the road with three to four days ro go toward the valley of
Kabul, the situation was not favourable for our progress. A revolt of the southern tribes had
occurred under the support of the English, threatening to overthrow Khan Amanulla, the
Padishah [ancient royal tide] of Afghanistan. The flight of the European colony in Kabul
had already started. Soviet cliplomatic couriers meeting us brought litde comforting news.
There was a possibility for a delay around Kabul; it was necessary to be vety careful since
the revolt was spreading northward, and it was not finding sympathy among the mountain
tribes surrouncling Kabul. But the prospect of going back to Mazar-e-Sharif, when three
quarters of the mission was still not finished, clid not appeal to us. It was necessary rather to
tty to reach Kabul in some way or another.
From Bamian the road runs mainly at an altitude of2400-2800 metres. From the
inn at Shumbal' an ascent to 3000 metres began. Again there were wonderful crops of
awnless spring wheat, alfalfa and Persian clover; plots of opium poppies at an altitude of
2840 metres apparendy marked the upper limit of this crop. Then the road began to
descend to 2000 metres. Large crops of rice, cotton and grapes started to appear. It was
evident that under the protection of the Hindu Kush the upper limits of cultivated plants
were considerably higher in comparison with those of northern Afghanistan. There were
still many ruins and caves, which continued for at least 100 km along the road southward
from Bamian, at which also the inn ofSiagerd was situated. The road followed a deep river,
the Gorben', which we had to ford because the bridge turned out to be broken down.
Fortunately, this was September, the water was low and the fording did nOt meet with any
difficulties. The inhabitants here were Khazaritsi.
After the river crossing the road started to become berter and berter, malcing it
possible to use light vehicles. The average altitude was 1800 metres. We stayed overnight at
the inn ofBal'dzhigulzhan and saw much cotton, wheat and barley. Once again the black
tents of strange nomads, who were of an Afghan type, Patans, appeared. We were now
coming upon Charil<ar, north of which a long chain of mountains can be seen, an area
called Kokhistan ['the land of mountains']. Charil= is a small town with an important
market, counting hundreds of Stalls. It is situated at an altitude of 1690 metres and sur-
tounded by large fields. Here the influence of Kabul can already be felt. There is a good
toad from Charikar to Kabul, bearing regular traffic of light carriages and many other
vehicles. Automobiles can already be encountered.
Then there was a slighr ascent to 2000 metres. The traffic became livelier, almost
like on a market day. At the sides of the road to Kabul fields stretch out for approximately
a verst. There we saw especially club wheat [Triticum eompaetum Host]' which we had not
encountered before. This is a kingdom of endemic plants. There were also paddies of rice
and watercress [Nasturtium officina!e R Br.]. After an ascent, Kabul could be seen in the
valley of the Kabul river. From afar it gives the impression of a large city.
In a poem devoted to Kabul in the official Geography of Afihanistan published in
Kabul it is written: "And then a lump of earth fill fi"om heaven to earth and fi"om it Kabul
arose. The angels, seeing Kabul said· this is even more beautifol than heaven. "This is even
more enthusiastically expressed in another poem: ''Every ineh of Kabul is more preecious than
all the world. "
N.I. VAVllOV -29- FIVE CONTINENTS

Indeed, the ground under and in Kabul is very expensive. Around the ciry there is
an exceptionally intensive agriculture under irrigation with careful urilization of every inch
of the soil. The oasis of Kabul, at an altitude ofl760 metres, was created as a result of an
enormous amount of work by the farmers. The layer tilled is to a great extent artificial. The
gentle slopes of the mountains surrounding the oasis of Kabul are only in a few places
covered by a thin deposit ofloess. For the most part, the area is a stony plateau. Therefore
every inch of soil in Kabul is valuable. One can unfailingly observe people swarming over
demolished buildings and old ruins to cart away the soil on the backs oflittle donkeys to far
off fields. Even from under stony boulders, thin earthen layers are extracted by means of
pickaxes just to provide soil for plants. Of course, the soils are to a great extent either saline
or swampy.
Kabul is an important city with abour 70 000 inhabitants. The old city consists of
houses with flat roofS, reminiscent in this respect of Herat. Here, too, sewage pipes lead
directly our into the streets. The flat roofs of houses situated along the hillocks give the city
a peculiar step-like character. At the edge of the old city the construction of a new Euro-
pean-style ciry is beginning.
All life in Kabul depends on agriculture. The markets are full oflarge quantities of
grains, fruits and berries. In spite of the considerable altitude of the place, grapes and
melons, of which the markets are full during the autumn, are of exceptional qualiry.
Excursions around the city furnished a wealth of material; there were endemics
everywhere. To begin with, the wheat was represented by a lot of peculiar types of club
wheat [Triticum com pactum Host] not known anywhere else in the world. They form a
special group with solid straw and are difficult to thresh but very productive. Beans are
represented by a great variety of small-seeded, dark-coloured forms sharply different from
the ordinary European strains. There was much flax and winter cress [Barbarea vulgaris L.].
At lower altitude, in warmer localities, cotton, too, is cultivated and is usually represented
by typical Indian forms. An influence from northern India is beginning to be evident
although that from the area ofInner Asia is also to a great extent reflected. It was perfectly
evident that we stood at a source of an original cultivated flora which moreover had devel-
oped under severe conditions. The intensive management indicated an ancient tradition of
cultivation and the great role 'Of centuries of selection. Feeling it necessary to continue the
observations, we formed thedaring idea of trying, if possible, to include all of Afghanistan
to cover all the main agrirultural areas .
. Again we split up the expedition into two parts. One was to obtain permission to go
by the southern roure and return to Herat via Qandahar [and Farah]; the other, in which
the author of these lines took part together with D. D. Bukinich, decided to try a less well-
known route in the direction of the Pamirs and Badalthshan. The discoveries from 1916 of
peculiar rye and wheat at the border of Afghanistan and Tajikistan made it necessary to
turn.attention in particular to this area, where India [now Pakistan], Afghanistan and
Soviet Tajikistan meet. Permission to follow this route was obtained thanks to the efforts of
the Soviet representatives in Kabul.
The northbound caravan, consisting of the twO members of the expedition, one guide,
three horses for the luggage and two sepoys, proceeded in the direction of the Salang pass. The
road enters the area ofKokhistan ['the land of mountains'] and the trail runs over granite,
limestone, shale and sandstone.The population is Tajik.The crops consist of mulberries, peas,
naked barley and water cress [used for lamp-oil]. The buildings, which are made of stones of
the same type as the mountains and in several storeys, look like nests stuck to the mountains.
N.J. VAVILOV - 30- FIVE CONTINENTS

Owing to the abundance of mulberry trees, rhe entire area could be called a mulberry region.
The road follows the Salang river, along which there are settlements with one, two or rhree
houses and a few villages with ten to twelve buildings.
From rhe village of Tach' the route runs up to the Salang pass. The ascent started.
On the first of October, at an altitude of2900 metres, brooks and pools were frozen over.
The road turned into a mere path. Already at 2400 metres snow from last year could be
seen. The first pass, at 3785 metres, was not difficult; it was possible to remain mounted
and ride through it. From the first pass we descended to 3620 metres, then we climbed
again to the second pass at 3900 metres. There, the trail became difficult, part of it passing
over a frozen brook. To pass a caravan moving in the opposite direction was difficult.
The road entered a ravine along which the Khindzhan river runs. Even in October
it was fairly full of water and represented a typical mountain stream, rapid and winding.
The villages were poor and the food bad. The population is Tajik. A descent to 1685
metres followed and continued down to the village ofKhindzhan at 1180 metres. Khindzhan
turned out to be a large village with some 500 houses in a rich, rice-growing area.
We then proceeded toward Banow, a small town situated at an altitude of 1550
metres. Around the present Banow there are the ruins of some hundred houses and shops
of an old, larger town. The remains of this town gave us trouble, as it turned out. To
photograph the tuins was suspicious in the eyes of the fanatical and moody mullahs and
from the roofs stones were presently flying at the peacefully resting caravan. There was no
time for explanations and persuasions came ro nothing; it became necessary to continue on
immediately.
The Murg pass is at an altitude of 2410 metres. From the pass there is a beautiful
panorama over the ridges of the Hindu Kush. Then a descent to the inn at Yarym at an
altitude ofJ820 metres. The Russian 10: 1 verst map is entirely satisfactory. From Yarym the
road here and there crosses rivers on it way to Narym, a small but growing town with a
market and a few hundred shops. Narym's inhabitants are Tajik and Uzbek The area is
reminiscent ofBulthara. There are many provisions for a caravan. The area has a seminomadic
economy. At the side of mudhuts one sees nomad tents ofTurkmenian type. Further
along there were more inns and villages. The road ran over loess hills. Large, non-irrigated
crops of wheat and barley covered the slopes of the mountains. It is a rich, agricultural area.
The population is Tajik and Uzbek.
On the eighth day on the road, the caravan entered Khanabad, a city reminding me
ofMeymaneh. It has about 10 000 inhabitants, and state-owned and private caravansaries.
Khanabad is situated at an altitude of570 metres in the valley of the Talikan river. There are
large crops of rice, wheat, barley and cotton, some of them not irrigated. The landscape
reminds one ofKopetdag, the area ofKushka and the plains of Tajikistan. There are hill-
ocks ofloess.
We passed the small town ofTalikan, the inn at Mash'had and the large village of
Kala-Afghan. We encountered more and more often the Turkmenian type of tents along
the road The road turned up into the mountains, reaching altitudes up to 1600 metres.
We passed the inn at Arga, through which the caravan route from Khanabad to Chitral
and Peshawar runs. On 10 October Out caravan entered Feyzabad, a large city situated at
an altitude of 1260 metres. The landscape consisted ofloess hills. Adjacent to the city the
soils became stonier.
Feyzabad is barricaded by a mountain toward the west. It seems to lean against it
and looks like a scenic mountain settlement. The city is extraordinary; quite different from
N.I. VAVllOV - 31 - FIVE CONTINENTS

other Afghan cities. Some of the buildings are made of stone. It has about 10 000 inhabit-
ants. It was the residence of General Shamamud-Khan, to whose rule both Feyzabad and
all the military posts of the pre-Pamir region were subjected. Forrunately, the general had
mastered the English language fairly well and it turned Out to be easy to talk to him. He
provided us with all the papers necessary for the military poSts and the local official of
Badakhshan. The effect of the mountains could be felt; the prices on everything were high.
We did not tarry; the following day we proceeded toward Badakhshan, to Zibak.
The country soon tose higher. The path became difficult. Part of it went across ovrings,
along ledges on the steep cliff walls and along footsteps of stone. This was a military road
for sending detachments from Feyzabad to the border posts in the Pamirs. VIllages became
rarer. The inhabitants were Tajik. We passed Dzhutm and Chakaran, at an altitude ofl850
metres. The trail became even more difficult; there was much water. Finally we came to
Zibak [2750 metres]. It is the site of the governing authority of the central area ofZibak.
The intended goal had been reached. This is a beautiful agricultural area with irrigated
fields and abundance of water. It is the realm of endemics and of non-ligulate wheats. There is
gigantic spring rye. However, the composition of the cultivated flora was absolutely clear,
presenting nothing unusual. No doubt the area around Kabul was more important. The flora
around Zibak differed litrle from that ofInner Asia. It was evident that in this area it was not
necessary to lookfor the solution to a number of ridrlles concerning wheat and rye. The logical
conclusion was to continue investigations in the direction ofIndia [Pakistan] and thoroughly
study the southeastern portion of Afghanis tan.
The Pamirs were already well-known to me and Bukinich. To return in October via
the familiar desert country, leaving half of Afghanistan untouched, seemed out of the
question and intolerable, although we had permission to exit through Pyandzh at the
Russian border pOSt. Another plan, a daring one, was developed: to return to Kabul but
not along the same route, but rather along the border to India [Pakistan], if possible,
proceeding roward Jalalabad and Peshawar, thus passing through a less well-studied area.
This decision became increasingly firm. Together with our guides I rode the remaining 24
km to the final point of Out original route, to the Afghan border post at Eshkashem.
Bukinich did not feel well and decided to stay behind in Zibak with one of the sepoys and
the main caravan.
From Zibak, or rather the village ofZarkhan, where our caravan had stopped, the trail
to Eshkashem runs over flinty stone rubble and through ravines at altitudes from 2750 to
3100 metres. Both ascents and descents were easy. The Afghan 'fortress' was situated 4 km
from the Pyandzh river and turned Out to be the usual kind of state-owned halt for 100-200
horses. Around the inn there were grain fields. It was the best time for collecting ears.
Out appearance at the inn caused incredible alarm. I approached the post together
with a guide. We had, of course, the exceptionally polite letter from the general in Feyzabad,
which opened the door to the fortress. Ourwarrlly the inn at Eshkashem looked as did all
other inns, like a fortress with towers at the corners and high walls pierced with loop-holes.
Soldiers were also placed in adjacent villages. The entire detachment, starting with the
commander, turned out to be represented by alien, Afghan elements, while the villages of
all the area were inhabited by Tajiks. The commander of the fort at Eshkashem [in 1924,
Captain Gulyam Nakhshband] was at that time the head of all the Afghan posts in the
Pamirs, including the Mundzhan posts at the market-places all the way from Chitral into
Badakhshan. Two aides, actually policemen, were with him. Thus, the fortress at
Eshkashem was in essence the administrative military centre of the pre-Pamir region, but
N.i. VAVILQV - 32- FIVE CONTINENTS

its natural protection turned our to be the mountain along the Pyandzh river.
The adjacent Russian border post was situated on the other side of the river. During
summertime the river was crossed by means of a so-called 'gupsar', a raft of inflated skins.
However, at a shorr distance from the fort the river could be crossed on horseback or on foot.
We could shout across to the Soviet posr on the opposire bank. In accordance with local cus-
toms, representatives of our country were invited by the captain to come over and spend rhe
night. In rhe evening there was a special banquer with music. I have never seen such virtuoso
performers as the Tajik musicians who made really exceptional sounds on a right srring by
means ofa thin sreel rod while supplementing them with reciration and singing.
I handed over letters to the Soviet comrades about Out intentions and announced to
the Afghan captain that we would go into the Pamirs later but would now return to Kabul,
however, by a different route. Actually, we had obtained some very inaccurate information
from rhe schematic map which we had at our disposal, which proved too incomplete for
orientation. It was necessary to go through Nuristan, the province through which only one
European, Colonel Robertson, had gone before us. Unfortunately, we did not have
Robertson's book with us.
TheAfghan sepoys accompanying us were happy to return to Kabul, even along a new
route This was settled with them in every respect; in them we had official representatives of the
Afghan government, people well-known and tried byus, with whom we could riskproceeding
through an untouched area without permission or reliable maps.
Back in Zibak, we began to equip ourselves and stock up on provisions for a difficult
route. It would have been best to find a guide here for the entire distance, but since nobody
turned up for it, we had to change guides from village to village. On 16 October we headed
back toward Kabul along new and unlmown roads, to a great extent 'by chance' and
guided only by our generally inadequate map. From Zibal, a road went to the village of
Sanglich. It followed trails difficult to negotiate; portions had to be forded through a river.
At the settlement ofIskatul' a good road began. The trail gradually rose from the river up
the mountain and ascended up to 3350 metres. Somehow this road was in good order. The
boulders had been removed and it was possible to proceed at a trot. The caravans we met all
came from Chitral. After the difficult track from Zibak, this good road was utterly unex-
pected.
Sanglich is a mountain village where only barley is cultivated. Some 12 km from the
village there is a military POSt, Sanglich-Bandar. An ascent began leading to the easy pass at
Mundzhan [or Magnaull at an altitude of 4070 metres. We traversed it alongside a big
glacier. This pass was really different from those common in the Hindu Kush: the slopes
were easy and passable for wheeled vehicles in spite of the considerable altitude. There was
also a rich herbaceous vegetation.
From the pass we descended to the village ofShar at an altitude of2895 metres. It is
a poor mountain village with stone houses and Tajik inhabitants, but the road was not
difficult. A slight ascent along the Mundzhan river followed. It was only difficult to cross
irrigation ditches and brooks. Water was plentiful. A glacier was visible. Along the road
there were copses of wild toses, barberry and sea buckthorn. The villages were very poor,
the inhabitants of the shacks were Tajiks. We had now arrived in the village ofTli on the
border of Badalthshan, from where a road to Nuristan through the Parun pass begins.
N.I. VAVILOV -33 - FIVE CONTINENTS
II
EXPEDITION IN NURISTANl
Until recently Nuristan remained the most secluded area in all of Mghanistan. It was not
only untouched from an agronomical and botanical point of view but not even adequately
known geographically. Our expedition was thus about to enter a region still almost un-
known.
In October of 1924 we had entered Badalthshan from Khanabad. At its edge, in an
area adjacent to the Pamirs, our expedition found not fur from Zibak and Eshkashem a
large amount of peculiar varieties of sofr wheat with a simplified leaf structure [without
ligules or auricles] at an altitude of2500-3000 metres. Such forms became known to us for
the first time in 1916 in its native area of the Soviet Gorno-Badalthshan. These varieties of
sofr wheat, of interest to botanists, are known only from that area. It seemed evident that,
if we proceeded further toward Chitral in Nutistan, it might be possible to solve the mys-
tery of chis kind of wheat.
On 16 October 1924, we started out from Zibak in a direction straighttoward central
Nutistan, i.e. Iskatul' and Sanglich. Due to Out complete ignorance of chis area, a part of it as far
as we knew for the first time being crossed by our expedition, I shall carefully describe the route
we took from Badalthshan into Nuristan while referring to my diary.
Zibak is situated at an altitude of 2750 metres and, like Eshkashem, it consists of a
number of small seruements and poor villages, scatrered along mountain valleys a few miles
apart from each other. Every village has an 'arbob' [head-man]. The head of the entire area of
Zibalc a 'khakim', lived in one of the village. The agriculture here is typical of that among Tajik
mountainsettlers.Theysowwheat, flax and beans, from which asoup is made.Theyalso grow
naked-grained barley and some husked barley as well as lentils, peas and millet for forage. For
illumination they use oil made from the seeds of winter-cress [Barbarea vu{gmir]. Twigs of
bushes, especially those of sea buckthorn [Hippophae L.], are smeared with crushed oily seeds
and used as torches.
The climate of Zibak is severe. The settlers are poor. Their clothes are terrible. In
spite of the cold, the people go bareheaded. For lack of sugar, they drink tea with salt. We
saw drawings, depicting horses and wethers, engraved into stones by Tajik artists. The poet
Aga-i-Mirza Shir-Akhmed writes the following about Zibak:
'Nowhere else is thm so much snow and wind during winter as in Zibak nor is there so
much hard fivst in any other place under the ski
:All the ground is as ifcovered by cotton wook neither mountains nor plains are fee of ice
and nowhere are there any l ~ e n leaves to be seen ... '
'The winter lasts three to four months in other areas but eight months in this region. '
'There is no other food, clay or night, for the inhabitants than dry bread and pea soup. '
'Ifsomebody takes ill there are no medicines nor any doctor. '
'There is no bar.ber to cut the hair of the head.' 2
1 At the end of the last century it was called Kafiristan, 'the land of the faithless', until it was forced by Emir Abdul-
Rahman (0 accept Islam. Remark by the Russian edirors. [Nurisran is meMghan area north of the Khyber pass toward.
the Pamirs along the border berween Afghanistan and whac is now Pakistan (formerly India), D.L]
2Excerpcs from Burkhan-ud-Din-khan-i Kushken: Karragan and Badakhshan. Translated from the Persian language
into Russian and edited by Professor A.A. Semenov, Tashkent, 1926.
N.I. VAVllOV - 34- FIVE CONTINENTS

The path partly followed along rapid mountain streams, passable where shallow,
and partly across ovrings and ledges along steep cliffs and slopes. There were thickets of
wild roses. The highest point on the trail was reached after an ascent to 3350 metres to
Sanglich. We were following a trail leading from Badakhshan to Peshawar via Chitral and
met Hindu merchants bringing rugs from Mazar-e-Sharif to Chitral.At 3380 metres Sanglich
is situated at the limit of cultivation. Only barley can grow there. Wheat is frequently
sown, bur it rarely ripens. They plant peas and vetchling as well, bur these, too, do not
ripen every year and are ordinarily used for forage.
Afrer spending the night at Sanglich, we continued on 17 October toward the
Mundzhan [Magnaul] pass and past the military POSt, Sanglich-Bandar, at an a1tirude of
3340 metres. Twelve km from Sanglich the road branches at the post: one branch leads to
Chitral and Peshawar, the other through Nuristan to Asmar. Behind the POSt there was an
easy, almost imperceptible ascent over sofr ground. Afrer two hours we had reached the
highest point of the pass, 4070 metres. At the base of a glacier moraines could be seen. At
almost the same altitude there were wild, violet-coloured barley and a thicket of currants
[Ribes sp.]. We descended down to the settlement of Magnaul [3340 metres]. And JUSt
there was the wheat with simplified leaves [the non-ligulate variery]; it even predominated
here!
From the village ofShar we passed another military post and proceeded toward Tli,
situated in the foothills of the Hindu Kush. The road was good; it was only difficult to pass
irrigation ditches and brooks. There was a very large thicket of wild roses, sea buckthorn,
and barberry. Tli is a small Tajik mountain village with a fort at an a1tirude of3025 metres.
Space had to be cleared of rocks for the crops of barley and wheat so that the fields consist
of small plors, surrounded by enormous heaps of stones. The inhabitants are Tajik, the
poor ones dressed in rags. There were few children. The explanation was that there was not
enough food. Naked-grained barley was sown together with an admixture of peas. Apri-
cots still grow at an a1ritude of 2940 metres bur they do not bear fruir every year.
Evidently the source of agriculture was not to be found here. The farmers at this
place were ourcasts, exhausted by their fate in this inaccessible mountain area and leading
a miserable existence.
On 19 October, we proceeded toward Nurisran. From Tli the road goes down into
a ravine in which the Mundzhan river flows. The trail became stony and was constantly
ctossed by brooks. The ravine was overgrown by sea buckthorn with red and yellow fruirs,
wild roses, poplars, barberry and currants. According to farmers in Mundzhan, that is a
'forest.' The frOSt had already nipped the leaves and they fell off at a touch. At first the trail
was not difficult; ir was well laid. During the ascent it became more difficult as stony
landslides began ro appear. The horses got caught in fissures between the rocks so that we
had to consrantly dismount and free their feet, losing horseshoes in the process. The area
became barren, really barren. For 9 hours on the road we did not meet a single soul. The
caravan ascended to 4000 metres, at which point three caves could be seen between the
cliffs, in the shelter of which, according to the guides from Tli, travellers ofren stayed
overnight. There was much firewood there and the fruits of sea buckthorn and wild roses
were srill ripening. We spent the night around a campfire near one of the caves. In rhe
morning the srream was covered by ice.
On 20 October our aailled through the Parun pass. From our hair at 4000 metres a
noticeable ascent began. Up to 4200 metres there was srill a rich vegetation, with thickets of
onions, meadow foxtail [AlopecztJ7/S pratensis L.] and violer barley predominared. Bur ahead
N.I. VAVILOV -35- FIVE CONTINENTS

laid a permanent snowfield through which a path had ro be found along the narrow pass. The
caravan proceeded with difficulty. We had to lead the horses and both they and the people sank
deep into the snow. No tracks were visible. The guides conducted the caravan down through
the pass according to landmarks known only to them. The elevation of the pass reached 4760
metres but it was below a slope where the mountain reached much higher up. An even more
difficultdescentoverasteep,rockyslopefollowed.The2-day-long, wearisome passage through
unpopulated areas, the loss of horseshoes and the sores covering the feet of the horses made the
passage through the Parun pass of the Hindu Kush the most difficult of our entire route.
On the south-facing slope all the vegetation reached much higher up. Barberty
reached 3700 metres and the perennial, violet barley 4400 metres. Birches started to ap-
pear at 3700 metres. Just below 3000 metres the first Kafir settlements appeared. The real
Nutistan starts here!
The setrlement ofPamn with the same name as the pass consists of six small villages.
We went in the direction of the village ofPronz, passing through the village ofShku. The
villagers there were engaged in cleaning up their well-tended fields. Trees were planted
around the houses. Everywhere well-made paths and properly conducted irrigation water
could be seen. An ancient civilization could be sensed. The crops occupied small plots only
a few [square metres] in size and evety inch of the soil was utilized. The fields were fenced.
The houses recalled the Tajik ones, were orren two storeys tall and, like the fields, small. In
the fields only women and old people could be seen. The women did not wear chadors
[veils]. There were many water mills. The crops were similar to those in Tli. And here was
also the familiar non-ligulate wheat!
The village ofPronz is situated at 2880 metres. The men wore white blouses, greying
with time. At a superficial glance they reminded me of the Tajiks but were more serious
and less gracious than the friendly Tajiks farther north. The women felt themselves com-
pletely liberated and entered freely into conversation with our Mghan soldiers from Kabul.
In contrast to the villages north ofParun pass there were many children here. The type of
children and women was Aryan, their faces almost white. Just as among the Tajiks, there
was poverty here; the clothes were mere rags. The area still has an ancient culture. The
Hindu Kush appears to be a mighty barrier, which long ago isolated the world of the
Kafirs. Their language has vety different roots. I had to write down a new dictionary.
On 21 October we proceeded southward, in the direction of the settlement of
Vama. The path follows along a picturesque canyon between trees among tiny but neat
fields. The Cotoneaster trees were especially decorative with their clusters of red and yellow
fmits. Around the villages, the stream had been diligently bordered by stones. After passing
other villages, we went toward Pashki [Pashkigrum] situated on a mountain 16-18 km
from Pronz. Robertson had reached there in 1891.
All the time the path followed along canyons, through which the deep Parun river
flows, in pan bridged. Gradually the trail led into a thicket. At a distance a coniferous forest
could be seen. Pashki is a large mountain village at the edge of a forest. There are no fewer
than twO hundred houses there and a caravansaty where one can stay. It also had a 'mamlek',
a headman. The houses were orren two storeys tall. The appearance of the settlement is
snug. In Pashki the houses are wooden, stones being used only for the foundations. The
inhabitants grow barley, wheat, peas and millet. An entirely new language is used in Pashki.
Wheat and barley are named differently from Pronz. The type of the inhabitants is Aryan,
recalling the Tajiks, although the majority of the faces were somewhat swarthy. The well-
proportioned women wear grey blouses and black skirts. The chief, with a blond beard,
N.I. VAVILOV - 36- FIVE CONTINENTS

was dressed in a peasant's cloth coat made of a coarse and heavy woolen material. The
garments of the men consisted of a long shirr with a belt, breeches and the indispensable
accoutrement, a dagger.
Below Pashki [at about 2750 metres] a typical forest zone begins, a realm of coni-
fers: cedars [Cedrus deoMra Loud.] and pines [Pinus excelsa Wall. and P. gerardiana WalL].
Here and there deciduous genera are encountered: walnuts [fugltnssp.], hawthorn [Crataeglls
sp.] or oaks [Q;tercus balootGriff] and, in the undergrowth, spiraeas [Spiraeasp.l. The little
trail entered a depression with a dense coniferous forest, which looked like a fiuniliar pic-
ture: mountain taiga with 100-year-old giants, windfulls and boggy soil. Not a soul to be
seen along the trail. The landscape had a variable relief; cliffi were prominent. As the trail
went slowly downhill, the path became difficult, portions of it traversing ovrings along
steep slopes down to the river. The packhorses were sliding downhill, their feet were in-
juted and the trunks were broken.
The villagers lead an isolated life. On the road from Tli we did not meet a single
traveller. After we had come down below 2500 metres there was a considerable arnount of
evergreen oaks [Quercus baloot Griff] between the cedars and the pines; their leaves look
like those of holly. Some authors have even determined them to Q ilex L. At an altirude of
2300 metres and lower down they even form the basic aspect of the landscape. There is a
rich herbaceous cover: wheatgrasses [AgroP.J'ron L.], bentgrass [Agrostissp.], vetches, fireweed
[Chamerion angustifolium Scop.], knapweed [Centaurea sp.], starworts [Stelltria sp.], asters
[Aster sp.] and forget-me-nots [MYosotis asiatica [Vestergren] Shishkin & Sergievskaja], an
arnazing, mixed flora. We stopped in the evening by some forest brooks at an altitude of
2070 metres. The night was cool, but afrer the night in the Parun pass it felt warm. We lit
a huge campfire to ward off wild animals.
On 22 October we continued on the path toward Varna. The oaks became larger,
often reaching the dimensions of mighty trees, up to 15 metres tall. Our progress along the
trail through the dense oak forest was not very pleasant. The branches with their prickly
leaves hurt faces and hands and we had to walk cautiously. The trail was difficult, along
steep slopes and winding ascents over rocks in the form of tall steps. Every now and then
towering rocks, huge blocks and heaps of boulders appeared in the middle of the toad. An
even more difficult descent confronted us. The path followed the Parun river, here app-
roaching it and there diverging from it on ledges on the mountain.
This path was unforgettable. Sometimes we had to unload the pack and carry it by
hand, pulling the horses by force down the steep slopes. They fell and got stuck in cracks
between the rocks. It was only possible to advance extremely slowly. There was no other
choice. Hour after hour passed, one mishap following upon another. A horse hung down
over a steep slope, its feet stuck in a fissure; the pack fell off the cliff down into the river. The
poor horses had been without shoes from Parun on. All my thoughts were concentrated on
their survival.
Between 2050 and 1900 metres the pines totally disappeared and a dense and com-
pact oak forest took their place. From 2200 metres on down the vegetation could be said to
be deciduous. The river became very deep. The closer we approached to Varna, the more
difficult the road became. We had to halt every half an hour and the question arose how to
proceed from rock to rock The pack horses were bloody afrer repeated falls and rolling
with the trunks down the steep slopes. Near Varna we began to come across tiny plots with
wheat, millet and sweet sorghum [Sorghum bicolour [L.] Moench].
N.i. VAVILOV -37- FIVE CONTINENTS

Towards evening we had descended down to 1830 metres and come to a bridge over
the Parun river. A thicket of wild figs could be seen. The guides said that this was Varna.
Indeed, on the opposite side, on a mountain some 400-500 metres above the road could be
seen multistoried village buildings, looking like bird's nests and surrounded by an oak
forest. A herd of black-spotted goats could also be seen. The houses were supported on
piles. The village was literally at the height where birds fly and almost inaccessible ro cara-
vans. Although no more than 30-40 houses could be seen through the binoculars, the
guides said the village was much larger. To reach the village it would be necessary to walk 5
km up the steep mountain. Fortunately there was a caravansary shortly aBer the bridge and
we decided to spend the night there. The horses had gone without feed for two days, bur
again the language was a new one and the guides from Pronz did not understand it. With
difficulty we persuaded them to fetch some grain. They said there was no barley but, if we
wanted, there was millet or corn. So we decided finally to ascend the mountain and press
on to the village. The ascent was difficult: a matter of scrambling from rock to rock. It was
as if in some caprice the inhabitants chose an obstacle course for access to their village.
There were sometimes small platforms, sometimes enclosures on the trail, where it was
possible to catch one's breath.
What we saw aBer entering Varna was as many as 100 buildings, arranged in nine to
ten tiers, one above the other. The lowest tiers propped up the higher ones by means of
wooden beams. The ends of the logs were sometimes inserted into chinks in the rock.
Ofren the houses seemed to be hanging above precipices. Grain and fruits are dried on the
flat roofS. The foundations of the houses are made of stone. The upper part, that is, the
walls and the garrets, consist either of wood or of stone with strata of wood. Here and there
carvings intended for adorning the dwellings could be seen.
At our appearance all the villagers gathered instantly, gazing in consternation at the
Europeans. The people turned Out to be friendly. They offered us flat cakes of millet,
tteated us to jujube [Zizyphus vulgaris Lam.; now Z jujuba Mill.] and sour grapes and gave
us seeds of all their cultivated plants. We were allowed to walk from house to house, enter
the dwellings and examine the cornbins and the utensils. Fodder for the horses was not
found right away. It had to be sent for in another village and it was only in the middle of the
night, by the light of torches, that the horses got some corn.
The inhabitants ofVama are of an Aryan type and remind one ofItalians or Span-
iards owing to their swarthy faces. Although Moslems, the women walk around without
veils and are totally liberated. The children and the men wear goatskins with the hair on the
inside and no sleeves. Indeed, the first people on the earth could have dressed like that. On
the other hand, the women dressed comparatively smartly in blue and red garments. Some-
times even embroidery was seen, some of it reminiscent of the Russian type. No doubt they
loved ornamentation. They wore enormous kidney-shaped silver earrings, up to eight cm
long and bracelets from which coins were suspended. The faces of the people were tatrooed
with stars or symmetrically placed black dots on the forehead. Traits of a primitive life, such
as wooden dishes and peculiar dwellings made of untrimmed wood were mixed with
foreign, apparently borrowed elements of culture.
The sertlers raise goats, collect pine nuts, wild fruits and pomegranates. Small plots
for crops could be seen on the surrounding slopes in the form of beautifully laid out
terraces. Every scrap of soil suitable for cultivation is made into terraces for crops. Women
do almost all the agricultural work including the tilling of the fields. Ofren the working of
N.t. VAVILOV -38- FIVE CONTINENTS

the fields is done entirely by women. They grew wheat, millet, sorghum, corn, tobacco and
watermelons. Here and there grapevines could be seen.
On 23 October we left Varna with difficulry. Nobody would agree to accompany
the caravan and they indicated that in the next settlement, Gursalik, about 20 km away,
there was much robbery. By giving them 5 rupees in advance, we managed only with
difficulty to persuade four Kafirs to take us to within a few miles of Gursalik but not to
follow us in. The trail was awful, suitable only for walking speed and for goats. Treetrunks
rolled down the first slope. We discussed repeatedly how to get the horses across. It was as
if somebody had purposely devised an obstacle at every step, here in the form of a precipice,
there in the form of stone steps over a metre high. We came to a half way broken-down
bridge. The firsr horse fell through irs braided twigs. Somehow we succeeded in saving the
horse and repairing the bridge with branches and stones. Then the guides from Varna went
on strike, wanting to return home and even trying to give us back the rupees paid to them
in advance. Somehow we persuaded them to stay on. The trail followed along the winding
bed of the Parun river, which here is called Sar-i-Gol and has steep banks. We had to
unload the horses here and there and carry the packs by hand part of the way. After a few
more kilometres, the guides abandoned the caravan and escaped quickly back toward Vama.
The composition of the vegetation had changed. The caravan passed thickets of
blackberries, small-fruited pomegranates and jujube [Ziziphys jujuba Mill.]. We came actoss
considerable crops of sweet sorghum, corn and barley.
Gutsalik is situated at an altitude of 1360 metres. The inhabitants are Mghan and
their language is Pushtu. There were large two-storey adobe houses on a stone foundation.
Everything had changed, the people, the crops and the cattle. in Gutsalik there are herds of
horned catrle, looking like zebus. The people are sullen, reserved and unfriendly. The real
Nuristan had ended: this was Mghanistan.
On 24 October we proceeded in the direction of Barkan day. The road passed through
Afghan villages. This was a rice, wheat and corn producing region. There were also con-
siderable crops of cotton. After Nutistan, this road was not difficult. The following day we
went from Barkanday to Chighasaray which is situated at an elevation of 880 metres on a
fertile lowland. Along the way we began to come across orange groves and fields of sugar
cane and there was a multitude of old and large cemeteries. There were large supplies of
provisions and much talk of robbers.
Chighasaray is the military and administrative centre of this part of the country,
which extends from the northern part ofNuristan to Jalalabad and borders on Chitral. A
governor is seated in Chighasaray which boasts something like a small fortress and a small
market. Chighasaray has telephone connection with Asmar, Jalalabad and the military
posts on the border with Chitral, which is only a few kilometres away.
The hospitable governor was surprised at the unexpected appearance of Soviet people
in the company of Mghan soldiers. He tried hard ro persuade us to stay for some days,
since he was expecting a visit from the English colonel at the adjacent Indian border post.
We had reasons to avoid such a meeting. It was doubtful whether an English emissary
would like to hear that Soviet agronomists were travelling along the forbidden area of the
Indian border. We stayed overnight, acquainting ourselves with Chigasaray and its crops
and collecting seeds and then we hurried on toward the south. The expedition obtained an
additional detachment of eight foot soldiers in view of the dangers on the road and as an
honour guard and on 26 October we found that the road to Nurgala was for the most part
N.I. VAVILOV -39- FIVE CONTINENTS

already good enough for automobiles, although it would be necessary to build bridges here
and there. There were crops of cotton, rice and corn everywhere. From Chauki onwards
the road follows along the Kunar, a wide and deep river which falls out into the Kabul river
around Jalalabad.
On the evening of27 Ocrober the caravan entered Jalalabad, which is situated at an
altitude of 660 metres. There is an intensive type of agriculture, with manure applied and
a large variety of crops. Especially around Jalalabad the area is reminiscent of the regions
around Kabul and Qandahar or the Herat landscape. The subtropical climate of the Jalalabad
area, which is comparatively low-lying [600-700 metres], allows the cultivation of date
palms, orange and lemon trees, sugar cane and bamboo. Jalalabad is particularly inviting
during the cold season: there is still snow in Kabul at the beginning of spring. At that time
the Afghan government and the foreign missions move there. The agricultural areas of
Kabul and Qandahar are situated between deserts and are in essence represented by their
own small oases with intensive agriculture along the Kabul and the Anderob rivers. That is
an intensely cultivated area of flower and vegetable gardens.
Jalalabad is a large city with a big market; the influence ofIndia [now Pakistan] is
strongly felt. There is much English merchandise. It was not easy to find shelter for the
night in the overctowded city. We did not wish to bother the main authorities. Somehow
in the crush we found a single small, primitive room in a caravansary. As a city on a large
highway [Kabul-Peshawar] it was the preserve of miscellaneous travellers. We paid an'
official visit to the local governor and received gifts of oranges and sugar cane from him.
Subsequent studies showed that in this territory, which can be associated with the periph-
eral area ofIndia, particularly early-ripening forms of sugar cane have developed as well as
early-ripening pigeon peas or 'aran' [Cajanus indiczlS Spreng.]. Around the city there are
large groves of date palms, bamboo, magnolias, oranges and lemons, all belonging to the
Emir.
Discoveries of peculiar seeds among the crops and in the market definitely indicated
that here is a particular cultivated flora, typical of northeastern Afghanistan and closely
related to that ofIndia. Peshawar, the large city of northwestern India [Pakistan], is only
100 km away. Instead of the usual lentils we found black lentils here. This later turned out
to be a special species, unknown to botanists up to that time.
For the trip to Kabul two cavalry soldiers were assigned to us in addition to our two
usual sepoy followers. At the outset, the road went through a verdant area, mosrly gardens
and crops of cotron, sugar cane and corn. From Jalalabad to Bavali a wide valley stretches
out, a rich agricultural area. Along the road we encountered ruins of Buddhist Stupas. In
Baval we stayed overnight in a palace belonging to the Emir. There were orange and lemon
groves around his estate.
We spent the night of 30 October in Budgak at an altitude of 890 metres and the
following day our caravan reached Kabul after having completed the circular route. It is
difficult to describe the joy of the Afghan soldiers who had accompanied the caravan. The
appeatance of the caravan was indeed pitiful as a result of its progress through the rocks and
the spiny forests of Nut is tan. The 33-day passage made itself evident. Apparently the idea
behind the risky journeywas badly understood by our fellow travellers. Indeed, it has to be
said that for them it seemed that instead of going around placidly in Kabul in comfort
along paved roads, these Russians preferred to travel completely unknown roads, along'
which only shepherds and goats can advance.
N.I. VAVILOV -40- FIVE CONTINENTS

In any case, Nuristan was behind us now. Since the road to a great extent followed
close to the district of Chitral, we had obtained an idea of the cultivated flora of this
[formerly] Indian area. Agriculture did not originate in India, bur acquaintance with these
isolated areas on the border ofIndia and the Irano-Turkestani area allowed us in a wide
sense to approach an understanding of the evolurion of the cultivated flora and the role of
isolation among mountains for the creation of special, endemic forms. These were links
necessary for understanding the evolution of cultivated plants and the history of agricul-
ture. There is absolurely no doubt that there exists a close relationship between Nuristan
and the Soviet areas of Badakhshan, Shugnan and Rushan.
The composition of the crops ofNuristan turned out to be extremely poor: hulled,
tetrastichous barley, soft spring wheat with an admixture of rye, ordinary millet and peas,
these were the basic crops. JUSt as in Kamdesh, there are mulberries, walnuts and a little
grapevine. There were none of the naked grained barley, flax, beans, or fodder lentils so
typical of the settled areas ofBadakhshan. No endemic forms typical ofNuristan only were
found. The soils are poor and need manure. The horned catrle remind one of the Russian
highland type, white bur sometimes red, a shade rarely found anlong the zebu-like type.
The goats are black-haired.
There are many hypotheses about the origin of the I<afirs, including one that they
are remnants of the army of Alexander the Great. This legend drew my attention to the
special trait of the Kafirs, i.e. their fair faces, but it is to a certain extent upset by the
investigations of Robertson. Robertson himselfwas inclined to regard the Kafirs as a group
of tribes from eastern Afghanistan, which during tlle tenth century refused to accept Islam
and were forced to escape into the mountains away from their fanatical follower of
Mohammed. fu suggested by Robertson, the alien Afghan tribes intermixed with the
original settlers there and this mixture became the first Kafirs.
My own investigations, supported by my familiarity with adjacent areas, forces me
to suggest a close relationship between the Kafirs and the Tajik settlers of Badakhshan,
Shugnan, Rushan and Darvaz. In respect of their outward appearance the Kafirs and the
mountain Tajiks are on the whole characterized by common antllropological traits. To an
even greater extent, the Tajiks tend to have fair faces of an Aryan type. As far as clothing and
general external appearance are concerned the Kafir farmers are very often indistinguishable
from the Tajik ones of Badakhshan and Shugnan. The differences in language, mode of
living, religion and, especially, the remnants of idolatry, which Robertson discovered in
1889-1891, remain still to the fullest extent in force. However, if we take into account the
discoveries during tlle last couple of years of interesting, relict languages, no doubt existing
before the Farsi tongue, in the villages of the Tajilrs ofBadakhshan and Shugnan as well as
the geographical isolation ofKafrristan, it cannot be denied that in respect of their original
rootS, the Kafirs form together with the Tajiks a close-knit ethnic group. Thanks to their
exceptional geographical isolation, the peculiarities of the local landscape and the preser-
vation of idolatry up into the end of nineteenth century, I<afiristan is, of course, character-
ized by peculiar and original traits. Comparative studies of the agricultural civilization, the
cultivated plants and the domesticated animals of the Kafirs have, however, not furnished
any basis for distinguishing Kafiristan as an original, autonomous region. Rather the oppo-
site. The accidental, alien nature of the crops originating from Badakhshan and the poor
composition of the number and kinds of plan1;S cultivated point toward an adopted, dete-
riorating civilization. The Kafirs seem to be exiles, driven by fate into impassable forested
massifs and into inaccessible mountain ravines.
N.I. VAVILOV -41 - FIVE CONTINENTS

The discovery of recessive grain plants [non-ligulate wheat and rye], such as exist
also in Gorno-Badakhshan, agrees with the anthropological tendency roward recession,
such as is demonstrated by the fairness of the complexion. Isolation and inbreeding, closely
related to it, favours the emergence of inherited recessives.
l
lVavilov, N.!. 'Geographical regularities during dispersal of the genes of cultivated plants.' in Tr. prikl. boranike.
genetike i selektsii (Papers on applied botany, genetics and plant breeding), Vol I? (3), pp. 763-774. 1927.
N.i. VAVILOV -42 - FIVE CONTINENTS

SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN
While we were studying northwestern Afghanistan in peace, a major event was taking
place in the southeastern parr. Agenrs supported and armed by the English had rallied the
tribes to stage a revolt. There was Untest in Kabul. Our companion, VN. Lebedev, whom
we had lefr so that he could continue the studies of Afghanistan along a route southward
through Qandahar and Farah and on to Herat, was unable to do so. The road in that
direction was closed. For Lebedev there was nothing else to do but to proceed along our old
route, in the opposite direction, north from Kabul via Mazar-e-Sharif and fatther on to
Termez.
However, at any cOSt we had to fill a latge gap and collect seeds in southern and
southwestern Afghanistan, in the areas of Qandahar and Farah and along the border with
Iran. With difficulty permission was obtained and together with two Afghan sepoys the
caravan went again from Kabul toward Ghazni on 14 November. We sent the pack ahead
on the horses and a day later we followed behind them in a car from the embassy. We made
as much as 60 km; the road was comparatively good through the small pass of Dekhnei-
Shir [in translation, 'the lion's mouth']. Then we came to the old city of Ghazni, situated at
an altitude of 2350 metres on the Ghazni river, already full of watet in Novembet. The
market had sevetal hundred stalls. The city is surrounded by tall ted walls with loopholes
and rowers. Ruins of the ancient Ghazni are found a few miles from the present city.
The car had ro teturn to Kabul and on 17 November our caravan continued in the
direction ofQandahat.1t is not necessaty to describe the rather monotonous road in detail.
In general this area is a semidesett with little traffic.
On 18 November we stopped at the test stop ofMoqor, whete we spent the night in
premises not unlike those for cattle, without windows or doors. Locally the area is
unpopulated. Agriculture is irrigated, frequently by means of underground tunnels con-
ducting water from glaciers.The hostilities of the past month had led to sad conditions
along the road. The majority of the inns were abandoned or deserted and foddet and food
could be obtained only with difficulty. It became necessary to hurty through this tuined
area.
A uniform steppe, overgrown with sagebtush [Artemisia spp.] and an admixture of
camsel's thorn, stretches from Moqor up to an altitude of 2090 metres. There are few
settlements. Irrigation water is tunneled from glaciers. Sometimes the mountains are far
from the road, sometimes they approach it. The soils are slightly clayey, locally becoming
sandy. There is a rest Stop evety 25 km.
We passed the small city of Qalat, situated at about 1700 metres. West of it another
sagebrush steppe sttetches out with thickets ofbarberty and tamatisks [Tamarix sp.] on the
tiverbanks. Along the road there were large herds of sheep with fat tails. The shepherds
wear characteristic white fur coars, so-called 'kussava', with strips of skin instead of sleeves.
As in Qalat, the inhabitants are typically Afghan. Here the irrigation water comes from
rivers. The area is, in general, a poor one. The shelters were of the ordinary type, without
windows or doors. The night was cold and there was no firewood. We spent the night,
withour undressing, in gigantic sheepskin coats.
The sagebrush steppe changed into a semidesett, discoloured by salt. The water
from the irrigation channels was salty. There were few plants saltwott [Salsofa sp.], sage-
N.!. VAVILOV -43 - FIVE CONTINENTS

brush and camel's rhom [A/hag; maumrnm Med]. A stony desert surrounds Qandahar
itsel£ Locally it turns into a semidesert wirh sparse sagebrush and camsel's rhom thickets.
About 4 krn from Qandahar rhere is an enormous cemetery. Three krn from rhe ciry, rhe
desert stops and rhe oasis of Qandahar begins. The caravan approached rhrough an avenue
of mulberry trees and rhere were individual pyramidal cypresses as well as gardens. Close to
the ciry itself rhere is a 'gomruk' or custom's house. The trip to Qandahar required almost
eight days.We entered the ciry through rhe Kabul gate and went to a palatial building,
especially constructed for foreigners, 'safir-khano', which means 'officials who speak En-
glish'.
Qandahar is situated at an altitude of 1020 metres. It is an important agricultural
settlement and is also a major market centre for sourhem Mghanistan, in essence the
largest oasis in rhe Balcwa desert. In rhe fullest sense of rhe word rhis is an oasis. After
passing rhrough hundreds of kilometres of desert from Ghazni, our caravan now procee-
ded rhrough a tunnel of gardens in Qandahar, along an avenue of mulberry trees. The oasis
is irrigated by seven channels from rhe Arghandab river. This is rhe most important area in
all of Mghanistan for growing fruits. During autumn and winter the marketplace in
Qandahar is full of large pomegranares of prime qualiry as well quince and grapes. From
Qandahar caravans bring thousands of poods [a Russian measure of weight of 16 kg] of
fresh and dried fruits to India [now Pakistan]' Indian merchants can be seen in rhe market-
place.
Around Herat rhe wide and gently sloping banks of rhe Harirud river wirh its
permeable, alluvial soils promotes development of field and vegerable crops. Here rhe
narrow belt along rhe banks of rhe river with its stony, not very deep soils has led to rhe
development of an intensive cultivation offruit trees. However, crops of rice and cotron are
also grown in rhis oasis.
The bazaar in Qandahar is amazing. Enormous heaps of large pomegranares, rhe
likes of which we could never expecr to see in our own country or even beyond its borders,
are piled up here. There were also huge stacks of quince, dried apricots, plums, yellow-
skinned melons and round, thick-skinned watermelons. Similarly, rhere was a gigantic
quantiry of grapes and rows and rows of pharmaceutical boorhs [not less than a
hundred]. There, in front of us, stood a 'physician' wirh a colossal book, a metre tall. In it
all rhe knowledge of Indian medicine was disclosed. On shelves around it were placed
hundreds of bottles and jars wirh all possible remedies: dried wild bitter melon [Citrnllus
colocynthis Schrad.], dried insects, dried lemons, etc. Every jar and every bottle had its own
name. Sick people from allover rhe desert streamed togerher here in search of healing from
all possible kinds of ailments.
Around rhe ciry large caravans of camels spent the night. They were on rheir way to
Chaman making for rhe railway branch from India to Quetta [in Beluchisran]. Several
gates, after which rhe different marketplaces are named, lead into rhe ciry: rhe Kabul, the
Herat, rhe Shakhi and rhe Shikarpur gates [these names also indicare rhe cities from which
rhe road leads to Qandahar]. The Herat and Kabul marketplaces are especially important.
The inhabitants here are much like rhose in Kabul. The people are Mghan and rhe pre-
dominant language is Pushtu.
We left rhe hospitaliry of Qandahar on 25 November. The road followed along
sertled areas and passed gardens of pomegranates and cultivared fields. The irrigation ditches
and rhe puddles were frozen over in rhe morning. We forded the Arghandab-Rud river,
which at rhis rime of the day did not present any difficulties.
N.I. VAVILOV -44- FIVE CONTINENTS

A desert region now began and already at the first rest place, at Kushka-e-Nakhud,
there was neither fodder nor food. A barren, stony desert stretched out with single plants of
camel's thorn [Alhagi maUl'omm Med.] and harmel [Peganum hal7na/a L.] but with large
amounts of bitler melons [Citmllus colocynthis Schrad.]. We had to hurry on. There were
neither people nor provisions ar the rest stops and these halts were unnerving. It was
necessary both to fight the cold and find provisions.
There was the city ofGereshk at an altitude of800 metresAkilometer from the city
there are ferries across the Gil'mend [now Helmand] river. With the assistance of some ten
farmers we were ferried acorss in large, peculiar boats, looking like something out of a
fairytale. The horses swam across behind the boat. The banks of the Gil'mend river are
stony and not suitable for cultivation.
The road continued through a stony desert, alternating with sandy and clayey wnes.
This barren, uninhabited desert of Afghanisran exrends all the way ro Beluchisran. Along
the road we rarely encountered the black tents of the Belutchi tribes. Beyond Gereshk a
noticeable ascent begins. The desert forms undulating hills, which are Cut by beds of dried-
up rivers and brooks, distinguished by belts of sand, gravel and pebbles of various dimen-
sions. Camel's thorn and bitter melons are the invariable accompaniment. The caravan
proceeded through various kinds of deserts, stony, clayey and sandy. To the south ofQandahar
there is a wide area of sandy desert called the Regisran, the 'land of sand'. During winter,
travelers there suffer hardships owing to lack of water and an abundance of mosquiroes.
During the summer months there is, in addition, rhe unbearable hear. The deserts come to
life only in the spring when the barren environment is usually covered by bright, luxuriant
spots of red, white and yellow tulips, hyacinths, narcissus and irises.
The characrerisric vegetation of the sandy deserts and even of parts of the srony
ones, where there are strata of gravel and sand, appears ro be the wild bitter melon [Citrullus
colocynthis Schrad.]. Whole thickets of it cover the desert expanses in the autumn, as if it
had been purposely planted in this barren region. Although African in origin, it has found
a second homeland in the Bakwa and Gil'mend [now Helmand] deserts. The bitter melons
themselves, reaching the dimensions of large oranges, frequendy cover the desert floor by
the hundreds or even thousands. During winter the dry ftuits of the bitter melon are
dispersed over the desert like strips of peel, blown by the winds. Their bitter taste protecrs
them from being eaten by animals. The inexperienced traveller, camel, or horse pays dearly
for trying ro eat this juicy fruit. Our search for a more or less sweet bitter melon ended in
intolerable pain as a result of the poison, in spite of the fact that we tested the ftuits only
with the tip of the rongue.
Agriculture is possible here only by means of artificial irrigation. The dry climate
and the lack of water basins malees it necessary ro resort ro a vety difficult mode of procur-
ing water, i.e. through underground runnels, to irrigate the vety small plots of cultivated
soil. Looking like graves, lines of tumuli stretch out, formed of dirt discarded when clean-
ing out the ducts. Only the utmost necessity can bring about an agricultural seruement in
this area.
Together with an ancient, primitive serued economy there is in Afghanistan also a
nomadic one ranging from constant migration to short-distance migration into nearby
mountain pastures. In a mass migration, provoked by the death of the remains of the
herbaceous vegetation due to the intense summer heat in the southern portions of Af-
ghanistan, a considerable pottion of the inhabitants, up to 2 million people according ro
information obtained in Kabul, move north in search of forage. It is an interesting sight ro
N.I. VAVILOV -45 - FIVE CONTINENTS

see such a migration, when an enormous crowd of people move on horses, donkeys and
camels with all their goods. Our expedition was able to watch whole series of migratory
movements. There are settlements where the rows of nomad tents occur together with
buildings of a permanent rype. In Meymaneh we found settlements of nomads, who had
already changed over to settled agriculture, but kept their tents on the roofs of their houses
to be able ro move temporarily to a summer pasture. The semi-nomadic character of
agriculture is preserved in northern Afghanistan where, thanks ro the presence of pastures,
meadowlands and an abundance of forage there is a connection, even in rice-growing
areas, between settled agriculture and nomad camps in the mountains. Successful harvests
appear to be an important factor for a seminomadic agriculture; zones of nonirrigated
agriculture, such as exist in mountain areas, are possible because of the higher amount of
precipitation there. Samples of bread grains from such areas are distinguished by stability
and deserve to be tried in our own dry areas.
Beyond the Gil'mend [now Helmand] desert a slight ascent begins to where there
are thickets ofa peculiar kind of pistachio tree [Pistacia khinjuk Stocks.]. After Dilaram the
Bakwa desert begins. This is a barren and flat area. The sparse vegetation consists of camel's
thorn and bitter melons. All the rest places were empty. Every evening we had to rely on
luck for night quarters. We traversed an enormous expanse virtually devoid of all vegeta-
tion. The road was not difficult to travel but the lack of provisions and forage put the
caravan in a critical situation. The rest stops were often empty; the horses were half-starved.
In order not to take any chances, it was necessary to carry provisions for up to 5 days at a
time from Gereshk on. This was crucial to be able to cross this barren area as fust as
possible.
Along the road we met large caravans, often with hundreds of camels and horses,
bringing wool from notthern Afghanistan to Chaman in the direction of Querra, the
capital ofBeluchistan. In Khurmalik we could see dozens of groves with date palms. They
flower here but do not bear fruits. The heat makes itselffelt even in December and January.
The temperature in the sun reaches up to 25-30'C in the day, but during the night it falls
such that the water in the irrigation ditches freezes over.
Khurmalik was an important Tajik settlement with about 60 dome-shaped dwell-
ings. The inhabitants were friendly, in contrast to the people of the Afghan settlements we
had already passed. The language is Farsi. There was a good caravansary in Khurmalik with
rich supplies of fodder and food. It was the first time in the 5 days out of Gereshk that the
horses got any barley. The irrigation of Khurmalik is done by underground tunnels.
On 1 December we went from Khurmalik in the direction of Farah. Again there
was desert with an abundance of bitter melons, literally covering whole expanses, especially
on sandy substrate at a distance from the road. The road went at first along a stony and
sandy desert, which gradually transformed into one with more sand than stone, but here
and there with clayey soil as well. During winter the vegetation consists of beautiful salt-
WOrts of all colours, prickly astragalus and bitter melons. The soils are salty. Where there is
water, tamarisks appear.
We arrived in Farah, a small fort and a rest stop. Actually this was not a fort but a rest
stop of the rype common in Afghanistan, i.e. with walls over 3 metres tall and pierced by
loopholes. They had crumbled around the present city. The houses there have dome-
shaped roofS. Date palms grow in the gardens. After spending the night in Farah, we
hurried on toward Sabzavar [now Shinand], still through stony and clayey deserts. The rest
N.!. VAVILOV -46- FIVE CONTINENTS

places were again empty. Not a single other caravan appeared on the road the entire day.
Only in a few places near water could a few small fields be seen.
We entered Sabzavar on 4 December. It is a city at 1080 metres altitude in an
important agricultural region with large crops of wheat, corn, poppies and melons. An
ascent began behind Sabzavar, then more desert and then, finally, the valley of the Harirud
river. We spent the nights of 4 and 5 December in the rest stop at Adraskan at an altitude
of 1380 metres and started again our on the road. A rich agricultural area begins around
the Haritud We lost our way at night and it was only with difficulty that we found the
road toward Herat. Bur finally there was the Qandahar gate and we were back in Herat and
at the Consulate-general's.
During the last couple of days the caravan had covered 60 to 80 km a day, exceeding
by fur the usual standard of 40 to 45 km. The lack of forage had been especially difficult
and the horses ttudged along with great effort. Bur it was necessary to hurry since each day
made the situation worse. The tired Mghan soldiers demanded longer rest stops, but such
halts were perilous. Therefore it was better to complete the journey as fast as possible,
although it could mean the death of some of the horses. Later we went through the
Paropamisus Range to Kushka and its fort [i.e. to the border of the Soviet Union in
Turkestan 1.
This was the end of the 5-month-long caravan route through Mghanistan. We had
covered about 5000 km. Behind us were Nuristan, the Hindu Kush and the Sultanbakwa
and Gil'mend [Hel'mandl deserts. We had discovered new groups of remarkable wheats in
Kabul and to a great extent revealed the origin of cultivated tye from weedy rye. We had
collected new and intetesting material oflegumin'ous plants, oil crops, corron, melons and
vegetable crops. We had found that the areas studied undoubtedly belonged to the ancient
centres ofIrano-Tutkestani agricultural civilizations and partly to the oldest Indian one.
About 7000 samples of seeds had been sent to the Institute of Applied Botany, where they
would be studied and sown under various conditions. No doubt a number of forms will
prove useful for this or that area of the Soviet country.
On 24 December we boarded the train [in Kushkal in the direction of Merv in
Samarkand and, later on, to Tashkent. Duting the night of25 December we were shunted
from the Kushka railway branch to the Tashkent main line. The night was dark When
going to the restautant car, I suddenly fell into the open space between the cars! Fortu-
nately, I landed on a buffer. It turned out that at the time when they added the Kushka car
to the Tashkent train they forgot to put down the bridge between them. Fortunately all
ended well and I escaped with only minor injuties and abrasions. The more than 3000
miles along terrible trails and mountain slopes in Nutistan and through the waterless deserts
turned our to be less perilous than the passage on the railway main line! I have unwillingly
become a futalist!
We took advantage of the stop in Samarkand and, under the guidance of the well-
known archeologist Chaikin, we studied the fumous astronomical observatory, the work of
U1ugbek, the wonderful mosque and the minarets, which bear wi mess to past major events
and to the inclusion of an enormous territory into one single agriculturally and historically
united area. And finally we were in Tashkent, where, at the railway station, for the first time
in half a year we met friends, professors at the University of Central Asia and colleagues at
the Corron Breeding Station, directed by G. S. Zaitsev and many others. Thus, the most
difficult of expeditions had been brought to a happy ending.
N.I. VAVILOV -47- FIVE CONTINENTS

ALONG THE LOWER AMU-DARYA
The results of rhe expeditions in Mghanisran exceeded all expectations. They agreed com-
pletely with rhe hyporhesis about rhe importance of ancient agriculrural centres in the
foothills and mountains of sourhwestern Asia. To complete rhe picrure it was now neces-
sary to extend rhe investigations as far as possible into rhe oases of Central Asia. As early as
1916, during srudies of rhe oases in rhe foothills of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and rhe
Pamirs, investigations of the famous ancient oasis ofKhiva had also been on rhe agenda. It
is siruated in rhe delta of rhe Amu-Darya river.
In rhe past such an investigation was a major undertaking. In rhe summer, when it
was necessary to go from Bulrhara to Khiva on rhe Amu-Darya, rhere was a great risk of
getting sruck wirh rhe steamer on rhe shoals of rhe drying-up river. To go by caravan
rhrough 600 km of rhe Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts was a long and tedious marrer,
offering norhing of special interest. Bur all rhis has changed wirh rhe appearance of air
transportation. Instead of rhe 2-3 weeks on rhe road usually required for a caravan, an
aircraft can take a traveller to rhe final destination in Khorezm
1
in 3-4 hours. During
summer rhe air is usually absolutely clear; the traveller can feel at ease in his seat on rhe
airplane at a high altirude wirhout feeling any rurbulence, and take delight in rhe view
spreading out below and rhe river cutting rhrough rhe limitless expanses of rhe Kyzylkum
and Karalcum deserts. .
The oasis of Khiva in Khorezm reminds one to an extraordinary degree of Egypt.
Just like rhe delta of rhe Nile, rhat of rhe Amu-Darya strerches for several hundred km in
the form of a fan where beautiful oases have arisen. Here, agriculrure is associated wirh a
tremendous amount of work The Amu-Darya deposits an enormous quantity of silt.
Evety year it is necessary to clear channels wirh great effort and to dig out millions of cubic
metres of soil. The primitive parceled management of rhe past led to a confused system for
utilizing rhe water. And even in a not-so-distant past rhe oasis ofKhiva was represented by
its own form of a well-developed 'anrhill,' crawling wirh people at work.
After equipping rhe usual kind of caravan I went with my companion, V K. Kobelev,
to rhe large agriculrural centres of this oasis, Urgench and Tashauz. The investigations
confirmed rhe particular character of rhe isolated oasis ofKhiva. Unexpectedly we revealed
wirh full certainty rhe influence here of two important civilizations, one intimately linking
rhe oases in Samarkand, Tashkent, Fergana and Ballrh [Baktrial wirh rhose of ancient
Sogdiana' and rhe orher wirh rhose ofEgyp!.
The major part of rhe cultivated plants here definitely reflect rhe influence onran,
e.g. yellow- and violet-fleshed cartots, gigantic melons and small weedy melons, sometimes
only reaching rhe size of large plums. Wheat and barley undoubtedly originated in Iran,
alrhough, owing to rhe effect of rhe special environment here, low-growing forms have
developed, which are noticeably different from rhose rhat I had collected in Iran, Mghani-
stan and orher areas ofInner Asia. The flax rurned out to be represented by special white-
IA former district not clearly defined, where Khiva is situated.
lA province of the ancient Persian empire, lying beteen the Syr-Darya and the Amu-Darya rivers; its capital was
Maracanda, 'the present-day Samarkand.
N.!. VAVILOV - 48- FIVE CONTINENTS

seeded and white-flowered forms, the result of geographical isolation. Later research dem-
onstrated their specificity and their late-ripening qualities.
Even the same system of irrigation using waterwheels or norias, on which jugs are
placed that lift the water when operated, is reminiscent of the ancient type of irrigation
used in norrhernAfrica. These norias are operated by means of camels or horses. The water
can be raised to some height by the noria. If a major ascent is necessary, one or twO more
norias can be used. The water raised is used for irrigation by gravity.
The whire, sweet sorghum, a typical output of interior Africa, indicates especially
clearly the African influence on the local agriculture. Here it is represented by a number of
forms, distinguished by rapid ripening. In Khorezm it is called dutra [Sorghum bicolour
[L.] Moench]. That is the same Arabian name as used in Africa. Another 'African,' the
cultivated watermelon, has also reached here. Under the special conditions of is 01 arion due
to the Aral Sea to the north and the Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts to the south, a
conversion of the adopted, cultivated plants and methods to the circumstances and prac-
tices of the inhabitants has accordingly been accomplished.
A multitude of tuins speak of an ancient age of the Khivan oasis. In the past the
irrigated area was no doubr much larger. This is also indicared by the remarkable kinds of
melons and fruits. The Chardzhou melons are famous all over the world. Their name is not
correct. Chardzhou is the only transit point where the famous melons of the oasis ofKhiva
arrive on barges bound either for Krasnovodsk and from there across the Caspian Sea to
the European parts of the [then] Soviet Union, or else by land via Tashkent to Moscow.
These melons can reach a weight of a pood or more after good care on well-manured soils.
Thanks to the extensive selection for the famous taste and consistency of these melons,
there is nothing like them in the whole world. Just as in the Pamirs, it is possible to study
the role of geographical isolation in the oasis ofKhiva as a factor that promotes the devel-
opment of the peculiar forms that the geneticists call 'recessives,' for instance, white-seeded
and white-flowered flax [Linum usitatissimum L.] or white-seeded sesame [Sesamum indicum
L.].
The late arrival of water from the upper Amu-Darya is one of the oddities of the
oasis ofKhiva. The water flows norrh from the Pamirs and the heights of the Hindu Kush
to the Aral Sea over a distance of thousands of kilometres. The late melting of the snow in
the mountains delays the arrival of the water and, therefore, the vegetative period is shorr-
ened. As a consequence of this, special forms, e.g. extremely fast -ripening cotton, have
developed here. Alfalfa [Medicago sativa 1.] predominates in the oasis. The wide expanse of
the Amu-Darya
1
is occupied by crops of perennial, blue-flowered alfalfa, the foremost
forage plant around the lower Amu-Darya. Khorezm is a main centre for the cultivation of
alfalfa.
Involuntarily one wants to draw a parallel and compare the agriculture in Egypt
with that of the Amu-Darya delta. Historical influences, connected with the different
centres of agricultute and with the different floras, have put their mark on both these
specific centres of agriculture. Thus, Egypt is the realm of hard wheats [Triticum durum
L.]. In Khorezm, exclusively soft wheats predominate together with club wheat [Triticum
com pactum Host]. In Egypt the large-seeded Mediterranean flax reigns [the mummies of
the old pharaohs were enshrouded in cloth made from it]. The flax in Khorezm is excep-
lNow called the KarakalpakAutonomous Republic.
N.I. VAVILOV -49 - FIVE CONTINENTS

tionally rich in oil and, in addition, represented by mainly white-seeded types. Even in a
not-too-distant past this was the kingdom of the 'Asiatic staple' cotton [Gossypium her-
baceum L.], but now the 'upland COtton', i.e. cotton [G. hirsutum L.], imported from
America, predominates there. In the Amu-Darya delta alfalfa predominates, in the Nile
delta the berseem or Egyptian clover [Trifolium alexandrinum Juslen].
Relict, i.e. primitive, plants, adopted from Egypt, are typical of the oasis ofKhiva.
From Egypt came durra, now distinguished by a multitude of forms. The effects of two
important civilizations are reflected in the curious isolation of both these territories, sur-
rounded by seas and sands. After collecting a large amount of samples, we took a plane
back to a railway point in Bukhara.
N.I. VAVILOV - 50- FIVE CONTINENTS

WESTERN CHINA
In the East, beyond the Pamirs and between the walls of the Himalayas [possibly a misprint
for the Tien-Shan Range] and the Kun'-lun' range, the lifeless desert ofTalda-Makan and
its oases are situated in Chinese Turkestan [or the Sinkiang [now Xinjiang] province of
China], ofren called western China. What do these oases, lofrily elevared at 1000-1500
metres, actually represent? Data from the literature indicate that Kashgar [now Kashi],
Yarkant [now Shache], Potan [now Hotan], Uq-Turpan [now Wushi] and other oases are
the sites of an important agricultural civilization and the production of large crops. The
famous Austrian phytogeographer Solms-Laubach launched the hypothesis that the origin
of wheat should be looked for in Central Asia. Perhaps it would be possible to find the
solution to this most important of problems there?
Many historical documents point to the importance of Chinese Turkestan as a cen-
tre of cultivated plants. As established by these documents, agriculture has existed there for
at least 3000 years. Thousands of years ago caravans with merchandise from eastern and
interior China followed the so-called 'silk roads' to the shores of the Mediterranean, sup-
plying silk to both Rome and Greece. Efforts by English, French, Swedish and Russian
investigators have demonstrated the exact routes along which these 'silk caravans' pro-
ceeded: the English geographer and archeologist Aurel Stein discovered a multitude of
documents, preserved at sentry pOSts and in the monasteries oITurpan. The French Academi-
cian Pelletier found 15 000 paper manuscripts in Turpan ruins. This was also a favorite area
of the Swedish explorer, Sven Hedin. Exceptionally well preserved thanks to the desert
conditions, the documents recovered have made it possible for us to read the history of the
past.
The objectives of our expedition were to clear up what the cultivated flora of west-
ern China as such represented and to collect, as far as possible, an exhaustive sample of it.
In July of 1929 our small caravan, outfitted by myself and the botanist M. G. Popov in
Osh [in the eastern part of Soviet Kirgizia [now Kyrgyzstan], set out along the Alai river
valley in the direction toward the border post at Irkeshtam. A marvellous panorama of the
Alai Range, clad in glaciers and snow, extended for many tens of kilometres. Following a
rich valley, an 'Eldorado' for the nomadic inhabitants, the caravan began an ascent toward
the Pamirs .. When we arrived at Irkeshtam we could see gathered at the border post enor-
mous caravans of camels laden with wool, brought from the interior around Kashgar. The
very diversity of the two-humped [Bactrian] camels and the colour of their hair indicated
that not far from here was the area where camels originated. Nowhere else had we encoun-
tered such a variety of shapes and types of them as in western China. As is well known, the
great Russian explorer N. M. przhevalskiy was the first to establish the native land of wild
camels in neighboring Mongolia.
After finishing the necessary formalities at the Chinese border post, reeking of opium,
the consumer of which was the Chinese custom officer, we secured guides and hastened
towards the first main base of the expedition, the oases ofKashgar and the city ofKashgar
[Kashi] itsel£ Crossing the Kyzyldarya river was not easy. My horse fell into an underwater
hole and I had to swim fully clothed to somehow reach the riverbank. My instruments, the
N.I. VAVILOV - 51 - FIVE CONTINENTS

aneroid barometer, the camera and my documents, were badly damaged. The main artery,
along which the endless caravans from Kashgar deliver cotton, hides and wool to the Soviet
border, had unfortunately not yet been well constructed.
The road to Kashgar runs through an enormous expanse of neglected cemeteries,
extending for many miles. Apparently, land is not expensive here. Large pits are dug to
construct strucrures, looking almost like large houses, for the deceased. Left without any
care, these odd buildings fall to pieces and become dens for dogs and jackals.
The oases ofKashgar are siruated at an altitude of 1200 metres and are inhabited by
Kashgarliks, who speak the Uzbek language. Some days of studying the oasis of Kashgar
and the agricultural areas near it revealed a flora, specific to western China. There was
neither wild barley nor any wild wheat. No doubt the oases ofKashgar are only a branch of
a major civilization.
Studies of the composition of the cultivated flora of the oases led to the definite
conclusion that there is a connection here with the floras ofInner Asia and Fergana. This is
indicated by the Inner Asiatic wheats and barley. But everything seemed subjected to deple-
tion. The composition of the flora is comparatively poor with only unimportant forms and
types and not very many of them.
By chance we made a stop that afforded us some utterly mysterious sights. In front
of us was a field of peculiar plants. On closer inspection the plants turned out to be flax, but
a kind of flax with white flowers, narrow petals and white seeds [Linum usitatissimetersum
L. var. albiflarae Vav.]. All the colours of the flax had been drained from it. Instead of the
blue-flowered, brown-seeded type, it had become an albino race of its own. And, in addi-
tion, there were both yellow- and white-fleshed carrots! The same general pattern also
prevailed among the wild flora, which was exceptionally poor, as if it had been reduced in
numbers, genera and colours. For instance, the camel's thorn [Alhagi maurontm Med.]
with red flowers had here become white-flowered or, rather, it had pale yellow flowers.
Our investigations definitely pointed to the role of inbreeding and to selection of
so-called genetically recessive forms as a result of the isolation of the Chinese Turkestan
oases. Barriers such as the Pamirs, the Kun'-Lun' andTien-Shan ranges and the Himalayas,
as well as the Takla-Makan desert prevent both wild and cultivated floras from entering.
Only fragments of them have reached the oases, where over a long period of time they have
been transformed into variants of the original kinds, like the white-flowered and white-
seeded species mentioned above. Wheat, barley and rice are also represented here by pale-
coloured forms. In other words, this is like Inner Asia, only with poor and impoverished
survivors, reduced in colour. There is no basis whatsoever for stating, as Solms-Laubach
did, that Central Asia is the homeland of the bread grains. On the contrary, there is no
doubt that only secondary, adopted, impoverished and reduced forms are found here.
To save time, we decided to divide the caravan into two. One part should go from
Kashgar to Urumqi and the Takla-Makan desert, the other should take the shortest route
to Uq-Turpan [now Wushi] with the intention of continuing through the Bedel' pass into
Kirgizia [now Kyrgyzstan], to return from there to western China viaJarkand [now Panfilov]
to the area of Kul'dzha [Gulja, now Yining]. When casting lots, it fell to Popov to follow
the more difficult and longer route through the Takla-Makan. He succeeded in complet-
ing this difficult mission, crossing one of the hortest deserts in the world during the hottest
time of the year. We started together from Kashgar in the direction toward Ak-su. In Ak-su
Popov's part of the caravan continued toward Urumqi, while mine went toward Uq-Turpan
and the Tien-Shan mountains.
N.I. VAVILOV - 52- FIVE CONTINENTS

In contrast to the rich meadows of the northern slopes of Tien-Shan, where the
'djailau' [summer pastures] that represent an 'Eldorado' for carrie-herding inhabitants, are
concentrated, the southern slopes ofTien-Shan represent a special area with its own rare
and xerophytic vegetation. The lifeless desert ofTaida-Mal,an extends Onto the slopes of
the Tien-Shan, where the rest places are frequently without water. In July and August the
wells are dty and travellers are forced to carry a 2-3-day supply. The availability of fodder is
definitely insufficient. It is hard to describe a sharper contrast than that between the Soviet
and the Chinese portions of the Tien-Shan.
We were the first Soviet travellers to visit Uq-Turpan. We were accomodated in a
house for visitors, surrounded by a beautiful garden. According to custom we were obliged
to pay a visit to the governor. A few days before we carne, Uq-Turpan had been visited by
an English Consul-general. All the ciry spoke of this visit and gave it great importance.
On the second day of our stay an honourary banquet was arranged in connection
with our own arrival. Having already had some experience of Chinese ceremonies and
their unwavering purpose, and feeling it necessary to continue on as soon as possible, I
waited with misgivings for this festive occasion. A Chinese meal is a lengthy ceremony,
extending over several hours. Of course, it varies in relation to the rank of the person who
arranges the meal. In the case of the Chinese consul or. the governor, it lasts 4-5 hours and
consists of 50 to 70 coutses. It is necessary to observe the precise order of food and drink
served. All goes in strict order according to firm rules for the successive stages of the meal.
Haste is considered improper. The dishes are, in essence, predetermined. The food is served
on small china dishes, on which a minute quantiry of edibles is placed, for insrance, the
wing of a sparrow or some other small bird, some morsels of fish, or two seeds of lotus. The
portions of rice are a little larger. The excellent Chinese cook is a master of his trade.
Nevertheless, the guide from Kashgar, who was also my interpreter, prudently advised me
to have dinner in advance. An excellent stewed rice was prepared. Previous experience in
Kashgar had demonstrated that to artend a Chinese banquet required one to be well forti-
fied ahead of time.
And so we went to the honoutary banquet at the house of the governor of Uq-
Turpan. At the long table, headed by the governor, all the eminent citizens of the city; the
brigadier general, the customs officials and the judicial authorities wete placed. Following
them there were other major and minor officials. The most dangerous things at this meal
were the dozen of botrles of five-star English brandy, presented to the governor by the
English consul.
The conversation was conducted through an interpreter. The governor declared
first of all that they had great pleasure at seeing their second eminent traveller. The first one
had been the honourable English consul, who had amazed the Uq-Turpan society by his
endurance in drinking spirits. His Excellency had drained two botrles of brandy at one
sirting. Thereafter the dinner started. It would not be easy to compete with the English
consul, but it was necessary to somehow uphold our honour. I noticed that my neighbours
were very much intent on making their guests drunk, while for themselves they poured the
liquor so that it only covered the bottom of the glass. Then, through my interpreter, I
proceeded to establish the principle of equal capaciry for holding one's drink, which turned
Out to have an immediate reaction. After a short time, a judge, a thin man with sparse, long
beard, almost imperceptibly slid below the table. The brigadier general unexpectedly let his
head droop down on the table. The governor began to ask for mercy apparently uneasy
N.I. VAVILOV - 53- FIVE CONTINENTS

that the valuable English gift would too soon be spent. In any case, the honour of the
Soviet travellers had been upheld!
It was necessary to hurry On. A whole cavalcade accompanied us to the ford. To
cross the river turned Out to be considerably more difficult than we had anticipated. Per-
haps the fact that we were a little tipsy after the English brandy made us risk crossing the
ford of the rather deep river just before sunset. It reached up to our armpits for a distance
of almost two kilometres. Somehow or another in the dark we reached the opposite side of
the river and quarters for the night.
On the second day, I went together with local guides toward the Bedel' pass. In spite
of the fact that it was only the middle of August, the path through the pass at an altirude of
4000 metres turned out to be covered with deep snow for a stretch of several miles. With-
Out a trail, we had to walk on foot behind the horses, which were allowed to go first and
make a path through the snowdrifts. For several hours we literally proceeded through a
trench of snow. Not equipped with warm clothing, we nonetheless had to reach Soviet
Kirgizia [now Kyrgyzstan]. Stiff with cold and with teeth clattering we finally reached the
summit of the pass, where the border guards looked with amazement upon the arrival of
our caravan. After a few hours we were delivered to a tent, where we could stay overnight.
Beyond the pass everything changed. Instead of the lifeless stony slopes an enor-
mous expanse of green stretched our, covered by herbaceous plants. Here colossal herds of
animals could find forage. With considerable difficulty we advanced down into the valley
of Lake Issyk-KuI' along steep slopes, sometimes jumping ftom rock to rock. On the shore
of this large lake there is an impressive monument in honour of the great Russian explorer,
N.M. przhevalskiy. It was here, while directing his fifth expedition, that he suddenly caught
a cold when hunting and died in 1898. He was one of the most dating of the explorers of
Central Asia. In accordance with his last will, he was buried on the eastern shore of Lake
Issyk-Kul', where at his grave a monument was erected to this most outstanding of the
investigarors of Asia.
We reached the valley surrounding the lake at a time best suited for collecting.
Wheat, barley and opium poppies were ripe. After collecting samples for a few days and
purting the caravan in order, we started out on the road again, passing Lake Issyl-Kul' and
heading through the Zailiyskiy Alatau range into Kazalthstan toward its capital, Alma-Ata.
The caravan moved along steep slopes up to the top of the pass, where the tired horses were
barely able to get through. The path turned our to be more difficult than we had expected
and, in fact, we lost twO of the horses. Bur somehow we reached the northern slopes of the
range where we found a road leading directly to Alma-Ata.
In literal translation Alma-Ata means 'Father of the Apple.' Thickets of wild apples
stretch our through an extensive area around the city and along the slopes of the moun-
tains, here and there forming a real forest. In contrast to the small, wild apples of the
Caucasus, the wild apples of Kazalthstan are represented mainly by large-fruited varieties,
not differing much from cultivated species. It was the first of September and the time when
the apples ripen. We could see with our own eyes that here we were in a remarkable centre
of origin of apples, where cultivated forms did nOt rank noticeably above wild ones and
where it was difficult to distinguish wild apples ftom those cultivated. Some of the forms in
this forest were so good in respect to quality and dimensions that they could be directly
grown in a garden, although in the gardens here one could find the best of the European
assortment as well, starting with the famous brand 'AppOrt.'
N.!. VAVILOV - 54- FIVE CONTINENTS

In 1929 the main, so-called Turksib railroad was completed, an excellent route
linking Turkestan and Siberia. After dissolving the caravan in Alma-Ata and taking leave of
my companions, who were sent back to Kashgar, I went together with Professor V. A.
Dubyanskiy by car to Jarkand [Panfilov] and from there toward the Chinese border, to
Kul'dzha.
The investigations made during this last leg of the trip in westem China did not
furnish anything new or important. They confirmed the same general picrure as formed
during our studies in the oases ofKashgar. The cultivated flora was also here represented by
Middle Asiatic types and varieties. The Chinese influence was indicated largely by the
composition of the vegetable gardens and the vegetables grown there. The Chinese veg-
etable gatdens around Kul'dzha were amazing; they resembled research fields, beaurifully
parceled our with straight paths, carefully watered and offering an enormous collection of
different kinds of vegetables. Here one could find Chinese 'ou sen', i.e. aspar"t,ous lettuce
[Lactuca sativa var. angz/Stana Irish], bulbous Dioscorea, which when planting should be
buried to a depth of almost a mette in the gardens, perennial onions, cucumbers and 50-
em-long beans [Vigna ungzticuhta [L.] Walp. subsp. sesquipedalis [L.] Vetdc.] and other
leguminous plants in an almost virgin condition of the species. The flora of eastern China
really extends all the way to the farthest western edge of this country, which happens to be
in the oases of Kul'dzha. No specifically endemic forms were found here, except for the
cultivated opium poppy, which was represented byvatiegated flowers and similarly coloured
seeds and was, apparenrly, developed independenrly in China.
Here we had an opportunity to get at least somewhat acquainted with the several-
thousand-yeats-old Chinese civilization. Its specificity and sharp distinction from the old
Persian-Iranian civilization is deeply manifest and takes the most various forms. In the
market-places of Kashgar [Kashi] and Yarkant [Shache] there are whole rows of special
'Chinese pawnshops.' Thete the poor periodically take their belongings. In the summer
they offer sheepskin coats and warm clothes, in the winter plows and all kinds of agricul-
tural urensils. All is pur on shelves and labeled with Chinese accuracy. There is also an
abundance of all kinds of Chinese teas in the matket. The teas, both black and green, come
in the form of ' braids' or 'bricks' of tea and in all kinds of jars with sweet-scented flowers.
In the gardens one can see peculiar Chinese cabbages and radishes, all this in spite of the
long distance from eastern China to Sinkiang and the difficult communications between
them.
How isolated Chinese Turkestan is from eastern China can be judged by the fact
that the mail from Kashgar to Peking [now Beijing] goes through Tashkent and Moscow
and from there via the Great Siberian Railroad to Harbin and Mukden, along quite a
roundabour route. Nevertheless, this journey is three times faster than the ditect route
through the desert from Kashgar to Peking, which normally requires a 3-month-Iong
caravan journey. Chinese officials called from the province ofSinkiang to Nanking are first
dispatched in sedans to the Soviet border at Irkeshtam. In Osh they take the train and, just
like the mail, follow the roundabour route via the Great Sibetian Railroad to the capital of
China.
In spite of the isolation of the province of Sinkiang, the Chinese influence is notice-
able in various facets of life. While wandering along the out-of-the-way Chinese streets in
Kashgar or in Kul'dzha, I came across shops selling coffins. Never in my life had I expected
to see such strongly built stmcrures as those which represent coffins for well-to-do Chinese
citizens. According to customs thousands of years old, evetyone must by the age of 20
N.i. VAVILOV - 55- FIVE CONTINENTS

begin to prepare for a worrhy end. First of all rhis means acquiring a coffin solidly built of
thick boards, if possible oak; but if no oak is available rhen made of some orher, similar
kind of wood. The coffin is covered outside and inside wirh paintings, depicting every facet
oflife. This is almost a whole picture gallery. To make such a coffin takes a long time. By
gradually preparing for rheir eternal rest the Chinese Start to accept it and get used to it in
good time. The burial and funeral banquer are rhe most expensive parts. In rhe Chinese
rows in the marketplace rhere are an enormous number of all kinds of articles intended for
rhe funeral and the ceremonies connected wirh it: special lanterns, fireworks and special
food to be prepared for rhe future life. The ceremonial funeral feast usually lasts several days
and evetyrhing during rhese ancient ceremonies is odd. Those who have lost a close relative
must go around in mourning clorhes for many monrhs.
Red is rhe colour of happiness, merriment and esteem. When sending a gift it is
obligatory to wrap it in red paper. Every citizen, even if occupying only a modest position,
must definitely have his own visiting card, preferably a red one, on which his name is
wrirren in Chinese script, if possible a very florid one. The dimension of rhe card is also
related to rank: as far as a governor is concerned, it can reach the size of a printed page. To
conform to this custom, I decided to have my card made, perhaps not quite as voluminous
but still exceeding rhe European standards.
Before leaving Kul'dzha [Gulja, now Yiningl I decided to visit a Chinese slum, an
opium lane. I wanted to acquire a smoking device for the museum, a very simple device
consisting of a spirit lamp and a long pipe. Almost in rhe centre of rhe town rhere are
special streets, forbidden to Europeans. There, about a hundred small, flat-roofed adobe
houses are situared and in rhe middle of rhe day hundreds of opium smokers could be seen
lounging on rhe floor there. Palefaced and limp in rhe bluish and sweet-smelling smoke,
rhe victims lay wirh glazed eyes. The composition of rhe visitors in rhe den was quite
varied: Chinese, Dungan, Russian, Kashgarlik, Kirgizes, etc., but mainly men. The ad-
vanced state of smoking leads to an exceptional weakening of rhe organism. It is hard to
believe, but evetyrhing has become limp: hands, feet and head alike.
In rhese dens one can fteely purchase any amount of opium,wrapped in poppy
leaves. There is no war against smoking opium in spite of an official declaration toward
liquidation of rhis evil, a policy which in essence is not followed. Opium dens represent a
profitable income for rhe governor and rhe officials. They are ashamed of showing the dens
to Europeans but rhey find them toO profitable to be destroyed. Evidently, my visit to rhe
opium dens in rhe city became quickly known to rhe governor. A messenger sent by rum
demanded return to rhe opium den of our samples of rhe drug. It was decided to give up
half of it. But I made up for the amount returned by more samples obtained from rhe
official at rhe border when we were leaving China.
The orher part of the expedition, guided by Professor Popov, covered all rhe north-
ern route from Kashgar to Urumqi and went from rhere to Alma-Ata. Unfortunately this
detachment met wirh calamity. When about to reach Alma-Ata, Prof Popov was caught
under a cart, which overturned and broke his leg, forcing him to stay in the hospital at
Alma-Ata for a monrh.
In total, rhe combined expedition had covered an enormous area, more than 2000
km of caravan routes. A very large collection (about 5000 samples of seeds) was amassed. A
few rhousand photographs, illustrating the agricultural and general geographical aspects of
western China, were taken.
N.I. VAVILOV - 56- FIVE CONTINENTS

It can be stated with absolute certainty that Central Asia bears no relation to the
origin of cultivated plants. All that is gtown there was acquired either from southwestern
Asia or from China. However, it is a fact that the forms brought in have been subjected to
the effects of the environment and of selection; but on the whole ir is still possible to
distinctly trace the influence from the Chinese and the outstanding Iranian crops. The
flora itself, such as cultivated in the oases of Central Asia, is of no importance. Basically it
represents in a wide sense an extract of the rich floras ofIran and of China.
The investigations by Professor VE. Pisarev in Mongolia, and the large and well-
studied material collected within the enormous territoty of Mongolia and Tibet, basically
confirm my own conclusions concerning a secondary origin of the cultivated forms in
Central Asia and the complete absence there of original native species. The general idea
about the cultivated flora ofIran remains clear. The investigations embracing the territories
ofIran, Afghanistan, Inner Asia, Khorezm, the Pamirs and western China permit us to
demonstrate the great importance of this major centre, where no doubt the original evolu-
tion of many cultivated plants took place: e.g. of soft club wheat, tye, barley, a number of
oil plants, grain legumes, melons and many vegetables and ftuit crops. It is still possible to
observe the almost imperceptible transition from wild to cultivated forms within the areas
of the Kopetdag Range, Kazalthstan, Kirgizia [now Kyrgyzstan], Uzbekistan and northern
Iran. It is usually difficult to draw the lines of demarcation. Among the almond [Pl1Inus
du!.cis [Mill.] D. A. Webb] thickets in the Kopetdag, studied by P.N. Bogushevskiy, forms
which are equal to cultivated ones were discovered. Thickets of wild grapes [1 Vitis viniftra
L. subsp. caucasica Vav.] , are also distributed in the Kopetdag Range. These are, in respect
of the quality and the dimensions of the ftuits, fully comparable to those of cultivated
grapes. Throughout this area original types of agriculture, primitive, manually operated
plows for making furrows, threshing by means of catrle, shovels made of branches and
threshing with stone grates are preserved. All this offers an opportunity for outlining stages
of evolution, although only in coarse strokes.
The many types of conditions in the mountains and their isolation promote a diver-
sification into variable forms and different types of agriculture. In a wide sense southwest-
ern Asia is still a real laboratoty where one can study evolutionaty processes unfolding
under one's own eyes and where it is possible to trace the roots of agricultural civilizations.
Archeological documentation, historical data, types of agrotechnology, the composition of
the cultivated plants, the presence of wild relatives of plants and domesticated animals and
the sharply expressed differentiation of the inhabitants according to language, habits and
geographical specificity all form a foundation for reconstructing the stages of the early
evolution of the present agricultural crops in southwestern Asia.
N.i. VAVILOV - 57- FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITION IN JAPAN
Following the expedition to western China, I went to Japan in November of 1929. In spite
of the fact that during the last couple of decades Japan has started to become westernized,
that the streets of Tokyo and many other smaller cities have .been provided with electricity,
that railroads cut across Japan and that European-style universities and scientific societies
have sprung up, Japan nevetrheless represents, no less than China, a special, oriental soci-
ety. Here everything is peculiar and original. Both in China and, to a great extent, in Japan,
the hieroglyphic typography constitutes still, in spite of westernization, a wall separating
the Orient from the West in the wide sense. Even the simplification of the Japanese script
by means of so-called katakana and hiragana characters has not made it significantly easier
ro learn the Japanese language or freed one from having to learn the orthographic charac-
ters. Perhaps Japan is to some extent a clue to understanding China. In fact, with its large
number of scientific societies and European-language journals, aspiring to form a link with
Europe, Japan provides an opportunity for betrer understanding all of eastern Asia.
Visits to the beautiful botanical garden, directed by Professor Nagai and the excel-
lent research station, led by Dr. KatO and the plant breeder Terao and acquaintance with
the geneticisrs Ikeno, Mayi and others, soon introduced me to a circle ofinteresrs concern-
ing the agronomical and botanical life of the countty. The insular nature of Japan has to a
great extent promoted preservation of the individuality of its flora. After importing very
many and, in essence, all of the basic Chinese crops, Japan has only improved them by
further breeding. As a result, one can, in Japan, obtain an understanding of Chinese crops.
What is most striking in Tokyo for that matrer in all the country, is the endless
variety of the plant types, intended for this or that purpose. Here we are in a vegetable
market. The European visitor sees to his amazement a multitude of species and genera that
he has never seen before in his life and of which there are none in southwestern Asia. Before
him there are numerous kinds of bamboo, edible in various forms; Chinese yams [Dioscorea
sp.]; and an enormous variety of radishes, turnips, rootS, musrards, edible Japanese bur-
dock [Arctium Mppa 1. var. edule [Sieb.] MansE], water chestnuts [Trapa natans 1. and T.
bispinosa Roxb.], lotus [Nelumbo nuciflra Gaertn. or, more likely, Euyrale ferox Salisb.],
arrowhead [Sagittaria sp.] and edible bulbs oflilies. There are the mOSt fantastic and vari-
able kinds of cabbages, represented by a multitude of species; and peculiar vegetables such
as 'lido' [Aralia cordata Thunb.], rhubarb [Rheum rhabarbarum 1. and R. palmatum 1.],
perennial Chinese 'tszyo-tsai' onions, 'ou sen' or asparagus letruce [Lactuca sativa 1. var.
angl/stana Irish], peculiar white e&,aplanrs [SoMnum melongena_1.], colossal cucumbers,
edible luffa [Lujfo acutanguM [1.] Roxb.], edible 'miso' chtysanthemums [Chrysanthemum
corollmium 1.], tuberous asparagus and so on.
The fruits ofJapan are also represented by unusual kinds, for insrance Chinese pears
[Pyrus pyrifolia [Burm. E] Nakai and sinensis Lindl.], which are covered by characteristic
lenticels [cork cells]. They are of a different shape, almost round, and are further distin-
guished from European pears by a more juicy consistency. In any case, this is definitely a
special species, isolated from European pears. The same is valid for Japanese and Chinese
plums or mume [Prunus mume Sieb. & Zucc.], Chinese cherries [Pnmus tomentosa Thunb.],
Chinese quince [Chaenomeles sinensis [Dum.] Schneid., C. ILzgenaria [Loisel.] Koidz.], spe-
N.!. VAVILOV - 58- FIVE CONTINENTS

cial nuts, East Asiatic chesrnuts [Castanea mollissima Blume, C. crenata Sieb. & Zucc.] and
the majority of endemic citrus fruits, among them 'kan-kans' [mandarin oranges, Citms
reticulata Blanco] , Japanese persimmon [Diospyros kaki L. £] and loquat [EriobotrJ'a japonica
Lindl.].
In the market there are, in addition to these, all possible kinds of fishes of various
colours and a multirude of molluscs, ascidia [sea squirts] and trepangs [sea slugs]. It is
obvious that here we are amid a new flora and fauna, in a special world very different from
that of sourhwesrern Asia. The Japanese love variety. In the sweet shops one can see an
endless number of cal{es and candies. It is as if somebody on purpose rried to invent more
and more new things in respect of taste and extreme kinds of shapes.
The ordinary meal of a Japanese is served in two boxes, one filled with hot rice, the
other with about a dozen wooden or china cups holding small pieces of all possible viands,
intended for flavouring the rice. There are green, red and pink fishes, morsels of radishes of
different taste; green Japanese 'mume' [Pmnus mume Sieb. & ZUCc.]; and various prepara-
tions of soya beans [Glycine max [L.] Metr.] and 'adzuki' beans [Vigna angularis [Willd.]
Ohwi & H. Obashi]. All this is without fail accompanied by a pot of nonfermented green
tea, our Asiatic kind of tea but without sugar. Tea constitutes a necessary accopaniment to
the nutrition of the Japanese. Wherever we went, to a typical Japanese store, to an office, or
on a visit to professors at the universities or to a governor, the conversation started only
afrer we had had small cups of green tea.
When I lefr Tokyo for the field, I found myself in the peculiar world of the East
Asiatic cultivated flora. In general, Japan is characterized by a large amount of precipitation
and a coastal, maritime climate. Conditions are favourable for agriculrural ctops. The
country is mountainous; the volcano Fujisan, or Fujiyama, reaches an altitude of 4600
metres and is covered by eternal snow at the summit. From time to time it erupts and lava
floods the villages surrounding it. The uniqueness of Japan, with its subtropical climate
over a large part of its territory, makes year-round vegetation feasible. In the autumn barley
and wheat are sown and in May rice; in June the harvest of ordinary bread grains and
cereals takes place and in November and December that of rice and cirrus fruits. At the
same time the pears ripen and in February and March the loquat already bears fruit. Al-
most every month some things are sown and some things are harvested.
A typical difference from northern Europe is the extremely early flowering of many
fruit trees in Japan as well as in China. Chinese and Japanese magnolias flower in January
and February, even before the leaves sprout. The fruiting cherry trees 'sakura' flower during
spring and early summer. In addition to all these, all possible kinds of decorative cherry
trees with pink or white blossoms and sometimes double blossoms are widely distributed.
Villages and cities are planted with avenues lined by such cherry trees. The flowering of the
cherry trees is a national festival. Hundreds of verse lines are devoted to this wonderfully
beautiful sight. The sakura is in bloom' is synonymous with spring.
When the autumn approaches, there are new colours and new flowers. The steep
slopes around Kyoto, acrually mountains, are covered with wild maples, which every day
take on new colours. At every farm house there are during autumn pOts of chrysanthemums,
carefully selected by the housewife. It is difficult ro imagine a greater variety than that of the
Japanese chrysanthemum. Here they fall in large cascades of thousands of small flowers,
forming a picture of a torrent; there they are represented by gigantic forms with individual
flowers reaching 40-50 in diameter. They also vary in colout and in shape. Every year in the
N.!. VAVILOV -59- FIVE CONTINENTS

autumn in cities and villages it is possible to go from one chrysanthemum exhibition to
another. Farm wives compete with each other in the villages, cities compete with each
other and commercial firms compete amongst themselves.
There is perhaps no other country where the love of trees and flowers is so strongly
expressed as in Japan. The care of flowers and plants has become a national characteristic of
this country. While travelling by car in remote parts of southern Japan, around Kagoshima,
I visited a large cemetery. At every grave there was a small tombstone and on the stone there
was without fail a bamboo vase with fresh chrysanthemums. Somebody thoughtfully changed
the water and the flowers every day. At every inn in which a traveller stays in the remote
provinces, he becomes aware of an unusual cleanliness and nearness enhanced by a multi-
. tude of beautiful and unique objects, as well as, invariably, small pots of dwarf trees with
funtastic branches.
It was necessary to see as much as possible in a shon time. I had to drink in the
character of the COUntry and try to understand its soul. Quickly a travel plan was worked
out which statted in the cold north and proceeded towards the south where there is no
winter frost and where one can travel at any time of the year. Afrer crossing by steamboat to
the island of Hoklmido, I went north, at first by railroad and later by car, to the city of
Sapporo, where the largest university of northern Japan is situated. There one of the spe-
cialists on worldwide cultivated flora, Professor Akemine, the compiler oflists of cultivated
plants from all the world, is located. I travelled with him through the countryside and
villages around Sapporo.
Northern Japan is a forested countl}', comparatively sparsely inhabited. There repre-
sentatives of the Ainu are still preserved, a bearded people, genetically related to the inhab-
itants of northern Siberia. The northerly climate mal(es itself obvious. This is a tealm of
wheat and barley. During the last couple of decades a large-scale cultivation of long-staple
flax has been started with stock imported from our countl}'. In the autumn, in November,
this is the land of radishes, which reach enormous dimensions. Radishes [daikon, Raphanus
sativus L. var. acanthifOimis Maltino] are a basic food of the inhabitants. Therefore the
breeders have selected for shape and varieties with strilting tastes and consistencies. The
roots sometimes grow to 3-4 kg although those, they say, are still small ones.
The cultivation of rice reaches not only Sapporo but much farther nonh, as fat,
according to professors in Sapporo, as to 50-60 degtees northem latitude. These are the
fastest-ripening kinds of rice. It was necessary to somehow obtain samples of it for cultiva-
tion of rice in the Soviet north. However, in contrast to Americans and Europeans, the
Japanese were very stingy. As a matter of fact, we were refused any. They pointed to the
necessity of obtaining a special permit from the govemment. In othet words, the usual
story again, the well-known diplomatic delay. Later on, at an exhibition in Korea, we
obtained a large quantity of the necessary rice from Salilialin. At this exhibition all pans of
the Japanese dominion were represented.
The rice [Oryza sativa L.] of Japan consists mainly of white-flowered types without
awns. As demonstrated by subsequent research, a whole series of transitions can be seen
from late to early-ripening varieties, which can advance to the farthest north ofJapan.
Hops [Humulus lupulus L.] are cultivated on the island ofHokl<aido. Alot of actinidia
fruits [Actinidia chinensis Planch.], reminiscent in taste of European gooseberries, were sold
in the market places. We did not find them to be cultivated here. Apparenrly they were
distributed only in the wild form. With Professor Akemine I saw for the first time in the
wild the Japanese burdock [A/"ctium lappa L.], the vegetable plant called 'konjaku' [Amo/"-
N.i. VAVILOV - 60- FIVE CONTINENTS

phophallus rivieli Dur. var. konjac [Schotr], Engl.] and burrer-bur [Petasites japonicus [Sieb.
& Zucc.] Maxim.].
The peculiarity of the Japanese climate and rhe intensity of Japanese plant breeding
have led to significant changes in cultivated plants introduced both from southeasrern
Asia, India and even America. Pumpkins [Curcurbita moschata [Duch.] Poir.], undoub-
tedly introduced from America, have been made small, fast-ripening and are covered wirh
characrerisric warts. Eggplants, apparently obtained from sourheastern India, differ by hav-
ing exceptional, small fruits. It is difficult to enumerate all the kinds of spices and medicinal
plants.
We went to Sijuoki, rhe main area for cultivation of tea in Japan. The area has
coniferous forests of ctyptomerias [Cryptomeria japonica D. Don.], lots of hills and red
soils. On large cleared tracts, endless rows of globe-shaped tea bushes, carefully trimmed,
are lined up. The harvest of rea [Camellia sinemis [L.] O. Kuntze] is done by means of
special scissors. This crop is centuries old. The bushes last for 100-200 years. The typical
Japanese tea is small-leaved. As an industry, the tea business is highly regarded as a result of
careful grading and sorting of the rea into many classes, sensitive price-setting and the use
of machines for this. In essence, rhere has so far been no breeding; natural populations,
selected out over rhousand of years, are cultivated. The bushes are fertilized with liquid
manure, and carefully trimmed.
When in the area ofSijuoki I could not help but rhink ofrhe expedirions ro the tea-
growing areas around Batumi [on rhe coast of the Black Sea], where by now rhe landscape
really resembles that of Sijuoki as far as rhe Japanese ctyptomerias, rhe Japanese bamboo
[Pseudosasa japonica Mak.] and the Japanese and Chinese tea bushes are concerned.
Earlier our country had acquired a considerable amount ofJapanese green tea in
addition to Indian tea. For a long time rhe Japanese did not believe rhat Soviet tea is a
serious reality. However, after I boughr a large quantity of seeds for use in our country,
representatives sent from rhe tea associations in Sijuoki acquainted themselves with the tea-
growing areas along rhe Black Sea coasr and became convinced rhat many areas, especially
Adzharya, really resemble Japan. No doubt the time is not fur away when rhe Soviet Union
can manage wirhour Japanese tea.
l
The agriculture of Japan is striking because of its intehsity. Evety centimetre of the
soil in central and sourhern Japan is utilized. The fields are abundantly fertilized with dung.
Frequent feeding of rhe plants is a common event. There is not a single weed in the fields
or in the vegetable gardens. The Japanese do not know weedy plants. There are practically
no such things and if rhey should appear rhey are destroyed at once.
I also familiarized myself wirh the organization of the educational system of the
countty. To learn to know rhe katagana, rhe hiragana and many thousands of Chinese
characters is far more difficult rhan learning several European languages. Already at the age
of four to five, Japanese children have to begin studying. Evety halfWay serious scolar or
scientist profits from using European literature. In particular, a national committee for
augmenting the prestige of rhe Japanese sciences issues a number of first-class journals
within almost every facet of the sciences (botany, zoology, chemistty, physics, etc.) in Ger-
man and English, where original, important papers as well as references to all the Japanese
scientific literature are published.
lAccording to information from 1983, there are 82 000 hectares of tea plantations in the Soviet Union. Remark by
[he Russian editors.]
N.i. VAVILOV - 61 - FIVE CONTINENTS

In Kyoto I met the famous cytogeneticist Kihara, an extremely ptoductive worker
within the field of wheat genetics, whose work has led to discoveries of first-class impor-
tance. Incidentally, a lecture in German for the students and professors was arranged for
me in Kyoto. I was presented with a gift in the form of a multivolume work with a lot of
engravings about the history of agriculture in Japan.
When in Kyoto I had also an opportuniry to study the large collection of rice,
collected from allover the world by Professor Kato. It was evident that the maximum
diversiry of forms and varieties were concentrated not in Japan or in China, but in India. I
was also able to observe peculiar crops of an arrowhead [Sagittaria trifolia L.], grown for its
diseased, globular rhizomes. When not diseased the stalks themselves are not edible. When
affected they become juicier, acquire a special taste and appear to be one of the common
species, eaten by both the Chinese and the Japanese peoples.
One of the objectives of the expedition was to see the island of Sakurajima, the
native land of the Sakurajima radishes, which are masterpieces of plant breeding. After
reaching Kagoshima, where there is a small university, I talked to a professor of plant
breeding with whom I went to Sakurajima the following day. The time could not have
been better chosen. The radishes were just being harvested. I saw an exceptional sight. The
best specimens of the Sakurajima radishes reach the weight of a pood [16 kg] and even
more. On a wheelbarrow, by means of which the harvest must be taken away, there is room
for only two or three of these radishes. Seen from a distance, one could mistake these
vegetables for suckling pigs. Later on, at an exhibition in Seoul, Korea, I saw radishes which
were two metres long and had been grown in light, littoral soils. We walked allover the
island of Sakurajima, through some ten villages and tried to understand what had caused
such a miracle to develop. Apparently, it is all a matter ofloose and fertile basaltic soils and
persistent selection. The professor himself was unable to furnish any explanation concern-
ing the development of this radish. It had been raised by the peasants of this island and
selected under favourable conditions. That is all that can be said about this extreme variant.
The Japanese peasants, plant breeders by nature, have skillfully combined their knowledge
of the environment with a capaciry for observation, so necessary for selection.
When travelling through the villages, one could see a lot of children, as a rule excep-
tionally neatly dressed. Toward evening there is invariably a tub with hot water in every
house, around which the children gather to wash themselves. Wherever I went, from the
notth to the sourh of]apan, however poor the home I visited, I had to take off my shoes
and put on sandals before entering. If one stayed overnight in a home, it was obligatory to
have a hot bath. That is the custom of the country.
The collection and study of the array of cultivated plants demonstrated before one's
own eyes the decidedly special character of the cultivated flora, which no doubt has origi-
nated independently from the ancient agricultural crops of southwestern Asia. Hundreds
of plants seem to be endemic in China and Japan. The majoriry of these plants still have
wild relatives in either China or Japan. There is an absolurelyamazingwealth of wild fruits:
cherries, plums, apricots, apples and pears. Here, the introduced crops of barley, rice and
wheat have been subjected to great changes by the monsoon climate, which has led ro
development of special subspecies or peculiar groups. Heavy showers, &lling in the middle
of the summer and promoting destruction through fungal diseases, have therefore led to
natural and artificial selection, which in eastern Asia has taken very different forms, such as
quickly forming grains and lengthening or shortening of the awns, or grains of small size.
N.!. VAVILOV - 62- FIVE CONTINENTS

Barley and wheat are distinguished by low growth, small grains, small-size ears and devel-
opmental differences.
In spite of its limited territory Japan has about 80 million inhabitants [in 1929],
that is, twice as many as Gteat Britain or France. The genetal area under cultivation is
determined to be 20 million hectates, of which tice takes fitst place, followed by wheat and
barley. An enotmous area is occupied by citrus fruits, peats and quince, which form the
genetal background of the villages. In Japan mandarin and other oranges correspond to
apples in Eutope. Whole baskets of fitst-class mandarins (of the 'unshu' btand) are sold fur
unbelievably low prices.
Just like the Chinese centre of agriculture, Japan is characterized by a large number
of plants, which include representatives both of the moderate subtropics and, particularly
in the south, of the tropical zone as well. The vegetable as well as the animal food of the
Japanese and the Chinese, especially the latter, is extremely variable in respect of composi-
tion: shoots of various species of bamboo, a multitude of cultivated water plants including
Zizania latifolia [Griseb.] Turcz. a grass, cultivated fot its diseased, inflated leaf sheaths,
edible butdock [An·tium lappa L.], peculiar kinds of cabbages, radishes, a multitude of
dishes made of soyabeans (substituting for fat and including a cheese called 'tofu,' a soya
product) and a lot of fruits prepared in all possible ways. This is the common composition
of the vegetable food of the Chinese and the Japanese.
k far as the wealth of endemic species of cultivated plants is concerned, Japan and
China can be singled out among the other ancient agricultural centres of the world. Each
of these species is, as a rule, represented by a large number of varieties. The varieties of
soaybeans, 'adzuki' beans [VIgna angularis [Wild.] Ohwi & H. Obashi] and persimmons
[Diospyros kaldL. f.], as well as of cittus ftuits, amount, litetally, to many hundreds of easily
distinguishable fotms. If, in addition to the cultivated plants, the large number of wild
plants utilized in China are taken into account it becomes more understandable how the
hundreds of millions of inhabitants can exist there.
SCIENCE IN JAPAN
The orthographic characters used by the peoples of eastern kia form a chasm difficult for
Europeans to bridge to master the scientific cultures of Japan and China. Even a specialist
in Japanese matters must devote several years to serious study of the Japanese language.
Nationalistic tendencies, not alien to Japanese scientists, have frequendy caused even inves-
tigations of international importance to be published exclusively in Japanese. Even such
journals as the japanese journal of Genetics were at first published only in Japanese without
any summaries in a Eutopean language. European scientists know Japanese science only
from the few papers by Japanese scientists occasionally printed in German or English in
European journals. Often, even works wrirten in European languages in Japan are not
found in our libraries. On the whole, the Japanese sciences remain largely inaccessible to
the rest of the world and references to Japanese works tend to be missing in international
indexes.
Botanical works on pharmaceutical plants are known in Japan from the eighth
century. In an interesting paper, 'A Brief History of Botany in Old japan' [in Scientific japan:
Past and Present, Tokyo 1926], Shirai Ine has compiled thorough information on the Japa-
nese botany of the past. No doubt, botanical knowledge in Japan was adopted from China.
The first information about medicinal plants in Japan can be dated to the beginning of the
N.I. VAVILOV - 63- FIVE CONTINENTS

Christian era. At that time Chinese botanical books on medicinal plants [Materia medica]
existed in Japan. Three great Japanese naturalists lived during the seventeenth century,
Jyaksui Ino, Ekiken Kaihara and Ranzan Ono.
In 1692 Jyaksui Ino published a catalogue of the natural products ofJapan and in
1696 a treatise on edible plants, in which 189 species of herbaceous plants are listed. In
1697 he starred to write a very large encyclopedia of narural products under the title of Sho
butsu rui san, which appeared later on in 1000 volumes. All the products were character-
ized by him into air, fire, water and earth; algae, water plants, fungi, mussels and fishes;
bamboos, vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruits; serpents and birds; cattle and insects. For
each item he referred to the Chinese name and furnished explanations and historical data
as well as references to the literature known. When volume 372 was completed, Jyaksui Ino
died. The encyclopedia was completed in 1735 by his pupil, Seihaku Niwa.
Ekiken Kaihara was born in 1630 and died in 1714. He was a philosopher, man of
letters, physician, geographer, historian, agronomist and naturalist. He wrote 270 volumes
on 60 different themes, among them a 5-volume work on garden plants and a 3-volume
work on vegetable plants. Ranzan Ono was born in 1729 and died in 1810. He wrote on
plants and birds. His books were translated into French by Savatier in 1873.
In 1638 twO gardens with pharmaceutical plants were established in Edo [Tokyo]
and in 1720 another one in Komada . A chrysanthemum exhibition was held for the first
time in 1717. An account published about it still exists. The very important botanical
work, Honso zu fit, in 93 volumes published by Iwasaki Tsunemasa and completed in
1828, took 25 years to publish. Up to 2000 illustrations of]apanese plants were provided
for it. A second, even more important, old botanical work, Somoku Dsusetsu, i.e. an il-
lustrated description of herbs and trees in 30 volumes, was also compiled by Ranzan Ono.
The first Japanese botanist to visit America was Ryokichi Yatabe. He was the first professor
of botany at the University of Tokyo and with him began the westernization ofJapanese
botany.
Within the field of agriculture a number of Japanese scientific results are also of
primary importance for our own Soviet nation. If possible, we must soon adopt much
from Japan. Our Black Sea coast is, indeed, a 'second Japan' with respect to climate and
soils. A large amount of cultivated plants, originating from Japan, could easily be trans-
ferred to our humid sub tropics: Batumi, Sulthumi and Sochi. An enormous opportuniry is
opening up in the near future for our humid sub tropics with respect to the cultivation of
tea, ramie [Boehmeria nivea [L.] Gaud.], mandarin oranges, bamboo, subtropical oil plants
and camphor trees [Cinnamomum camphora Sieb.], to a great extent linked to research
carried out in Japan and Formosa. The research institute for cultivation of tea at Shizuoka
[Taiwan], which has been active for about 20 years, has done highly valuable research into
many problems concerning the cultivation of tea. Within the area of fruit farming and the
improvement of strains by breeding, much of the research done in Japan can be transferred
to our country. The Japanese are excellent plant breeders. The Sakurajima radishes (known
to reach a weight of almost 20 kg), remarkable kinds of so-called Seville oranges [Citrus
aurantium L.], large-fruited plums, their unsurpassed results of breeding chrysanthemums,
a multitude ofJapanese decorative trees, flowering cherry trees and colourful maples all this
can easily be brought over to the Soviet subtropics and even to other areas.
The enormous possibilities for growing rice in the Soviet Far East are entirely linked
to the use ofJapanese kinds of rice distinguished by extreme standards of early ripening.
N.I. VAVILOV - 64- FIVE CONTINENTS

There is no orher country in rhe world where so much has been done for rhe study of rice
as in Japan, alrhough rhe majoriry of rhe studies have been published as monographs in
Japanese. Insofar as problems concerning rhe standardization of the rice grains and rhe
preservation of rhe germinating power of rhe rice, so important for rhe Far East, have been
elucidated by Japanese scientists, we have much to learn from rhe Japanese.
Wirhin the area of sericulture, rhe success of rhe Japanese is absolutely exceptional.
Thanks to breeding, many very productive kinds of mulberry trees have been obtained.
The selection of triploid races of silkworms, which to a great extent show gigantism, is of
very great practical interest. The appearance of hetetosis in rhe first generation of hybrids
has also been utilized in Japan to a great extent wirh respect to rhe silkworm eggs rhem-
selves. Papers reporting studies of rhe numerous mutations of rice and rhe bud mutations
of mandarin oranges are of extreme rheoretical and practical interest.
Above all, Japanese science is rhe key to rhe study of ancient agricultural crops in
sourheastern Asia and of rhe original culrivation of plants and animals. The role of eastern
Asia in the origin of domesticated animals and cultivated plants has not yer been evaluated
in respect of its importance. Our studies during rhe last couple of years have demonstrated
the enormous importance of China as a basis for rhe development of many vegetables,
fruits and field crops. China holds rhe key to the solution of problems concerning the
origin of the majoriry of vegetable plants, including many fruit trees as well as crops such as
rice, soyabeans and millet. The selective potential of rhe variery of genes, forms and species
is exceptionally high here. The largest number of cultivated species of plants is perhaps
concentrated wirhin southeastern Asia. Since China, wirh its amazing ancient CtopS, is
more accessible to Japan (because Chinese characters are used in its literature) rhan any
other country, rhere is no doubt rhat a better acquaintance wirh Japanese science would
make it possible for science in general to cope wirh rhe CtopS of China and rhose of all of
southeastern Asia.
In the USSR we are at present reconstructing living conditions and scientific work.
The organization of science in Japan is of exceptional importance. Wirh respect to research
where wirhin a short time a powerful scientific collective has been built up in rhe service of
rhe economy, rhere are no doubt also elements which are valuable also for us. As far as a
number of disciplines wirhin industry and agriculture are concerned, we have much to
learn from rhe Japanese. For rhis purpose I have brought back an extensive literarure in
Japanese and wirhin a short time translation will be done of rhe most important Japanese
works concerning matters of greatest practical interest for the agriculture of the USSR,
among orhers the cultivation of rice, sericulrure and tea plantations.
Until now, however, scientific missions to Japan have had a casual character. They
should be organized into a sysrem (such as used in rhe European countries and America).
It is also necessary to immediately attend to rhe preparation of a considerable number of
people, fluent in Japanese, to make Russian translations of rhe most important scientific
investigations written in Japanese. The small group of people in our country who know
Japanese is definitely not adequate for meeting our needs. Organizing translators of Japa-
nese is a difficult matter since rhey need to know not only rhe Japanese language but also
specific subjects. Of particular interest to us is rhe translation of major Japanese manuals
and monographs on various practical subjects such as fisheries, sericulture, fruit farming,
rice cultivation and market gardening, but also on various fields of industry, for which
rhere is a large literature in rhe Japanese language.
N.I. VAVILOV -65- FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITION TO TAIWAN
Taiwan is, of course, a Chinese island. Of the 4 million inhabitants, 90% are Chinese.
Taiwan was united with Japan only 50 years ago. The island retains the agricultural crops of
China in an almost untouched form and therefore the visit to this island was of especially
great mterest to me.
The island extends abour 80 km in a north to south direction. Its southern portion
is situared around the Tropic of Cancer and is thus within the rropical zone. The moun-
tainous nature of the island causes a great variety of climates and vegetation. Here it is as if
a subtropical flora meets and unites with a northern one in the mountain areas.
From the literature, I knew of the works by one of the foremost specialists on citrus
fruits, Dr. Tanaka, now professor at the University of Taiwan. While looking for a col-
league, to my surprise, I encountered a person who spoke English fluenrly since he had
spent several years in the USA among friends of my friends there. Amicable relations
quickly developed. The very same day an itinerary was worked our for all of the island of
Taiwan, including the interior as well as the southern part.
Local authorities had gran red means for transportation, and meetings and night
quarters were arranged relegraphically. Visits to the mountain areas inhabited by Malayan
rribes were included in the itinerary as well. These tribes are the most warlike people on the
island, the so-called 'head hunters.'
The expedition acquainted itself with the agricultural crops of these wild tribes.
Here abundant material of strains of many field and vegetable crops was collecred. The
early kinds of rice were of exceptional interest, that is, the main brands with respecr to early
ripening, which have recenrly been introduced to Japan. As a maner of fact, the Japanese
agronomisrs were quite reluctant to let me have seeds of these varieties, which are especially
valuable for our new areas of rice cultivation in the Far East, where at present major rice-
growing state-owned farms are being established. Valuable tea material was also collected
for our Black Sea coast and a large collection of the vegetable crops of eastern Asia was
made. There is absolurely no doubt about the exceptional importance of eastern Asia as
one of the basic centres of original agricultural crops, which until recenrly has arrracted
very lirrle artention.
Most of all I wanted to see the forests of camphor trees [Cinnamomum camphora
Nees & Eberm.l. Taiwan is the native land of camphor. At altitudes reaching up to 1900
metres there are large forests which consist almost exclusively of camphor trees. From rheir
leaves and fruits camphor oil is extracted by distillation over heat, whereafter it is subjected
to a very complicated treaanent, a refinement carried our in government factories. The
camphor trees are not cultivated, only exploited; bur measures are beng taken for a rational
renewal of these trees by sening apart the most valuable forests. A number of complicated
products are manufactured from the extract. The chemistry of camphor has been worked
out in detail, bur is kept secret and is one of the governmental monopolies of Japan.
We travelled into the mountains along a narrow-gauge railroad in small cars, so-
called pushcarts. The small cars are pushed by Malayans and the travellers are quickly
transported at a speed of 15-20 kmph into the mountain heights.
We stopped at night in a reservation near the railway line, which the aboriginal
tribes who live on this reservation are forbidden to cross. The following morning we went
N.!. VAVILOV - 66- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
to visit the Malayans. They live in hurs raised on piles for protection against wild animals
and insects. Such hurs have peculiar wooden eaves. This reminded me of the pole dwellings
of Asrurias [Spain]; the latter are more solid and placed on stones bur have similar over-
hangs of stone or wood. Buildings in western Georgia are also essentially similar.
Remarkable braided work is made by the Malayans: baskets, panels and screens.
The inhabitants live mainly on wild fruits, wild berries and hunting. Evidently, the ancient
inhabitants of southern tropical Asia, Paleo-Asia, were similar. They are distinctly different
from the Japanese and reminded me of some of the Indians ofNotth and South America.
The mountains of Taiwan are covered by forests, to a great extent consisting of wild
fruit trees bearing pears and apples of special kinds. Wtld Taiwanese apples can often be
seen in the villages. In taste their fruits resemble that of our apples, bur they differ by having
notched leaves.
When descending from the mountains we went to Kagi, to a tropical research sta-
tion where all that is valuable in the worldwide flora is collected and where they make
srubborn attempts to introduce especially valuable plants and fruits into cultivation for
technical purposes. Here are plantations of rubber trees (Castilloa elastica Cav. [more lilcely
Hevea braziliensis L. D.L.]), mango trees [Mangiftra spp.] and mangosteen [Garcinia
mangostana L.], and original collections of tropical citrus fruits of gigantic proportions, the
size of a human head. Selections of sweet poratoes [Ipomoea batatas [L.] Poir.] have been
introduced. A handful of seeds, presented to me, served as basic material for breeding a
number of valuable kinds of sweet potatoes at the experimental station at Sukhumi [on the
Blaclc Sea coast]. In Kagi we were also given samples of ramie, the Chinese Boehmeria nivea
[L.] Gaud. that had been improved by breeding. Friendly relations with Tanaka made it
possible for me to obtain original collections of the subtropical crops, most valuable to us
for scientific purposes.
The market and the vegetable gardens of Kagi are an introduction to the realm of
vegetables from China. There are peculiar species and varieties still not srudied. Together
with Tanaka I collected hundreds of medicinal plants in the rows of'physician's' stalls in the
market of the city ofTainan. All the Chinese remedies against all kinds of illnesses and for
all ages and sexes were found here.
In addition to the camphor trees, a visit to the tea-growing station was one of the
objectives of my expedition. The well-known oolong mountain tea of Taiwan was a most
remarlcable sight. In the mountains of Taiwan it is possible to see thickets of tea, reaching
the dimensions of small trees 4-5 metres tall. The crops are always primitive, the harvests
insignificant. The tea is grown in stony soils. Most amazing is the vegetative reproduction
of it by means of layering. From the Taiwanese tea a semifermented product is prepared,
which has a light brown colour, giving the brew a particularly pleasing taste and a vivid and
bright tint. While the ordinaty nonfermented green tea serves mainly for consumption in
Taiwan, the oolong tea is cultivated exclusively for export. It is especially valuable on the
American market. It goes almost exclusively there and is sold for a high price. I received a
present of8 pounds [3.6lcg] of the best oolong tea from the university and the governor of
the city.
The lower part of the island is densely cultivated by the Chinese agricultural popu-
lation. At each house there is without fail a sty for black Chinese pigs. Pig raising is far more
developed here than anywhere in western Europe. The areas under vegetable cultivation
are intensely utilized and heavily irrigated areas are occupied by plantations of a 'water-rice'
(Zimnia latifoliaTurcz.), here represented by late-ripening forms, to which belong a type
N.!. VAVILOV - 67- FIVE CONTINENTS

ripening during winter. There is an enormous variety of citrus fruits, berries and all possible
kinds of vegetables. In my notebook I wrote down more than 150 cultivated plants, which
were mainly observed within the narrow coastal belt of the island. A large amount of seeds
was collected. Thanks to Tanaka the short visit ro Taiwan proved to be vety productive.
From Tanaka I was able to learn about the endemic plants of China and Japan. He
has built up a first class, small station of citrus trees and a beautiful herbarium. There citrus
species from allover the world were assembled. An international journal, Citrology, is pub-
lished both in Japanese and English. The activities at Dr. Tanaka's station are not less
important than the work done by Swingle and Robertson in the USA.
At the suggestion of the rector of the University ofTaiwan I gave a lecture in English
about the origin of cultivated plants. The audience of professors and students displayed an
extraordinaty interest and from their questions it was possible to judge that the gist of the
lecture had been understood. .
In the waiting room at the railroad station almost the entire university staff as-
sembled. At the same time as I was leaving for Korea, a professor of geology was leaving for
a 3-year-long mission to Europe and America on behalf of the university. His itinerary
covered three quarters of the world. Together with him I studied the plan for his mission,
which would be the envy of any geologist of world renown. The preparation of students,
utilizing all the research in the world, is given exceptional importance in Japan. Such
missions are not unique but common, a normal event in univetsity life there.
After reaching the harbour, I went by sea from Taiwan to the peninsula of Korea.
N.I. VAVILOV - 68- FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITION IN KOREA
Korea was occupied by the Japanese in 1904. Koreans have their own language and ethics,
constiruting a group different from the Chinese and the Japanese. Clothing, customs,
lifestyle and psychology of the Koreans are also noticeably different. White cloths and a
small black cap, covering only part of the head, are common attributes of the Koreans. It is
hard ro understand what provokes the isolation of this area, only imperceptively set apart
geographically, but the distinction is nevertheless a real fact.
'Japanization' proceeded with great intensity during the past decade [1918-1928].
All the main industrial enterprises are in the hands of the Japanese; the Koreans constitute
basically the agriculrural population.
I crossed the peninsula going to the capital, Seoul, a large centre with half a million
inhabitants where there was a large exhibition celebrating the 20-year-old [acrually 25]
union between Korea and Japan. According to an itinerary planned together with the
consul general, I was to make a cross section through the entire peninsula so that I could
become familiar with different crops, collect as many samples as possible and in a short
time learn ro understand the peculiarities of Korean agriculture.
A considerable portion of the Korean terrirory has still not been put under the plow.
The interior part is represented by coniferous forests. The composition of the crops is
mainly the same as that of the Japanese: rice and soyabeans. A large amount of Chinese
'adzuki' beans [Phaseowus angularis [Wild.] W. E. Wright; now Vigna angularis [Willd.]
Ohwi and H. Obashi] in a remarkable variety of forms is harvested. The fruit plantations
are represented mainly by Japanese persimmons [Diospyros Kaki L.] and 'ju-ju' [jujube,
Zizyphus jujuba Mill.]. The latter fruit is widely distributed in China and Korea and used
both in fresh and dried form. In the dried form it reminds one of the taste of dates and is
frequencly known under the name of 'Chinese dates.'
In contrast to the southern areas of China, Korea is to a great extent represented by
a terrirory still barely touched and in need of roads, improvement of forests by removal of
worthless trees and shrubs and regulated irrigation. The farther one proceeds into the in-
terior, the more primitive the landscape becomes. Plowed fields stop and forested areas
with a multirude of wild fruit trees take over. Here it is still possible to find, in a primitive
condition, all transitions from wild to cultivated forms; therefore it is to a great extent
possible to undetstand the origin of many Chinese cultivated plants. In this area it is still
possible to find wild soyabeans with small seeds and dehiscing pods. This is a relative of the
cultivated form which was introduced at a very early stage to the Soviet Far East.
In Seoul I unexpectedly met a couple of colleagues, American introducets of plants,
namely, Drs. Dorset and Morse, known to me from Washington. Dr. Motse is the co-
author of a well-known monograph on soyabeans, wrirten by him and Dr. Charles Piper,
another plant introducer from Vancouver, Canada. Morse was fanatically devoted to
soyabeans throughout his life. In the course of some years, Piper srudied China, Korea,
Manchuria and Japan on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculrure, investigating crops
of soyabeans, collecting seed material and forwarding it to the USA.
Soyabeans and rice are, as mentioned, the basic staple of the agriculrural popula-
tions of China and Korea and, to a great extent, also Japan. As in the case of corn [maize],
it is possible to prepare literally hundreds of all possible kinds of products from it, while
N.I. VAVllOV - 69- FIVE CONTINENTS

using the flexible characteristics of its protein. Dozens of very different foods are made
from soyabeans, including the special cheese, tofu. Sprouts of soyabeans are rich in vita-
mins and are available in large amounts in all markets in Japan. Soya is used for seasoning
meat and rice and of course, it produces an excellent oil, used for malting margarine and for
technical purposes. Although it is a crop exceptionally well suited to a monsoon climate,
the soyabean has become the most important technical crop worldwide during the last
couple of decades. Owing to the effect of European and American demands an enormous
area has become planted to soyabeans. During the past two decades the plantations of soya
in Manchuria have reached 7 million hectares and the world-wide area has exceeded 15
million hectares. It is difficult to imagine a more flexible plant in respect of the v.ariation of
both biological and other characteristics. The varieties of soyabeans can be counted by the
thousands. The present American industry has introduced even more variety.
Continuing the subject of his forerunner, Piper, Morse studied this crop thoroughly.
Such a persistence and thoroughness in the study is rypical of American introducers of
plants. This approach was especially characteristic of Frank Mayer, who studied China for
9 years and collected .everything of value for the USA. [He was lost on the Yangtze River in
1913.JThe same approach was also typical of Carleton who, in spite of the conservatism of
American millers, successfully introduced a widespread cultivation of Russian hard wheat
to the USA. Swingle was his equal; he organized an extensive urilization of Chinese re-
search, including the building up of a valuable library of Chinese literature and a whole
Staff of translators, who revealed the treasures of ancient Chinese agronomical science. The
results of this endeavour have become obvious during the past couple of years. The similar-
iry between the conditions of extensive parts of the territories of the USA and China make
possible a wide utilization of soyabean crops, which during the last couple of years have
amounted to as much as 1.5 million hectares.
Quietly and modestly, Morse, who travelled with his family, wife and daughter,
went from one ciry to another while staying in the best hotels. Dr. Dorset, a veteran plant
introducer, who recently celebrated his seventieth birthday, was the companion of Morse.
His hobby is kalti, that is, the Japanese persimmon [Diospyros kaki 1. fJ. During the past
couple of years he has travelled thousands of kilometres within China, Korea and Japan,
selecting the best strains of these plants, which owing to a misunderstanding have been
called 'Japanese'. It is true that they are widely distributed in Japan and take the place of
apples there but according to Dorset the main centre of development of persimmons is no
doubt in China. The number of forms is endless. In each village, almost at every house, a
different form is grown.
The essence of Dorset's research is a matter of looking for a very large number of
forms, gradually discarding the inferior ones and retaining some of the most remarkable
strains. Dorset drew a vivid picture for me of different varieties of kalti, which could be
useful for food both in a form fresh from the tree and as a jelly when fully ripe and, in
particular, after freezing. Ecstatically he told of his discoveries in China last winter. While
collecting fallen fruits of kalti under the trees in the month of January, he found a kind
which in a frozen state was similar in consistency to jelly and had acquired an excellent
flavour like that of icecream. In his opinion he had never before in his life tested a better
fruit. He had sent grafts of this strain as a 'sacred thing' to Washington.
He insisted on the need for introducers of plants to study the experience of the
Chinese peasants who, in his opinion, have gathered the wisdom of thousands of years,
which we have still not learned to value or utilize. Just like many of us who have touched
N.i. VAVILOV -70- FIVE CONTINENTS

upon the peculiar Chinese civilization, Dorset was a great admirer of the persistence, ca-
paciry for manual work and natural talents of the Chinese farmers.
In addition to persimmons, Dorset collected ornamental plantS and investigated
especially intetesting species of trees and shtubs. He continued the work of Wilson, who
devoted 9 years to a study and collections of the ornamental flora of China and was the
author of the remarkable book, China, Mother of Gardens.
The work with introduction of plants from China that has been done by American
scientists is exceptional. Their results have to a great extent been utilized also by us. The
leading American plant breeders, such as Professor Merton-Lowe and Professor Hayes,
spent several years in the viciniry of Nanking, where they studied the local cultivated flora
together with Chinese plant breeders.
When returning to Seoul from the western part of Korea and stopping along the
road in villages and at estates, I was directed to a special government farm for cultivation of
ginseng. The legendary ginseng [Panax ginseng CA. Mey.] is a remedy against all kinds of
illnesses, a most astounding medium with which many fantastic stories are connected. The
root of the ginseng takes on peculiar shapes because it conforms easily to obstacles encoun-
tered in the soil. It branches and ofren assumes a shape reminiscent of a human, either male
or female. Wild ginseng is especially valuable. Hunters of ginseng go into the forests look-
ing for the cherished roots. It is used both dried and in the form of an infusion.
The Japanese authorities quickly understood the advantage of cultivating this inter-
esting plant. American agronomists worked out methods for its cultivation. I was unable
to learn the details because they were kept secret, but more or less of the basics could be
observed even during a fleering passage through the plantation. This crop is grown in well-
prepared soil, heavily fertilized and given an overhead roofing consisting of shades of red
glass over individual plants. Apparently the action of the red light is considered especially
favourable for the growth of the roots.
Rich people usually end their meals by regaling themselves with ginseng. I tried it
several times. Irs flavor is not remarkable; it is moderarely sweet and slightly numbing.
Apparently you must have faith in its miraculous action. Since I do not have such a faith,
I did not experience any special effect of this highly extolled roOt.
In the stores in Seoul, American ginseng [Panax quinquefllius L.] can be seen. Afrer
searching the American flora for ginseng, the practical Yankees introduced it into cultiva-
tion since they calculated on a Chinese market. Experts always prefer the Chinese and
especially the wild ginseng, but it seems that use of the American one has gtadually dimin-
ished the preference for the local, East Asiatic species over the imported American ginseng.
. The great exhibition at Seoul, devored to the success of industry and agriculture
owed to Japan, demonstrated in a remarkable manner all the great new enterprises for
processing gold and silver and the big irrigation sttuctures. One could feast one's eyes on
the masrerworks of these remarkable toy-models made of papier-mache which, in addi-
tion, could be activated by means of small electric motors. If! may say so, the Japanese have
no competitors within thar field. The exhibition clearly gave evidence of the development
of Japanese industry, the enormous development concerning the extraction of metals, the
progress of cotton cultivation and the great possibilities for agriculture.
The East Asiatic cycle of my expedition ended in Korea. The acquaintance made
with Chinese culture at its periphery in the province of Sinkiang [Xinjiang] and the local
studies thereof in Taiwan, Korea and Japan led me to definite conclusions regarding the
complete originaliry of this important culture, the absolutely unique composition of the
N.I. VAVILOV -71- FIVE CONTINENTS

cultivated plants, the peculiar agrotechnical practices and the complete independence of
the ancient East Asiatic centre, which gave rise to an agriculture based on independent
species and genera of plants. In an account of the history of the ancient East, usually all
attention is focused on the civilizations of the Near East, Egypt and the Mediterranean
countries. Occasionally the treks into India are remembered. The powerful Chinese civili-
zation and that of all eastern Asia have remained outside the beaten path of European
historical science. It is only recently that the study of the 'silk roads' of western China has
begun to shed light on the ancient Chinese civilization.
When studying the agriculture, cultivated flora, mode of life and practices of the
agricultural population of eastern Asia, both within its peripheral parts in Japan and in
Taiwan and within China itself, there are no doubts whatever about the originaliry of the
great culture, the independent introduction of an enormous number of plants into cultiva-
tion or the domestication of pigs, chicken, silkworms and goldfish.
The rich flora of China, still only superficially studied and known only from frag-
ments brought back by European and American travellers, hides very much of great value.
Tung-oil trees [U,rnicia flrdii [Hemsley] Airy-Shaw and V. cordata [Thunb.] Airy-Shaw],
guttapercha-producing eucommias [Eucommia u!moides Oliver] and thousands of woody
and herbaceous annual and perennial ornamental plants have penetrated into European
and American cultures or are being tested. Fast-ripening forms, suitable for transfer to
northern latitudes, have been adapted for mountains and alpine areas there.
Under the particular conditions of a monsoon climate, in the course of thousands
of years, the Chinese forms of wheat and barley have changed into peculiar subspecies.
Rice, the native land of which seems to be India, where it is still possible to trace the
connection between wild relatives and cultivated forms, was introduced to China and gave
rise to special and improved varieties. A number of millet-like plants came originally from
China. A millet, introduced there from Africa, has changed into a special species, 'kaoliang'
[Sorghum nervosum Besser & Schult.].
The important agricultural civilization of China, where the largest and densest popu-
lation of Asia is concentrated, still awaits its investigators. In the forefront of this challenge
looms an enormous, detailed study of the plant resoutces of China and a synthesis of the
knowledge concerning these resources. The main road, which historical science of the
civilization has followed, must necessarily turn toward eastern and southeastern Asia, where
for thousands of years the main mass of agricultural populations has been concentrated.
Southeastern Asia can still be distinguished by the highest concentrations of inhabitants,
almost one half of the world's population lives within that area. In the past the relative
significance of the population of these parts was even greater.
The most urgent problems facing the science of natural history is to elucidate the
resources of southeastern Asia, to sctutinize critically this enormous experiment, to reveal
the genius of the people and to tear down the Chinese wall of isolation.
N.I. VAVllOV -72- FIVE CONTINENTS

THE MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES
INTRODUCTION
Documents reaching us from antiquity regarding agricultural crops link the Mediterra-
nean countries of Egypt, Syria and Palestine with the ancient Etruscan civilization on the
Apennine Peninsula and ancient Hellas. The oldest remains of wheat and barley crops are
connected with Egypt, Syria and Palestine. Detailed information abour the agricultural
crops of these countries has reached us through the writers of ancient Rome and Greece,
who were active during the last centuries before Christ and the first century of the Chris-
rian era. One can still read with awe the course in plant breeding by Columella, written
during the first centuty BC Its content could be successfully taught even in our time.
Valuable statements on how to make selections for improving strains are given by Virgil,
Pliny and Theophrastes.
In 1926 I applied myself to the problem of visiting, if possible, all the countries
around the Mediterranean to be able to collect a full set of material of crops and to study
the conditions for their cultivation. I began with the complicated activity of obtaining
visas. With the help of friends in London, especially Dr. Daniel Hall, the foremost agrono-
mist of England, I obtained visas for Palestine and the island ofCyptus. A trip to London
and all the trouble to obtain visas for Sudan and Egypt was unsuccessful in spite of assis-
tance from many influential friends. Egypt was more or less independent when it came to
issuing visas and it was necessary to apply directly to Cairo. London could be used mainly
for letters of recommendation and for studies of the most recent literature on the Mediter-
ranean countries in the excellent libraries of the Department of Colonial Affairs, tile Sci-
ence Library and the British Museum. Here I also succeeded in obtaining most valuable
maps for the expedition. According to my experience, repeatedly verified later on, London
and especially the wellknown Standford Company, offer the vety best opportunities for
this purpose.
Obtaining French visas turned our to be much simpler than amicipated. Diplo-
matic relations with France at that time did not give cause for much hope. L. B. Krasin,
then Soviet Ambassador to Paris, considered it hopeless to get any visas. An appeal to the
Department of Foreign Affuirs, he said, confirmed the futility of my attempts. Howevel;
the fact that I had worked for several weeks in 1914 near Paris in the famous seed company
of Vilmorin and Andrier, was in my favour. The de Vilmorins are a dynasty of plant
breeders that has existed for almost 200 years. In the world history of plant breeding the
name of de Vilmorin is associated with the invention of a method for breeding sugar beets
and introducing them into cultivation. Theirs is a complete institute with an excellent
museum, a beaurifullibraty and valuable manuscripts. In the opinion of my friend, the
botanist August Chevalier, director of the Laboratory of Applied Botany in Paris and later
an academician, the only thing that could help would be intervention in the matter by, in
his words, "the most energetic of all the women in the world" Madame F. de Vilmorin, the
main asset of the seed firm, who had travelled around the world with her husband. Cheva-
lier held our the prospect of convincing Madame de Vilmorin to help me by showing that
the Soviet botanist and plant breeder without fail must necessarily visit Algeria, Tunisia,
Morocco and Syria.
After listening carefully to all the arguments, that it was necessary for me to visit all
the agricultural areas of the French colonies without fail, that life is short and that it was
impossible to pur off this matter, Madame de Vilmorin declared that she agreed fully and
N.i. VAVILOV -73 - FIVE CONTINENTS

was convinced that I had to go. There was no question that during the next 2 days excep-
tional diplomatic talents would be required in addition to all the influence of the de Vilmorin
name. Madame de Vilmorin went to the president, Raymond Poincare and the prime
minister at that time, Aristide Briand. The matter was complicated by a rebellion in the Rif
district of Morocco and an uprising among the Druse in Syria. The main problem was, of
course, not ro have a Soviet professor make Bolshevik propaganda and allow him into the
colonies at such a perilous time, a time of revolt.
Contrary ro what I expected, the mission of Madame de Vilmorin was successfully
carried out. "My friend," she said to me, "you shall be allowed to travel where you want.
Go to the Department of Foreign Affairs, where you shall obtain visas and to the prefectute
and come then to us to say goodbye."
Ar the Department of Foreign Affairs more detailed explanations were requested
from me. Where, when and for whar period of time was this Soviet traveller going and
whom did he lmow in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Syria? But to my sutprise no restric-
tions were put on me. In the prefecture, where I went with my passport for the final
endorsement of rhe visas, ir was declared that this was beyond belief, that there must be
some mistake, since even French citizens were ar this time forbidden to rravel to Morocco
and Syria without special permission. "Do you know what is going on there?" the official
asked. I had to reply thar ir would be necessary to turn to the Department of Foreign
Affairs, which had sent me to the prefecture, for an explanation. A lengthy negotiation over
the telephone apparently convinced even the prefecr and afTer an hout the passport with
the fout visas was in my pocket, opening the road for me into the Medirerranean countries.
Now only Egypr remained to be secured. Friends at the Pasreut Insrirute, with
whom I had worked earlier [1913-14] within the field ofimmuniry, tried to help obtain a
visa ro Egypt. Mr. Roux himself, director of the Institute, Bezredko and other associates of
the great 1. 1. Mechnikov all came to my assistance. The case was extraordinary. Relations
between England and Egypt were at this time rather tense. The normal diplomatic road
turned out to be inefficient. However, my Parisian friends devised another approach: to use
an Egyptian banker, who at that time was beIng treated at the Pasteur Institute. However,
the matter was not simple; it seemed necessary to wait. But since the summer was passing,
it was imperative ro be in the field. Somehow a visa had to be obtained, and quickly. The
'almighry' banker Mossar, I use the words of the 'Pasteutians' who was the brother of an
important Egyptian agronomist, was convinced that they would grant a visa, even to a
Bolshevik, on his recommendation.
At this time my associate, 1. 1. Ivanov, was getting ready for an expedition to West
Mrica, also with assistance from the Pasteut Institute. A speedy outfitting of his expedition
was begun and equipment was purchased. In addition to the journey to the countries
around the Mediterranean my own intention was to go to Abyssinia afTer completing the
Mediterranean mission. It was also necessary to provide for that complicated expedition,
although at this time it seemed unlikely to come about. But it was nevertheless imperative
to secure in advance the required maps, reference books and the most impottant literature
devoted to Abyssinia.
By the middle of June all the preparations were completed. AfTer bidding farewell
to my good fairy, Madame de Vilmorin and promising to inform her of the results of the
research in every country, and carrying the letters of recommendation from her and the
Pasteur Institute, I lefr for Marseilles, where steamers belonging to the Messenger Com-
pany depart for destinations allover the Mediterranean.
N.!. VAVILOV -74- FIVE CONTINENTS

Southern France belongs indeed to the Mediterranean area. The narrow coastal belt
of southern France, the Riviera, with its mild climate and subtropical crops, of coutse
belongs to the Mediterranean area sensu stricto. Its main characteristics are mild winters and
hot summers. The precipitation falls mainly during the late autumn, winter and early
spring. Since the summers are hot, irrigation is often used for crops. The mild climate
allows the growers in this area to concentrate on the exceptional wealth of the subtropical
flora.
The French Riviera is one of the most densely populated areas of France, with a
multitude of villas covered by climbing roses and sutrounded by palms. Among the crops
especially grapes, olives and exotic fruits are characteristic here.
But when speaking of the Mediterranean it is also necessary ro take into account the
mountainous nature of a considerable portion of its. The mountains that approach the
coastal belt cause a great change in the composition of the flora, which is sharply different
from that of the Mediterranean Riviera.
The coast, with its inlets and bays, mild climate, fertile soil and abundance of pre-
cipitation, as well as the comparatively calm sea, have created absolutely exceptional condi-
tions for the development in general of the great Mediterranean civilizations. The extensive
development of the shoreline, the presence of the Iberian, Apennine and Balkan peninsulas
and that of Asia Minor, the many large and small islands, as well as the indented coasral
belt, were favoutable for the esrablishment just here of large populations consisting of
small, isolated groups, who independently and comparatively peacefully for a long time
successively developed their civilizations. Indeed, it is hard to imagine more ideal con-
ditions in the past for the development of major agricultural civilizations than those in the
Mediterranean area.
No doubt ftuit-bearing trees played a great role in the development of the Mediter-
ranean civilizations. Olives, which are able to grow in stony soils and are exceptionally
tolerant of drought and very hardy; are important plants in respect of noutishment. The
fruits serve at present, just as in the past, as one of the basic nutrients. No less important,
particularly on such islands as Cyprus and Crete, are carob trees [Ceratonia siliqua L.], the
wild thickets and plantations of which produce valuable nutrients and fodder, so-called St.
John's bread. Forests and groves of chestnut trees [Castanea sativa Mill.] are still the main-
stay oElife in some areas of Portugal, Spain and Italy. If figs [Ficus carica L.], grapes [Viti<
viniftra L.] and, among nut-bearing trees, walnuts fJuglans regiaJ.] and filbert nuts [Corylus
maxima Mill.] are added to this, it can be understood what an exceptional role fruit-
bearing trees played in the settlement of the Mediterranean area. Apparently they preceded
cereals here.
The mild climate and mountainous character caused a rich flora to develop around
the Mediterranean, in total determined to not less than 20 000 species. Even if measured
on the scale of a worldwide flora, the Mediterranean is distinguished by an exceptional
richness. Within the wild flora primitive farmers found a multitude of valuable plants,
which were at first utilized in the wild State but were subsequently taken into cultivation.
The Mediterranean area is the native land of a major part of European vegetable crops.
Within the composition of the wild flora valuable plants were found which could be
utilized both as grain crops and as fodder, such as lentils [Lens culinaris Med.], Spanish
gorse [Ulex europeus L.], berseem or Egyptian clover [Trifolium alexandrinum Juslen],
vetchlings [Lathyms or Vicia spp.], 'gorgon vetch' [Lathyms gorgonii Parl.], sulla [Hedysamm
coronarium L.], large-flowered white clover [Trifolium repens L. var. giganteum Lag.-Foss.]
N.I. VAVILOV -75- FIVE CONTINENTS

and fodder vetch [Vicia ervilia Willd.J and so on. Here a number of farm animals were
domesticated as well.
At the same time the tranquil and enclosed Mediterranean Sea promoted develop-
ment of maritime communication and navigation. The variety of crops furthered an ex-
change of products and, starting at the time of the Phoenicians, marine trade prospered
with an exchange of experience, products and crops. The settled, peaceful, long-lasting and
successful character of the different states favoured the rise of civilizations to extraordinary
heights, which later on had an enOrmous effect on the culture of all the world. As will be
demonstrated below, also with respect to agriculture and elaboration of cultivated crops, it
is in general a question of specific Mediterranean crops.
N.I. VAVllOV -76- FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITION IN SYRIA
It was difficult to select a less suitable time for an expedition to Syria. When I presented my
passport witb tbe French visa in tbe POrt of Beirut it provoked grear suspicion. Nobody
wanted to believe tbat any French autbority had issued a visa to a Soviet citizen (according
to tbe autborities somebody definitely a 'BolsheviK) when not even French citizens were
admitted. Under military escort I was taken tbrough tbe city to a prefecture for verification
of my documents. A very tborough examination of my luggage and letters and additional
telegraphic informarion apparently at long last put tbe receiving Prefect at ease and I went
to one of tbe largest tourist hotels. Later I came to understand tbe cause for tbe anxiety of
the authorities.
Beirut is situated witbin tbe coastal subtropical belt, i.e. in a typical Mediterranean
area. It is surrounded by enormous plantations of bananas [Musa paradisiaca L.] and sug-
arcane [Sacchamm officinarum L.], gardens and vineyards. The coastal part of Beirut is
represented by a European-type city with beautiful, straight avenues, comfottable homes
and wonderful parks. There is a large American universiry where American professors
teach. Nearby is a Jesuit educational instirution of special interest to me since, according to
earlier information, tbe enormous herbarium of tbe Jesuit Bouloumou is preserved there.
I had planned tbe route of tbe expedition when preparations for it were being made
in London and Paris. Syria is a complex country for studies of cultivated plants and agricul-
ture. The coastal Mediterranean belt of the country stretches from Beirut to Latakia. It is
represented mainly by introduced crops such as bananas, sugarcane and citrus fruits, which
were of no special interest to me. It was important to penetrate deep into tbe country, to
soutbern Syria in tbe neighborhood of tbe border of Palestine, where tbe botanistAaronsohn
in 1906 had collected wild wheat in tbe mountains. Khoran was reportedly one of tlle
most impottant territories of cultivated wheat and at tbe same time tbe native land of wild
wheat.
When leaving Beirut I understood right away tbe cause for tbe anxiety of tbe au-
thorities. All the mountainous land soutb and southeast of Beirut was under martial law.
RebeIlious mountain tribes of the Druse had started a guerrilla war against tbe French
forces and launched a successful assault. All tbe sites most subject to attack were defended
and barricaded by French soldiers. Our train had an armoured engine. On my arrival at tbe
final destination in Khoran, I had to present myself and tbe appropriate documents to tbe
military autborities and obtain permission for travelling farther. One of tbe teachers at tbe
American University, spending his holidays by going on trips, had joined me as a travelling
companlOn.
The very first excursions to Arabian villages revealed fields which displayed wheats
of a peculiar composition. Here I collected for tbe first time tbe basic subspecies which I
later named tbe 'Khoranka'. This is a remarkable, large-grained, hard wheat with stiff straw
and highly productive, compact ears. At present tbe Khoranka has already been introduced
on to tens of tbousands of hectares of cropland in tbe highlands of Azerbaidjan. And right
here, on tbe slopes and at tbe edges of tbe fields I saw for tbe first time stands of tbe wild
wheat.
The entire problem is linked to tbe 1906 discovery by tbe botanist Aaronsohn of a
wild wheat in Syria and Palestine. Witb exaggerations typical of an investigator of tbe East,
N.I. VAVILOV -77- FIVE CONTINENTS

he proclaimed in a flight of fancy a new era for the breeding of wheat. The wild wheat,
distributed in semidesert areas, definitely drought tolerant and with comparatively large
grains, was represented by Aaronsohn as a wonderful material for improving cultivated
wheat and for raising its drought resistance. The modest requirements of the wild wheat
(able to grow among stones on waste land) indicated that new opportunities had been
opened up. No less enthusiastically; a representative of the US Department of Agriculture,
Dr. Cook, who in 1913 made a special trip to Syria and Palestine for studies of the wild
wheat, also ascribed excessive importance to it. Wild wheat was sent to the USA in the
form of ears in a great number of boxes.
Unfortunately we arrived at the site where the wild wheat OCCutS when the ears to a
great extent had fallen off. It was only with difficulty that we could locate them by clearing
away the srones, although they had fallen to the ground in large quantities. The drought
tolerance and straw-stiffness of the wild wheat proved, however, to be considerably exag-
gerated. Detailed investigations showed that the wild wheat grew among the stones in soft,
fertilized soil, retaining water. In this respect it is lime different from cultivated wheat. It
became necessary to make severe corrections of the exaggerated statements made by
Aaronsohn and Cook. Futthermore, the Syrian subspecies of wild wheat actually turned
out to be small-grained and its ears were not vety large either. No doubt the drought
resistance of the locally cultivated wheat, widely grown by the Arabian setders, was of
much more interest and of course we concentrated our attention on it.
The wild species of wheat [Tiiticum dicoccoides [Koem.] Aarons.] was naturally of
interest as an evolutionary link. Subsequendy; however, when studying the wild wheat and
experimenting with attempts at hybridization, we encountered still more drawbacks for its
utilization for practical purposes. But, the exaggerations of Aaronsohn had one positive
effect: the generous Americans built up a special research station near Haifa, where great
work on breeding field crops is done.
Severe bouts with malaria hampered my own work considerably. Instead of ttying
to collect the crumbling wild wheat and wild barley [Hordeum vulgare L. subsp. spontaneum
[K. Koch] Asch. & Graebn.] under difficult circumstances, it was necessary to rest in bed
for several hours a day. The warlike state of affairs in Khoran made it necessary to hasten
the investigation and to head for where I could obtain medical assistance under emergency
conditions. To my surprise, a French officer declared that since it was necessary for me to
penetrate deeper into the area, there were no major objections to it. I had only to tie a
white handkerchief to a stake as sign of peaceful intentions and I could go where I wanted,
since meeting with the Druse was dangerous only for the French but not for Russians or,
even better, Bolsheviks.
Taking advantage of this exceptional advice, I proceeded, together with the teacher
from the American University, into the mountains, to a Druse village. There we actually
had a most cordial reception, obtained exhaustive information, went around on horseback
over a considerable area of fields and peacefully; in the company of a Druse guide, returned
to the railway station, where we took a train to Damascus.
There we were in the oldest city in the world, famous Damascus. Its geographical
location is really remarkable. It is situated in the centre of deserdike mountains at an
altitude of 1500 metres and in a depression where water Streams down the slopes. Sur-
rounded by a sterile desert, Damascus itself is like a sea of green. Everywhere it is full of
gardens and surrounded by fertile fields. After completing long caravan routes lasting for
N.!. VAVILOV -78- FIVE CONTINENTS

days through the desert, the traveller enters Damascus and finds there a kind of'Eldorado'
with water and greenery. The ancient city is strongly built with a large number of mosques
and minarets and a multitude of caravansaries. All crops there are irrigated. This is in the
fullest sense of the word an oasis in a mountainous desert. Thanks to its elevated situation,
the climate is temperate and favourable for the production oHruit trees, grapes and cereals.
Unfortunately, Damascus was also under martial law; it was threatened with an
assault by the Druse. The outskirts of the city were defended by barricades and ro go fur
from the city into the surroundings was not recommended by the authorities. I had to
limit myself to studying the grain market in the city itself and to visit only a few fields.
Damascus is the centre of Arabian learning. Here the famous Arabian Academy of
Science is situated. I soon became acquainted with its president, Professor Kurdali. We had
friends in common. Some time ago the Soviet academician 1. Yu. Krachkovskiy worked
here, about whose koowledge within the field of Arabists Kurdali stated with delight:
"Your Krachkovskiy", he said, "amazes us. He both koows the Arabian literature and reads
it as few of us can do."
Since Damascus is at an intersection of many roads the cultivated plants here have
an alien character. But no doubt there are also endemic plants here. I had never expected to
see such large, thick-skinned grapes as I encountered in the markets of Damascus. The
composition of wheat strains turned out to be extremely varied, reflecting influences from
both southwestern Asia and the Mediterranean area. Peculiar endemic peas of a montane
and Mediterranean type were present there in large amounts. There are important forage
plants, which replace barley in the fodder of horses.
According to documents, Damascus has existed for not less than 4000 years. It is
possible that its history goes even further back. This antiquity is demonstrated by the
durability of its streets; which seemed to be paved with stones that are rooted in the ground.
Even the shops in the market have a character of permanence. In the typical Arabian
restaurants, there is unfailingly an irrigation channel with babbling, running water passing
under the tables, providing coolness during the summer season. There was also an amusing
event. For some reason, after a haircut in the barber shops of Damascus, it is considered
good manners to sprinkle the head with alcohol and burn off the facial hair with a flame.
The first time this operation is carried out without warning it produces a stunning impres-
sion that the whole head is set afire and the client jumps up in terror. However, the affair in
general ends happily, to the amusement of the barber.
After collecting a large sample of different varieties and mailing them, I went to
northern Syria, via Horns, Hama and Aleppo, from where I intended to go by car in the
direction of Mesopotamia [now Iraq] to the Euphrates river. This large area is the granary
of Syria. It is inhabited by typical, slender Arabs in burnooses and turbans. The fields of
wheat reach as fur as the eye can see. Enormous areas are sown. Already there are atrempts
here at a kind of mechanization, e.g. utilization of peculiar, primitive threshing machines.
In general the ordinary Mediterranean kind of agriculture dominates, including the use of
the Latin type of plow, which does not turn over the soil strata, and threshing by means of
wooden boards with flint pieces driven into them, which thresh the grain spread out with
spades. The sowing is done during autumn. This is a monoculture. Mainly hard wheat and
distichous barley are cultivated.
And there was the beautiful valley of the Euphrates, where once upon a time the
Assyro-Babylonian civilization flowered, where the fate of the Near East was settled and
N.I. VAVILOV -79- FIVE CONTINENTS

where the Codex of Hammurabi determined the standards of economy, justice and re-
sponsibilities. Ordinarily, the agricultural crops are not irrigated. The waters of the Euphrates
flow withour restraint all the way to the Indian Ocean. Waterwheels are built for lifting the
water and irrigation is practiced only where water is nearby or where small streams run.
Basically the agriculture is of a nonirrigated type. In the past it was no doubt richer, fuller
and more interesting than the present type. There is no question that it is possible to return
to the earlier conditions by a rational use of the water and the excellent soil. There are
plenty of opporrunities for this. Owing to the exploitation of its many colonies this is not
necessary for the French and the suppressed Arab population is forced to be satisfied with
primitive urilization of an enormous natural wealth.
The time was the vety best for collecting. There was still much wheat and barley, not
yet cut. The harvest was at its peak. The specific composition here is definitely different
from that of southwestern Asia and the Irano-Turkestan region. The wheat is exclusively of
a hard type, the barley always distichous. There is no doubt at all about the distinctiveness
of this territory, its independence and its sharp distinction from southwestern Asia. Also,
the leguminous plants of this territory are special. As demonstrated by research larer on, the
strains from the steppes of dry, norrhern Syria are particularly interesting for the drought-
stricken areas of Ukraine. .
From Aleppo we returned to Beirut and went from there northwards to Latakia and
the Lebanese mountains. The mountains are a remarkable area, directly adjoining the
coastal belt. They face the Mediterranean and reach an altitude of2000 metres. The auto-
mobile was only with great effort able to climb to the top of these mountains. The region
is densely populated; it is a resort area, to which a number of rich people from Egypt come.
Beautiful villas and summer houses enliven the villages and harmonize beautifully with the
mountam scenery.
The slopes of all the foothill areas are occupied by grapevines as well as groves of fig
and olive trees. Evety inch of the soil is utilized. The rich mountain flora of the Mediter-
ranean area is especially interesting because it includes a multitude of wild relatives of
cultivated plants. Here we found interesting wild oats [Avena Jatua L.], wild peas, wild
olives [Olea ettropea L. subsp. afieana [Mill.) P. Greene) and wild carob trees [Ceratonia
siliqua L.).
The ascent became even steeper. We had to park the car and ride horses to reach the
groves of the celebrated cedars of Lebanon [Cedrus libani Loud.). Here Solomon in his
time sent expeditions after material for the construction of the temple of the Jews. At
present this is one of the most remarkable preserves, exceptional because of its beauty. It is
not vety large, at most 200 hectares, the groves situated along tlle mountains in the form of
steplike terraces. The enormous trees form large groups with straight, almost horizontal
branches. Serenely and majestically these giants tower, looking much their age. At the feet
of the mighty ones there are shoots of variously aged young cedars. Among them we found
stands of wild perennial tye [Seeale montanttm Guss.).
Seeing the cedars of Lebanon involuntarily carries one back into the depth of the
ages. They represent one of the relics that indicate the flora of the past. No doubt the large
extension of the mountain massif, which reaches from the vicinity of Beirut toward the
north, was once covered by coniferous forests. At present only isolated groups are left,
saved in the form of forest reserves. Near the cedar groves there is a small tourist station
with a tiny museum, devoted to the cedars of Lebanon.
N.I. VAVILOV - 80- FIVE CONTINENTS

. We continued further north, to Latakia. Along the road there were ruins every-
where, which give witness to a remarkable past and the outstanding civilization that had
been concentrated here. Representing the present, there are only some small Arabian vil-
lages and a few Arabian schools. Much seems accidental and alien and an effort is necessary
to distinguish the new from the really old, which has persisted through the ages.
We returned from Latakia to Beirut and tried to sum up the complicated impres-
sions of the diversiry of this country. I hurried to visit the herbarium of the Jesuit, Bouloumou.
Father B. was near death. The superior of the ecclesiastical educational institution was
astonished by my inquiries about the existence of the large herbarium and let me have the
key to it. The 'Flora of Syria' by Bouloumou, the manuscript of which was lent ro me
during the time I spent in the herbarium, was to be published in the near future. The
collection of plants was undoubtedly the result of an enormous endeavour. Hundreds of
files indicated the great diligence spent on assembling it. But the herbarium was in a
deplorable condition; everything was eaten by beedes and moths. It was a terrible pity that,
in spite of its exceptional importance and the pauciry of available information about the
rich and importantflora of Syria, it was, in essence, lost. By means of the manuscriptl tried
to find the groups of greatest interest to me, but soon I was convinced of the futility of the
search since everything in the herbarium had been moved around. It tutned out that in this
ecclesiastical institution the herbarium had been neglected and that my visit to it was the
first one duting the last 4 years. Thus, the best herbarium of the rich Syrian flora is lost and
all has to be started again from the beginning.
Before leaving Syria I went to Baalbek and the ruins of the temple, dating to the
period of the Roman Empire. The modest work of restoration, only for display, had al-
ready revealed an exceptional standard ofliving. This city, a military outpost of the Roman
Empire, was solidly built, just like everything made at that time. There was a theatre, a
temple with Corinthian pillars, rows of shops with specially constructed counters, good
roads in all directions, baths and sewer pipes. Even at the periphery of their empire, border-
ing on the desert, the Romans achieved the minimum of comfort that was considered
necessary at their time. All the ciry buildings were laid Out in a definite order, according to
a system that could be traced even to our day.
Nothing is lefr of the glorious past. To replace the settled Roman civilization that
once flowered in Syria, there was only a semi-nomadic but quite advanced Arabian civili-
zation. However, during the ensuing dominion of the Ottoman Empire, the past fell into
decay. The conversion of Syria arrer World War I into a so-called French mandate in no
way improved matters. In all of the large area of Syria, which exceeds even that of France
itself, I found in 1926 only a single agronomist, Mr. Ashar, who at the same time was
consultant to the Syrian government on economic problems.
This country, with an ancient, glorious culture that has existed through periods of
powerful accomplishment, endures at present a period of profound decline. It is under-
populated and does not utilize its enormous natural resoutces, which could provide oppor-
tunities for millions of people. The only highways are strategic military ones, constructed
during the last couple of years, which uniquely indicates the influence of the French.
As a mandated terrirory Syria is a rypical example of the political-economic absut-
dity that still dominates Out earth. Why does the French people need a Syrian mandate?
Certainly, not a single sensible Frenchman can answer that question.
N.!. VAVILOV - 81 - FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITIONS IN PALESTINE AND TRANS-JORDANIA'
From Beirut I went by car along rbe coast of Syria to Palestine. This is a very interesting
road through ancient Phoenicia, past Tyre and Sidonia. Very little is left, just some ruins of
a few ports, silent wimesses of a glotious past. I reached the border of Palestine. At rbe
checkpoint, rbe bulky luggage gave rise to comparatively more interest than my docu-
ments. Behind rbe border gates, rbe landscape was the same. The demarcation did not in
anyway coincide wirb any natural border: on both sides the same narrow belt ofMediter-
ranean vegetation, the same kind of dry foorbills wirb a shrub vegetation called 'maquis'
together wirb which wild olive trees, wild figs, pea-shrubs [Caragana Lam.] and wild al-
mond trees could be seen. After reaching Haifa, the main northern POrt, I drove at once
into central Palestine, to Jerusalem. There I stopped in the old ciry near Arabian and
Christian temples, to be close to rbe ancient East.
I had to wait for 2 monrbs in Palestine for visas for Egypt and Abyssinia, a long time
in such a small country; bur it allowed me to travel in all directions over it and Trans-
Jordania.
Until fairly recently, up to 1918, Palestine belonged to Turkey, after which it was
occupied by rbe English military, becaming an English mandate in 1920. Togerber wirb
the English administration there is in Jerusalem also rbe residence of rbe Zionist Executive,
rbe actual central organ of a Zionist state. Relations are always complicated. For rbe most
part rbe English administration, wirb its comparatively small staff, is supported by the
Hebrew population. The population of Jerusalem represents a quite peculiar conglomerate
of old resident Arabs and Jews, most of whom are fairly recent immigrants from various
countries of the world.
Licenses for buying land for rbe settlement of Jewish immigrants are granted to rbe
Zionists. However, the land bought by Zionists occupies so far only a minor portion of
Palestine, which is mainly inhabited by Arabs. There are 20% Jewish settlers against 800/0Ar-
abs, who lately, as is well known, have started a campaign against concession of land to the
Jews. The behaviour of rbe English aurborities is highly peculiar. In Palestine rbey defend
mainly rbe rights of rbe Jews, bur at the same time rbey prevent rbem from penetrating
into Trans-Jordania, which is also an English mandate. Thus, for instance, a visit of Pales-
tinian botanists to Trans-Jordania together wirb me was almost impossible. Only rbanks to
the intervention of several people, including the director of rbe Department of Agricul-
ture, Colonel Sawyer, who acted on my petition, were Dr. Eig, a Palestinian botanist and
his assistants, allowed to accompany me into Trans-Jordania.
After Arabic the language most widespread here seems to be Russian since a rarber
large number of rbe Jews, seeking a new homeland here, appear to be emigrants from
Russia. I recall an episode from my first days here. I had to deliver a letter of recommenda-
tion. When arriving at rbe house indicated and after knocking at the door, I asked rbem to
open and started spealting, of course, in English. There was no answer. I turned to Ger-
man, rbinking rbat due to ,rbe similariry between it and Yiddish, I would be understood in
that language. This did not happen. I tried French and still met wirb no luck. When I
switched to Russian, I was finally understood, rbe door opened and I was advised always to
speak Russian in Palestine.
! Mrer \'7orld \Var I. (he territory consituting present-day Israel was awarded to the UK as a mandate by the United
Nations. In 1922 the British divided [he mandate into two pans, designating all lands wes[ of the Jordan River as
Palestine, and those east of the river as Transjordan, or 'Trans-Jordanii. Editor's note, 1996.
N.J. VAVILOV -82 - FIVE CONTINENTS

At the end of my mission, at the invitation of Palestinian agronomists, I had to give
a lecture about my work and the origin of cultivated flora of Palestine. A large audience had
assembled, 200-300 people, in parr arrived from other cities. Colonel Sawyer, the director
of the Department of Agriculture as mentioned above, was expected and therefore it was
natural that the lecture should be delivered in English. However, for some reason Sawyer
was unable to come, prompting a discussion about which language would make the
lecture most accessible to the audience, since English did not appear to be understood by
everybody. I was able to give it either in French or in German. However, a vote showed that
Russian was the most acceptable language and the lecture was, thus, delivered in that
language, along with simultaneous translation into Hebrew, knowledge of which is obliga-
tory for the Zionists.
While travelling around in the COUntry I here and there visited Arabian schools,
where the teachers understood Russian fairly well. It turned Out that a considerable num-
ber of Arabian schools here had in their time been built and paid for by Russians, who had
gone on a pilgrimage to Palestine on the condition that Russian be taught in the schools
side by side with the Arabian language.
The small country of Palestine is exceptionally convenient for studies ofMediterra-
nean crops. On acquaintance the Agricultural Research Station in Tel Aviv turned out to be
a first-class scientific establishment with major scientific forces collected from allover the
world. In one laboratory they spoke English, in another Russian, in a third one German
and in a fuurth, French. This internationalism is typical of Palestine. It malces it unique,
raising the country to the highest intellectual level. The first-class Universiry of Jerusalem,
created at the initiative of the great botanist Warburg and the physicist Einstein, is no
doubt one of the most remarkable establishments in respect of both the professorships and
the exceptional value of the books assembled in its library.
The excellent roads, recenrly constructed, make it easy and fast to study the entire
country in all its diversity. Although small as a territory, Palestine presents a great variery of
natural conditions owing to its mountainous terrain and the presence of such a deep de-
pression as the Dead Sea, situated 400 metres below sea level. Altogether, the irrigated and
nonirrigated agriculture and the proximiry of the Arabian desert provide opportunities for
observing a multitude of contrasting landscapes in a short time.
With respect to scientific studies Palestine stands at an immeasurably higher level
than Syria. The phytogeography of Palestine has been excellently described during the last
couple of years by Dr. Eig, the author of beautiful geobotanical and taxonomic papers. The
herbarium of the Universiry ofJerusalem furnishes an exhaustive representation of the flora
of Palestine, Trans-Jordania and adjacent dominions. The soil conditions have been eluci-
dated in papers ftom the Tel-Aviv research station. The remarkable work of Velikanskiy,
hvm the Primitive to the Present 7jpe of Agriculture, furnishes an opportuniry for under-
standing the particulars of the agriculture of this COUntry. The agricultural museum, cre-
ated by the agronomist Eittingen, is exceptionally complete and is a fine introduction to
the agricultural life of this country.
Old Jerusalem is now surrounded by a large new ciry, where the universiry and most
of the hotels are situated. All building activities are concentrated mainly within the new
Jerusalem. Old Jerusalem still preserves the traits of an ancient city. Behind its wall Moslem
mosques are completely preserved, relics from the time of Mohammed. Close to the ruins
faithful Jews mourn the loss of their temple from early morning to late at night. A new
Christian chutch is represented by great numbers of altars, carelessly constructed by differ-
N.i. VAVILOV - 83- FIVE CONTINENTS

ent powers. Orthodox, Proresrants, Catholics and COpts all have their own altars and their
own services. All of old Jerusalem is a complex museum, where each street and every house
represents a page from the biblical history. In the garden of Gethsemane centuries old olive
trees are still preserved. The city is surrounded by hospitals, almshouses and other chari-
table establishments.
Jerusalem is siruated in a montane area at an altitude of 500 metres and has a typical
semi-desert climate. The summers are completely dry. No rain falls until late autumn. The
precipitation occurs during late autumn, winter and early spring. The inhabitants of Jerusalem
suffer from a shortage of water. The city is supplied with water from the surrounding
mountains. It is collected in special reservoirs in the foothills and conducted into Jerusalem
via aqueducts and subterranean conduits. But it is not enough., especially in the autumn.
In September and October it is often easier to find a glass of wine than water in Jerusalem.
When sleeping one morning in November, I heard a noise in the street. The first rain of the
autumn was falling. The inhabitants and especially the children were delighted. All the city
was literally rejoicing. The water was collected from the roofS and greedily drunk.
Aftet working out a plan for an expedition in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I went to-
gether with the agronomist Eittingen to the valley ofEsdralon where at present the Jewish
colonization is concentrated and where Aaronsohn had made the main finds of wild wheat.
The vegetation was mainly arboreal. Only during early spring is it possible to see the
herbaceous ephemerals to which the wild wheat belongs.
In the foothills of the mountains from which a subterranean stream flows into the
Esdralon valley, I actually found a large stand of wild wheat together with an admixture of
distichous barley. This was on vacant land with soft, fertile soil surrounding the crops
themselves. The wheat here looked distinctly different from what we had collected in
Khoran in Syria. The spikes and the spikelets were large, reminiscent of those of cultivated
wheat but with rough awns and large grains. This was far from a xerophyte like the Syrian
wheat and in essence the plants were close to cultivated wheat.
When studying the crops in the valley ofEsdtalon itself, I found wild wheat in large
amounts around the edges and along the boundaries of the fields. There is no doubt at all
that it represents a wild relative, very close to cultivated wheat, in particular hatd wheat. In
contrast to the Syrian wild wheat, the Palestinian one is reptesented by a great variety of
fotms, of which K.A. Flaksberger has described a latge number of vatieties. The fact that it
is found together with wild barley suggests that Palestine just like Syria acrually belongs to
the basic native lands of the most important of the cereals, that is, wheat and the barley.
Here, where archeological documents also indicate the presence of ancient civilizations,
the main evolutionary links of the crops in question are also found.
The land in the valley of Esdtalon has to a major extent been bought up by the
Zionist Executive and during the last couple of decades large waves ofJewish colonizers
have been arriving there. The conditions are rathet peculiar. For every family 1000 pounds
sterling are given as long-term credit and can be used at will. It is possible to join a com-
mune, to work individually, or to form a cooperative. In a commune all is common prop-
erty. The children of the membets sleep together in one place, separated from their parents.
In the commune there is still a complete bond to agriculrure but the families regularly go to
work in the towns and then return in accordance with the seasons to do field work. The
valley of Esdralon is like a research field, where various forms of societies are tried out.
There is a gratifYing tendency toward mechanization of all agricultural work.
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The wide valley ofEsdralon, with a kind of black soil, is exceptionally favourable for
agriculture. The level character of the area makes it possible to do completely mechanized
work here. The most productive of the local wheats have been selected and are sown by
Jewish farmers.
Work at the Tel-Aviv research station soon led to a plan for the most rational control
of agriculture. Naturally, a conversion to the European turnover type of Sack plows was the
first thing desired. However, research at the station demonstrated that in this respect the
Arabian or Latin type of furrow plow was indispensable. For greater efficiency it was pro-
vided with wheels. Here the turning over of the sod is practiced only on lots where the soil
is extremely weedy. Where the soil is adequately cultivated, turning over by plow is unneces-
sary; the ordinary Latin-type furrow plow is entirely satisfactory of working the soil.
At the station, part of the research conducted concerns application of irrigation to
subtropical crops, i.e. different kinds of bananas and sugarcane.
I also went to the lake of Genesareth. There fishing is conducted just as it was in the
distant past. No doubt the population of ancient Palestine was much larger than the present
one: hundreds of structures, long ago fullen into ruins, and thinly populated areas provide
a picture of the present. Everything in this area is abandoned, neglected and deserted. The
blue lake carries one back to Biblical times. Nazareth is also here. It is surrounded by a
thicket of cacti, mainly withour spines [Opuntia ficus-indica [L.] Mill.], that was planted
160 years ago. This indicates that the spineless cactus was !mown long before Burbank, to
whom usually the 'invention' of cacti without spines is attributed. The cacrus is a typical
Mexican plant and the presence of spineless cacti in Palestine indicates a distant prov-
enance of this form.
The composition of the kinds of cultivated plants in Palestine largely reflects what is
local and endemic; bur at the same time, thanks to the large turnover of the populations,
one also encounters undoubtedly alien and casual introductions.
I went to the northern border of Palestine, back towards Syria, where the Syrian
Kharan imperceptibly crosses over into the Palestinian one. The flora is the same and so are
the dry foothills and the hard wheat, the 'Khoranka.' Turning eastward I went to the
Jordan river, which flows out into the Dead Sea and separates Trans-Jordania from Pales-
tine. The bright, dark-blue and narrow band of the river is flanked by a marsh on the
Palestinian side. Around the river itself and on a part of the bank, there is a stand of
beauriful papyrus [CypenlS papyrus L.], reaching 2 metres in height. Behind them there is a
thicket of oleanders [Nerium oleander L.] with pink flowers. The oleanders flower in Septem-
ber. From far away it looks as though the entire valley is an endless stretch of pink. The
papyrus and oleander bordering the Jordan give it an exceptionally picturesque aspect. The
water is clear and potable. A marshy area lines the Palestinian side. Across the river from
Palestine, on the Trans-Jordanian highland, a rural extension of Palestine begins where
enormous crops of wheat are concentrated.
The Dead Sea, situated almost 400 metres below sea level, is a deep depression filled
with briny salt water, unsuitable (or life. On its steep eastern shore thickets of wild date
palms [Phoenix sylvestris [L.] Roxb.] can be seen. They give it a distinctive look. I took a
steamer to the south end of the Dead Sea. A piece of heavy wood thrown into the sea floats
on top of it. To swim in the sea is peculiar: the water lifts one to the surface. It has a very
unpleasant taste. When getring our of this lake one has the feeling that the body is covered
by some kind of a crust.
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Ancient Jericho is situated on the western shore of the Dead Sea, surrounded by
irrigated gardens and palm trees. To the south the beautiful Gilboa mountains with slopes
of different colours, mainly dark brown and gloomy, can be seen. All around is a lifeless
desert. Only occasionally are there a few plants, e.g. the peailiar small crown flower [Calotropis
procera [Ait.] Dry.] with inflated fruits and the original 'cucumbers of the prophets', also
called 'gooseberry gourds' [Cucumis prophetarum L.]. These are the size of small plums and
covered with thorns and, although edible, they are not tasty but somewhat salty. This is all
the vegetation on these yellow clayey or sandy expanses.
Near ancient Jaffa on the Mediterranean coast the a new city of Tel Aviv' has been
built up during the last couple of decades. In contrast to ancient Jaffa, which was a typically
Asiatic city with flat toofs, Tel Aviv is a vety modern city with beautiful and comfortable
homes, European hotels, theatres, schools, factories and plants; in other words, it is a city
built in a very short time according to American methods of high-speed construction.
Plantations of the famous Jaffa oranges [Citrus sinensis [L.] Osb. cultivar.] ate con-
centrated on the red soils around Jaffa. This is one of the most important products of the
Palestinian agriculture, outstanding with respect to the technology of irrigation, care, ap-
plication of fertilizers and the fight against diseases and pests. Here a rigid selection of the
best plants is made. The well-known brand 'Shamudi' arose apparently as a vegetative
mutation as was demonsttated by a Dutch research worker, Oppenheimer. Jaffa oranges
are distinguished by their smooth and thick skin and the large size of the juicy fruits and
have therefore, in essence, no competitors. The market for them is absolutely secure and
practically unlimited.
From Jaffu a road runs southward to Egypt via Gaza. The climate becomes increas-
ingly drier, the soils sandier and more easily wind-driven. Gaza, bordering on an Egyptian
area, is situated in a large oasis with thousands of date palms. Artificial pollination is prac-
ticed. The dates are of high quality, nOt less than that of dates from the oases of Sahara.
The agricultural opportunities for Palestine are limited. Most of its area is occupied
by highlands, suitable only for cultivation of olives. The area for fields is limited and to a
great extent already used up. A number of major irrigation projects have been worked out,
offering rich possibilities for spending considerable amounts of money. Opportunities for
developing agricultural crops are fur better on the other side of the Jordan, in Trans-Jordania.
This country, which seems like a natural extension of Palestine and is immediately adjacent
to Mesopotamia, is represented by an enormous level territory favourable for cultivation of
cereals. Crops stretch over wide areas almost to the horizon. They consist mainly of hard
wheat and the distichous, drought-tolerant Palestinian barley.
Whichever way you turn in Palestine, there are ruins oflarge buildings and traces of
Roman roads. The authority of the Roman Empire reached as far as here. In the centre of
Trans-Jordania, remains of a large outpost city with ruins of temples with Corinthian
colmuns are preserved. The agricultural character of Trans-Jordania is imprinted on the
ruins of this Roman city. Conical stone mills, used for grinding grain on stones, are pre-
served here in large numbers. They are by far more perfect than the primitive and simple
stone mills. In other words, here things were better in the past. Indeed, in ancient times the
initial acculturation of bread grasses, wheat and barley, occurred exactly within this ter-
ritory. There can be no doubt that in the past considerable amounts of wheat and barley
were grown here, which was possible thanks to the development of an agriculture which
"Hill of Spring', btl( originally written in Russian mistakenly by Vavilov as 'the spring flower'
N.I. VAVILOV -86- FIVE CONTINENTS

made use of the plow. According to documenred data, not only was Trans-Jordania the
granary of Palestine but its grains were exponed fur beyond its borders.
The future prospects for agriculture in Palestine are not very clear. It is absolutely
obvious only that the system of governmenr and the building up of Palestine is not radical
but often counrerproductive. The surplus of inrelligenrsia, including agronomists, cannot
really be assuted of a rational application of their efforts. It is impossible to escape the
detrimenral effects of the national disuniry and the discord that seem to be what is prima-
rily being cultivated in this counrry.
ALGERIA
From Marseilles it is just about an 8-hout voyage aboard a fast steamer to the porr of
Algiers. So this is Africa. However, the first impression is that there is very litde of the real
Africa left here. All around and wherever you look in Algeria there is an exclusively inrerna-
tional flora: beautiful Peruvian philodendron [Monstem sp.] with split leaves; enormous
thickets of Australian eucalyptus, acacias and casuarinas; cittus trees inrroduced from south-
eastern Asia; Mexican cacti and agaves planted as fences along the shores; and enrlless
vineyards, stretching fur miles in all directions. This is what characterizes the presenr agri-
culture of Algeria.
I wenr to see the main 'culprit' for this, the famous French inrroducer of plants
Louis Trabut. This was duting the summer of 1926. On the day of my arrival the Algerian
communirywas celebrating the occasion ofTrabut's 75th birthday and a bronze medal was
issued in his honour. Trabut had studied the flora of Algeria untiringly for more than 40
years and together with Batande he compiled the first catalogue of it; he also studied the
evolution of the cultivated flora of Algeria. Trabut was the first one to understand the
connection between the cultivated Meditertanean oats, Avena byzantina C. Koch, and
wild oat-grass,A. stfJilis L.; and he found the wild ancestor of horse beans in the mounrain
areas of Algeria, the so-called Vicia pliniana [Trabut] Muratowa. However, the most im-
porrant matter in the life ofTrabut, his greatest feat, was his wide-ranging scienrific plan for
inrroduction of everything of value within the plant kingdom ftom all counrries with
tropical or subtropical climates.
In conrrast to American inrroducers, Trabut, a very well-educated taxonomist,
phyrogeographer and evolutionist, delved deeply inro the selection of species and genera.
His most beautiful monographs are studies of the evolution of the eucalyptus, acacias and
agaves. He applied the wide horizon of a phyrogeographer to the selection of cirrus species.
He created an important botanical garden, where a worldwide tropical and subtropical
flora is concenrrated There he gathered what was most valuable. Most of all this was
subject to evolutionary and ecological ideas. The fume ofTrabut is immortal. His methods
are used not only in differenr countries along the shores of the Mediterranean; they are also
employed in the subtropical areas of the Soviet Union.
The visitor from the Soviet Union was apparencly a very welcome sight for the eyes
of the stern old man. He eagerly showed me his herbarium and provided me with seeds
and literature. Together with him I worked out a travel route through Algeria including
StopS in the Sahara. The conversations with Trabutwere a great pleasure because of his wide
views, concrete knowledge and soaring thoughts, as well as his evolutionary ideas.
The modest condition of his home indicated that even in the rich capitalistic coun-
tries science sets toilers to work, that to a great extenr their work is unselfish and that it is in
no way remunerated according to the value of the results achieved. This is especially characteris-
N.I. VAVILOV - 87- FIVE CONTINENTS

tic of French scientists, something of which I was able to convince myself repeatedly. The
conditions of the Pasteur Institute are modest too, although it has offered mankind more
than any other institute in the world. I found the same applying to Tunisia as to France itself
Above all it was necessary to get into the Sahara and see the oases. In July, Trabur
stated, only 'mad dogs and Englishmen' go there. Bur to find anything of the harvests, it
was imperative to get there right away; to hesitate was our of the question. The nearest
major oases were Biskra andTouggourt. A narrow-gauge railroad runs there. It was possible
to travel around in the oases by car.
In a small train with a tiny locomotive, I went to Biskra through the region of the
Kabyle mountains, which were crossed by the narrow-gauge railroad. Beyond the spurs of
the Atlas mountain range there is a lifeless desert. The vegetation consists of sparse shrubs,
scorched during summer. The monotonous and boring desert extends for kilometre after
kilometre.
Biskra is a large oasis. There was a whole forest of gigantic date palms already in
fruit, which would ripen in September. From below the crown, enormous clusters of bright
yellow fruits hung down, which would turn dark brown when ripe. The entire oasis pro-
duces a strange impression. Deep furrows, through which water flows intermittently and
periodically, have been provided for irrigation of the trees. To walk there is always inconve-
nient. The water stays on the surface for a few days and then the soil becomes so&'''y. Biskra
is an important winter resort. During late aurumn and winter both sick people and others
from all over the world come there to recuperate. There are first-class French and American
hotels. Of course, in July they were all closed and it was only with difficulty that I found
refuge in one of them.
At the edges of the oasis there are Arabian buildings with flat roofs over which date
palm fronds are ordinarily placed. There are small vegetable gardens, full of carrots, beets
and onions. The wheat was, of course, already harvested. Going from house to house I
collected decorations made of ears which are usually suspended from the buildings. The
adornments consist of ears harvested the same or the previous year. This turned our to be
fully satisfactory. I was able to collect a few hundred ears, mainly of hard wheat, rarely of
the soft, foreign kind. As demonstrated by the studies of a professor at the University of
Algiers, Duxelles, a special kind of soft wheat with thick straw has developed through tlle
ages. It is very productive and of course irrigated and has been referred by him to the main
group of wheat from the oases.
Together with an Arab guide I went deep into the desert in an automobile equipped
Witll special wide tires for driving in the sand. We drove in the direction toward Touggourt,
which was interesting mainly because of the stops in the scattered villages along the road.
Abour a dozen krn apart there were small oases with the obligatory groups of date palms
and a few houses. There is a special research station in the desert for the cultivation and
breeding of date palms. However, all this is of a primitive nature. After studying the cultiva-
tion of date palms in Algeria and California, it seemed to me that during the last couple of
decades the American introducer Swingle and his friends have achieved more in America
than the Arabs and the French during all their time spent in the Saharan oases.
During spring the desert is covered by beauriful bur ephemeral vegetation. In July all
was bare and dead there. After travelling about 150 krn we decided to hurry back to Biskra,
where the grain was ripening in the mountain areas. I resolved to make an excursion with
Professor Duxelles for a few days to the tribes in the Kabyle mountains of Algeria. The
N.I. VAVILOV - 88- FIVE CONTINENTS

route, planned by Professor Duxelles, would demonstrate the wild flora as well as the plants
cultivated by the Kabyles tribesmen.
The first excursions among the fields and vegetable gardens of the coastal belt of the
Mediterranean resulted in observations of exceptional imponance. While visiting the Ara-
bian markets and neighborhood vegetable gardens I came across enormous bulbs of ordi-
nary onions [Allium cepa L.], each weighing up to 2 kg. This was neither a coincidence nor
something paradoxical, Beans, lentils, peas, wheat, barley, flax, wild carrots and wild verch
are all distinguished by unusual dimensions in the Mediterranean area: flowers, seeds and
fruits are large. This applies to the common onion as well. The gigantism of individual
organs presents a special morphological aspect, which is general all over the Mediterranean
area, as I was able to ascenain later on. Of course, man plays a great role in this, as do the
high level and the antiquiry of the agriculture. On the other hand, narural selection has
undoubtedly also favoured the development and selection of such large forms.
As already mentioned above, the intense heat during summer and the dry early pan
of the autumn, and the gentle precipitation during winter and spring, are typical of the
Mediterranean area. An optimum utilization of the narural moisture has produced large-
grained, large-seeded and large-fruited forms and even large bulbs; promoted fast growth;
and created provisions oflarge amounts of nutritious matter. Thanks to the initially rapid
growth, the plants can utilize the precipitation during the late aurumn and mild winter to
the maximum extent. On the other hand, during the following stages of development the
cultivated plants are distinguished by a considerable drought-tolerance, developed owing
to the dry climate during the summer months.
Mediterranean oats are also distinguished by large dimensions just like the weedy
oat grasses. In the coastal belt it is possible ro see large amounts of wild beets, Beta maritima
L., a relative of the sugar beet. However, at the same time it appears unlikely that the
rapidly growing annual forms of the coastal belt should be the true ancestors of the culti-
vated forms. More recent investigations have indicated that these were rather biennial
forms distinguished by powerful growth and thick roots, ecologically closer ro the culti-
vated ones and no doubt more closely related genetically to the cultivated forms of both
fodder and sugar beets.
The Kabyle mountains are sharply different with respect to all the types of agricul-
ture. The ancient settlements of the Kabyles are concentrated there. The Kabyles are closely
related to the Berbers, use a language different from Arabic and have neat houses covered
by tiles instead of the flat-roofed houses of the Arabs.
Everything here spoke of a comparatively high state of culture, rypical of the mon-
tane and highland areas of the Mediterranean. The villages of the Kabyles resemble Greek
villages. The arable land is carefully utilized for field crops and vegetables. The study of the
assonrnent of cultivated plants immediately showed a sharp distinction from the strictly
Mediterranean areas. The beans, lentils, peas and vetches grown in the Kabyle villages
differ by having small and dark seeds, which to a considerable extent were familiar to me
and similar to the Asiatic forms distributed in Iran, Inner Asia and Afghanistan. Soft wheat
was grown here in large amounts. It might be possible to trace its connection with south-
western Asia to a kind of relic, which indicates a past, distant relationship between the
settlers of the montane areas of nonhern Africa and the agricultural peoples who sertled
sourhwestern Asia.
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The wild flora of rhe Kabyle mountains has a multitude of species which are rela-
tives of rhose cultivated species. Here it is to some extent possible to solve rhe riddle of rhe
origin of some cultivated plants. It was just here rhat Trabut found rhe interesting wild
bean mentioned above, Vicia pliniana [Trabut] Muratowa, which undoubtedly is geneti-
cally especially closely related to rhe cultivated forms of rhe small-seeded, black beans of
Afghani:;tan and India. In any case, it is absolutely necessary to appreciate the differentia-
tion of norrhern Africa into montane, coastal and foorhill areas. The mountain area ap-
pears more ancient and rhe coastal one more yourhful. However, after rhousands of years
of cultivation and to a great extent passing rhrough an evolution independent from rhat of
rhe Asiatic mOllntain forms, rhe beans are tied not by a straight but a crooked parh to rhe
wideranging evolution of rhe Mediterranean cultivated vegetation.
A later itinerary rhrough Algeria, planned together wirh Trabut, Duxelles and rhe
Department of Agriculture on rhe basis of the excellent agronomic map published by rhe
French Department of Agriculture, needed in particular to include the areas where bread
grains are cultivated. The time for collecting was approaching. We selected the areas of
Setif, Timgad and Tiaret which are settled by Arabs. This was the realm of hard wheat,
represented by a definitely Mediterranean group with large spikes and large grains, distinct
from our usual Soviet 'Garnov' and 'Kuban' iypes. Here a considerable area under cereals is
also cultivated by French colonists. The agrotechnology is simple: fallow alternating with
crops of wheat and, most often, barley. The spaciousness of the land still allows extensive
utilization of single crops covering large areas. The sowing is, as a rule, done in the aurumn,
during the rainy period at the end of October into November. Strange to say, the Arabian
settlers of this area are not always inclined to agriculture but prefer an easier way to earn an
income, by trading.
Tiaret is a centre of Arabian culture and Arabian schools and mosques. As I left the
town, I passed a remarkable mosque, an example of splendid arts with amazing designs of
Strikingly harmonizing lines, arches and ornaments. It was built several centuries ago and is
wirness ro rhe exceptional level of the Arabian arts of the past. Around it were the usual
primitive villages and filrhy reservoirs. The children were afflicted with trachoma. The
rudimentary agriculrure was of a haphazard narure. Again I happened to arrive on a market
day. On beautifully prancing, splendid horses, smartly rurned out Arabs, mostly with light-
coloured skin and wearing enormous, metre-wide straw hats and burnooses, came to-
gether in the village. Frequently one could see horsemen wearing two hats, one on top of
another, apparently to be chic. The dimension of the hats was hardly due to necessiry, but
was rather an exaggerated fashion.
Both the most primitive and the greatest of the arts all meet here; all rhis contradic-
tion amazed me and was hard to understand. In any case, on the whole, when travelling
around in Syria and Palestine and, later on, in Tunisia and Morocco, it was difficult not to
be aware of the ancient and outstanding Arabian civilization represented by immortal
geographers, Arabian arts and the Mauritanian sryle (rypical of Africa). In the same way,
during a visit to Greece, it is difficult to understand how Athens, which now holds such an
insignificant position within the modern world, could once occupy such a significant place
among the advanced ancient civilizations. The ancient time remains an unsurpassed ex-
ample of an era of important art and sciences, covering all subjects from rhe medicine of
Hippocrares and the natural sciences of Aristotle to the history of Herodoros and Strabo.
Why, when conditions are more favourable, has rhere in essence been such an enormous
downfall and degradation instead of progress?
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With the help ofDuxelles I collected a large sample of all the field crops. Trabut and
his student and successor Duxelles, now unfortunately deceased, possessed an incredible
knowledge of the nature of this country. Their encyclopedic knowledge allowed me to
confidently orient myselfwithin a short time among the assemblage of cultivated plants, to
pick out the necessary material and to work out the evolutionary problems that are related
to the origin of cultivated plants within the flora of northern Africa.
MOROCCO
I went to Morocco by bus, the usual mode of travelling in Algeria and Morocco, and was
lucky to be able to familiarize myself within a short time [10-12 days] with the main
agricultural areas of that country. Along the road from Algeria I passed extensive areas of
vineyards. This is a large, industrial crop, the most profitable one of this French colony.
The Department of Agriculture atraches the greatest importance to this type of agriculture
and the attention of the most enterprising colonizers is focused on it. The plantations are in
a well-cultivated condition, with the plants correctly pruned and tied to trellises. They are
regularly sprayed against oidium [Oidium tuckeri Berk.] and mildew [Plasmopara viticola
Perlese & de Toni]. A standard selection is made.
The bus drove along specially constructed roads with a speed of up to 40 kmph,
quickly passing through the desert and semi-desert areas of Morocco. A wide expanse of
northern Morocco is represented by almost unpopulated areas with insignificant crops but
also by foothills of mountain ranges, mainly on the southern side. The agriculture of
northern Morocco is concentrated exclusively within oases.
Before me spread the first large oasis, surrounding the ciry ofFez. It is an old ciry
with towers and ruins. There are hundreds of houses surrounded by gardens and wide areas
of irrigated fields. It is a realm of hard wheat. A survey of the grain On the market revealed
the presence there of forms different from the Mediterranean ones. The nature of the oasis
has put its imprint on them. An influence of southwestern Asia can also be perceived.
The capital of Morocco is Rabat, where an agricultutal research station and the
Department of Agriculture are located. The head of the station, Dr. Miege, was well-
known to me from the literature. He is the author of original papers on cultivated plants.
I acquainted myself in detail with the Moroccan material amassed at the station and with
the collections representing mainly samples of local hard wheats and local barley.
Rabat is situated on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and is distinguished by a mild
coastal climate. Crops are not irrigated there. In essence the area belongs to the typical
Mediterranean region. The large-spiked and large-grained forms are similar to the typical,
coastal Algerian assortment. Thanks to the previous work of the American plant introdu-
cer Scoffield, who thoroughly researched the bread grasses of Algeria and the papers by
Duxelles, Trabut and Miege, as well Boeufin Tunisia, the composition of the local crops is
very well known. In general, this is a realm of Mediterranean hard wheat with a rare
admixture of other species, including hexastichous barley. At the station, research on vari-
ous crops is conducted. This is a kind of a centre of introduction, which is constantly
widening its scope. A small but modest staff of French research workers carry Out an
enormous investigative and agronomical work of first-class importance for agriculture.
From Rabat I went to Casablanca, which is also situated on the coast of the Atlantic
Ocean and differs little from Rabat as far as conditions are concerned. Both Rabat and
Casablanca are new cities, built by the French in Arabian style with flat roofs. But they have
adopted only the building style from the Arabs; all the rest is like Europe. From Casablanca
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I travelled into the Atlas mountains, to the oasis of Marrakesh, with the intention of
reaching, if possible, areas with montane crops in the Atlas mountains.
Marrakesh is an ancient city, represented by an important oasis with an extensive
system of undetground irrigation, fot which water is supplied to the fields through subter-
ranean tunnels. Water is plentiful. The oases cover a large portion of the land. There is a
multitude of crops: ceteals, leguminous and oil-producing plants and different kinds of
wheat, in part reflecting an influence from southeastern Asia, from where the underground
irrigation system had also perhaps been adopted.
In Marrakesh I hired guides and horses and went into the Atlas mountains. In the
foothills, wide areas are occupied by the special feathergrass of NOM Africa, the so-called
'alfa' [Stipa tenacissima L.], a herbaceous plant from which high-quality paper is produced.
Alfa is collected in large quantities in Algeria and Morocco. So far, attempts to cultivate it
have not, as far as I know, had any positive results. It is urilized only in a wild condition.
A forested zone, represented by cork oal<s [Q;/ercus suber L.), began. Thicle layers of
cork are removed from the gigantic, centuries-old trees. As long as the cultivation of cork
om remains limited, this is one of the highly profitable articles marketed.
Just like ti,e Kabyle mountains, ti,e Atlas mountains are occupied by a population
of Berbers who are definitely different from the Arabs. They are settlers with a high level of
agriculture. Here tiled roofs are widespread. The people have a feeling for their old culture
and preserve all old habits. The legend of Atlantis, aptly interpreted by Benoit, no doubt
has something behind it. In any case, in the interior of NOM Africa one gets a feeling of
the effect of some long-lasting civilization. It is possible that these people, who are of an
Aryan type, have something in common with southwestern Asia. The composition of the
crops, cultivated by them, also point toward this.
To my amazement I encountered crops of/ocal tye in the Atlas mountains that are
genetrically linked to those of the Caucasus and the Near East. While ascending into these
mountains, I came across a peculiar kind of hard wheat with easily shattering grains, which
is unusual for hard wheat. As far as I know, it is found only in the Atlas mountains. The
hemp, peas and vetchling here are the typical sourhwesternAsiatic kinds. In general, evety-
thing spem of a connection beyond doubt between the agricultural crops in the mountain
areas of Africa and not only the Mediterranean ones bur also those of southwestern Asia.
After returning to Marrakesh I made still another round trip through the Atlas
mountains. This time I was amazed to run across a group of villages toward the east which
were inllabited by people from the interior of Aftica. These peoples were mainly black,
negroid tribes witll a primitive civilization, squalid huts covered by bast matting and wartle
and crops of negrito millet [?Eleusine coracana [L.) Gaertn.) and durra [Sorghum bicolour
[L.) Moench} in other words, typical representatives of interior Aftica with all its primitive,
half-naked peoples, whom I subsequently had occasion to observe during the expedition to
East Africa.
The duration of my visa to Morocco had come to an end. In my enthusiasm I had
overstayed the date set for it. After sending my French assistant with the luggage to Algiers,
I decided to avail myself of the fastest mode of transportation, which was a seat in a militaty
aeroplane, obtained through Dr. Miege. I left Rabat early the following morning for Oran,
bypassing the border post between Algeria and Morocco. The flight proved adventurous.
When not yet at the border of Algeria, the engine started to malfunction. Below the aircraft
a lifeless desert extended. The pilot, who evidently did not want to get stuck in an
unpopulated area, decided to try to reach Oran somehow by making some intricate
N.I. VAVILOV -92- FIVE CONTINENTS

manoeuvers. In the cabin a French officer and I were thrown against each other and the
walls. We were finally delivered ro Oran in a half-conscious state. There I had only a few
hours to recover before returning by train to Algiers.
TUNISIA
The road to Tunisia runs through a steppe-like area of Algeria which is planted with hard
wheat. I had previously called the attention of Ptofessor Boeuf, director of the botanical
garden, to my expedition and was gtaciouslywelcomed in Tunis as an old friend. During
my expeditions I had repeatedly seen with my own eyes what internationalism means for
the sciences. It is enough that colleagues abroad know about your work and somehow
appreciate it, it is enough that you have corresponded, for them to make you a welcome
guest and give you help such as they would give to a very close friend.
Professor Boeuf is a great investigator of the cultivated plants of Tunisia. Ai; far as
botanical gardens are concerned, this one in Tunis is, in essence, a major agronomical
station, sharply different from the modest institutes in Algeria and Morocco. In the full
meaning of the word, this is a real institute with a considerable staff, laboratories, beautiful
meteorological equipment and a herbarium. In other words, this is a complete institute of
applied botany. Boeuf does a lot of plant breeding work. In a short time it was possible for
me to familiarize myself with his large collection of material from allover the country, as
well as with the classification of the cereals. I obtained a large assortment of cultivated
plants.
Boeuf had planned a most interesting itinerary throughout Tunisia, including all
the main agricultural areas. He even showed an interest in accompanying me, the more so
since this was the very best season: the harvest had only just begun in the mountain areas
and the wheat had not yet been cut. It was evident that we could expect to make a very
good and interesting collection. The equipment necessary for the expedition was assembled:
an aneroid barometer, wrappings and bags, and early the following morning we departed
for the interior of Tunisia and the spurs of the Atlas mountains.
The modern ciry ofTunis is situated near the famous Carthaginian ruins, which are
still preserved. In the past, at the time of the Romans, Tunisia was the granary which to a
great extent supplied the Roman Empire with wheat. On the border ofTunisia towards the
Sahara an ancient frontier post of the Roman Empire was situated. It was the same here as
in Trans-Jordania and Palestine: an arena with an amphitheatre, a beautifully preserved
pipe system, a temple with colonnades, streets and a market with stalls. Ai; can be seen, the
influence of Rome reached to the very borders of the great deserts of Ai;ia and Africa.
The city today, part of which is European, is not very large. The major portion is
represented by an Arabian ciry with the usual buildings with flat roofs and by large grain
markets, clearly reflecting the composition of the Mediterranean crops: there were large-
grained wheat and barley and large-seeded linseed, beans, lentils and peas. Around the
ruins of Carthago one can see the typical irrigation by means of waterwheels and special
wells, from which water is drawn with receptacles made of skins.(the waterskins are low-
ered into the wells and pulled up by horses 'over the wheel').
Extensive areas of the foothills of Tunisia and its highlands are devoted to hard
wheat. So far almost exclusively local and ancient kinds are cultivated here. They represent
a heterogeneous blend of many varieties, consisting of a mixture of white-spiked, red-
spiked and black-spiked forms. Competition between hard and soft wheat has already
taken effect here in full force. The city people and the French colonists prefer bread made
N.!. VAVILOV -93 - FIVE CONTINENTS
----------------------------.1----------------------------
of soft wheat. The Arabian population holds stubbornly on to the hard wheat. There are
rather weighty reasons fot this, of which I became convinced when travelling around in
Tunisia. After threshing the wheat and setting aside a part of it for seeding, the rest is
usually preserved in piles. Water is poured over the hard wheat and kept there for one-and-
a-half to two days. The grains swell and a fermentation process takes place within the
grains, a conversion of starch into sugar. Then the grain is spread our and dried and finally
used for making a kind of gruel. Such fermented wheat is sold at evety market in Tunisia
and Algeria under the name of'cous-cous'. This is a vety primitive use of grain, a relic of the
past, which apparently has some connection to southeastern Asia, where the population
mainly nourishes itself on boiled rice. Cous-cous is a kind of ' wheaten rice.'
JUSt as in Algeria, the agriculrure of Tunisia is rather primitive. The tools are the
Arabian furrow-plow, a threshing board with pieces of flint driven into it and wooden
spades for winnowing the chaff from the grain. The grain is scatrered by hand. The sowing
is done in the aurumn. The usual three-crop rotation is wheat, barley and fallow. This is the
entire agronomical basis of these ancient countries. The varietal composition is represented
by first-class local varieties of hard wheat. Although it varies with respect to the colour of
the spikes; it is, on the whole, rather consistent as a result oflong-lasting natural selection.
Generally North Mrica is a kind of unit of its own. A phytogeographical analysis
clearly reveals specific Mediterranean crops, a dominance of original, local large-grained
hard wheat and six-rowed barley. The cultivation of large-seeded leguminous plants and
large-seeded flax is concentrated in the coastal zone.
The mountain areas of the Atlas and the Kabyle mountains reflect a two-fold influ-
ence. On the one hand, one sees a clistant influence from southwestern Asia, on the other
from Mediterranean cultivated plants, not subject to the influence of environmental con-
ditions, but here, in the mountains, developed into corresponcling basic groups, somewhat
different from those in the coastal zone. The comparative uniformity of me cultivated
plants and the extensive type of agriculture, typical of a considetable area, indicate that
agriculture did not originate here. In respect of me cereals, their source is no doubt found
in me Near East. Here, under conditions of bom natural and artificial selection, corre-
sponding forms have developed owing to favourable conditions such as autumn sowing, a
mild winter and a comparatively favourable distribution of precipitation.
N.I. VAVILOV - 94- FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITION IN ABYSSINIA
ABYSSINIA
An expedition to Egypt should have been next in turn, but endless attempts to obtain a visa
did not produce any positive resulrs. In spite of all his influence the banker, Mossar, was
unable to obtain the necessary permission for me; and even the assistance given by Kurdali,
the president of rhe Arabian Academy of Sciences in Damascus, led nowhere. The peti-
tions of the greatesr agronomists in England, Daniel Hall and John Russell, did not help
either.
I obtained rather courteous answers to my requests for a visa from Alexandria,
signed by an English colonel who managed the admittance of foreigners, stating that,
unfortunately, owing to the circumsrances prevailing at present, it was impossible to allow
me entry. My suggestion to have police escort me at my cost during my short expedition to
the agricultural areas of Egypt was not accepted either. It was necessary to garher seeds in
Egypt at any cost. So I engaged an intelligent Italian student, Gudzoni, to be my coworker.
I prepared and ourfitted him with the necessary material such as an aneroid baromerer and
means for collecting; told him to assemble all the literature necessary; and sent him off to
Egypt. Gudzoni carried our his mission conscientiously, while following the itinerary agreed
upon through all the agricultural areas as far as to the Aswan dam in upper Egypt.
All attention was now directed toward obraining visas for entering Abyssinia [now
Ethiopia] and Eritrea. Preliminary discussions in Paris were not crowned with success.
Madame de Vilmorin promised to write a letter to the French envoy in Addis Ababa
which, as I was to learn later on, she did with the kindness typical of her. The difficulries
were increased owing to the fact that at that time Abyssinia had no diplomatic repre-
sentatives in Europe. Attempts to cable or write from different countries to the govern-
ment of Abyssinia were also futile. My friend, the American agronomist Dr. Harland, who
had visited Abyssinia in 1923 and was pleased with the cheerful welcome of its ruler, tried
on his part to help me from Washingron, but apparently this, too, was just another voice
crying in the wilderness of the Abyssinian bureaucracy. It began to look as though I would
have to give up the utopian idea of getting into Abyssinia. Bur I could never reconcile
myself to that, since according to all my theoretical hypotheses East Mrica should be char-
acterized by a special, cultivated flora, still unexplored and known only through scraps of
floristic investigations.
The International Agricultural Institute in Rome, to which I was advised to turn,
helped me obtain a visa to Eritrea, [then] an Italian colony, bur stated that dealings with
Abyssinia were beyond its capability. However, this was at leasr something and gave me a
chance. In consideration of the difficulty of the situation, I decided to try the alternative of
visiting Eritrea, situated alongside Abyssinia and from there attempt, if an opportunity
presented itself, to penetrate into Abyssinia, although bitter experiences had shown that
visa problems are most easily solved in major centres.
A road leads into Abyssinia through French Somalia. Therefore, after obtaining a
visa to Eritrea I turned to the French consul in Rome with a request for a transit visa
through Somalia. The consul stated that a transit visa did not guarantee entrance to Abyssinia;
bur nevertheless, after having seen my passpOrt with Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian and Tuni-
N.i. VAVILOV - 95- FIVE CONTINENTS

sian visas, he decided without second thoughts to immediately issue a ttansit visa, valid for
a few days, through French Somalia, where a railroad runs from Djibouti on the coast of
the Red Sea to the capital of Abyssinia, Addis Ababa. To find a steamer sailing to Djibouti,
it was necessary to return to Marseilles from Rome and ro cross the Mediterranean once
more, but such is the custom in Out time. One can only dream that mankind could return
to the time of Marco Polo, when a traveller without visas was able to cross continents and
oceans to the destination planned by him and be received everywhere as a welcome guest.
The voyage from Marseilles to Djibouti lasted for 9 long days. I passed Alexandria,
Cairo and Port Said. At this time Gudzoni was working successfully in Egypt but I had
only the pleasure of visiting the harbout cities and of observing the shores of Egypt duting
the passage through the Red Sea.
After the lengthy procedure of passing through the Suez Canal, the steamer pro-
ceeded into the calm Red Sea with its truly yellowish-red water. Both the eastern and
western shores are uninhabited. As is well-known, all agriculture in Egypt is concentrated
within a narrow belt along the Nile. The enormous amount of material collected by my
assistant Gudzoni and later on investigated by myself revealed a specific cultivated flora of
Egypt, which is remarkably different from that of the Mediterranean area.
The desert nature and the irrigation of the crops have here resulted in peculiar forms
offast-ripening, low-growing grasses, amazingly susceptible to diseases and differing in this
respect from the typical Mediterranean ones. But, on the whole, Egyptian grain belongs to
the Mediterranean crops in a wide sense, with predominanrly hard wheat and hexastichous
barley. Among original crops only berseem clover [Trifolium afexandrinum Juslenl and the
so-called Egyptian cotton, which was developed here during the last century from the long-
staple American cotton [Gossypium barbadense L.], imported thete, can be mentioned.
On the steamer I became closely acquainted with the fotmer director of the Depart-
ment of Agriculture on the island of Madagascar, Mr. Charlier, who was returning to
Madagascar from Paris. To my surprise Charlier already knew of my paper on the Origin of
Cultivated Plants, recenrly published in the French journal, Revue de botanique appliquee.
Again the internationalism of the sciences helped. Mr. Charlier offered to go, if necessary,
to the French governor in Djibouti and assist me obtain permission to enter Abyssinia. We
went ashore together in Djibouti. The steamer had to wait half a day to finish loading,
there was enough time. We went to a French captain, who registered all arrivals.
To my surprise everything turned out considerably better than I had expected. Ac-
tually, a regulation concerning visas for entering Abyssinia never existed. The captain, who
took my passport for the purpose of obtaining the signature of the governor, remarked
approvingly, while questioning me about the October Revolution, "it will work" in French
"<;a ira" a judgement apparenrly based on his knowledge of the French Revolution. In any
case I decided to go to the Abyssinian consul nearby, a rather pleasant man, who also
confirmed that the stamp of the French governor in Somalia was adequate for free entry
into Abyssinia.
The train from Djibouti to Addis Ababa runs twice a week. The next train was
leaving the following day so it was necessary to hurry. I spent the rest of the day visiting
villages around Djibouti. This was already the real Mrica. Naked black children with skin
like velvet surrounded Charlier and me and walked with us in the villages. There were
squalid huts covered with raffia and straw mats.
N.I. VAVILOV - 96- FIVE CONTINENTS

Somalia is a typical cattle-raising countty. Enormous herds of sheep and goats around
the villages clearly indicate absolutely special breeds, perhaps even species, distinctly dif-
ferent from tllose seen duting the expeditions in the Asiatic countries and the Mediterra-
nean region. The well-proponioned goats have smooth and delicate hides and the sheep
are short-haired. This was, in any case, a definitely special group of animals.
On 27 December 1926, I rode on the train into the interior of Abyssinia. At that
time the trains in Abyssinia operated only during daytime. After passing through the So-
malian savannm with irs sparse acacias, the train approached a mountainous area. Here a
steep climb began. The Abyssinian plateau rises above the Somalian savannmlike a gigan-
tic castle. The ascent became increasingly steep. Two locomotives were needed to pull a few
cars.
The main agricultural area of Abyssinia is situated at an a1ritude between 1600 and
3000 metres. In regard to climate and vegetation Abyssinia can be divided into three main
rones: the 'voina,' situated below 1800 metres with an almost tropical climate; the 'dega,'
the alpine region reaching altitudes of 2400-3000 m; and the 'dega voina,' diStributed
between 1800 and 2400 metres. The train stopped at the station of Dire Dawa, at a
distance of about 50 km from Harer, the first major agricultural centre along my route.
Although I had not reached Addis Ababa I decided ro stop there and starr my inves-
rigations. I did nor know what was mead or how I would be received by the government.
Here, with the help of travelling acquaintances, it was possible to organize a small caravan
and in the course of a few days make a tour of this important area and collect material. Ir
could not possibly have been betrer.
The Harer region, situated at elevations between 1600 and 2000, gave a clear pic-
ture of the complete specificity of the Abyssinian culture. Everything turned out to be
totally different here: the composition of the cultivared and wild plants, the agrotechnology
and the climate. All the agricultural crops turned out to be definirely endemic.
The characteristic whear, culrivated in enormous amounts in the Harer region, no
doubt belongs to a special kind, different from everything I had seen and collecred in other
agricultural areas of the world. The fields display an incredible mixture of varieties. It was
necessary to collect hundreds of ears to obtain a representation of the botanical composi-
tion. I had happened to arrive ar the most appropriate til)J.e. The crops were still sranding,
the harvest had just begun. The barley was also represented by great variety, especially
among the distichous forms.
Among the wheats I discovered ar once endemic types with violet grains, not known
anywhere else in the world. The taste of the bread made from this wheat is similar to that
of rye bread.
For the first time I saw some of the special endemic plants of Abyssinia, such as the
peculiar grain called teff [Eragrostis abyssinica Link], a particular kind of small miller that
produces a first-class flour used for flat-cakes in Abyssinia. This endemic Abyssinian grass
was undoubtedly first taken into cultivation in this COUntry.
There was also a new oil-producing plant with black seeds called ramtil or noog
[Guizotia abyssinica [L.£] Cass.]. There are also special varieties, or perhaps species, of
pepper grass [Lepidium sativum L.] and special, tall-growing saffiower [ Carthamus tinct01ius
L.], as well as a special late-ripening sesame [Sesamum indicum L.].
Within the lower zone large amounts of sorghum are grown in exceptionally vari-
able forms with respect to both the seeds and the hulls. The wild vegetation consists of
N.i. VAVILOV -97 - FIVE CONTINENTS

thickets of candelabra-shaped euphorbias, often used for making fences. The forested wne
is represented by the conifer juniperus excelsa M.B.!
For the geography of cultivated plants these were facts of first-class importance, the
full importance of which will be understood only after comparative investigations. The
collections exceeded all expectations. All the trouble was justified after the week of travel-
ling around in the region of Harer. The first 50 parcels of5 kilograms each were shipped off
to Leningrad.
Harer itself is the centre of the coffee market. Abyssinia is no doubt the native land
of the coffee tree [Coffia arabica L.J. Enormous groves of coffee are concentrated in the
southern parts of the country. The ripe fruits are zealously collected by the inhabitants and
brought to Harer. Considerable plantations of a kind of coffee with very large leaves and
very large fruits are concentrated around Harer. The wild coffee [Coffia arabica L. var.
abyssinica Chev.J surpasses the cultivated one and differs ftom it with respect to the content
of caffeine.
Mine was not the only expedition. The famous Hagenbeck, owner of the well-
known zoological garden in Hamburg, had sent a whole shipload of expeditions to capture
animals in East Africa for his zoological garden and for sale in Europe. Harer was chosen as
the base for the expedition of the Hamburg garden. Thousands of birds, many species of
monkey and varieties of antelopes were collected by the hunters from Hamburg. The
collection of monkeys was especially fine. Hundreds of baboons and monk's hood marmo-
sets in addition to wild geese of different colours, red and green, were triumphantly herded
into large cages, waiting to be loaded aboard a steamer.
Various groups of people make contact with each other in the district of Harer.
Somalians occupy mainly the lowland savannah. The dominance of the Amharan popula-
tion, the real Abyssinians, starts really at Harer. The Somalians have some Mongolian traits,
especially noticeable in the form of slanting eyes, high and wide cheekbones and coarse hair.
The Amharans are as a rule of an Aryan or Semitic type with curly hair and dark skin
colour. They walk around in white pants, are usually barefoot and wrap themselves in white
sheets, which serve both as garments and as covers at night. The Somalians differ sharply
ftom the Amharans in both language and religion. They are as a rule Moslems; the Amharans
confess ro a peculiar Christian creed [the Coptic]' close ro the Greek Orthodox one.
After completing the expedition around Harer I returned to Dire Dawa and went
from there by train to Addis Ababa. The wonderful expedition around Harer was consid-
ered somewhat venturesome. It turned Out that to travel around in the country it was
necessary to have an official paper from the government, which could be obtained only if
it had the seal of the regent, the government or the empress, Zaudith. My 'good fairy,'
Madame de Vilmorin, had done her work for me here as well. According to custom, one of
the ministers must introduce a visitor from abroad to the government of Ethiopia. The
French envoy, who had received a letrer of recommendation from Madame de Vilmorin,
agreed to introduce me to Ras Tafari, who later, in 1930, became the emperol of Abyssinia
[Haile Selassie IJ.
The capital, Addis Ababa ('Spring Flower') is situated within a dense forest of Aus-
tralian eucalyptus. In the not so distant past, the Ethiopian capital was moved evety hun-
dred years or so; when a forest had been depleted offirewood, the inhabitants were periodi-
'According to Demel Tetekay: 'Human Impact on Natural Montane Forests in Southern Ethiopia,' Mountain
Research and Development 12(4): 393-400, 1992, this is rather juniperus procera Hochst.
N.I. VAVILOV - 98- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
cally forced to move rhe capital somewhere else. One of rhe foreign missions introduced
Australian eucalyptus, which happened to be exceptionally fast-growing under rhe condi-
tions of rhe Abyssinian climare and quite superior in rhis respect ro rhe local vegetation of
conifers. The clever Emperor Menelik II [who died in 1913] quickly realized rhe impor-
tance of this valuable tree and now rhe capital, just like many orher cities in Abyssinia, is
covered by whole forests of eucalyptuS. They are also planted along rhe roads in northern
Abyssinia.
I presented rhe government wirh an agricultural map of rhe USSR, just published
by rhe Institute of Plant Industry, and gave a short review of rhe problems concerning the
expedition and about rhe agricultural management of my country. I also presented a copy
of my new book, Centres of Origin of the Cultivated Plants, in English. The regent nodded
his head and stated rhat the wheat in Abyssinia was wretched and rhat American wheat was
much berter. He walked into his apartment and brought back a large parcel of maize!
"Look at rhis wheat," rhe regent said, "we have norhing like rhat here!" Nevertheless, I was
given permission to continue rhe expedition.
It was necessary to wait for rhe official papers. After some days passed by. A messen-
ger from Ras Tafari arrived at rhe French hotel, where my caravan was being equipped,
wirh an invitation to pay a visit ro rhe ruler of rhe country in rhe evening. It was juSt the
twO of us. Ras Tafari had mastered rhe French language fairly well and it was possible to
converse togerher wirhout an interpreter. He questioned me wirh great interest about my
country. He was especially interested in rhe revolution and rhe fate of rhe imperial COutt. I
told him briefly all rhat was known about it. It was difficult to imagine a more artentive
listener. The ruler of Erhiopia listened to rhe short account about my country and rhe
events which had taken place wirhin it just as to a fascinating fairy tale.
I was promised rhe papers within a short time and indeed after a few days rhey were
delivered into my hands. An American zoological expedition from rhe Chicago Field Mu-
seum had to wait 5 weeks for rheir papers but I got mine within 10 days. In this important
document wirh rhe national emblem in rhe form of a lion, rhe Russian traveller was called
a guest 0 Ethiopia and all local rulers were ordered to render him full assistance, to provide
him wirh ammunition and provisions and to allow him to cross their borders wirhout any
obstructions. . ...•
The attentions of the French envoy when presenting me to rhe government of
Erhiopia and his personal visit to my hotel, had inspired similar attentions of orher diplo-
matic representatives. I received an invitation to dine wirh the Japanese envoy, who was
preparing to open Japanese stores in Addis Ababa. In his time he had been a consul to
Vladivostok and therefore he considered it a necessary politeness to make rhe acquaintance
of rhe representative of rhe country to which he had been accredited. The Greek envoy,
too, wished to see me. I myself wanted to meet rhe English envoy, since I was interested in
entering Sudan and going from there to Egypt. However, in spite of rhe fact rhat rhis envoy
turned out to be a former student at rhe university of Cambridge, where I, too, had gone
to study for more rhan a year, we did not speal< a common language.
The Italian mission showed great interest in rhe Soviet professor. After learning of
my Intention to go to Asmara in Eritrea, rhe Italian envoy lent me his servanr, an Amharan
named Hakim. He could to some extent act as an interpreter, since he knew rhe Italian
language and we could, rhus, understand each orher. HaKim turned out to be a suitable
person who knew several roads, had many acquaintances in different villages and towns
and had already visited Eritrea. The exchanges with him in rhe Italian language allowed me
N.I. VAVILOV - 99- FIVE CONTINENTS

to refresh this language, which was especially important in view of my contemplated ex-
pedition to the Italian colony of Eritrea, ftom where I planned to return to Italy.
The time of waiting for the official papers was not spent in vain but was used for
making small expeditions and sending out parties in all directions. The latter method
turned out to be particularly convenient and most economical. People trained for execut-
ing such expeditions were dispatched in specific directions with bags and parcels to colleer,
if possible, a set amount of ears or a definite number of seed samples from sites where they
had relatives or some other kind of connections. In that manner I succeeded in obtaining
material from the least accessible localities where interesting forms and varieties were to be
found.
The market of Addis Ababa itself was of enormous interest. The farmers arrived
there early in the morning from all directions, bringing their grain for sale in shawls and
bags and spreading it out on the markerplace. This kind of exhibition made it possible to
survey within a short time what was cultivated in the countty and what the inhabitants
lived on. Unfortunately somebody had issued an order, putting obstacles in the way for my
purchase of seeds. A tumour was spread that the evil European eye infallibly 'caSts a spell',
leading to dire consequences. However, the trained personnel carried Out the necessary
missions and obtained samples which were forwarded to Leningrad.
The usual routine of outfitting the caravan began. The itinerary was long; we had to
reckon on at least 3 months on the road. Negotiations with the English envoy concerning
entry to Sudan had not met with success, so I decided to stop at the alternative of departing
for Eritrea. AfTer the itinerary had been worked our by means of the available literature and
information obtained in Addis Ababa, I intended to visit all the agricultural areas around
Gonder in interior Abyssinia and from there go to Asmera, the capital of Eritrea. The
collection of seeds and plants promised to be great. The timing of the expedition turned
out to be very favourable. This was the period when the grain was ripening and we would,
thus, be able to collect not only grain but a rich sample of ears.
The low cost of living in Abyssinia made it possible to outfit a large caravan for an
expedition. The zoological expedition of the Chicago Field Museum had abour 50 people
in its caravan. Usually mules are used for long distances; horses are used only for short
stretches, since they have less endurance under the conditions prevailing in Abyssinia.
According to the customs of this country it was necessary to bring armed guards and a
supply of rifles, needed for protection against wild animals, especially when crossing the
Nile, which is infested with crocodiles. It was also necessary to stock up on provisions,
canned goods and packaging for the collection. I decided to take care of the outfitting of
my companions. However, an attempt to provide them with footwear did not meet with
success. The sandals purchased and presented to the members of the expedition were quickly
sold, so that just before the start of the caravan a 'barefoot detachment' stood before me
again. AfTer learning abour the stony roads of the mountains, I decided to buy a reserve of
a dozen sandals bur to distribute them only from time to time.
Since I did not know the customs of the country, I made great mistakes at first.
Usually the people in a caravan, with the exception of an elderly interpreter, walk on foot.
My intention was to acquire donkeys for everyone to ride. However, as soon as the donkeys
made their appearance in the courryard of the hotel, all the personnel, assembled with great
difficulty, ran away in a flash. It was explained to me that riding donkeys was an insult to
healthy males since only children and women use them. So it was decided to sell the
donkeys and exchange them for some mules at a much higher price. Abyssinia is, appar-
N.!. VAVlLOV - 100- FIVE CONTINENTS

ently, the native land of donkeys. It is still frequently possible to see large herds of wild
donkeys roaming the savannah.
. According to the rules established by the government of Abyssinia, every traveller
must conclude a treary with the entire caravan and sign it in the presence of the governor
of Addis Ababa before setting out on a long trip. In this treaty the responsibilities of the
leader of the expedition are outlined. He shall be considerate to the people in the caravan,
feed them and look afrer their health and three times a month give them a vermifuge. In
case of death, he must bury the person in a fitring manner according to the customs of the
country. The obligations of those hired are not indicated in this treaty. When I asked the
governor what to do if the discipline was violated, he advised me to bring along an ad-
equate amount of shackles, stating that everyone did so, both the French and the English.
When I refused to follow his advice, the governor shook his head and said: "Mark my
ds " wor ,young man ...
On 7 February 1927, the caravan, consisting of 12 mules and 14 men armed with
rifles and light spears, set out on the road toward Ankober in the major agriculrural region
to be subjected to investigation.
N.J. VAVllOV - 101 - FIVE CONTINENTS

INTO THE HEART OF ABYSSINIA'
The main road runs through the 'dega,' i.e. the highland. Ankober is situated at an eleva-
tion of 2700 metres. The capital, Addis Ababa, is itself located at an altitude of 2440
metres. The main mass of the agricultural population is concentrated on this plateau,
which is the principal wne of bread grains.
The caravan proceeded slowly, covering on an average 35-40 krn a day. Abyssinia
[now Ethopial is situated between 4° and 14° nonhern latitude. The days are short, about
12 hours. Each half hour of daylight is valuable. At night in the tent, I had to pur the
material collected during the day in order and write the diary. It was necessary ro rouse the
caravan before dawn ro be on the road by sunrise.
The mounrain terrain makes for a variable landscape. Soils are black and basaltic.
The time selected for travelling fortunately turned out to be favourable, not only
with respect ro the grain harvest, but also in regard to the seasonal rainfall. The period of
the heaviest rain (the major rainy season) occurs from July to September. At that time the
sowing of grain takes place. A dry period begins in October and lasts until February, when
the minor rainy period begins. At the end of February or the beginning of March another
dry period begins. During the main rainy period, the roads become impassable and all
forms of communication within the country come to a halt. In 1927, when my expedition
rook place, there was no other railroad except the line from Djibouti to Addis Ababa. To
my question, posed ro one of the government men, about why Abyssinia did not construct
any roads, the wise man replied: 'Build roads and Europeans will come; if Europeans
come, it is the end of Abyssinia.'
In spite of its high elevation, the gently sloping plateau allows the presence of large
areas under grains. A considerable portion of the itinerary followed trails among fields.
And then we were in Ankober, one of the former capitals of the country. A few hundred
low houses, solidly constructed of stone, hugged the ground. There was no planking on the
floors; animals and people lived under one rooE
When I sropped ro visit the village headman, I was well received. Forage and flat-
cakes made of teff [Eragrostis abyssinica Linkl and wheat appeared, rogether with enormous
pitchers of'tal,' an Abyssinian beer made of barley; and small pitchers of'taech,' a remark-
able beverage made of honey. For some reason, chickens took the form ofan extraordinar-
ily small type of bantams. To make up for what they lacked in size, they came in great
variety, duplicating the ordinary European groups. The eggs were very small, about half the
size of the usual European kinds.
After changing guides, we went in the direction of Fiche, from where a road leads to
the main agricultural area of Godzham. Fiche is a small town where a reputedly insane son
of Emperor Menelik II is kept locked up in shackles. It is said that one cause for his arrest
by the regent, Ras Tafui, was his conversion to the Moslem faith and his wish to turn the
counrry from Christianiry to Islam. We also met a German merchant there, who dealt in
skins and hides of wild animals. We stocked up on an adequate amount of canned goods
from his store and wenr on towards the centre of highland agriculture. The road was
tolerable although merely a trail. The guide oriented himself fairly easily, but the compass
and a detailed French map helped greatly. There was enough food for the mules on the
N.I. VAVILOV - 102- FIVE CONTINENTS

savannah. Much water was found everywhere and it was always possible to get barley and
provisIOns.
Bee keeping is widely practiced in the highland areas, the dega of Abyssinia. The
hives are suspended in a very primitive manner from the branches of trees, mainly acacias.
A big cylinder, about a metre long and a half a metre in diameter, is used; a few cross-
beams, also made of branches, are inserted into it and such hives are placed in the tree,
often several together. Abyssinian bees are small and not aggressive. The honey extracted is
melted and pouted into clay pots, which are sealed. The price of honey is comparatively
high: a 3-4 kg pot of honey costs 2-3 thaler, i.e. 2-3 [Russian] silver rubles at full value. The
honey is, in my opinion, not very sweet but of high quality. Frequently a pot is presented
as a gift to a traveller. Sometimes we received such a gift ftom local Abyssinian officials.
It is interesting that around Batumi, in the Caucasus mountains, Adzharian bee-
keepers also use horiwntal hives and often tie up to 30 of them OntO the branches of trees,
either plane trees [Platanus sp.] or walnut trees [juglans regia 1.].
Interior Abyssinia as well as the Gonder region is full of endemic species. There are
enormous crops of Abyssinian teff [Eragrostis tef[Zucc.] Trotter]; interesting, peculiar and
variable wheat in an unbelievable mixture of forms; and mixed crops of barley, including
black naked ones not known anywhere else in the world. There are large quantities of
peculiar local Abyssinian forms oflentils, chickpeas, peas and vetches. Large bushes of wild
castor bean plants [Ricinus communis 1.] usually grow along fences. There are also peculiar
cabbages and wild mustard [Brassica carinata A. Braun], producing a large quantity of
seeds but at the same time used for the leaves. Emmer wheat [Triticum diccoccumL.] is also
abundant.
The inhabitants are friendly although still primitive as far as their lifestyle is con-
cerned. The people go around half-naked, not rarely completely naked. A Stone Age cul-
ture prevails. Everywhere there are stone mills on which the grains of wheat, barley and
sorghum are ground manually by means of boulders; and everywhere it is possible to
obtain a beer, which is made from germinated barley. This drink is also produced in a very
primitive manner. Sprouted barley is allowed to ferment in enormous covered clay vats.
Periodically the women stir the liquid with their dirty hands. The cartle here are of a zebu-
like kind, large and very varied. There are peculiar goats and sheep.
All of interior Abyssinia is represented by a plateau, cut by deep canyons, often up to
1000 metres Or more. Every day the caravan had to descend into and then climb our of
these' canyons again. After passing through the Godzham region, we came to a forested
area, the native land of wild coffee. The path, along which the caravan proceeded with
great difficulty while clinging to the trees, sloped downward. There, at the bottom of the
canyon, the Blue Nile (Abbay) flowed The river, which we had to ford, teemed with
enormous crocodiles, measuring 4-5 metres long, their large jaws gaping.
We spent the night on the bank of the Nile. We were joined by a merchant's caravan
passing by. In the morning at dawn we sent out guards, who began to fire into the water to
drive away the crocodiles. It was as if a war had broken out. Hundreds of rounds cleared a
considerable portion of the most passable part of the fotd. Some of the crocodiles floated to
the surface belly up as the caravan slowly made its way to the opposite shore of the ford.
Frequently, as a warning, more shots were fired into the water. During the month of
March, the fording is nOt difficult and relatively risk-free, but it is far more dangerous at
other seasons. After an ascent ftom 800 up to 2500 metres we had to descend again to Lake
Tana, from which the Blue Nile flows.
N.I. VAVILOV - 103- FIVE CONTINENTS

We met a general guarding the upper Nile. A meering with an official in Abyssinia
requires plenry of time. Long ceremonies begin. The host is obliged nor only to feed the
caravan, but of course also to make it drunk. Abyssinia is nor only a country with remark-
able bread grains but also with good 'spirited' drinks. It is hard to find any sober people in
the evening in a village. A stop in a ciry or a visit to an official is occasion for a drinking
bour which ends in a breakdown of discipline, which anyhow is hard to keep during a long
and difficulr trek. The general wanted me to stay with him for a couple of days. He showed
me a captive lioness and suggesred a hunt. All this was wonderful but it was necessary to
hurry on; what was more alarming was that afier 3 days of such a life only half the caravan
members would be left. Whether it was polite or not, we had to leave the hospitable
general. The caravan was only slightly tipsy.
We went on to Lake Tana, where there are islets on which are situated interesting
buildings, small monasteries. The lake is shallow. It also teems with crocodiles and in the
evenings and the mornings enormous herds of hippopotamuses appear there.
At the night camp a major event occurred, forcing me to remember the advice of
the governor. The Christian Lent was approaching. Our caravan was to a great extent
together with the Amharans there were also Somalians and representatives of
other nationalities, part of which were Christian and part Moslem. Before the advent of
Lent it was necessary to fill up on plenry of meat because for 6 weeks it had to be abstained
from as prescribed by the rules of the church. Following the advice of the interpreter it was
decided to purchase a ram. In the village a large amount of spirits was purchased. At night,
when the ram was roasted, a major carousing began. One of the men in the caravan, who
usually kept somewhat apart from the rest of the members, became especially violent. He
decided to untie the hobbles of the mules and allow them to run free. Attempts to persuade
him to stop were to no avail. A scuffle began, which continued into the night. The uproar
threatened to disrupt the entire caravan. It would have been especially perilous if the mules
were lost, since it was difficult to purchase any at this place. Reluctantly, it was decided to
shackle the violent man. Toward morning, he came to himself again and all ended com-
paratively happily.
The next night, in a forest, I had to be on guard the major part of the night. Tired
and still not entirely sober, the caravan slept as if dead. After wolfing down the food and
wrapping themselves in their covers, the people slept on the bare ground. In the forest one
could hear the roar ofleopards, which are common in this country. The mules began to
snort and jump abour. I had to stand guard, fire a round into the air now and then and
keep the fire going. The Abyssinian coffee made from the seeds of the wild coffee bushes
turned our to be an excellent help. Two cups of it was enough to keep one from sleeping all
night, to be in a good mood and to carry our the guard dury necessary.
We hurried on to the former capital, Gonder. The caravan had become worn our
after a month and a half constantly on the road. On the map there was a large circle
indicating a major city, an old capital. It turned our that in this capital there were neither
market stalls nor any permanent market; it was held only once a week. Money was as good
as useless; it was impossible to buy anything with it. Here barter was the natural way of
dealing. It was necessary to get help from the governor to somehow turn our money into a
couple of mules, which were of much use to us, into assets for which other goods could be
obtained. He directed us to a market, which was crowded with thousands of people mill-
ing around the place with or without any purpose. The majoriry carried small wicker
umbrellas, although it was not hot and it was quite possible to manage without an um-
N.I. VAVILOV - 104- FIVE CONTINENTS

brella. But carrying One was fashionable not only for women but also for many men. It was
a kind of custom.
In a special, small row of the market, we could buy salt and pepper for money.
Crystallized salt serves as common currency for major deals and dried red pepper, provok-
ing a proper sneeze, is used as small change. When buying samples of grain, we paid with
a handful of red pepper. The price of a mule was 20-30 pieces of salt.
This was the district of Aksum, settled earlier in history by a civilizarion around the
upper Blue Nile. Enormous, magnificenr obelisks with delicate inscriptions had been erected,
bearing evidence of an old civilization conremporary with that of the pharaohs. The soils
were stony, the climate was dry and the crops were insignificant.
I made a first-class discovery between Gonder and Aksum. In a field I found a
peculiar awnless hard wheat, previously unknown. For decades, plant breeders from dif-
ferenr counrries have tried to produce awnless hard wheat by crossing ordinary awned hard
wheat with soft awnless wheat. The creation of such a wheat is extremely difficult because
of the great genetic distance between hard and soft wheat. However, in Abyssinia, nature
herself had created an awnless hard wheat, analog to such a kind of soft wheat. The grain
was still not harvested. I collected thousands of ears. From both a practical and a theoretical
poinr of view, this was, indeed, the most inreresting find during all the time spenr travelling
in Abyssinia.
On the way from Fiche through Godzham to Gonder and Aksum the caravan often
passed cemeteries. These are something like botanical gardens. Usually the cemeteries are
situated in forests and around the graves all kinds of trees are planted, in part brought from
far away. Here also rare species, including cittus trees, are frequently encounrered. But, in
general, groves of eucalyprus, considered especially fit for the souls of the Abyssinians, are
planred. The cemeteries attract travellers for their shade but also because there it is always
possible to obtain fodder for the mules and provisions for the people. According to cus-
tom, 40 days after a burial, a funeral feast is held in the cemetery. It is self-evidenr that at the
feast there is an abundance of honey and flat-cakes made of wheat and tef£ In otllerwords,
this is a kind of permanenr inn, where without fail the most needed things can be found.
Near the cemetery there is usually a small church, represenred by a hut with a
conical roof of carefully composed thatch. The walls are coated with clay or made of stone.
No adornmenrs are usually placed around it. The large churches at Addis Ababa are an
exception. In its time a considerable number of icons were senr there from Russia together
with ceremonial utensils in hope of closer connections between the Coptic Ethiopian
church and the Greek Orthodox one.
Again a descenr began, inro the canyon of the Takkaze river, flowing not far from
the Eritrean border. This is a deep river with gently sloping banks supporting a vegetation
of wild, small-fruited castor-bean plants. Just like the Nile, the Takkaze is full of crocodiles.
We stopped to camp overnight on a sandy beach, where we erecred the tenrs. During the
night something incredible happened. The guide had fallen asleep; I was writing the diary
in the light of a small lantern. After a short while the enrire floor of the tenr began to stir,
becoming covered by a large number of enormous, black, venomous spiders and scorpi-
ons. The guide, roused from his sleep, screamed to high heaven. The spiders had gotten
inro the beds with their 'fangs' bared. We jumped out of the tenr, some people already
bitten. It was necessary to flee this dangerous place. But crossing the ford at night was even
more dangerous: we had to wait unril dawn. However, it was also necessary to find a way
out of the danger. It was evidenr that the spiders and scorpions had been attracted to the
N.I. VAVILOV - 105- FIVE CONTINENTS

light. To extinguish the light meant to leave a considerable number of the uninvited guests
in the tent. I suggested that the lamp be moved outside. The effect did not wait for itself:
immediately a mass exodus of spiders and scorpions began. The light of the lantern was
narrowed to a slit and a literal drill began. The spiders and scorpions formed ranks along
the light beam and gradually a straight, living line appeared, although some lingered be-
hind. To deal with the stragglers the lantern was brought back into the tent, where all the
remaining spiders and scorpions gathered in the narrow strip oflight. Carefully and slowly
the lamp was again carried out, drawing the rear-guard out of the tent, where the lantern
was left in the open. Thus, the tent was freed from the pests and it was possible to sleep
calmly.
Beyond the Takkaze river there was trouble again. The Amharan attached to us by
the Italian ambassador claimed that the road along which the caravan was proceeding had
become dangerous since ahead of us were many robbers, so it was necessary to choose a
different road. The people in the caravan looked with fear to a stand of sorghum at the side
of the road. To encourage them it was necessary for me to go in front. We had succeeded in
advancing for only a few houts mer crossing the river when people with guns, obviously
used to attacking caravans, appeared from behind a dense thicket. The unexpected en-
counter with a European apparently had a certain effect on them. In this country it is well-
known that every European is well-armed and therefore it is better to leave him in peace to
avoid any unpleasantness. Polite bowing began and invitations were extended to stay over-
night in the nearby village. It was late and we had to stay somewhere for the night, but how
should we deal with this? The physiognomy of the people encountered did not inspire
great confidence. A consultation took place in out tent. There was without doubt a danger.
In tile best case we would only lose Out mules.
The council decided to present the leader of the gang with two bottles of brandy; the
last ones remaining of our supply for special occasions. In case this did not have the desired
result, we would pay him off with thalers but that was only to be used as a last resort. It was
necessary to be prepared, to load the good revolvers, to brew enough wild coffee and not
doze off during the night. The gift of the two bottles of the best five-star brandy was
apparently very well received. The guide returned from the mission slightly tipsy but with
ftied chicken, a pot of honey and armfuls of f1at-caI{es made of telf. However, the hospital-
ity was not to be trusted. At three o'clock in the morning, long before sunrise, the caravan
was aroused without any difficulry. The people understood the situation very well. It was
necessary to quickly get out of this place and to liberate ourselves from the undesirable
companions while they were blissfully sleeping. At four o'clock, in the dark, the caravan
started out on a path leading to the trail, leaving the drunken gangsters to sleep unril
mornmg.
There were still a few days left before reaching Eritrea. Fields had disappeared. The
area had become more sparsely populated and increasingly more beautiful. Ahead a pan-
orama of a picturesque valley opened up. In hollows and along deep ravines there were
groves of wild palms [Phoenix abyssinica Drude], a relative of the date palm [P. dactyliftra
L.]. The slender trunks were adorned with bright crowns of pinnate leaves. Below them
there was a dense undergrowth of grasses. It was difficult to imagine a more comfortable
place to stay overnight. But it was almost completely uninhabited and it was only with
great difficulty that we obtained a bag of durra [Sorghum bico!our [L.] Moenm] for the
mules.
N.i. VAVILOV - 106- FIVE CONTINENTS

In the morning there was bad luck again. Owing to the abrupt shift to abundant
fodder after a rather long fast, the stomachs of the mules had become disrended and pre-
sented a rather typical picture of tympaniris. Two mules had died. Toward evening four
more were lost. In order nor to lose the valuable load, the entire caravan, starring with irs
commander, had to proceed on foot while the remaining living mules were loaded to their
limit. Afoot for 3 days we finally reached Admure, a small town close to the border of
Eritrea, w h ~ r e there is an Italian consulate. All rhe difficulties were behind us. Here it was
possible to obtain if not mules, then at least horses and fodder. And it was possible to rest
and put the caravan back in order.
Signor Polera, who at this time carried our the responsibilities of a consul, turned
our to be a hospitable and cultivated person, the author of a large book devoted to the
women of Abyssinia. Apparently; to a considerable exrent the book owed its existence to
his Abyssinian wife. A second book, also a large volume, was presented to me. It was
devored to rhe Church in Abyssinia.
N.J. VAVllOV - 107- FIVE CONTINENTS

I N ERITREA
After parting with the hospitable Italian consul and reorganizing the caravan, I proceeded
toward the border and took a short road in the direction of the capital, Asmera, which is
situated in a mountainous area.
In essence, the mountainous Eritrea is a continuation of Abyssinia. Asmera is situ-
ated at an altitude of 2380 metres. There the basaltic soils are black in colour. The climate
had become drier. Here and there the caravan passed large and small oases with wild dare
palms [Phoenix abyssinica Drude]. In front of them a wall of wild olive trees [Olea europaea
L. var. sylvestris Brot.] opened up. The Eritrean olive trees have small fruits, definitely
inedible and tasteless. The wild date palms have similarly inedible fruits. Involuntarily you
wonder what an enormous change would take place in this country if instead of the wild
ones, cultivated date palms were grown and instead of the wild olive rrees the Meditetra-
nean kind was planted. Attempts to cross them have still not met with any noticeable
results because of the temote distance between the cultivated olives and the wild Abyssin-
ian ones. When gtafting them big burls form.
Cars and trucks run from Adi-Ugti onward. On one of the latter all the luggage and
I myself were loaded. A triumphal hour of parting from my fellow travellers ensued. For
two and a half months I had covered mote than 2000 km together with them. In spite of
all the trouble and difficulties, everything had been accomplished: an enormous treasure
had been collected in the form of thousands of samples of seeds. The people in the caravan
parted with me reluctantly, especially apprehensive of meeting again with the highwaymen
from whom we had successfully escaped. It was an amicable parting. The Amharan, lent to
me by the Italian envoy and Cassius, the head of the caravan, went with me to Asmera to
help purchase necessary goods and return from there.
The roads had already become very different, no longer trails bur excellent high-
ways. The skill of building them has been preserved from the time of the Roman Empire.
The Romans and to a certain extent also the Italians, construct beauriful roads. We passed
rapiclly through a forested area of wild olive trees. Plantations with coffee trees [Coffea
arabica L.], papaya or melon trees [Carica papaya L.] and gardens began to appear.
Asmera is a civilized ciry with large public gardens, colourful flower beds, paved roads
and satisfactory hotels. I went to the governot of Asmeta to surrender the arms, no longer
needed. The governor invited me to supper in the evening, so that I could meet all the local
dignitaries. Among the guests there was a director of the Department of Agriculture, Dr.
Benedictis. A plan was worked out for a new itinerary, in which Dr. Benedictis himself took
part. It was necessalY to have a look at all the main areas of Eritrea and to visit an exprimental
estate of a scientist by the name of Balderati. He was an agronomist who had worked there
for many years and was the author of a beautiful work on the ecology of Eritrea.
In contrast to Abyssinia, there is a great variation of climates, soils and other natural
conditions in Eritrea. Toward the north, in the viciniry of Sudan, the climate becomes
drier. In Cheren there are about 600 mm of rain instead of the 1500 mm, common in
Abyssinia. This is the realm of the majestic baobab trees [Adansonia digitata L.]. The open
spaces in the mountains with individual baobab trees, shooting up from the low-grown
savannah, present a peculiar picture. In April the leaves full off and before one's eyes appears
a curious sight of enormous trunks with a multitude of branches, spreading out like hands.
N.J. VAVILOV - 108- FIVE CONTINENTS

The trunk not rarely reaches such dimensions that it would be possible to accommodate a
large house with several rooms or an entire apartment inside it.
The ethnic composition had also changed. There were new languages. The people
were, indeed, similar ro the Amharans bur their customs were completely different. The
method of making bread was particularly interesting and the first of its kind I encountered
in this country. Round stones are coated with a dough made from wheat or teff [Erag7'Osti<
aryssinica Link]. A fire is lit and when only glowing embers are left, the stones covered with
dough are placed on them. Of course, the bread becomes scorched and great dexteriry is
necessary so that it will not be completely burnt up.
In the baobab area, large amounts of a Yucatan fibre plant, 'henequen' [Agave
fourcroyoides Lemaire] are cultivated; it constirutes one of the profitable agriculrural staples
in this area. North of Asmera there are a number of estates, where enterprising Italians try
to raise citrus trees, papaya or melon trees [Carica papaya L.], mangoes [Mangiftra indica
L.] and other tropical fruits.
The composition of cereals and leguminous plants is quite similar to that typical of
Abyssinia, but all present some differences. Mountainous Eritrea is similar to Abyssinia
with respect to the variery of plants cultivated, bur here the influence of Europe is telling.
Northern Abyssinia and the mountains of Eritrea were occupied by the Portuguese during
the 15th century. Traces of this occupation are still preserved in the form of buildings,
roads and, to some extent, the composition of the cultivated plants. Actually, the Portu-
guese introduced the cultivation of peppers here [Capsicum annum L.], which have be-
come naturalized both in Eritrea and in Abyssinia.
. Afrer 4 months of travelling around in Abyssinia and Eritrea I shall sum up my
impressions. There is no doubt that this comparatively small mountainous territory repre-
sents an independent centre of agricultural crops. Although present historians and arche-
ologists are inclined to indicate that the Abyssinian culture is adopted and secondary, a
study of the specific and varietal composition of the cultivated plants and the agrotechnology
shows the opposite. The presence of native endemic species such as teff[Eragrosti< abyssinica
Link], chickpeas [Cicer aneunum L.], Abyssinian bananas [Ensete ventricosum [Welw.]
Cheesm.] and a species of Ethiopian mustard [Brassica carinata A. Braun], as well as an
absolutely original species of wheat, differing both cytologically and anatomically as well as
by its complex of characteristics, all lead necessarily and logically, on the basis of compara-
tive studies, to acknowledgment of a mountainous Abyssinian centre, a deservedly inde-
pendent division. The peculiar catrle, sheep and goats; the strange plows with long plow
beams; ri,e unusual sets of tools; the preservation of a hoeing type of cultivation; all ri,e
customs; the preparation of alcoholic beverages; the food and the medicinal plants such as
hagenia [Hagenia abyssinica Willd.], everything decidedly indicates the significant autonomy
of the Abyssinian centre. A number of crops (e.g. teff, chickpeas and bananas) arose no
doubt just here; however, there is no wild wheat or any wild barley and no wild beans, so
that, possibly, the origin of these plants is linked ro other, adjacent territories, primarily
within the Near East in a wide sense. However, there is no doubt that the isolation of me
cultivated plants within Abyssinia took place in a distant past. This is indicated by the
presence of such endemic types as violet-grained whear, the multitude of endemic charac-
teristics distinguishing the Abyssinian barley and such anatomical characteristics as a low
number of vascular bundles in the coleoptiles.
Based on my comparative studies, the basic centres of agricultural crops of the Old
World have led me to a definite acknowledgment of the necessiry for distinguishing Abyssinia
N.I. VAVILOV - 109- FIVE CONTINENTS

and the adjacent mountainous area of Eritrea as an independent centre. Its importance
should not be overestimated. The variety of crops is comparatively poor. There are none of
the fruit trees so characteristic of the southwestern Asia, Mediterranean, eastern Asiatic and
Indian centres. The composition of the vegetables is also miserable. There are no common
vegetables such as onions, no representatives of the genus Cucumis [gourds] and no crops
of melons. However, the vety absence of these patterns of crops of the Old World already
points to the originality of the agriculrural crops of Abyssinia, which are mainly irrigated
crops. Direct investigations have demonstrated the exceptional value of Abyssinian barley:
its resistance to European infectious diseases, its resistance to lodging, its large grains and its
modest demand for hear. Abyssinian peas artracr great attention, in particular as fodder
plants and ensilage, since they produce an enormous amount of vegetative mass. The
awnless hard wheat is also of particular interest.
With respect to the evolution of the plant kingdom, Abyssinia and the mountain-
ous Eritrea are no doubt linked by some peculiarities. This was demonstrated in an excel-
lent manner by Engler in his classical srudy of the flora of Mrica. Within the specific
composition of the floras of the Cape Province, Abyssinia and the mountains of Eritrea
there are many common elements just as there are between the Himalayas and the Mediter-
ranean area. Moreover, the mountain chains, stretching from the Cape Province through
eastern Mrica, over the Arabian peninsula, including Yemen, and continuing on toward
the Himalayas, are characterized by a peculiar floristic unity. However, from the point of
view of the history of crops this unity is disrupted, as I was able to clearly see, for instance,
in the case of the wild olives and the wild date palms of Abyssinia, which are distinctly
different and do not offer any possibility for conversion into important cultivated crops.
I travelled around in Abyssinia and Eritrea for 4 months. There is unquestionably a
need for a more complete study of this area and those adjacent to it and for clearing up the
connections with Yemen, where the flora contains elements from both southwestern Asia
and Abyssinia. Many interesting evolutionary problems can still be solved by profound
and lengthy investigations including as large territories as possible.
After sending 80 S-kg parcels of seeds and ears of grains from Asmera, I took the
train from there to Massawa [now Mits'iwa]' the POrt city of Eritrea on the shore of the
Red Sea. From an altitude of2400 metres there is a descent to sea level. This is one of the
remarkable roads skillfully built by the Italians. Massawa is the hottest city in the world. It
is difficult and duting summer, nearly impossible, to walk in the streets during the day. The
stores and the administrative instirutions open early in the morning, close by 10 a.m. and
open again after sunset. All life is postponed until the evening and tlle night. The heat
reaches up to SO°C in the shade.
I had to wait several days for the steamer talting me to Europe. I used them for
excursions ro desert localities around Massawa. On the sandy expanses there was a signifi-
cant number of different kinds of wild gourds and the wild watermelons [Citrollus umatus
[Thunb.] MansE var. caffir Mans£], already well-known to me. Most of the wild melons
are distinguished by fruits covered with thorns and reminiscent of the 'cucumbers of the
prophet' [Cucumis prophetarum L.] that I had collected on the beaches of the Dead Sea in
Palestine. This is the realm of a nomadic population. Infrequently there are crops of'negrito
millet' [Eleusine coracana [L.] Gaerm.], a modest plant reaching far into the desert. Where
ground water is close to the surface, one meets with an enormous quantity of doum-doum
palms [Hyphaene thebaica Marr.], from the hard fruits of which solid buttons are made.
N.I. VAVILOV -110- FIVE CONTINENTS

Around Massawa whole factories are built for the production of such merchandise. Enor-
mous amounts of the fruits of the doum-doum palm are brought there .
. Massawa turned our to be more interesting than I had anticipated. All the Moslems
of Central Mrica pass through the POrt of Mas saw a when crossing the Red Sea on the way
to Mecca. Groups of pilgrims of the most different shades of skin colour and dressed in the
most unusual kinds of garments stream incessantly to Massawa. From fur away in East
Mrica, from the Nile and Sahara, from everywhere flows a river of people. Some have
walked for years. Most of them are in rags. All their goods are packed into backpacks, in
which there are also small supplies of food and drink. They go abour day and night in their
rags, or even totally naked. It is necessary for them to earn extra money at the stopover to
make ends meet and to earn enough for the ticket to the steamer. In this kind of an ethnic
museum it is possible to endlessly review all the mixture of peoples and tribes of which
there is such a wealth in Mrica.
I lefr Massawa on an Italian steamer. The governor ofItalian Somalia was also aboard
and involuntarily our conversation turned to the colonial politics ofItaly. The country had
run totally our of luck. Italian Somalia, Libya and Tripolitania are all deserts, perhaps
interesting to scientists bur rather unattractive to colonizers. The best of them was Eritrea
bur even it did not amount to much. In this respect France was in a different situation,
with rich colonies such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, ·Madagascar, Indo-China and others.
The resources of Abyssinia, to which Italy turned its eyes, were also unimportant. Its op-
portunities for agriculture and its mineral wealth are, apparently, not as rich as the Italians
wished; and the freedom-loving Abyssinian people, preserving their independence through
the centuries, are not very much inclined to place themselves under a colonial yoke. The
result of my own calculations of the agricultural resources, fit for rural management, coin-
cided with the Italian data, which determined the arable surface to be 1.5-2 million hect-
ares. A considerable portion of this territory consists of thin, stony soils, producing only a
low yield, which at most could satisfY only the internal needs of the country. In any case,
the difficult questions concerning the economy of Italy could not, of course, be finally
solved or resolved by an Italian occupation of this remarkable, ancient country with its
peculiar culture.
N.I. VAVILOV - 111 - FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITIONS IN
CYPRUS AND
GREECE,
CRETE
Next in turn was the task of studying the agricultural civilizations of the three main, sou-
thern peninsulas of Europe, i.e. Balkan, Apennine and Iberian, as well as the major islands
of the Mediterranean. I started in Athens with the task of getting acquainted with the main
agricultural areas of Greece and first and foremost with the valley of Thessaly, the main
granary of ancient Hellas.
The area under cultivation in what is now Greece is insignificant. The major crops
are concentrated in Thessaly and Macedonia. Most of the Greek territory is covered by
vineyards and plantations of olive trees.
Modern Athens has preserved few traits of its past glory. Only in the beautiful
museum of sculptures is it possible to study the great past of this ciry and, of course, there
is the Acropolis with its ruins. A serious attempt at restoration has been started only during
the last couple of decades and then by means of foreign capital. Strange to say the Ameri-
can businessmen are more interested in this than the Greeks themselves. On the wonderful
bas-relief depicting Bacchus on the Acropolis, there is, fortunately, a splendid represen-
tation of grapevines and clusters of grapes.
The cultivation of grapes constitutes still one of the most important and profitable
products of Greece. The grain market of Athens reflects to a great extent ttuly 'inter-
national' varieties, introduced from western Europe and America and mixed with local
Mediterranean crops.
I visited the botanical institute of the universiry and learned from the cutaror of the
herbarium, a modest botanist, that the main herbaria of Greece and the Balkans were,
unfortunately, not found in Greece but in Germany, London and Geneva. The small local
herbarium was in a deplorable condition, to a great extent devoured by insects and con-
taining ouly fragments of the representatives of the rich Balkan flora. The botanical public-
ations of the country have long since ceased; there was no interest in them. The Athens of
today is a rypical business ciry of no great significance.
I went in the direction ofParnassus along the coastal belt. Just as around Athens, the
crops there were represented mainly by olives and grapes. A train took me to Larissa, the
capital of ancient Hellas, where an agricultural institute and an agricultural research station
are situated and directed by a young agronomist, Dr. Papadakis. In part by car and in part
on horseback we travelled together around the valley of Thessaly. Large crops of wheat,
barley and leguminous plants are grown there.
I observed interesting regularities in the change of the varietal and specific compo-
sition during an ascent of the mountains. At a low altitude, around Larissa itself, the region
is to a great extent a realm of soft wheat. Higher up there is hard wheat. In the foothills,
with an increased amount of precipitation, cone wheat [Triticum turgidum L.] enters the
scene and the rypical Mediterranean array of cultivated plants is already disappearing.
There is a marked transition in the direction of Macedonia and the plains of southern
Europe. Hellas was, in any case, not a major agricultural centre; its crops were based mainly
on woody plants, olive and carob [Ceratonia siliqua L.J trees as well as grapes.
It takes a few hours on a steamer from Athens to reach Crete, the ancient Minoan
kingdom with theexcellendy preserved throne of the Minoan kings in the Red Cave. The
major portion of this island is occupied by grain crops. Crops of grape and carob trees are
N.J. VAVILOV - 112- FIVE CONTINENTS

concentrated in the southern, mountainous ponion. Unfonunately the beautiful museum
had fallen victim to an eanhquake which recently hit the island, bur opened a window into
ancient times. In large, ancient storage bins, carbonized seeds of beans, flax, wheat and
barley are preserved, dating ftom at least 1000, perhaps 2000, years BC There one can get
a general impression of how even thousands of years ago the present Mediterranean kinds
of cultivated plants had been formed and how even in such a distant past they were distin-
guished by large seeds.
While collecting seeds, I discovered a number of endemic forms of beans and, in
particular, of vetchling [Lathyrus sativIIs 1.]. Large areas are occupied by crops ofMediter-
ranean large-flowered and large-seeded flax[Linum usitatissimum 1.]. I travelled around the
villages together with a Greek agronomist. The inhabitants are all Greeks, who are setded
and occupied with agriculture, viniculture and silk production.
The Archbishop of Crete gave this visitor a pleasant reception. As a gift I received an
ornamental knife made of cypress wood, the indispensable [prayer] beads (also made of
cypress wood) and a bottle of bad-tasting wine ftom a Cretan vineyard wirh d1e obligatory
addition of resin. From ancient times, Greece and its islands have preserved the custom of
adding resin to the wine to halt the fermentation and to increase d1e shelf-life. At first the
taste of resin seems intolerable and it is hard to believe that people can drink such a bever-
age. However, gradually it is possible to get used to it and drink this wine which, indeed,
was imbibed already at the time of Pericles, Socrates, Heraclites and Aristotle. Greece
clearly points to the antiquity of the agricnltural crops and the thousands of years passed
since the time when the large-grained, large-eared bread grains and the large-seeded legu-
minous plants typical of the Mediterranean, were developed.
In a storm I went on a small steamer from Crete to Famagusta, a port on the island
of Cyprus. Some decades ago Cyprus was allied with England, bur actually there are only
a few Englisbmen on this island. The main population is Greek and in essence the island
reflects an ancient Greek civilization. However, like Crete, Cyprus preserves traces of an old
Roman civilization just as the other islands which at that time were associated with the
Roman Empire.
The island is monntainous. The capital of the island, Nicosia, is situated at an
altitude of 1700 metres in a forested area. The climate is temperate. There are scanered
forests of pines and spruce. At high altitudes interesting endemic forms of nonligulate hard
wheat have developed. The position of the island favours the distinction of special 'simpli-
fications,' so-called recessive forms of great variety. As we have seen in the case of soft
wheat, the centre off ormation of nonligulate wheat is found in the Pamirs, an isolated pan
ofInner Asia. In the case of Mediterranean hard wheat, the islands have assumed the role
of isolated areas.
\'\Ihen proceeding westward from Nicosia I entered a forested area, composed al-
most entirely of carob trees [Ceratonia siliqua 1.]. This is the homeland of cultivated carob.
The pods are collected in enormous quantities, like whole mountains, and exported to all
partS of the Mediterranean. It is a valuable fodder for animals and is in pan used as food for
people as well. Until recently a considerable area was occupied by forests of wild carob
trees, bur now already tens of thousands of hectares have been planted with such trees.
After descending to the plains in the east, I found myself in the dominion of crops
of linseed, which side by side with northern long-staple flax are represented by special
large-capsuled and large-seeded Mediterranean forms.
N.!. VAVILOV - 113- FIVE CONTINENTS

On Cyprus it is perhaps possible to see better than anywhere else the enormous role
played by environmental conditions for the development of types and varieties. Here it can
be particularly clearly seen that it is impossible to consider the entire, wide Mediterranean
area as a whole, something which botanists are inclined to do. This area should be sub-
jected to differentiation in accordance with the mountainous character of its terrain, cli-
matic conditions and the role of geographic isolation.
The variety of wheat on Cyprus is quite exceptional. Within a small area, measuring
some 10 000 hectares, the number of varieties of wheat amounts literally to hundreds. This
is exclusively hard wheat but in an enormous wealth of forms, with both physiological and
morphological characteristics ranging from those of small-spiked, nonligulate ones to those
of gigantic ones similar to the forms in northern Mrica, especially Tunisia.
A considerable area of Cyprus is occupied by intensive cultivation of tobacco. My
Greek companion told me 'the philosophy' behind tobacco, i.e. the philosophy of its
ecology allover the world, which in the case of this crop means an especially carefully
selected soil, neither toO rich nor too poor with respect to fertility. The selection of such
conditions determines the quality of the tobacco. The essence of its quality lies entirely in
this. However, the fine points of tobacco cultivation are lmown only by a few and the
corresponding customs are passed from generation to generation. According to the words
of my 'expert,' nowhere else in the world is it possible to obtain such a good tobacco as on
Cyprus, in Macedonia, or on the island of Cuba. The total value of tobacco is built on its
aroma. However, it is not only a matter of the leaves and the effect of the soil, but it
depends also on the final mode of preparation, on the degree of fermentation. In other
words, this is a subtle science.
N.!. VAVILOV -114- FIVE CONTINENTS
III
IN ITALY
I have been to Italy a few times and crisscrossed it in all directions. I have visited Sicily and
travelled through it from Palermo to Catania. Part of my expedition also studied Sardinia
rather thoroughly. A knowledge ofltaly and its islands is of decisive importance for under-
standing the development of the Mediterranean culture. In Italy primarily the high per-
centage of cultivated land is striking. Including the Apennines and the Italian Alps with
eternal snow and glaciers, 47% of all the surface of the country is urilized for crops, gar-
dens, vineyards and fields. In the southern and central partS ofItaly the fields are inter-
mingled with gardens and vineyards. A considerable portion of the mountainous area is
covered by plantations of fruit trees or trees for technical purposes standing in straight rows
and entwined by grapevines, in the spaces between which the ground is seeded with wheat,
beans, barley and other crops. The grape is here 'wedded' to the elms. This is a distinctive
mark of mOllntainous central Italy, the district of Umbria.
But Italy means first and foremost Rome. Every time when I come to Rome, I
experience a kind of basic delight at approaching something great, something constantly
on the move and at the same time permanent. In 1910 Rome became the international
centre of the agronomical sciences. The Institute of Agriculture in Rome, housed in a villa
near the Eternal Ciry, is a great scientific establishment, where documents on the develop-
ment of agriculture all over the world are concentrated. Valuable information about the
worldwide history of agriculture as well as statistics from all countries are assembled there.
The Institute receives abour 4000 agricultural journals. The small staff of this centre of
worldwide agronomical information carries on a great work, an example of which is the
outstanding monograph by Azzi, The Climate a/the Wheat a/the World. This can serve as a
beautiful introduction to an agronomical expedition around Italy. In this book the author
gives a masterly characterization of all of Italy, the areas where wheat is grown and their
peculiarities as far as soils and climate are concerned.
Among the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii I was able to see remnants of agri-
cultural crops dating from thousands of years ago. There were both wheat and barley and
tlle large-seeded flax much the same as in our time. Two thousand years have, in essence,
hardly changed the composition of the crops of this ancient, agricultural country. In spite
of the miserable lessons of the past, the agricultural population still dwells near the crater of
the volcano, where they utilize the fertile volcanic soils and ash. As is well known, the great
naturalist at the beginning of our era, Pliny the Elder, perished while studying the igneous
rocks at the edge of the crater. Today such carelessness is still rypical of the inhabitants of
the province of Naples.
But firsr of all I went to the granary of Italy, Lombardy, which extends from the
foothills of the Iralian Alps along the Po valley. The tichness of the deep and fertile soils has
caused a powerful development of agricultural crops there. Around Vercelli an intensive
cultivation of rice is concentrated and yields 65-80 centners [6500-8000 kg] per hectare.
This is the native land of the most outstanding poet of Italy, Virgil, who devoted his
classical poems to agriculture. In Mantua, on the banks of the Po, there is a statue of the
great poet singing about the fields of his country. The Georgies of Virgil is not only a poem
but a significant document of historical importance, unsurpassed with respect to the amount
of information it contains and the capacity of the author for observation. JUSt as 2000 years
N.I. VAVILQV - 115- FIVE CONTINENTS

ago the farmers listened to the verses of this agricultural poem, so today the Georgics can
still serve as a manual for any farmer in Italy.
The cultivation of rice atound Vercelli represents a peak of agricultural technology.
A network of concrete-walled channels conducts water to the fields. The walls of the chan-
nels, treated with vitriol, are free from algae and slime. The tunning water eliminates any
traces of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Thanks to this experiment, Lombardy clearly dem-
onstrates the possibiliry of growing rice in a healthy climate.
The small research station at Vercelli is rypical ofItalian agricultural institutions in
having a modest staffbut beautiful laboratories, entwined by roses and ivy-covered living,
quarters where the agronomical personnel lives. These people conduct work of enormous
practical importance. Beautiful, high-yielding and fust-ripeningvarieties are produced which
seem to be of interest to the USSR as well, especially for the northern Caucasus. In a special
greenhouse, extensive and exact experiments are carried OUt concerning the effect of fertil-
izets. The station publishes a first-class journal, one of the most valuable international
publications within the field of rice cultivation. It is a modern encyclopedia of rice grow-
ing. In Italy and in Spain, too, this crop must be transplanted. I attended a competition
concerning the qualiry of transplantation machinery, which to a great extent has already
resulted in the mechanization of this laborious process.
N.I, VAVILOV -116 - FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITIONS IN SPAIN
Spain was of particular interest to us for the general plan of studying worldwide agriculture
and cultivated plants. It is one of the major Mediterranean countries where agriculture has
existed for thousands of years.
After completing expeditions to eastern and northern Africa and the countries of
the eastern Mediterranean, I went from Genoa to Barcelona in June of 1927. This was
during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. Immediately afTer entering Spain I could feel
the strained atmosphere of the dictatorship of the general. On the train, documents had to
be verified; passports had to be presented not only at the border bur also when travelling
inside the country. The red Soviet passpotr with the hammer and sickle had the effect of a
stimulant on the officials who checked the documents. They became increasingly worried
the deeper I penetrated into the country.
Ftom the scientific world, I was met with the most pleasant reception, especially by
the director of the Museum of Natural Histoty, the well-mown entomologist, Professor P.
Bolivaz and his son as well as by the botanist Professor Crespi. When travelling by car or on
horseback through the villages I was met with exceptionally friendly atritudes and hospi-
tality, typical of the Spanish people.
My objective was to become acquainted with all the agricultural areas of Spain, to
crisscross them in every direction and to collect as much seed material as possible of field
and vegetable crops. I selected Madrid as a starting point, from where I could radiate to
different areas of the country according to the sequence of the grain harvest, starting in the
southeast and ending up in the north, in Galicia, Asturias and the Basque Provinces.
The visa given to me on the recommendation offriends was valid for I month only.
Owing to the extent of the expedition it was obviously impossible to cover all the different
agricultural areas, even selected ones, in such a short time. My friends Bolivaz and Crespi
advised me ro take the trouble of asking for a I-month extension of the visa at the prefec-
ture in Madrid.
On one of the hot days of June I was invited to the prefecture for interrogation by
the national police. The old building of the prefecture'with narrow windows dated indeed
from the time of the Inquisition. I was escorted along the narrow, dimly lit corridors to the
reception area. The botanist Crespi, who accompanied me, whispered to me that appar-
ently the prefect knew Russian. After some minutes we were ushered past the line of other
petitioners to the prefect of Madrid, into a gloomy office with painted arches. At the desk
a thickset official stood, assuming a military stance it la Napoleon with the hand in a fold of
his official frock coat and recited in a btoken Russian the song:
"The fire in Moscow roared and blazed .. "
Forewarned by Crespi, I was somewhat prepared for the sudden recitation, to which
I answered, also in verse:
"From Sevill£l to Granada
In the quiet darkness of the night
Serenades are heard,
And the cl£lng of swords ... "
N.I. VAVILOV - 117- FIVE CONTINENTS

It turned out that the general was a former military attache to the Tsar of Russia and
had spent 6 years in my country, coming to know the Caucasus and the Volga area well.
The purpose of my expedition was of little interest to him but he advised me to pay great
attention to the Spanish arts and made me promise to visit the Escorial and Toledo.
The visa was extended to 2 months without delay and it was stated that, if the
Russian professor wished to stay in Spain longer, there were no objections since the prefect
was assuted that the professor would malIe no propaganda. As a sign of the acquaintance
made, I received the visiting card of the prefect, which was unusual in its grandeur.
As it turned Out later on, from the very beginning of my entry into Spain twO police
officers in plain clothes were nevertheless attached to me and accompanied me, either both
together or taking turns. Since I was absorbed by work, collecting material and shipping it
off, I hardly noticed my uninvited companions.
After completing the investigations in the south, I went at the middle of July to the
ciry of Lean with the intention of beginning the studies of Asturias, Galicia and the Basque
Province from there. Professor Crespi accompanied me while going with his family on a
summer vacation in the mountains. Before his depatture to the mountains, he approached
me with an embarrassed look and declared that he wished ro talk to me about a secret
matter. It turned out that the agents who had followed me all the way ftom the border were
convinced of my peaceful intentions and had asked Professor Crespi to talk to me about
concluding an agreement. These persons had declared that the Russian professor had ex-
hausted them by his rapid movements by automobile and train and on horseback in the
mountains, because of which, uneasy about their health, they had suggested the following
compromise: the professor should let them know in advance of the destinations of his
expedition so that, although officially they were supposed to accompany him, they would
not need to follow him in the mountains and, in particular, when on horseback, but could
wait for him at specific places at inns or in cities. In return they promised to assist in every
way possible with travelling, putchasing ticltets, reserving hotel rooms and sending off
parcels.
After deliberating about the suggestion, I decided to conclude the deal. I was intro-
duced to them. I had already noticed these familiar characters in bowler hats and official
garb. The first days afier the agreement was concluded went comparatively well. I kept
myself occupied mainly in the mountains, while they spent their time with great pleasute
in cities and hotels. Later, the agreement was broken owing to their constant habit of
ordering rooms mainly in very expensive hotels in the centre of cities and ro their general
tendency to live the high life.
I had decided to stay 10 days in Madrid to collect as much information as possible
on the rural economy of Spain with help from departments, research stations and profes-
sors and at the same time to get acquainted with Spanish science and study central Spain.
With respect to its geographical location, Madrid is set in the geometric centre of
Spaifl, without, howevet, connection with its economic hub and in the middle of the least
productive pan of the country. Dating from the 16th century, it arose as a strategic key
point of the country. The entire railroad network has Madrid as its centre. Madrid is no
doubt one of the best cities in the world. Broad avenues, planted with plane trees [Platanus
sp.], stretch for miles, intersected by wide-open plazas with beautiful statues. Large build-
ings along the central streets attract attention to various rypes of architecture. The ciry is
full of greenery and has many squares where there is a lively automobile traffic.
N.I. VAVILOV - 118- FIVE CONTINENTS

Madrid is situated at 635 metres altitude in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
One has only to go 20-30 km to the north to find oneself in a semidesert, mountainous
area at an altitude of 1700 metres. During the autumn and the winter strong and piercing
winds blow in the mountains, which like nowhere else cause frequent chills and illnesses
such as pneumonia. The so-called 'Spanish flu' made its greatest appearance JUSt in Mad-
rid. All the major Spanish scientific institutes, including the agronomical one, are concen-
trated mainly in Madrid. There the beautiful Museum of Natural History with an excep-
tional wealth of zoological and entomological collections is also found. It can be compared
only to the Field Museum in Chicago as far as the amazing exhibits are concerned. The
masterly stuffed animals in the museum are models of artistic mounting. At thar time the
large herbarium of the museum was under the direction of Professor Fragozo. The mu-
seum has connections with the Society of Naturalists and issues a number of first-class
publications, among them an international journal of entomology.
The botanical garden of Madrid has a glorious history. The first herbaria from the
expeditions to Peru, Chile, Mexico and the Philippines are preserved there. The well-
known botanists Cavanilles and Lagasca acted as directors at the beginning of the nine-
teenth century. It was the very same Lagasca who emigrated to England and there taught
Colonel Le Coutere how to breed wheat. La"aasca was the first one to demonstrate how to
distinguish various hereditary forms in the field. The vety beginning of individual selection
can be traced to him, i.e. the first stage of a general scientific plant breeding.
In the Madrid Boranical Garden I was fortunate enough to be able to study the
herbarium of cultivated grasses that was collected by Lagasca in 1818 and contains his own
drawings. They indicate the profound knowledge of this prominent botanist from the
beginning of the nineteenth century. The herbarium of Lagasca is the best of the old
herbaria of cultivated grasses; by its means it is to a great extent possible to reconstruct the
composition of the vegetation of Spain at the beginning of the nineteenth century. At that
time Spain was ahead of all other countries with respect to knowledge of cultivated plants.
I cannot forget the noble action of the families ofLagasca and Cavanilles, to whom
I turned with a request for help in acquiring a rare book published by the families of the
most famous botanists of Spain. In response to my request I received a touching letrer: it
was stated that the families owned only a single copy of this book but, after considering my
request, they had decided that a book like this was more necessary for a botanist and that
they were giving it to the Russian professor with their best wishes for the flowering of
Soviet sciences.
Among the many scientific disciplines in Spain one of the foremost is that of geog-
raphy, represented by the active Geographical Society. I believe I am not mistaken when I
state that with respect to general national geographicalliterarure Spain occupies one of the
foremost places. In no other countty have I encountered such a large number of manuals
and books on geography, including geographical encyclopedias. The cartography provided
in Spain is pretty good, too, which can be judged by the very detailed maps of the country
and its provinces. I can mention that the old agricultural encyclopedia of Spain [from
1888] appears to be one of the best in the world. The natural sciences, geology and arche-
ology are also at a high level. A number of international congresses of chemistry, geology,
archeology and agriculture are held in Spain.
However, in general one notes a considerable isolation in Spain with respect to
science: scientific literature is there published mainly in Spanish and one rarely meets
people, even among the professors, who speak other languages. In this respect it differs
N.1. VAVILOV - 119- FIVE CONTINENTS

from neighboring Portugal, where it is possible to get about without knowledge ofPortu-
guese, using French or English.
Madrid is famous for its theatres and its bullring. Many remnants from olden days
are preserved in the mode oflife of Spain. This is, for instance, reflected in the pageants of
Spain, mainly the bullfights. They are substituted by cock fights in villages and even in
small cities near Madrid among the people for whom attending bullfights are too expen-
sive. A special breed of fighting cocks with well-developed muscles, long legs and powerful
spurs has been developed. Usually cocks of similar weight are selected for the fights. The
spectators gather around a barrier and bet their pesetas on this or that cock. The fight
begins and lasts for a fairly long time, up to forty minutes, until one of the fighters to the
delight of the gamblers has been cut to bloody pieces and is knocked down by his adver-
sary.
I had an opportuniry to see bullfights in Madrid and, later on, also in Mexico and
Peru. Their models are fixed and have been retained almost without change for centuries in
the Latin-American countries. A special breed of bulls, usually black and very strong with
well-developed muscles and similar to the wild rype, has been selected. The breed differs
from the ordinary commercial horned cattle, bred in Spain. The entire spectacle of a bull
fight is surrounded by festivities that begin with the entrance into the arena of all the
participants: the toreros, the picadors and the matadors, all in colourful national costumes
and draped in cloaks to the sounds ofa march. At the moment when the bull (el toro) is let
out into the arena, which is sutrounded by a fence, the matadors! drive pickets with sharp
hooks at the end and with bundles of ribbons atrached to them into the neck of the animal.
This irritates the bull by causing him sharp pain. Thereafter the picadors appear on the
scene, mounted on horses whose eyes are covered and who stick cautiously to the fence.
The picadors are also armed with sharp pickets, which irritate the bull.
The emaciated horses of the picadors are to a great extent intended for being gored
by the bull; they are supposed to weaken the strength of the bull before its fight with the
toreador.
The mangled horses and orren also the seriously wounded picadors are removed
from the arena. Thereafter the banderilleros appear with the 'banderillas', beautifully
beribboned lances, ending in sharp barbs. The banderilleros adroitly stick the banderillas
into the neck of the bull and finally infuriate him. At last the torero appears on the scene in
his traditional, golden cosrume and flaming red cape (muleta), rapier in hand. The final
spectacle is the killing of the bull by an adroit stroke of the rapier. Frequently five or six
fighting bulls are provided for a show.
The enormous bullring of Madrid, used for bullfights, can seat more than 30 000
spectators. Every ciry holds its own bullfights. Every week in this country the killing of
some hundred horses during bullfights has, of course, destroyed a good breed and lerr
pitiful nags. Instead of horses, mules are widely used on the farms of Spain.
SPANISH AGRICULTURE
Out of the 50.5 million hectares of the Spanish territory abour 20.5 million are used
for agriculture. Of the latter 5 million is fallow land. Thus, the general area annually cul-
tivated, including gardens and vegetable gardens, can be calculated at 15.5 million hect-
lPicadors; Vavilov has got some aspects of the bullfight slightly mixed up. D.L.
N.I. VAVILOV - 120- FIVE CONTINENTS

ares, i.e. equal to about one-ninth of the agricultutal area of the Soviet Union [in 1927). At
the same time although not more than 9% of the land, including fallow land, is utilized for
agriculture in the USSR, in Spain up to 40%, including fallow land, is under crops. In
Spain 1.5 million hectares are occupied by irrigated agriculture. The irrigated land is con-
centrated mainly in Murcia, Valencia, Granada and Aragon.
With respect to its natural-historical conditions, Spain is a country of striking con-
trasts. The flora of Spain is exceptionally rich: it has about 6000 species of which 25% are
endemic, i.e. specific for Spain alone. According to the calculations by M. Riccli, more
than 50% of the species of the wild flora are common to Andalusia and norrhern Africa;
the slightly jagged southern coastal belt of Spain even looks like Africa. Especially the
landscapes with thick stands of the spear-grass 'alfa' [Stipa tenacissima L.), harmel [Peganum
halmaM L.) and wild palmettos [Chamaerops humilis_L.) remind one of Africa. The African
date palms [Phoenix dactyliftra L.) also thrive beautifully and bear fruits in southern Spain.
Central Spain, occupied by Old and New Castile, which are separated by the Sierra
de Guaderrama, is also characterized by a comparatively dry climate, especially toward the
north and around Valladolid. The central area is utilized mainly for gtain crops, while
Andalusia in the south and in the northeast Catalonia are the foci of intensively cultivated
gardens, vineyards and olive and citrus groves, as well as intensive cultivation of vegetables
and rice.
In contrast to all of the interior and southern pans of Spain, the north, delimited by
the Cantabrian mountains and the Pyrenees, gets a great amount of precipiration. This is
mainly a region of animal husbandry and pasture land. Large plantations of chestnuts
[Castanea vesca L.) are concentrated there.
As in the case of all of the Mediterranean area, the exceptional role played by fruit
trees is characteristic of Spain. Fruit trees occupy a huge area, about 4 million hectares.
Many areas of eastern and southern Spain are like a continuous garden: in Spain more than
2 million hectares are occupied by olive groves, 1.5 million by vineyards and about 400000
by various kinds of fruits. In other words, almost 30% of the cultivated area of Spain is
under fruit trees. About 8 million hectares are occupied by grain and leguminous crops, of
which more than one-halfis wheat.
With respect to the variety of crops, Spain must be given first place within Europe.
In the southern areas, around Granada, date palms, sugar cane, bananas, lemons as well as
Peruvian cut-leaf philodendron [Monstera sp.) and South American bougainvillea [Bougainvi-
llea spectabilis Willd.], eucalyprus and Egyptian cotron are grown to maturity. In central
Spain, forage crops unknown elsewhere in the world, such as single-flowered vetch [Vicia
articuMta Hornem.) and so-called French or Narbonne vetch [Vicia narbonensis L.], are
cultivated. In the north they grow peculiar sand-oats [Avena strigo,-a Schreb.], fodder gorse
[Ulex europaeus L.) and a peculiar kind of wheat, the genuine emmer [Triticum dicoccum
Schrank). According to my estimate, more than 100 different species, not including the
decorative ones, are cultivated in Spain in the form oflarge crops.
As in the other Mediterranean countries, rotation using leguminous plants plays a
great role in Spain in addition to the exceptionally important cultivation of fruit trees. No
less than 1 million hectares are under leguminous plants such as fava beans [Vicia foba L.],
chickpeas [Cicer arietinum L.) and fodder vetch [Vicia sativa L.).
Southern Spain can be called a land of gardens. Almonds [Prunus duleis [Mill.) D.A.
Webb], figs [Ficus carica L.), pomegranates [Punica granatum L.) and peaches [Prunus
persica [L.) Batsch.) are grown on enormous areas. As far as the cultivation of oranges is
N.I. VAVllOV - 121 - FIVE CONTINENTS
..
concerned, Spain takes first place in Europe. The area under orange groves amounts to
60 000 hectares.
Historically the extensive development of irrigation in Spain is linked to the arrival
of the Moors and the Arabs, who used melt-water from snow in the Sierra Nevada.
The dry climate of the major portion of Spain determines the low yield of the crops,
which is considerably lower than that of the other countries in Europe. The average crop of
wheat was about 8-9 centners per hectare duting the last couple of years. The crops of
barley and rye are similar. The crop of corn [maize] does not exceed 11 centners per hect-
are. The crops on irrigated soils are on an average twice as big. A wide variation between
crops from year to year is rypical of Spain. Poor harvests caused by drought are fairly
common and have a particularly severe effect on the life of the population of the country,
which at present [1927] amounts to about 25 million people.
Thanks to irrigation and the favoutable climate of southetn and eastern Spain, the
agriculture there is one of the most intensive in all the world. The harvest of rice in the
Valencia region amounts on an average to 65 centners per hectare, which is a world record.
The Ctop of the famous onions of Valencia can also reach record dimensions, 650-800
centners per hectare, but is on an average about 320 centners per hectare.
Until recendy Spain was mainly an agrarian country. Agriculture occupied first
place with respect to the national income. More than half the population was associated
with farm work. An archaic form is preserved for the distribution ofland: the domination
oflarge landed estates. According to data from 1934,65% of the arable land area was still
in the hands oflandlords. The Catholic Church owns extensive areas ofland. At present a
multitude of very small farms side by side with landed estates is rypical of Spain. In Old
Castile there are thousands of agricultural lots measuring less than a tenth of a hectare. The
genetal number of farms in the country measuring less than one hectare, i.e. those belong-
ing to poor farmers, is estimated at about 5 million. This figure is especially revealing when
you take the low average yield into consideration.
There are from 2 to 2.5 million farm workers in the country. The large number of
farmhands can be explained by the survival of feudalism. There are still mighry landowners
such as the Duke of Alba and Count Romanos, to whom tens of thousands of hectares
belong. The exceptional inequalities in the distribution ofland are basic to understanding
the fate of contemporary Spain and the growth of a revolutionary movement.
The technical level of Spanish agriculture is generally not very high, to which the
rather limited use of farm machinery bears witness. So far the basis of the agriculture in
Spain remains very primitive; in the best case it goes back to Roman times. As a rule, the
Roman furrow-plow is used; it loosens up the soil but does not tutn over the sod. Thresh-
ing is done by means of stonerollers or wooden boards with stone shards set into them,
frequently by dragging thrashels or even by driving cattle through the sheaves laid out. In
central Spain ir is still possible to see windmills such as those which existed at the time of
Cervantes.
The low level of Spanish agricultural technology can be explained first and foremost
by feudalism and the domination of landed estates which still remain. Although serfdom
was actually abolished as early as during the fourteenth century, the survival of feudalism is
still evident in the uneven distribution ofland, the rype of utilization ofland and, most of
all, by the domination ofleaseholds. Two-thirds of the agricultural farm land is to a greater
or lesser extent burdened by obligations benefitring the landlord. Almost one-half of the
N.I. VAVILOV - 122- FIVE CONTINENTS
II
Spanish farmers are leaseholders; in addition, so-called sub-leaseholds, i.e. land often re-
leased at a fivefold rent, are widely distributed in Spain.
As a consequence of the leaseholds the utilization ofland has become very extensive.
Nobody is interested in investing capital in or doing heavy work on the land. Strips of
agricultural land alternating with privately owned plors were until recently maintained
around the large estates. During the last couple of decades the input of capital into agricul-
ture has intensified the process of differentiation of the Spanish farmer. Up until the Great
Depression, which in particular has spread during the last couple of years, a major emigra-
tion of people to Latin America occurred every year.
These facts are extremely important for understanding the course of the present
events, the distriburion of the power and the influence of the Popular Front. I am, indeed,
not mistaken when I state that during the last couple of years there has not been such a
sharp contrast between the agricultural classes in any other European counny as in Spain.
When studying Spain it is necessary to talee into account tl,e complicated historical
stratification of this country and the changing influences of its various civilizations and
peoples. In no other European country have the civilizations changed as often as in Spain.
The capitals have changed. From Elche during the Roman time the capital moved to
Merida and at the time of the Visigoths it was Toledo; the capital of the Arabs was Cordoba
and that of the Moors was Granada. Now it is Madrid. By means of the architecture of old
cities such as Toledo, it is possible to trace the progression of different sryles: the Roman,
tl,e Gothic, the Renaissance and the Baroque. In the south, starting from the 8th century,
there was a strong wave of Moorish influences.
The variation in climate and soils connected with the mountain relief, the effects of
the different civilizations and the variery of the nationalities which settled on the Iberian
peninsula are, of course, all reflected in the composition of the crops and the agriculture.
From time immemorial seeds and plants have been brought here from various Mediterra-
nean countries and from southwestern Asia. After the discovery of the Americas, the effects
of American introductions have proliferated here: Mexican cacri, yuccas, agaves, avocados
and other Central American fruits, beans, potatoes and particularly corn [maize}. The
antiquiry of the crops and the intensity of irrigated agriculture have called for exceptional
artention to the selection of the varieties.
My task was first and foremost an investigation of the plant crops and a comparison
of them with crops and varieties of other countries. The comparison of Spain with other
countries in Europe, Mrica and Asia allowed me to properly elucidate dispersal and intro-
duction and, at the same time, the presence of independent crops. In this respect the
Iberian peninsula is one of the most interesting parts of Europe.
Let us get acquainted with the different major regions of Spain below. We shall start
with the expeditions allover Spain.
CENTRAL SPAIN
Even near Madrid the mountains reach high altitude. A typical 'garrigue' begins, a semi-
desert with low vegetation of half shrubs, among which scattered stands of a feathergrass
[Stipa sp.] are encountered. On the slopes a typical vegetation zone, the so-called 'maquis',
consisting oflow, evergreen, thorny bushes, can be observed.
I started our by train from Madrid into central Spain. The dty climate of the el-
evated, central parts of the country is poorly suited for intensive cultivation or for gardens
and vineyards. This is a region mainly of cereals and leguminous plants. The provinces of
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Madrid, Toledo, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Albacete and Caceres belong here and are siruated
south of the Sierra de Guadarrama, while northwest of it there are the provinces of Salamanca,
Zamora, Valladolid, Palencia, Burgos and Leon.
In spite of its central location Old Castile still preserves a majority of the relict plants
from the past. A number of the field crops of central Spain exist only in Spain. Apparently
tlley were taken inro cultivation there from the complex of local wild plants. In particular
this concerns the fodder vetches, i.e. tile single-flowered and the Narbonne vetches [Vicia
articulata Hornem. and V narbonensis L., respectively). However, here, just as in all of
Spain and everywhere else around the Mediterranean, the tillage of the fields is done by
means of me old Latin type of plow.
The search for relict plant species led me to La Mancha, the native land of Don
Quixote. La Mancha is a flat, monotonous area witll a poor flora. Single olive trees are
encountered here and there. To my surprise, when driving into the villages, I saw forests of
windmills similar to those with which the esteemed knight once had a fight. They still
characterize the landscape of La Mancha. Moreover, a relict crop of a primitive wheat, the
einkorn [Tritiatm monococatm L.], is still preserved here. At the time of ancient Troy ir was
widely disrributed, but at present it is extinct almost everywhere except in Spain. Around
Cuenca, about 60 km from La Mancha, einkorn covers 13 000 hectares. It is used as fodder
for horses, pigs and mules and grows well on poor soils. After a crop of einkorn, the soil is
laid fallow. In the villages around Cuenca and La Mancha people everywhere are occupied
by braiding grass. In addition to wheat and barley, Spanish endemic species such as fodder
vetches are widely grown. Up to 200 000 hectares are covered by one of them, the single-
flowered vetch [Vicia articulata Hornem.).
The squat houses with small windows and iron latticework have hardly changed
since the time of Don Quixote. The narrow streets, paved with stones, have existed for
cenruries. The domestic utensils, conical vessels for olive oil, wine and olives, reflect a
civilization thousands of years old. It barely differs from the Minoan civilization on the
island of Crete, which was synchronous with that of ancient Egypt.
The more I srudied Spain, the more it looked to me like a historical museum where
it is possible to trace various stages of development of the agriculrural civilization and the
arts. Every province and every ciry bear marks of originality.
EASTERN SPAIN
From Madrid I went to the coastal city of Alicante, from which I made excursions into
Murcia and Valencia. From Valencia I went by car through Almeria and Malaga to Granada.
In contrast m the uniform fields of central Spain the coastal area from Valencia to Malaga
consists of continuous groves of olive and almond trees and vineyards alternating witll
intensively cultivated vegetable gardens and large fields of peanuts [Arachis hypogaea L.)
and potames.
Northeastern Spain is known as Catalonia [or Catalufia) and is settled by a special
population with its own language, which is considerably different from the old Castilian
Spanish tongue although they have Latin roots in common. The capital of Catalonia,
Barcelona, is the largest city in Spain, wim a harbour and strongly developed industry and
business. Barcelona can be compared to the English Manchester and Catalonia to Lancaster.
Barcelona is a typical Eutopean city where one hardly has any sensation of old Spain. It has
close connections with all the countries around the Mediterranean.
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For centuries there has been a fight about the autonomy of Catalonia. Until re-
cendy, in the old houses there it was possible to see tables with knives chained to them,
mementos of the time of Philip V, who, when suppressing an uprising of the Catalonians,
ordered the complete disarmament of the Catalonians, which included attaching the kitchen
knives to the tables as a symbol of servitude.
Catalonia is a country of gardens; enormous areas are occupied by vineyards. Culti-
vation of vegetables is strongly developed. The area of Valencia is the richest agricultural
area in Spain, most famous for its intensive agriculture. It has a mild climate characterized
by an even distribution of the annual precipitation and an adequate amount of water for
irrigation. Agriculture in Valencia is at an extraordinarily high level and can be said to be
unsurpassed anywhere in the world as far as the care lavished on the fields and the gardens
is concerned. The ideal utilization of the land here is striking. The soils of the Valencia area
are clayey. To improve their physical quality; sand from the sea is applied. The cultivation
of rice is concentrated here and grown exclusively by means of transplantation. The plant-
ing is done along cords, strung up. To improve the yield, usually mineral fertilizers are
applied to the crop, especially ammonium sulphate and superphosphate. The yield of rice
in Valencia is twice that ofJapan and six to seven times that ofIndia.
The famous Valencia onions ofren reach a weight of 1 kg per bulb and produce
fabulous harvests. Large amounts of fertilizers are applied to them. In Spain onions occupy
about 29 000 hectares, of which one-third is produced in Valencia. The large, golden-
coloured Valencia onions keep beautifully and are exported to England, the USA, Argen-
tina and the Scandinavian countries.
Spain produces the largest number of oranges in Europe and apparendy its role in
this respect will increase in the near future. The orange harvest takes place mainly in Feb-
ruary. The orange groves are irrigated by means of Arabian wells and waterwheels, so-called
'noria'. The well-known brand of 'Valencia' oranges is sold allover Europe. One half of all
the orange groves (more than 30 000 hectares) are found in Valencia. Of the 15 million
boxes of oranges exported from Spain, 12 million come from Valencia.
All of Valencia is like a flower garden; almost any crop can be grown successfully
there. Large areas are occupied by almond and carob trees [Ceratonia siliqua L.], figs, apples
and peaches. The variation of crops is amazing and exceeds in this respect that of all other
areas. It is also possible to see large quantities of Egyptian 'chufa' or nutsedge [Cypems
esculentus L.], which yields small but tasty bulbs used for producing a beverage favored by
the Spaniards. In the mountains there is lots of broom [Spartium junceum L.).
ANDALUSIA
From Valencia I drove by car along the coastal belt to Granada, stopping in Murcia,
Cartagena, Almeria and Milaga. The road passed extensive vineyards, orange and olive
groves and gardens. Granada is situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The main part
of this mountain range is permanendy covered with snow. Its peaks reach almost 3500
metres.
In Andalusia the influence of the Arabs is much stronger than anywhere else in
Spain. It is still reflected by the building styles of the cities, the planning of the gardens, the
composition of the agricultural crops and the widespread use at irrigation. In spite of the
merciless annihilation of the Moslem civilization by the Catholic Church, much is still
preserved from it, especially in Cordoba and Granada.
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From the 8th centuty on, Andalusia became the centre of an Arabic civilization.
One of the famous monuments of this era is the castle of Alhambra at Granada. Its con-
struction began in 1232 and went on for a centuty. Erected on a high hill, the castle towers
above the city. It fearures fantastic rooms, courtyards and rurrets. From the windows there
are wonderful views. The geometrical ornaments of the cupolas and arches resemble lace or
honeycombs; the 'cells of the hive' in the ceilings are blue, yellow, red, green and black in
colour. There are striking sculptures adorned by Arabian inscriptions and coils of stone
carvings evetyWhere. Inside, the castle is full of mosaics of multicoloured tiles.
Simultaneously with the castle, the garden of Generalife was constructed. In
translation from the Arabic language, the name means an 'architectural garden.' The
Generalife gets its water from the Sierra Nevada. The hotter the day, the faster the
snow melts on the peaks and the more water flows to its fountains. A canal bordered
by white marble conducts water to all of the garden with its fantastically trimmed
myrtles and cypresses.
Granada can justly be compared ro Damascus with respect to its location in the
foothills of mountains and the abundance of water. Its environment is covered with flow-
ering Spanish broom [Spartium junceum L.J.
Another clear example of Moorish arts is the famous mosque, preserved in Cordoba.
Its construction began as early as the 8th century. It is surrounded by a multitude of pillars
made of different kinds of srone, jasper, marble and malachite of various colours; pink
columns hide behind yellow ones, blue behind green ones; evety pillar supports a light,
openwork arch on which a second arch is raised. These double arches are suspended in the
air by enormous stone vaults, shaped like horseshoes. Nineteen of these variously coloured
colonnades once encircled the mosque. In the forest of pillars of the mosque the feeling of
limited space is lost. At one time this wonderful architectural treasure was apparently even
more beautiful, but fanatics mutilated it when ttying to convert it into a Catholic church.
After the expulsion of the Moslems, eight rows of pillars were destroyed and in their place
a Catholic church was built in the shape of a cross.
Cordoba was once the centre of Arabic science, medicine, mathematics, astronomy
and botany. There, during the twelfth century, Abu Zacharia wrote his important book on
agriculture, which fortunately escaped unharmed from the auro-da-fe of the famous
Cordoban libraty, organized by Cardiual Jimenez. The book, translated into French and
Spanish, gives information about the construction of the gardens of Andalusia and the
utilization of wild plants for decorative purposes. Agents were sent Out by the first emir,
Abdul-Rahman, to Syria, Damascus, Baghdad, Turkestan and India ro collect various ex-
otic decorative trees and flowers. Date palms and pomegranates [Punica granatum L.J were
introduced ro Spain at that time and the latrer became the symbol of Granada.
Seville is another of the interesting cities of Andalusia. Avenues with plane trees
[Platanus sp.Jline the slowly flowing river, the Guadalquivir. Here and there one encoun-
ters dark cypresses and gigamic yuccas. The gardens of Seville and its citadel, Alcazar, have
been altered several times but in general the Moorish layout, full of beautiful plants, has
been preserved thanks ro an abundance of water. The planning of the gardens is in general
uniform. They consist of square beds or groves, enveloped by intricately Cut trellises behind
which slender palms rise up. The characteristic uniqueness of the Moorish style is an ability
lThe sarcophagus is actually in Cordoba. D.L.
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to orchestrate the aspect of the buildings with the type of vegetation. The so-called 'carmen'
[a counay-house], i.e. the complex of house and garden, is typical of Seville, Cordoba and,
especially, Granada. The garden is an integral part of the house, its logical continuation.
Still, the character of the Andalusian cities is exemplified by tile-roofed houses and their
obligatory courryards with fountains and gardens. The older parts of the cities are distin-
guished by narrow streets and the small doors in their gates. The houses are white and have
flat roofs and balconies.
The specialry of Arabian living quarters is the neglect of outward embellishment
and the focus on all kinds of luxurious decorations on the inside. This can be seen espe-
cially in Cordoba. The tendency of the Arabian architects to give the homes an aspect of
lightness, reminiscent of nomad tents in the desertS, is distinctly noticeable. The com-
parative fragiliry and short life of most of the buildings is a result of this. The old cities of
Greece and Rome were subjected to destruction and looting, bur in spite of that they are,
to a greater or lesser extent, still preserved. On the other hand, the monuments of Arabian
architecture are comparatively few.
Seville is the native ciry of the artist Murillo. The Gothic cathedral of Seville main-
tains an important picture gallery. There too, an exceptionally valuable rreasure of geo-
graphical material is collecred: maps and papers devored to Columbus' discoveries and
maps pertaining to the conquests of Mexico and Peru and the expedirions of Magellan,
Pizarro and Cortez. The famous library of Columbus is also found in this church along
with his sarcophagus, supported by sculprures of four kings.' The complex life of Colum-
bus is linked to Seville: there, in 1493, he was ceremonially mer and showered with honours
as a great navigator and there, in 1498, he stood, shackled and chained, in front of Queen
Isabella and King Ferdinand.
Andalusia is distinguished by a mild subtropical climate: dates ripen there and the
landscape is to a great extent covered with gardens and groves of orange, almond and fig
trees; the ciry streets are lined with palms and oleanders [Nerium oleander L.].
With respect to the composition of the crops, coastal Andalusia has a rypical Medi-
terranean character. Eucalyptus, bananas, sugarcane and avocados [Persea americana Mill.]
can be successfully grown and in the warmest localities even coffee trees. A multitude of
beauriful decorative plants have been introduced from subtropical and tropical countries
allover the world. Closer to the mountains hard wheat, a characteristic Mediterranean
crop, is grown and ripens in May. On the slopes of the mountains one invariably encoun-
ters thickets of Mediterranean palmetto [Sabal palmetto [Walt.] Lodd.] among the low
bushes of evergreen oak [Quercus ilex L.]. Considerable areas are occupied by vineyards.
After returning from Seville to Madrid, I went to Portugal for a few days. It takes
only 16 hours by train from Madrid to Lisbon, a distance of abour 700 km. The roure
passes first through a desert-like, hilly expanse with olive groves and large crops of cereals.
The farms are small. Along the boundary there were large masses of blue cornflowers
[Centaurea cyanus L.]
As we approached Portugal, there were increasingly frequent foresrs of cork oales
[Q;/ercus suber L.], especially on the slopes of the Sierra Morena. In Esrremadura it can be
seen how thick layers of bark have been stripped from the oales. Along the roads there are
also beehives covered by roofs of cork-oak bark in large apiaries. The general area of wild-
growing corkoales amounts in Spain ro 255 000 hecrares, a figure exceeded only in Algeria.
The export of cork constitutes a major source of the national income (up ro 30 million
pesetas annually). The main foresrs of cork oales are concentrated in two areas, one along
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the border to Portugal, the other near Barcelona. Other groves are encountered around
Malaga and near Seville.
GALICIA
On the way to northern Spain, to Galicia, I sropped for a few days in Valladolid, a city
historically linked to the culmination of the Inquisition, to the name of King Philip II and
that of the wild fanatic Torquemada. During 16 years Torquemada burned more than
8000 heretics at the stake for the gloty of the Catholic Church. Many of the best people in
Spain perished during that period. Columbus died in Valladolid. The city still bears the
marks of olden times: narrow streets, Catholic churches and open plazas where executions
were carried out.
Near this city, one of the foremost research stations in Spain specializing in grain
crops is situated. The dry climate, inadequate precipitation and its uneven distribution
force the research station to concentrate all its attention on working out a model for dty-
land farming, on selection of drought-tolerant varieties and on pracricing wide-row sow-
ing. In Spain, the main bulk of wheat crops is concentrated around Valladolid. As far as
landscape is concerned, this is the poorest, most monotonous area of Spain, with wide
expanses of semidesert.
After driving through a pass at 1200 metres, I turned north toward the centre of the
province of Galicia and the city ofLugo. Everything had changed: after the grey and yellow
background of the semidesert, the traveller meets with bright green forests, pastures and
enormous herds of sheep here. Groves of chestnut trees [Castanea sativa MilL] are typical of
Galicia and cover tens of thousands of hectares. The chestnut is the dominant tree in
Galician forests. It is met in both a wild and a cultivated state. The nuts serve as food for
people as well as fodder for animals.
Here everything is unique and different from interior and southern Spain: gorse
[Ulex europaeziS L.], a semishrubby, leguminous plant, is cultivated in enormous quantities
as a rough and prickly fodder plant. It has yellow flowers and its branches, crushed by
means of wooden mallets, serve as valuable fodder for the horned cartle. Periodically thick-
ets of gorse are burned to fertilize the fields, which radically improves soil fertility.
Galicia is the province with the largest amount of rainfall in all of Spain. A wealth of
woody and meadow plants characterize the landscape. In addition to chestnuts, walnur
trees fJugums regia L.] can also be seen there. The field crops are quite different from those
in the rest of Spain. Here rye dominates: the inhabitants eat black bread and the straw of
rye is widely used as carrie fodder and for covering buildings.
Sand oats [Avena strigosa Schreb., syn. A. nuda Hjer] , are a characteristic plant gen-
erally endemic here and widely cultivated on shallow, light and acidic soils. Here and in dle
adjacent northwestern part of Portugal, I succeeded with full certainty in elucidating the
connection between this crop and wild, genetically closely related oats. There is no doubt
at all that the genesis of the sand oats and the species close to them originated in the
territory of the northwestern Pyrenees. While infesting other crops, in particular wheat,
these oats gradually forced Out the wheat, which makes higher demands on the soil and
developed into independent crops. Here two kinds of sand oats [actually subspecies: A.
strigosa Schreb. subsp. strigosa and subsp. brevis [Roth.] Mans£], both with a large number
of varieties not known in any other countries, were discovered.
Thickets of wild flax [Adenolinum perenne Reichb.], genetically close to our culti-
vated flax [L. liSitatissimum L.], are met in abundance. In Galicia I also came across a
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peculiar, perennialleafjr cabbage in cultivation. In contrast to soumern and interior Spain,
me kinds ofleguminous plants grown, vetchling, lentils, chickpeas and peas, are evidently
of Asiatic origin, most likely introduced in a very remote time from me Caucasus or soum-
western Asia. They present a sharp contrast to me special, large-seeded forms of soumern
Spain.
Crops oflong-staple flax, unkriown in central and soumern Spain, begin to appear.
There is also an abundance of potatoes and rye. Large amounts of corn [maize] are culti-
vated.
The buildings are constructed of stone wim roofs of straw. Side by side wim me
latter, roofs covered by dark slate can be seen. These are especially rypical of Galicia. The
roads are good. The inhabitants of me villages wear wooden clogs. Agricultural tools are
primitive; Latin furrow plowshares are used. The grain is cut by sickles and mreshed by
means of chains. Women are constantly seen collecting me dung of animals along me
roads. Here, as in all of Spain, mere are lots of pigeons; me pigeon droppings are used as
fertilizer.
In general, animal husbandry and milk production predominate. For a long time
me abundance of oak forests has been used for me production of pigs in me area surround-
ing Lugo. Wild boars can still be encountered in me forests. On me whole, however,
Galicia does not produce enough food and it is necessary to impott it.
Everywhere one gets me impression of an old, stagnant and primitive, but at me
same time original culture. Basically, Galicia is geogtaphically unique as far as landscape,
composition of the crops, variery of the animals and language are concerned.
ASTURIAS
Andalusia has long been glorified as me most colourful part of Spain, distinguished by its
wealm of subtropical plants and me famous esmetics of the Moorish arts. However, with
respect to me originaliry of its Ctops and its historical importance, little-known Asturias
can rival it.
I went to Asturias to gain knowledge of general agriculture in an attempt to establish
links in me process of development of agricultural crops of Europe. Asturias is an un-
touched corner of Europe: me people, me buildings, me culture - everything is unique.
The dominant rype of building, the so-called 'palafito'] is supported on wooden or stone
pillars and is definitely different from ordinary buildings wim foundations of stone. This
leads to protection against dampness and vermin. Polebuildings are common not only for
storing grain but also as living quarters. Such primitive buildings are met in many coun-
tries wim ancient civilizations; they can be seen in Transcaucasus, Lenkoran', western Georgia
and Abkhazia as well as in Taiwan and on me Malayan peninsula.
In all of Spain, me cultivation of emmer [1iiticum dicoccum Schrank], me special
hulled wheat, me origin of which still remains an unsolved mystery, is at present preserved
only in Asturias. At me time when me main centre of soft wheat was established in me
Caucasus and me Near East, many hundreds, even mousands of years ago, a special branch,
genetically very close to soft wheat but definitely unique and hard to mresh, had already
become isolated in me mountain areas of Bavaria, Tirol and Austria. Besides, me Asturian
emmer is different from me Tirolian and Bavarian ones since it is not a winter wheat like
those but exclusively a spring crop.
lA primitive building, erected on pillars, sometimes in lakes; D.L.
N.I. VAVILOV - 129- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
I happened to arrive in Asturias just at the time of the emmer harvest. To my sur-
prise it turned our that this crop was harvested not by means of sickles or scythes, but by
using ancient flails by means of which the spikes are removed and then thrown into bas-
kets. During all my travels through the years in some 60 countries, not once had I been
fortunate enough to observe such a mode of harvesting. It was only later that I encountered
a similar method, in the mountains of western Georgia, in the villa"oe ofLechkhumi, where
an important endemic group of wheat, including a special species genetically very close to
the present emmer, was recently discovered.
Thus, agronomically and botanically it was possible to establish a striking connec-
tion between northern Spain and Georgia. The species cultivated and the agricultural
implements are so specific and so typical that there can scarcely be any doubt abour the
profound importance of this connection. I remember with what agitation Academician N.
Ya. Marr listened to me telling him abour this.l For him these facts may prove the veraciry
of his hypothesis, according to which the people of northern Spain with respect to lan-
guage are linked into one general family of ancient Mediterranean and contemporary
Caucasian peoples.
The composition of all the crops in Asturias is unique. There is absolurely no rye,
which is so widely distribured in the neighboring Galicia and none of the sand oats, the
species endemic in Galicia and northwestern Portugal. Instead 6f rye, emmer is cultivated,
frequently with an admixture of another peculiar botanical endemic species, einkorn [T.
monococcum L.J. The agricultural crops of Asturias bear traces of primitive, bur at the same
time intense cultivation. Frequently one encounters well-made terraces. The threshing of
emmer is done on special millstones. The harnesses of bullocks and cows are unique. Fur
hats, the likes of which I had never seen anywhere except in Asturias, are placed on the
heads of the animals. The grain is brought in from the fields on sleds.
Among the remarkable sights of Asturias it is necessary to mention the so-called
'Sistine Chapel of the Stone Age'. This is the famous A1tamiran cave near Santander, which
contains first-class artistic pictures of animals made by people at the beginning of the Stone
Age. To enter the caves it was necessary to crawl. Now the caves have been illuminated by
electric lights. On the low ceiling, not allowing one to stand erect, there are beautiful
paintings of hunters and wild animals, bisons, horses and reindeer, which have not existed
in a wild state in Europe for a long time. The paintings, which primitive people made
while reclining, defY description. To protect his work from moisture, the primitive inhab-
itant of the cave mixed the paints with melted animal fats; this has preserved them for
thousands of years.
The A1tamiran caves have been carefully studied by the German archeologist
Obermeyer. Shells of molluscs have been found there which were apparently collected on
the sea coast by the primitive hunters who used them for food. The different halls of the
caves are enormously large; up to five hundred people could be accommodated there.
Stalactites hang down from the ceiling, here and there dripping water. The age of the caves
has been determined by Obermeyer to not less than 15 000 years. In any case, before me
was one of the most ancient traces of a civilization of paleolithic people. Similar artistic
illustrations are lmown also from other caves in Asturias and in the adjacent French Pyrenees.
lMarr was a well-known Russian linguist who developed a hypothesis about a linkage between echnic groups in the
Caucasus and in Spain, based on comparative lingusitic studies. S. Reznik.
N.I. VAVILOV - 130- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
Wild fruit trees and bushes, apples, raspberries and pears, grow in large numbers
around the caves of Altarnira. Discoveries have been made of areas occupied by wild flax
[Adenolinum perenne Reichb.]. It could have been used for string. It is not difficult ro fully
and realistically reconstruct the existence of the primirive people settled in Asturias. They
were hunters of wild animals, collectors of molluscs, fisherfolk and gatherers of wild fruits
and berries, who also utilized wild plants.
In one of the caves a picture, famous for its realism, is displayed of the collecting of
honey from wild bees. By means of a rope ladder, apparently made offibres oflocal palmet-
tos, growing in abundance to the south of the Cantabrian mountains and the Pyrenees, a
man ascends a rock while another holds the ladder; in his hands the climber holds a vessel
for the honey and a torch, with which he drives away a swarm of bees. Such a scene can be
observed even today in the mountain areas of Spain.
Asturias, with its primitive and impressive historical stages of the evolution, of agri-
culture is no doubt unique in Europe and definitely deserves the greatest attention possible
of those invesrigating it.
THE LAND OF THE BASQUES
'Basconia' [the Basque Provinces], adjacent to Asturias, has long enjoyed as much attention
as the latter. The Basques are the last representatives of the Iberians, who once occupied the
enrire Iberian peninsula. It is hard to tell from where the Basques carne; perhaps they were
European aborigines. However, there is an indication in Strabo that in ancient times Trans-
caucasus was called Iberia and some facts and reasons make it necessary to assume the
possibility of an emigration of a Trans-Caucasian people to the Iberian peninsula and rhat
they settled among tl,e spurs of tl,e Pyrenees and the Cantabrian mountains in a climate
similar to that of Trans caucasus.
At present the Basque language is totally different from Spanish and isolates the
Basques from other people in Spain. The Basque language is, in turn, divided into several
dialects. A number of investigators have linked the Basque language to the Hamiric-Semiric
group. Others, such as N. Ya. Marr, suggest that this language is close to a wide group of
Mediterranean languages, to which rhose of the Etruscan and Caucasian peoples also be-
long. It has been suggested that in a remote prehistoric past the language of the Basques was
spoken in all of Spain. In spite of their closeness to France and the extensive contact with
thar countty and the existence of railroads, ancient customs can still be recognized in the
mode oflife of the Basques. For instance, in rhe graveyards there are still characteristic and
peculiar srelae.
The Basque landscape is similar to thar of Galicia: rhere is an abundance of green
meadows, shtubbery and forests. Large quanrities of oak, chestnuts and pines occur there.
The villages are scattered in small valleys isolated from each other. In the mountains agri-
culture is practiced in the small valleys.
Among the field crops I managed to find much that was peculiar. This is the realm
of emmer [Triticum dicoccum Schrank] and strange oats, nor found in other countries. In
any case, the northeasrern Atlantic parr of Spain is sharply different from the northwesrern
parrs of Galicia and there are none of the sand oats or any of the rye so common in Galicia.
Wheat is remarkably variable; ofren there is so-called 'English' wheat [i.e., cone or poulard
whear, Triticum turgidum L.]. Many forage plants such as lupins [Lupinus spp.] and red
clover [Trifolium prateme L.] are grown. In the mountains hazelnuts [Corylus avellana L.]
and raspberries [Rubus ideaeus L.] are widespread. Near Parnplona I found a rare swarm of
N.I. VAVILOV - 131 - FIVE CONTINENTS

natural hybrids between soft wheat [Triticum aestivum L.] and a wild grass, Aegilops [now
Cylindropyrum A.Liive]. There is no genuine emmer [T. dicoccum L.].
It is impossible to forget one of rhe many typical examples of the oursranding civil-
ity of rhe Basques. When going to Pamplona at the beginning of August, I wanted to
collect as much as possible of rhe endemic crops. The small villages rhere are isolated and
rhe collecting was exceptionally difficult. The local agronomist was not well; he had broken
his leg and could get abour only in a hotsedrawn carriage. I accompanied him for a few
dozen km while garhering a not very rich collection. To collect more, rhe agronomist
declared, it would be necessary to remain in rhis locality for several weeks and ride on
horseback in different directions through rhe land of the Basques. He promised me he
would fill our the collections when he was better and send rhe samples to Leningrad. When
I returned to Leningrad I found, to my astonishment, an enormous parcel wirh samples of
emmer, very carefully collected from all rhe Basque provinces by rhis agronomist and
provided with exact labels, indicating the altitude, and detailed maps, showing whence rhe
sample originated. It had been necessary to spend quite a few days to carry our his promise.
Neither can I forget rhe enormous help given me by the Spanish botanist Professor Crespi,
with whom I had become acquainted in Madrid and together wirh whom I packed dozens
of parcels wirh seeds and ears at night for dispatching to Leningrad.
From Pamplona I went to San Sebastian, a port city with beautiful beaches. My
expeditions in Spain were completed. I proceeded on to France.
REVIEW OF THE AGRONOMICAL INVESTIGATIONS
Some words toward a review of my investigations: Spain turned out to be an exceptionally
interesting country for understanding rhe evolution of European agriculture. There I was
able to establish wirhout doubt the presence of a number of endemic crops, described from
the Iberian Peninsula alone: sand oats [Avena strigosa Schreb.], special species of vetches
[Vicia articulata Hornem. and V. narbonemis L.], emmer wheat [Tiiticum dicoccum L.] and
foddet plants such as gorse [Ulex europael/s L.] and chestnut [Castanea sativa L.]. In addi-
tion, during rhe stages of their development, some crops underwent rhe stage of weedy
plants which forced out orher, more ancient crops. This was particularly clear in rhe case of
oats.
In Spain it is possible to trace various stages of agriculture up to rhe present, starting
wirh primitive field work, harvesting and rhreshing. As demonstrated by a comparative
study of the Near East and orher countries, rhe overwhelming majority of rhe basic crops
were introduced into Spain. This occurred rhousands of years ago. The influence of Ro-
man, Syrian, Egyptian and Arabian crops can be successfully traced. Spain, so to speak,
absorbed all of rhe Mediterranean agriculture and, in part, reworked it, creating its own
new varieties. The fact rhat rhe varietal material here appears basically to be introduced, is
indicated by its odd character and by rhe lack of complete taxonomic systems of species.
JUSt as in the entire Mediterranean area, fruit trees, including olives and grapes, are
of great importance in Spain. The intensive cultivation of eastern and sourhern Spain has
promoted selection of remarkable varieties, many of which are rhe best in rhe world. I have
already mentioned rhe large Valencia onions and rhe large-grained varieties ofleguminous
plants, in particular chickpeas [Gicer arietinum L.], beans [e.g. Vicia faba L.], vetchling
[Lathyrus sativa L.] and even olives [Olea europea L.], which deserve the attention of Soviet
plant breeders. The antiquity of rhe COUntry and rhe variety of rhe crops and conditions
N.i. VAVILOV - 132- FIVE CONTINENTS

have determined the exceptional value of the kinds cultivated. The choice of fruit trees in
southern Spain merits attention for use in the dry sub tropics of the Soviet country.
At the same time the influence of crops from southwestern Asia or the Caucasus on
the mountainous areas of central Spain can be mentioned. There, unexpectedly it is pos-
sible ro encounter lentils [Lem spp.], vetches [Vicia spp.] and chickpeas [Cieer arietinum
L.] that are indistinguishable from Caucasian and Iranian varieties and also from kinds I
encountered in the Kabyle mountain areas of Algeria.
Northern Spain, that is, Asturias, Galicia and the Basques provinces, reflect a dis-
tinct influence of a peculiar flora, endemic to the northern area of the Iberian peninsula.
Knowledge of ancient Spanish agriculture is of great interest for our Soviet agriculture. In
particular the leguminous plants, the varieties of wheat, the vegetables remarkable for their
dimensions, the disease-resistant oats and the fine assortment of fruits are very valuable.
The composition of the crop plant and varieties and the specific agrotechnology allows one
to make a rather thorough analysis of the history of crops and to trace the effects of migra-
tions, environmental conditions and the original wild flora as well as of the role of man.
An important uprising is going on in Spain:l The whole world is closely following
what is happening. The history of this remarkable country reveals the astonishing progress
of human genius. The world owes important geographical discoveries to Spain. Within the
field of the fine arts Spain occupies one of the foremost positions in the world. Genius
radiates from the caves of A1tamira, although mankind was still in its infancy. The splendid
arts of the Arabs and the Moors are preserved in the great monuments in Andalusia.
Examples ofliterature such as Don Quixote have no equals. Within the field of agriculture,
as we have seen, Valencia reaches world records.
Yet at the same time the history of Spain is full of the most somber pages and of
horrible crimes commitred by the dominating classes, the kings and the Catholic Church.
For the sake of silver and gold the important ancient civilizations of Peru and Mexico were
annihilated. Now, terrible crimes are committed by the Fascists in front of our own eyes.
The liberty of the Spanish people is a marter of concern for all the world. I remem-
ber the great interest with which the professors of a lyceum in Uon listened to my account
of the Soviet country and its science 9 years ago. Several dozen teachers had come together
in the evening to listen to the Soviet professor give a lecture. Just at the climax of my lecture
a police officer appeared, interrupting my talk and closing the meeting.
The uprising that originated in Spain has also particularly affected Latin America,
that is, the world where the Spanish tongue is spoken. There is no doubt whaGSoever that
all the best and the most progressive people are fighting on the side of the democratic
republic of Spain. The Spanish uprising affects the entire globe: there, in sharp focus, a war
of two worlds is concentrated.
I intensely wish for victory to the Spanish people, who are setting an important
standard of culture and artS and who shall accomplish even greater things in the future. A
victory of the Popular Front over Fascism will liberate the genius of the peoples of Spain
and give the world new and important values.
I salure a democratic and republican Spain!
'These lines werewritcen by Vaviloy during the war of the Spanish people against Fascism (cf. Novyy Mir, vol. 2 pp.
2 2 5 ~ 2 5 3 . ) Note by the Russian editors. [Actually, since the style of writing is so different from (har ofVavilov, it is
more likely that invas written rather by the editors of the Navy Mir journal where the paper was published first. D.L.]
N.I. VAVILOV - 133- FIVE CONTINENTS

EXPEDITIONS IN BRAZIL
From Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, the airplane flew north and landed in the city of
Porto Alegre, which is situated in the southernmost state of Brazil, Rio Grande do SuI.
1933 was nearing its end when I began to get acquainted with this country, which had
become known to Europeans more than 400 years ago.
In 1500 a Portuguese seafarer, Cabral, on his way to India, reached Brazil by chance.
At first he believed that he had discovered a large island, one of the legendary islands on the
route to India. In the forests of Brazil he found a famous red tree ISwietenia mahagoni L.],
which was already known in Asia under the name of the 'brazil tree' [actually another
species, S. macrophylla King; D.L.l Based on this observation, the land discovered by Cabral
was called Brazil, the land of the red-colouted trees. At this time the Spanish were absorbed
entirely in conquering the Andes and therefore only a small handful of Portuguese were
able to occupy the major portion oflowland South America. For about 300 years Portugal
did not pay attention to the colony it had occupied and it was only the discovery of gold
during the 19th century that attracted the attention of the parent country.
Before me was a colossal country which occupies three-quarters of the continent of
South America, a countI)' in size exceeding Australia and North America and equal to two-
fifths of all of Europe. It stretches more than 4000 km from east to west and from north to
south. More than 40 million people have settled in this enormous territory, over which a
several times larger could be scattered.
l
Southern Brazil is like a continuation of the prairie land of Argentina and Uruguay.
The airplane flew over an endless expanse on which large herds of horned cattle grazed.
Immense pastures and a large acreage of fertile meadows have promoted an astonishing
development of the cattle industry. Along the coastal belt enormous slaughterhouses and
gigantic meatpacking factories can be seen. This is the main stock-raising area, which
supplies the majority of canned meat to the North American and European markets.
The cultivated prairie is occupied by cereals. On the whole, southern Brazil is char-
acterized by a special landscape, which is distinctly different from those of interior and
northern Brazil. The climate here is subtropical, veI)' similar to that of Uruguay and Argen-
tina.
Porto Alegre is a small and, in essence, German city: there are German stores, some
German newspapers, German restaurants and beer halls with Munich beer. In other words,
Germany has actually a large and prosperous South American colony there. The major
part of the industrial enterprises, slaughterhouses and canneries and the large stock ex-
change belong to German citizens.
After a short stop in Paranagua the airplane flew on to Santos, where I ended my
flight. My further route led deep into the countI)', into the mountainous area of Brazil, the
main centre of the cultivation of coffee trees. Nine-tenths of the world production of coffee
is located in the state of Sao Paulo. By chance seeds of the coffee ttee were brought from
eastern Africa to Brazil 150 years ago and there, under the conditions of a temperate
lIn 1981 (he population of Brazil had reached 121.5 million according (Q DemographyYearbook, 33rd edition, New
York, 1983. Remark by the Russian editors.
N.i. VAVILOV - 134- FIVE CONTINENTS

tropical climate, coffee found a second homeland in the interior and southern highlands of
Brazil.
The city of Sao Paulo is a beautiful and modern city, the main centre of coffee
producrion, whence this product is sent for export by the hundreds of thousands of tonnes
to the port of Santos. The road to Sao Paulo is absolutely astonishing. From the ocean an
ascent up to 2000 metres altitude begins with a gradual change in the landscape. The zone
of sugar-cane cultivation gives way to a zone with ftuit trees. Further on virgin fotests can
be seen with a wild vegetation where bright green lianas wind around the trees. And there
are endless plantations, whole forests of coffee trees occupying up to 2 million hectares.
Sao Paulo turned our to be a major scientific centre with a first-class Institute of
Agronomy in the charge of Director Camargo, a student of the well-known German physi-
ologist Pfeffer, who was familiar with the works of Soviet scientists. The Institute has
chemical and physiologicallaborarories and greenhouses, in which the effect of fertilizers
on the coffee trees as well as the chemical composition of coffee are studied.
In Sao Paulo there is an excellently equipped Biological Institute with zoological
and botanical departments and enormous nurseries for different kinds of poisonous snakes
for producing antivenins. Brazil can be said to be the kingdom of snakes, which inhabit the
tropical forests in large numbers. Poisonous snake bites are common events and have forced
the government to take special precautions. When one is penetrating deep into the forests
or working on the coffee plantations, precautionary inoculations are obligatory.
Like all South American cities, Sao Paulo has beauriful hotels with all the usual
comforts for Europeans. The streets are lined with tropical trees. The well-dressed inhabit-
ants lead a merry life. In other words, outwardly everything seems fine. But in realiry the
state of Sao Paulo is experiencing a great tragedy. The worldwide crisis affects primarily the
main monopoly of Brazil, the coffee industry. Reduced demand in the European markets
has given rise to a depreciation in the price of coffee. At the same time competition ftom
Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador and Java has also lowered the value greatly. The enormous
coffee industry, on which all life in Brazil depends, has turned into a blind alley. The fight
against the depreciation of coffee has led to such measures as destroying the stocks of it.
The huge port of Santos, which is of primary importance, literally has been filled with bags
ar,d heaps of coffee. On orders from the government abour 100 million centners [10
million tonnes] of coffee were actually thrown into the ocean between 1927 and 1932. For
the purpose of a more 'rational' desttuction, gigantic ovens have been constructed for
burning coffee to be used as fertilizer. The ashes of this excellent food product have become
one of the main kinds of fertilizers used on the plantations. .
While travelling Witll some agronomists into the interior of the continent, to Mato
Grosso, in part by train but also by automobile along a completely satisfactory road con-
structed for transporting coffee, a peculiar picture could be seen: enormous expanses of
coffee plantations were abandoned and their yield had not been collected for several years.
The gtound was worked only between the rows of coffee trees, where sugarcane, cotton,
rice, or bananas were gtown. The settlers were panic-stricken: what will happen in the long
run, how can we pay the high rent and whar can be done with the large plantations? The
cultivation of coffee trees tal<es many years and if they give up on them right away it means
losing hope for an end to the crisis. Bur perhaps something will still happen and Europe
will again develop a normal consumption of Brazilian coffee.
A solution may be found: since Brazil needs gasoline and oil, thousands of cars stand
idle in Sao Paulo, it should simply enter into a profitable exchange with the Soviet Union.
N.I. VAVILOV - 135- FIVE CONTINENTS

There is talk about this but no serious steps have been taken. The impact of the opposition
could have a reckless result. The state of Sao Paulo, which actually used to set the budget for
the whole country and noutish the finances of all the other states, has in fact dtiven the
entire administration of the country into the economic difficulties it is experiencing. It
posed the question whether to separate as an independent state. Discord, even war between
states occurred, but ended in defeat for the rebellious people of Sao Paulo. The military
actions furrber aggravated the finances.
The country is in political turmoil, the inhabitants speak of the possibility of an-
other uprising. So-called Brazilian revolutions, i.e. a change of government or a change of
president, occur every few months. The monetary system is radically upset. It is hard for a
traveller to use his 'kind' of money, to know what its particular value is or to understand the
quickly changing circumstances. The 'almighty' American dollar comes to the rescue. De-
valuation has reached enormous proporrions. Such events are common in Brazil. The
research stations face catastrophe, their staffs are dismissed. It becomes necessary to use
one's own resoutces. Amid the strikingly rich nature of this country, nobody sees an end to
the impasse.
While driving by car through the wide expanses of the mountainous area of the state
of Sao Paulo toward Mtto Grosso, the amazingly fertile Brazilian tropical and subtropical
soils, the typical lateritic, dark red soils can be observed. Where excavations have been
made for highways, one can see that the red soil reaches a depth of many metres. Here,
from 1500 to 2000 mm of rain falls and makes it possible to cultivate rice without irriga-
tion. In essence, any large-scale tropical or subtropical crop can be successfully grown
without applying ferrilizers. Plantations of fruits comprise literally a whole world of fruit
crops: there are groves of mangosteen [Garcinia mangostana L.], mango [Mangiftra indica
L.], papaya [Carica papaya L.], different kinds of breadfruit ttees [Artocapus altilis (Parkins.)
Fosb., Treculia afticana Dene.] and all possible kinds of citrus fruits such as grapefruits
[Citrus x paradisi Mac£], oranges [Citrus aurantium L., C sinensis [L.] Osb., etc.] and
lemons [C limon [L.] Butm. f.]. The climate is ideal for tropical countries. The elevation of
500-1000 metres creates rather pleasant conditions. The climate of Sao Paulo is exception-
ally healthy. This is, in essence, a resorr area to which sickly people come from allover
Brazil. As demonstrated by soil science, the type of soil and the climate of an essential part
of Sao Paulo are similar to those of the most populated area in the world; i.e. tropical
southeastern Asia, where about a billion people, one half of all the inhabitants of rhe world,
are concentrared. Actually, Brazil still remains an almost unoccupied country. The people
are crowded into the coastal belt and around the coffee plantations in the centre of Sao
Paulo. When talking with journalists and answering their questions about my impressions
of Brazil, I jokingly tell them that all of Brazil belongs to the future.
We came upon an enormous factory where coffee is prepared for export, husked,
polished, washed and dried. This process is extraordinarily simple but nevertheless requires
great attention to obtain coffee of the appropriate quality. More and more it is necessary for
the Brazilians to ponder on improvement of their product since its competitors, Ecuador,
Guatemala and Java, already surpass Brazil in this respect and threaten its coffee monopoly.
Against its will and already experiencing a catastrophe, the Brazilian government is, in spite
of opposition, actually being forced to start breeding work and, to my amazement, in the
midst of the crisis I wimessed a turn to the extraordinarily interesting and profound work
with plant breeding directed by the young Dr Crusoe, who comes from a school of Ger-
N.I. VAVILOV - 136- FIVE CONTINENTS

man geneticists and plant breeders. Thus, owing to the impact of the economic crises and
against their will, it was necessary for the Brazilians to turn to science.
It was 25 December 1933, in the city of Sao Paulo. The best idea was proposed by
the German botanist Schoene, head of the botanical department of the Biological Insti-
tute. Early in the morning we would travel to a tropical reservation 100 km west of Sao
Paulo, an enormous wild tropical forest with an almost constant temperature and 3000
mm of precipitation annually. It rains evety day and several times a day.
The tropical teservation was one of the local wonders. When entering a South
American humid tropical forest it means great difficulties: it is usually like a morass and
there are perilous malarial miasmas, snakes and an enormous number of wild animals and
insects. The Biological Institute in Sao Paulo had a brilliant idea: to set aside a typical
corner of an untouched tropical forest and to construct special trails, raised and covered
with wooden planking, in various directions through it. At the edge of the forest a small
guest house was erected. It has no servants, but there are the necessary conveniences; one
can sleep there overnight and there are supplies of canned goods and biscuits. Botanists
from allover the world are directed to this local reservation. The famous Gottlieb Haber-
landt worked there and many other Eutopean botanists were happy to go there.
The various trails within the reservation carry the names of the foremost naturalists
in the world, Linnaeus, Lamarck and Jussieu. We went deep into the tropical forest. It was
necessary to be equipped with raincoats and umbrellas. However, the rain quickly changes
into bright sunshine. When it rains, all falls silent, all life comes to a standstill. The rain fell,
then the sky turned blue, the sun reigned anew and all became fi,II of life again. An incred-
ible chirping of cicadas and a kind of peculiar rustling and noise in the branches began. A
multitude of hummingbirds flew around and there were different kinds of insects among
which amazingly large butterflies, coloured red and blue like mother-of-pearl, could be
seen here and tl,ere. To catch them entailed great difficulties because of the boggy ground.
This is indeed a real forest. Above all, the enormous number ofleaning and fallen trees is
amazing. But all these dead trees ate quicldy coveted Witll epiphytes, which themselves
constitute a whole flora of orchids and epiphytic ferns. On a single fallen tree one can
collect hundreds of diffetent mosses, lichens, orchids and ferns. Even within a small area a
tropical forest represents literally a whole flora of hundreds of higher and lower species of
plants. This wealth of plant life is the most characteristic trait of the tropics. Within an
insignificant atea of two hectares, botanists, studying it, have found 2000 species of higher
flowering plants, i.e. the same as the flora of an entire European country. This did not
include mosses, algae, or fungi which indeed would double the number of species in the
composition of this small but typical corner of the hot and humid tropics. A peculiarity of
the tropical forests of South America is that one is hardly aware of any large animals. But
there are indeed an enormous number of small animals, srarting with monkeys of all
colours, red, brown, black and spotted, which climb around in the trees or cling to each
otl,er. They all scream and squeak.
The soils are amazingly fertile, enriched annually by the humus from fallen and
rotting ttees. The temperature in does not fall below 20°C even at night. The forest strikes
one by its peculiarity. Most remarkable is the variety of species of palms there.
Rivers and brooks, which form a network of channels, serve as ordinary roadways
through the tropical forest along whim it is possible, although with difficulty, to travel by
boat. All the time it is necessary to clear the path and push away fallen trees. The rivers in
a tropical forest teem with fish, alligators and tortoises. The boggy forests are full of frogs,
N.I. VAVILOV - 137- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
snakes and ants. An absolutely amazing amount of different kinds oflife is found in the
tropical forests. Frequendy one can hear the roar of jaguars, the only large animal of the
tropical South American forests. Beautiful birds and coloutful parrots fly among and above
the trees, often in large flocks and especially after rain. They fill the air with a peculiar noise.
Almost all dle time enormous beedes, the size of small birds, swept past our heads.
Life is not easy in such a forest and therefore enormous expanses of tropical forests
ate still only sparsely inhabited. Thete is no doubt, hoever, as shown by experience in other
countries, that there are possibilities for cleating tropical forests and constructing roads,
proofs of which I saw in the Amazon district. The small groups ofIndians who live in dle
forests exist on crops of manioc or cassava [Manihotutilissima Pohl], corn [maize], rice and
sugarcane. You can encounter Indians there who stilI practice a very primitive form of
agriculture, preserve primitive habits and nourish themselves on wild ftuits, roots, fishes,
birds and monkeys. These original inhabitants of the country are very few: in the enor-
mous forests of tropical Brazil there are not more than 1 million people, about dle same
number of inhabitants as in a large city. The majority is setded along rivers.
A naturalist feels that the tropics are JUSt like a large laboratory. A striking abun-
dance of forms and species and complicated interactions make it possible, as nowhere else,
to study the multiform development oflife and the evolurion of fotms and species. During
the time of the most famous naturalists, Humboldt, Wallace and Darwin, the humid
tropics atttacted investigators in spite of all kinds of difficulties. The forests were mysteti-
ous and hard to approach. It was obligatory and necessary to wear nets and gloves and to
cover oneself almost ainight and to defend oneself against assaults by an incredible number
of all possible kinds of ticks, mosquito bites and the venomous effects ofleaves. One had to
be careful not to get stuck in bogs or fall into quagmires. However, every naturalist should
visit the tropics to at least once experience all the violent development oflife, the whole
tange of colours of the animal and plant world, all the complex transitions from life to
death, ftom epiphytes to parasites to experience the creative force ofJife.
The [former] capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, is one of the most beauriful cities in
the world. It is situated on a wonderful bay and framed by two peaks, the Sugar Loaf and
the Corcovado. In the distance the Organ Mountains can be seen, a fantastic view which
has been described as the 'five fingers of God.' Behind the contours of this mountain a
panorama of the interior parts of the COUntry opens onto a magnificent tropical vegetation
with its shifting hues and colours. There are more than 170 000 inhabitants in the ciry.'
The avenues are beautiful. They remind one of those in New York, Chicago, or San Fran-
cisco. Avenida Rio Branco stretches for almost 2 km. The avenue is lined with tropical
trees. The alleys of royal palms with thick trunks, seemingly made of an elastic material, are
especially remarkable.
There is also the famous botanical garden of Rio de Janeiro, a second Buitenwrg,
2
in respect to the wealth of tropical species Gollected there. Hundreds of species of palms are
assembled there and there are alleys ofbreadftuit trees [A/1oea/pus altilis [Parkins.] Fosb.].
One can stroll around there for hours and enjoy the variety of species and limitless shapes
into which the plant kingdom has crystallized itself The director of the garden, Dr. Franco,
had arranged a sampling of tropical fruits: breadfruits, papayas [Carica papaya L.], pineap-
jIn 1980, 5 063 000 inhabitants accordingro Demography Yearbook, 33rd edition, New York, 1983. Remark by the
Russian editors.
2The famous botanical garden in Java. D.L.
N.i. VAVILOV - 13£- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
pIe [Ananar comosus [L.] Merr.]' mangos [Mangifera indica L.], mangosteen [Carcinia
mangostana 1.] and oranges. A group of botanists appraised the quality of the taste accord-
ing to a scale of one to five. The mangosteen, the pineapple and the oranges took first prize.
Owing to the crisis experienced in Btazil, the attention of the country (in the past
foolishly concentrated on coffee, as a consequence of which an economic depression has
developed) should instead be directed toward other crops, first and foremost cotton. Inves-
tigations by Dr. Harland, one of the world's foremost experts on cotton production, have
demonstrated that for the development of cotton crops there is no other country in the
world that can offer such colossal possibilities as far as space, fettile soils and climate are
concerned. According to coarse estimates, up to 80 million hectares can be used in Brazil
for cultivation of cotton without irrigation and with irrigation; i.e. after proper organiza-
tion of management and an increase in population, areas can be created which could be
more than twice as big as all the present area in the world under cotton.
The enormous interior territory of Brazil consists of a fairly well-drained, elevated
area, a distinct contrast to the tropical forests. To a considerable extent this is an arid land
where drought prevails. Periodically several months pass without any rain and the vegeta-
tion shrivels up. On the border of this territory or even within its limits a widespread
cultivation of cotton by means of irrigation is feasible. In essence, cotton is a plant of arid
wnes. It is especially well-suited here; there are fewer diseases and Brazil can direcr its
attention to cotton. The fact that a big event has taken place under our eyes within the field
of cotton production, clearly indicating the possibilities existing in Brazil, is demonstrated
by the area cultivated with cotton there during the last ten years. It has increased from 1
million to 3 million hectares. Eight research stations and 25 seed companies have been
created. For the past couple of years Dr. Harland has acted as consultant to the cotton
industry.
In the arid wne pineapples [Ananar comosus [L.] Merr.] and peanuts [Arachis hypogaea
1.] have been taken into cultivation. The population of Brazil began long ago ro use the
Paraguayan mate bush [flex paraguariensis St. Hil.] for making a tea. Mate, or Paraguayan
tea, is the main beverage in southern Brazil as well as in Uruguay and Paraguay. There, wild
thickets of mate bushes are concentrated and major plantations for production of rl,is tea
have been established there. Mate begins more and more to compete with Chinese tea and
coffee.
Various gtoups ofIndians have long since penetrated deep into the continent around
the rivers, into open or half-open places or on to low hills. Two kinds of manioc were tal<en
into cultivation by them: a bitter one [Manihot esculent a Crantz]' which needs extraction
for use as food, and another, which is not bitter [M du/cis U.F. Gme!.] Pax var. aipi [Pohl.]
Pax] and can be used raw. However, on the whole, this colossal country remains essentially
in an almost virgin condition. The odd groups ofIndians did not give rise to any impor-
tant consolidated culrure or civilization even remotely equal to IDose of the Andean or the
Central American ones.
Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are the intel1ecrual centres of Brazil, offering universi-
ties, museums, research stations and instirutes. In Rio de Janeiro there is a famous eth-
nographic museum with large collections assembled from allover Brazil and beautifully
mounted. I am happy to mention that in a prominent place in this museum there is a
portrait of the Russian Academician G. 1. Langsdorf, one of the most important explorers
of Brazil, who one hundred thirty years ago penetrated deep into Brazil and wrote impor-
tant descriptions of it. Within a shorr time one will be able to see a review of the results of
N.I. VAVILOV - 139- FIVE CONTINENTS

a study of primitive Indians and their differentiation into tribes as far as languages and
customs are concerned.
From Rio de Janeiro an airplane took me to the state of Babia, the kingdom of
cacao. Bordering the ocean shore, slender coconut palms [rnost likely Attalea fimifora Mart.]
L. D.L.] stretch out, almost as if skillfully planted. Their fruits are diligently collected by
tlle inbabitants for the sake of the gigantic nuts. In the distance the yellow background of
an arid zone with cacti and the deciduous caatinga [a savannab with deciduous species.
D.L.] can be seen. The peculiar caatinga is somewhat similar to the landscapes in northern
Mexico.
The main centre for cultivation of cacao [Theobroma cacao L.] is situated around the
city ofBabia [now Salvador]. The crisis of the coffee monopoly made it necessaty to think
about the agricultural management of Brazil and to find new crops. One of the most
valuable ones was cacao. Not fur from the city there are extensive plantations of peculiar
trees with rhomboid fruits, sitting directly on the trunk. The fruits are fermented. As a
result the seeds can be separated out. They, toO, are subjected to the effects of fermentation
and serve as a product for obtaining cacao. The pulp from which the seeds are separated has
a rather pleasant tasre and is complerely edible.
In the city of Salvador there is a large institute for the study of cacao. I decided ro
find the director of the investigations. To my amazement it turned out to be Miron
Filippovich Bondar, a Russian entomologist, who was studying the history of the cultiva-
tion of cacao, its breeding and the fight against its diseases. He was actually the scientific
leader of production on the plantations.
As is well-known the cultivation of cacao is ancient. It was originally introduced by
the Mayas and the Aztecs, but was ar that time not subjected to breeding. In essence only
Mexican varieties have been multiplied; they thrive rather well here in their second home-
land. The cultivation requires only fertile soil and rropical conditions with an adequare
amount of moisture. For this purpose, the area of Babia offers exceptionally favoutable
conditions; here it has gradually grown into a comperitor to the African Gold Coasr, which
not long ago held the world monopoly of this crop. The cacao trees bear fruits when 9-10
years old and produce a harvesr of almosr half a tonne.
The bitter experience of the coffee monopoly demonsrrated that here it is also nec-
essaty to be careful to improve the crops and to increase the quality and not to forget about
competitors. These are many. It is necessary to keep up with the activity both on the Gold
Coast and in Ecuador, as well as in Trinidad, where cacao trees do very well. It is characrer-
istic of all the Brazilian economy that it is based mainly on export. Therefore Brazil is
exceptionally dependent on what occurs outside the country.
On 1 January 1933, I flew in a hydroplane from Salvador to Pernambuco [now
Recife] and from there to the cherished goal, the Amazon valley. It was a long trip. At
daybreak, at 5 o'clock in the morning, the hydroplane took off for Belem but made a short
stop in Pernambuco, the main centre for the cultivation of cotton and sugarcane. Far away,
orange groves could be seen. This is a major agricultural centre. When the hydroplane
landed at the beach, I got an utgent and nice telegramme from the agronomists in Pernam-
buco, who had translated some of my works into Portuguese; they were sorry that they had
learnt of my trip only too late and did not have time to meet me at the airport.
I was on my way again. The dense tropical forest reached to the shore. The hydro-
plane flew over what seemed like a sea of green. Different heights rose up over the colourful
tropical forest. When the hydroplane flew low I could recognize familiar tropical trees. An
N.i. VAVILQV - 140- FIVE CONTINENTS

enormous territory is completely uninhabited. The plane flew hundreds of kilometres over
unpopulated expanses. There are still many places where man has never set foot. At a
distance the gigantic river, which could justly be called an 'Amazon Sea', could be seen. Its
mouth is more than 300 km wide. Large ocean-going vessels can easily penetrate 1000 km
up the river. There is no river in the world that can be compared to the Amazon Witll
respect to its output. The ciry of Belem with 200 000 inhabitants is situated right at the
ourlet. Until not long ago it was the world trade centre of natural rubber.
The hydroplane flew out over the mouth of the Amazon, landed on the water and
stopped at the airpon. To my surprise, a delegation was waiting on the shore. The enter-
prising PanAmerican Aviation Company had furnished information in advance about the
passenger arriving. In the repon it was said that the president of the Geographical Sociery
of the Soviet Union was arriving and would stop in Belem. One of the persons meeting me
was dressed in the three-cornered hat and sword of a senior diplomat. In all there were
three members of the delegation, joined by two journalists. The most impressive figure was
a former Russian vice consul in Brazil and a Brazilian in origin, who spoke a good French
and appeared to welcome the Russian out of sympathy for my COUntry. The second one
was Kasilov, a Jew and former Russian subject who already before the revolution had
setrled in Brazil. He operated a small factory for wooden articles. The third one was a
Jewish shoemaker, an escapee from Russia who by chance had turned up in Brazil long ago.
We communicated successfully in rather broken Russian and French.
The factory owner turned out to be a very useful man, since he knew the beautiful
Amazonian forests. The former vice consul was especially interested in the events in rhe
Soviet Union. The not very ptomising financial picture forced him to think of opporruni-
ties for renewing business connections between Brazil and our country, especially of ex-
poning rubber to the Bolsheviks. The shoemaker showed a strongly expressed sympathy
for my country.
AfTer arriving in Belem and paying a visit to the governor, I at once expressed a wish
to make my way deep into the Amazon area for about a week to have a look at the luxuriant
tropical vegetation which Wallace, the friend of Darwin, in his time had described in the
large monograph devoted to the laner. In part this turned out to be simpler than I had
dared to believe at first. In the course of a day and a half a programme was worked out.
In Belem there are two major foreign concessions. The well-known Mr Ford, who
leads the largest automobile factories in the USA and long ago encountered problems with
rubber, had decided to establish his own major enterprises for providing his firm with
natural rubber of the highest quality. Within the borders of the USA just as in the Soviet
Union, there is never an adequate amount of rubber. The Amazon valley appears to be the
native land of the rubber tree [Hevea braziliensis L.J. Nowhere in the USA nor in Florida
nor even in Puerto Rico is it possible to establish plantations of rubber trees. The resolute
Mr. Ford conceived the great idea of creating very large plantations on millions of hectares
within the very homeland of the rubber tree, in the Amazon valley. There in the interior
about 600 km from Belem, an area of a million hectares was set aside for him by the
government of Brazil in 1932. The tireless work was staned with typical, enterprising
Yankee energy. To assure the construction of the enormous enterprise a whole fleet of
vessels was built to bring in labourers, engineers and agronomists. Before starting on the
plantation it was decided to build a city, Fordson, with all the necessary facilities, beginning
with cllUrches, hotels and clubs. I found this building campaign at its climax. In Belem
N.I. VAVILOV - 141 - FIVE CONTINENTS

there was an office of the Ford Company that was completely agreeable and ready for a visit
by me to Fordsonia.
However, a year before the appearance of the Ford Company on the Amazon river,
the Japanese government had also obtained a concession but a little closer to the mouth of
the river. Several 100 000 hectares, controlled by the Japanese, became the object of a
vigorous colonization. At my arrival the Japanese company placed a small steamship at my
disposal, aboard which I was given the opportUnity to go to the concession, to enter branches
of the main river and thus to penetrate deep into the basin and see the valley of the Ama-
zon.
In familiarizing myself with the Amazon, the first-class commercial museum in
Belem was of gteat help, too. Its director was also its founder, the French naturalist Queneau,
who had lived there for 40 years. He turned out to be one of the foremost specialists on the
Amazon valley and the author of a first-class two-volume work, The Amazon valley, which
he presented to me.
An outstanding collection of wood samples and all the products specific to the
Amazon valley are found in this museum. They were collected over decades and were in
beautiful condition. In other words, the museum and its director in the fullest sense of this
word proved to be 'encyclopedias' on the Amazon. The director put all his knowledge at
my disposal. In the course of the long tropical evenings, Mr. Queneau readily shared his
extensive knowledge with me, now and then displaying this or that sample of tree or using
the herbarium.
In the Zoological Garden of Belem there was an entirely satisfactoty collection of
animals from the Amazon valley. However, now it was necessary to start penetrating deep
into the interior tropics. The steamer, put at my disposal by the Japanese thanks to the
assistance of the Ford representative, was ready to be equipped. After the necessary supplies
of canned goods and food for several days and a cook were put aboard, our small group
started the journey. After leaving the 'Amazon Sea,' i.e. the estuary of the river, behind us,
we sailed along the southern branch of the river, stopping where it was possible to examine
the shore. We frequently saw dozens of alligators with gaping snouts.
The Amazon river teems with peculiar species of fish of all colours: dark blue, pink,
sky blue and variegated. It is sometimes difficult to describe the unusual spectacle of the
variety of colours of small and large fishes in the depth of the water. Bur most amazing are
the banks of the Amazon with their splendid vegetation and, most of all, the variety of
palms. This is, in the fullest sense of the word, a kingdom of palms. The botanists have
found up to 800 species of palms in the Amazon basin. Nowhere else in the world is there
such a variety or such an amplitude of variability as seen here. The large groups of palms,
with their straight trunks and crowns lifted toward the sky and with bright fruits assembled
into umbels or panicles, are particularly attractive. They constitute an absolutely special
kind of landscape, not duplicated anywhere else in the tropics. Concentrated in groups
here and spreading out there, they represent such a variety offorms that it is difficult to take
one's eyes from them. You can look at them for hours.
The steamer continued ever farther. Groves of dense forests began to appear and it
was with difficulty that our steamer could navigate between the banks. The trees hung over
the river. My attention was drawn to the familiar characteristics of the trees. We sailed past
a thicket of gigantic, wild-growing cocoa trees. This species [apparently Theobroma gran-
dif/ora [Willd.] K. Schum. D.L.] had fruits, flowers and leaves which were much larger
N.I. VAVILOV - 142- FIVE CONTINENTS

than those of the cultivated trees. The Amazon basin turned out to be the second centre of
the specific variation of the genus Theobroma. No doubt this genus deserves the greatest
attention toward utilization in culrivation. Apparenrly the first 'breeders' of cacao were
monkeys. Groups of monkeys could be seen in the cocoa trees, regaling themselves on the
fruits. They consume the pulp, a vegetable flesh in which the seeds are situated. Then the
monkeys discard the seeds. By eating mainly the fruirs with the sweetest pulp they ap-
parenrly, both here and in Central America, selected against seeds with characteristics which
in essence were of no importance to man.
In the forest around the small rivers, there were cabins of Neg roes and Indians. We
sailed under groups of gigantic trees, which drew my attention even from afar owing to
their unbelievable height. These were the giants of the tropical forest, the Brazil nut trees
[Bertholfetia exce/sa Humb. & Bonp!.], which produce the most delicious nuts with a large
amount [up to 75%] of'mother-of-pearl coloured fat'. The shell is extremely hard and woe
to the one who is hit on the head by such nuts! These nuts are some of the most valuable in
the tropical forests of the Amazon basin and provide the main occnpation for many of the
inhabitants, who collect them and bring them to Belem.
The tropical forest around the Amazon is full of wild fruits. Hundreds of species are
found and brought to the market in Belem. Since they ripen at different times, they vary
from one time to the other in the stalls. With respect to qualiry this variery of fruits is far
from equal to the usual demands of Europeans. They are often astringent but nonetheless
also sweet. In the tropical forests of the Amazon it is possible to live on fruits alone; if edible
monkeys, alligators and all kinds of fish and birds are added, it can be understood how the
native inhabitants of this country can exist in the depth of the tropical forest under very
primitive conditions.
And then I arrived at the Japanese concession. A group of Japanese people wel-
comed the unexpected guest reluctanrly. However, a letter of recommendation dispersed
any doubts. I was offered accommodation for the night in a neat litrle Japanese house and
had a rice dish that I consumed with the aid of chopsticks. The following day was devoted
entirely to getting acquainted with the colony. By means of special machines large and
small trees and bushes are uprooted mechanically. First of all, rather wide roads, satisfactory
for automobile traffic, are constructed. For mastering the tropics the construction of roads
is fundamental. But first drainage ditches on both sides of the road are laid out. In boggy
areas the roadbed is covered with tree trunks and painstakingly laid over trunk after trunk,
often for a mile or more; ftequenrly it is located on artificial embankments.
In place of the uprooted trees, cocoa [Theobroma cacao L.], rubber [Hevea brasiliemis
L.] and vanilla [Vttnilkz pkzniJolia Andr.] trees are planted after cleaning up and a large
plantation of tea bushes [Camellia sinemis [L.] Ktze] had been established. It was very
productive here. Plantations of rice [Oryza sativa L.] could be seen in excellent conditions
in various areas. An enormous work is still ahead, which the concession can only begin
after clearing out considerable areas. In the opinion of the Japanese the climate here is
similar to that in Japan and it is entirely possible to live here. In essence the concession is a
kind of research station which indicates what can be done in the Brazilian tropics, what
enormous opportunities are hidden in this still impassable jungle, where literally every-
thing can grow that is taken ftom the humid subtropics. Especially in well-drained locali-
ties, a tropical form of a perennial cotton [?Gossypium vitifolium Lam., var. bl:'lsilieme [Mac£]
Hutchins.] can be successfully grown here. Pineapple [Ananas comosum [L.] Merr.]' melon
trees [Carica papaya L.] and mango trees [Mangifera indica L.] thrive beautifully. In other
N.!. VAVILOV - 143- FIVE CONTINENTS

words, resrs with dozens of different tropical fruits and vegetables have given amazing
results and it is even hard to tell which plants to prefer. The Japanese soon realized that, in
essence, Brazil is an untouched country and the enormous research done on Japanese
subtropical agriculture can quickly be successfully utilized in this country.
Natutally, I was especially interested in the extraction of rubber. The main season
for this is May to November. Still, only 30-40 years ago, the Amazon basin attracted many
thousands of foreigners seeking work to collecr natural rubber. Along all of the Amazon
river, almost all the way to the Andes, one could find great stands of huge rubber trees, but
more often individuals. Incisions were made in the trunks by means of a large Imife and
below them a tin can was placed, into which a milky sap flowed and thickened into an
elastic mass. The contents of the different bowls were joined into balls. Over a fire large
'rubber balls' were made of the latex. The natutallatex extracted here was the best in the
world. Hundreds of years ago the Indians knew about the latex and made balls used for
games ftom it; but the real importance of the rubber became appreciated only during the
19th century when the present epic, the massive utilization of the wild groves of rubber
trees, began. An Englishman by the name of Wickham brought seeds of the rubber tree to
the Royal Botanical Garden in Kew [London] in 1876. From there shoots were sent to
India, Ceylon and finally, to Java. In these places rubber trees thrive and by the end of the
19th century the new plantations created there threatened the Amazon districr. Rubber
trees did very well in Malaya and the most productive forms were selected from them.
Regular management of the plantations made a rational organization of the collection of
rubber feasible. The predatory utilization of the Amazonian trees was no longer profirable
and a catastrophic decline in the extraction of wild-grown larex began. Instead, plantations
of rubber trees came into the foreground so that at present 90% of natural rubber is
extracted in tropical Asia, the second homeland of the rubber trees. The more the share of
purchases of Amazonian rubber declined, the more the original, most accessible, groves
were destroyed. Indeed, in place of the destroyed forests new ones grew up and by regular
management of these it was still possible to produce large amounts; but because of inertia
the trade continued to decline.
The initial start in a new direction was made by Ford, who decided to place his
present plantation in the narive land of the tubber trees and to select the best forms of it
from the forest. The idea no doubt served rhe purpose, but it was hardly advantageous
economically owing to the long distance to the interior of the Amazon basin where the
enterprising Yankee concentrated his plantation.
Before me rose a group of Herculean rrees with old bark pierced by multiple inci-
sions. They were so large that four men were needed to reach around them. Their seeds are
similar in dimension and shape to those of the castor oil plant [Ricinus communis L.]. In
spite of their boldness, both the American and the Japanese enterprises appear to be only a
first serious attempt at taking a modern, mechanized approach to the urilization of Btaz-
i1ian resources. The future will tell if it is successful.
Along a road constructed by the Japanese concession, I was able to penetrate deep
into the tropical forest and to find the amazing kapok or silk-cotron tree [Ceiba pentandra
Gaertn.] with peculiar protruding triangular or pyramidal bases. The ftuits contain a silk-
like down.
The steamboat returned me to Belem by another rOute along the river. At the
parting meal, my new friends had decided to demonstrate Brazilian fare. The first course
was boiled alligator. The consistency was not unlike that of fish jelly with gtistle. This is a
N.I. VAVILOV - 144- FIVE CONTINENTS

very common dish here. Whole rows in the market are occupied by live and slaughrered
alligators and fish. The second course consisted of fried yellow monkeys, which had a
peruliar and not very pleasant taste. The third course was red snakes; their consistency was
not unlike sausages bur more compact. The last course was fried parrot which had a rather
pleasant taste. After that the most various kinds of tropical fruits, mainly mangos [Mangifora
sp.]' were served. This interesting fruit, similar in taste to apricots bur with a firmer flesh,
was the size of a large apple with a large, round srone, occupying almost half the fruit.
One of the well-meaning governors of Bel em decided to make the poor population
of the ciry happy and planted some streets with mango (fees. However, the governor did
not count on the fact that when the fruits ripen they fall from the (fees Onto the heads of
the passersby. The mango (fees had to be removed at the insistence of the citizens.
Also on the menu at the parting meal were both yellow sapodillas [Achras sapota 1.J
and black sapote [Diospyros digyna Jacq.] and the peculiar grumichama or rose-apples
[Eugenia spp.], a genus represented by a large number of species in Brazil. All this was
concluded with the cheapest and most 'democratic' fruir of Brazil, the pineapple [Anal1as
comosus [L.] Merr.]. In respectable homes and at dinner parties, pineapple is not served; it
is regarded as a too commonplace dish. In 1933 one could buy three pineapples of good
qualiry for two American cents. In Rio de Janeiro there were whole barges full of pinea-
pples, JUSt like so many carrots. The dinner parry ended with a pleasant beverage made of
cola nurs [Cola acuminata [P.B.] Schott & Enrll.] , a kind of soda that is becoming increas-
ingly popular.
&, a parting gift, the owner of the factory making wooden articles had brought a
few dozen rulers made of wood of all of colours. There were dark blue, brown, dark red and
rosy rulers, which had not been stained. This was the best of gifts for a Soviet dendrologist.
The director of the museum had brought an enormous Brazil nur [Bertho/fetia excelsa
Humb. & Bonpl.] and a collection of seeds of rubber trees [Hevea brasi/iemis L.]. This was
the most valuable thing in the Amazon basin.
After carefully packing the samples of all possible fruits and seeds, mailing the par-
cels ro Leningrad and acquiring amazing samples of Brazilian butterflies from· which won-
derful cur-our pictures, fluorescing in the dark, are made, I racked my brains over the
enormous luggage. It could absolutely not exceed the weight allowed according to the rules
for flying passengers. I had finally finished my stay in the hospitable Amazon valley. Early
in the morning, when it was still dark, I met all my friends again at the airpOrt. And then
I was in the plane. The weather was cloudy and rainy. The roure led across the fur northern
part of Brazil and through the Guianas, high above the extraordinary and extensive tropical
forests. A storm raged. The hydroplane was tossed about in the air pockets. Late in the
evening, after a 15-hour flight, the plane reached the far-away island of Trinidad. Despite
the late hour; I was met by the well known English cotton specialist, Dr S. Harland.
N.I. VAVILOV - 145- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
EXPEDITIONS
AND SOUTH
IN NORTH
AMERICA
The main objectives of my missions to Nonh and South America from August 1932 to
February 1933, entailed:
I. delivering lectures at the invitation of international scientific organizations to
acquaint scholars, students and those practicing agriculture in France, Getmany and the
United States with the success of the agronomical sciences in the Soviet Union during the
past several years;
2. panicipating in the Sixth International Congress of Genetics and Plant Breeding
at Ithaca, New York, USA. I had been elected vice-president of this Congress and a mem-
ber of the presidium of the organizing committee;
3. familiarizing myself with the conditions of field crops and the possibilities for
agriculture in Canada and Argentina;
4. making a special study of the agrotechnology of anificial irrigation of field crops
in areas with an inadequate amount of precipitation [in Canada and the USA], which
could be applied to the irrigation project carried out in the Volga area;
5. collecting seeds of imp on ant cultivated plants such as corron, corn [maize], pota-
toes, new roOt crops, quinine trees and other medical plants, which could be of interest to
the Soviet Union;
6. fumiliarizing myselfwith new methods ofcotron breeding on the island oITrinidad,
situated nonh of South America, where one of the best institutes in the world for the
cultivation of cotron is located; and, in general,
7. trying to get acquainted with new branches within the area of agriculture, with
new research methods and first and foremost with modern conditions of the agronomical
sciences, especially applying to the cultivation of plants. In panicular, much attention
should be paid to the consideration of problems concerning the development of disease-
resistant varieties.
1. TRAVELLING CONDITIONS
During the first steps taken in Berlin toward obtaining an American visa, I unexpectedly
and in spite of the confirmation of the presidium of the Congress that the visa had been
granted, met with a refusal to immediately issue it. The Americans wanted to obtain more
information about my trip to the USA. As soon became apparent, agents of the American
consulate in Berlin, who worked in Riga, Latvia" had provided the information that I was
a member of Comintern [the Communist International], evidently confusing Z.I.K. [the
Central Executive Commitree; which corresponds approximately to being a national del-
egate without political authoriry; D.L.], of which I am a member, with the former.
In addition, the many expeditions in which I had taken pan during the past several
years in various countries, had been written up in the Russian emigre press abroad as
carrying out special political missions for the Comintern. Even the expedition of 1927 in
Abyssinia were for unexpected reasons twisted by confused emigrants into a project against
the government of Abyssinia; even the League of Nations made a special case of it. Never-
theless, the persistent intervention by the presidium of the Congress and the State Depart-
ment in Washington had an effect and I was issued my visa to America without opposition
in time for the start of the Congress.
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To obtain the many visas for travelling in the numerous republics of South and
Central America, where I was going to do research work or through which I had to pass,
required all possible preparations. The consuls demanded an endless amount of docu-
ments abour my behaviour and my nonaffiliation with anarchists and so on. My role as
vice-president of the Congress, in which representatives from many countries, in particular
those of South America, participated, made the matter considerably easier. I succeeded in
obtaining most of the visas through the intervention of various scientists, who took the
trouble to obtain permission for me to enter their countties. The main difficulties devel-
oped unexpectedly at the time when I sought the visa for my trip to Mexico, to Yucatan.
Later it became apparent that these difficulties were provoked by the fact that the irritated
American 'International Rubber Company', which knew of my errand in 1931 on behalf
of the 'Caourchouconos' [a Soviet rubber enterprise. D.L.] for a special expedition to
Mexico to collect guayule [Parthenium argentatum A. Gray, a rubber plant] according to
my plan and programme, had started a campaign in the Mexican press abour the 'plunder-
ing of national treasures by the Bolsheviks.' However, it is quite essential to note that
nobody in Mexico was interested in the cultivation of guayule: only the above-mentioned
foreign company was interested in it bur they cultivated guayule in California, not in
Mexico. It became apparent later on that I had been pur on a list of undesirable foreigners
in Mexico.
In Chile and in Yucatan I was briefly subjected to arrest, although all my papers were
in good order. Beside such difficulties, common for Soviet citizens abroad and especially in
countries were there is no Soviet representation, I have to mention the assistance rendered
me by scientists and agronomists in all the countries where I happened to be. I encoun-
tered amazing courtesy and friendly artention on the part of the departments of agriculture
and the ministers of agriculture in Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Trinidad and
alsoin Canada. I was given exceptional opportunities to familiarize myself within a shott
time with all kinds of material. I was almost always provided with travelling companions,
the most competent agronomists or leaders of scientific institutions. Through them I suc-
ceeded in obtaining much valuable material, necessary for the USSR. Long ago, friendly
relations had been established between the Department of Agriculture in Washingron and
the scientific establishments of the USSR.
The interest in the Soviet Union and the workers at its scientific establishments is
enormous although in some countries any kind ofliterature from the USSR is forbidden.
2. LECTURES AND ADDRESSES
During my expeditions I had to deliver a large number of addresses and lectures in English,
French, or German at the invitation of various associations and scientific circles. The lec-
tures attracted a large and very varied group oflisteners. Nine lectures were delivered in the
USA., in the states of Washington, New York, Kansas, Florida and in Washingron D.C. A
lecture was given in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the presence of the entire Department of
Agriculture and a very large number of agronomists and scientists. That lecture attracted
great attention since apparendy it was a first attempt to review what goes on in Soviet
science. This could be judged by the fact that the lecture was reviewed in detail in all the
Brazilian newspapers.
I placed a long article, 'Science and the Agriculture of the USSR, in a newspaper in
Chile. In Paris the Association for Rapprochement to the USSR arranged three 2-hour
lectures, dealing with the agronomical sciences and agriculture in the Soviet Union. Those
N.i. VAVILOV -147 - FIVE CONTINENTS

lectures were attended by a very large audience, including tbe greatest representatives of tbe
sciences. In Germany a major address on tbe work witbin tbe field of horticulture was
delivered to tbe Academy of Science in Halle. A portion of tbe lectures were published in
a revised form in conformiry with tbe editorial regulations of foreign periodicals.
As an illustration of the fear of tbe trutb abour tbe Soviet Union, some facts shall be
presented. At tbe invitation of tbe French Association for Scientific Rapprochement witb
tbe Soviet Union, I had suggested a lecture, devoted to tbe agronomical sciences and tbe
agriculture of tbe USSR, to be read at tbe National Agronomical Institute in Paris. I had
planned to give a second lecture, especially worked out by me concerning tbe problem of
tbe origin of cultivated plants from a purely evolutionary point of view, in tbe well-known
Museum of Natural History in Paris. The frightened director of tbe Agronomical Institute
of tbe 'free' republic of France, as he wrote me in a letter from fear of disturbing tbe young
minds of tbe students, took every precaution tbat my agronomicallecture should be given
in tbe Museum of Natural History, while tbe lecture on tbe origin of cultivated plants
could be read at tbe Agronomical Institute. Unfortunately for tbe director, tbe effect was
tbe opposite: while talking about tbe problem of tbe origin of cultivated plants at tbe
Agronomical Institute, I had to talk mainly of tbe great work done during tbe past few
years by Soviet scientists roward mastering plant reSOutces from all over tbe world. That
lecture was not devoted to any abstract subject but to tbe real achievements of Soviet
SCIence.
On the island of Trinidad, which belongs to tbe British Empire, I delivered a major
lecture at the invitation of a circle of agronomists about the organization of tbe agronomical
sciences and tbe achievements tbereof in tbe USSR. I learned later on tbat a local news-
paper did not dare to write a report of tbis lecture, altbough a reporter attended the lectute.
The director of tbe Trinidad Agricultural Institute hastened to close tbe meeting as soon as
possible, frightened by tbe exceptional interest and tbe applause witb which the talk about
the Soviet Union and what has been done by Soviet science were received. Apparently tbe
persons, who had arranged tbe lecture, were severely reprimanded. Anotber lecture about
agronomical sciences in tbe USSR, arranged in Santiago, Chile, at tbe request of professors
and students, was canceled at tbe last moment: the rector of the universiry was frightened
by tbe enormous crowd wishing to attend it.
3. THE SIXTH INTERNATIONAL GENETICS CONGRESS
The worldwide economic crisis could not but reflect on the convention of international
scientific congresses, some of which had recently been postponed. This caused a dilemma
for tbe organizers of tbe Sixtb International Congress of Genetics and Plant Breeding.
Especially tbe German geneticists fought to postpone tbe congress for an undetermined
period of time and tbe Swedes joined tbem in this. Nevertheless tbe Organizing Commit-
tee, headed by tbe president of tbe Congress, Thomas Morgan, decided not to postpone it.
First of all, it was not known how long tbe Congress should be deferred: tbe crisis was not
coming to an end but was ratber deepening. Second, much preparatory work had already
been done, especially witb respect to the exhibitions which the organizers considered of
exceptional importance. Preliminary publications had already been prepared. In addition,
tbe present state of worldwide genetics gave tbe USA a dominating position during the
period in question and tberefore it was natural tbat tbis COUntry should be tbe driving force
when arranging tbe congress.
N.J. VAVILOV - 148- FIVE CONTINENTS

The Congress convened in the university city ofIthaca, NY, where one of the largest
univetsities in Ametica, Cornell, is situated. Thete a school of genetics operates, ditected by
Emetson and a group of plant breedets, directed by Merton love. Before the Congress, a
large building had been completed for the Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding.
In spite of what had been expected, the Congress gathered not only geneticists and
plant breeders from the United States and Canada, of whom almost everybody was present,
bur also a considerable number of representatives from many countries in Europe and
South America. The Japanese demonstrated by their absence; the government of Japan
refused to allow their geneticists to attend the Congress following the opposition of the
USA to the aggressive actions of the Japanese in China. Sweden was absent. Germany was
represented by a number of young scientists as well as by R. Goldschmidt, Stern and
Nachtsheim. N. V. Timofeev-Ressovskiy from the Brain Institute in Berlin also partici-
pated in the Congress. The foremost geneticists in England took part in the Congress, i.e.
Haldane, Gates, Crew, Darlington, Hearst and Fisher and so on. Italy was represented by
a fiveman delegation led by professor Guidi, Spain by Dr. Zulueta and Poland by Dr.
Skalinska. Canada had a thirty-two man delegation. From Trinidad came Dr. Harland,
currently the greatest among the specialists on cotton. Denmark was represented by Winge
and Clausen, Belgium by Professors Frater and Vandedris, Swiss by Schmid, Norway by
Mohr and Bonnevie, France by Roger de Vllinorin and Finland by Federley. In addition to
myself, the agronomist Sayenko [from the agricultural departtnent of American Trading
Company] was there on behalf of the Soviet Union.
There can be no question but that the Congress was a success and that it exceeded all
expectations. It was of interest also because of the patticipation of a large number of geneti-
cists and plant bteeders and also because of its businesslike character. On the whole it
presented a picture of the current state of the genetic sciences, especially thanks to the
brilliant and large exhibitions, arranged for the Congress.
No doubt the display of the achievements within the fields of genetics and plant
breeding during the past 5 years was the highlight of the Congtess. The organizers had
spent not less than 2 years on careful preparation of the exhibitions and had collected
material literally from all the world that illustrated work on different problems of various
plant and animal objects. The major part of the organizatorial work was done by Dr.
Demerec.
In total there were abour 400 booths in the exhibition. The displays comprised the
genetics of 69 diffetent plants and 26 different species of animals. There were especially
many displays of banana [fruir] flies [Drosophila], chickens, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, horned
carne and sheep; among the plant material there were corn [Zea mays l.], snapdragons
[Antin-hinum spp.], flax [Linum spp.], wheat [Triticum spp.]' tobacco [Nicotiana spp.],
Oenothera spp., poppies [Papaver spp.], Petunia spp., peas [Pisum spp.]' soya bean [Soya
spp.], nightshades [Solanum dulcamara l.], vetches [Vicia spp.], sunflowers [Helianthus
spp.] and so on.
Fitst and foremost, enormous interest was shown at the Congress for the genetic
nurseries, in which the tesults of research on various plant material were presented in a
vivid manner. Special attention was paid to corn [maize]. Results of the teamwork of25
American geneticists were illustrated by living material showing the genetic composition of
corn. Within a short time it will be possible to display external appearances due to different
genes. At present up to 200 genes of the corn have been identified. The majority of these
genes were discovered by means of inbreeding. Some of the genes exposed characteristics
N.J. VAVILOV - 149- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
which were beyond the limits of the corn species. Thus, for instance, corn could be seen
that had only male flowers, or that had only female ones. Genes have been found that
regulate the reduction division. A number of forms resemble other genera of grasses with
respect to the shape of the leaves. Genetics has, so to speak, 'broken down' the species of
corn into 'building blocks' and presented an absolutely unusual aspecr to the botanist.
These displays clearly illustrated the great change for the better that has taken place
in our understanding of the Linnean species. It clearly indicated the dynamics of the con-
cept of species and the fact that plant breeders and geneticists can now obtain new varieties
by means of inbreeding and mutations. On different plots the American geneticists dem-
onstrated an original map of the chromosomes of corn: to establish their effects, plants of
corresponding phenotype had been set out in a particular order.
The Soviet All-Union Institute of Plant Industry demonstrared in a vivid manner all
the worldwide variation of morphological and physiological types of corn, collected by our
expeditions during the past couple of years. It is necessary to mention that Leningrad can
fulfill this function better than the establishments in America. Thus, a map had been made
by N.N. Kuleshov, who has done so much work on maize, illustrating the worldwide
distribution of the varieties of maize with the characteristics typical of them with respect to
morphology and physiology. It attracted much attention at the Congress. A detailed lec-
ture was presented On the Soviet exhibition of corn, a review of the most recent investiga-
tions made toward a study of the varietal differentiation of corn.
In the plant breeding section one could see the interesting experimental work done
by Dr. Randolph concerning artificial production of mutations in corn by means of in-
creased temperatute around the ears at an early stage of development, which resulted in a
double or quadruple number of chromosomes. Long before rasseling, young ears are cov-
ered by muffs heated by thermoelements. The simpliciry of the method and the efficiency
of the results were amazing. The experimenter had really mastered the method for obtain-
ing absolutely new forms with twice the number of chromosomes. When adding to this an
enumeration of the amazing cytological slides made by Miss MacClintock, it can be under-
stood that corn was indeed the idol of the Sixth International Genetical Congress. By using
it as an example, it can be realized what an enormous experimental work roward mastering
the formation of varieties has been accomplished duting the past couple of years and what
an enormous amount of new facts illustrating basic principles has been quickly accumu-
lated during that time and is characteristic of the present state of genetics. One could see
with one's own eyes how ideas on the species have changed and how the work on mastering
the species proceeds.
In the genetics greenhouses, investigations of species of Oenothera, Petnnia and other
ornamental plants were illustrated. Tine Tammes and other workers on flax [Linum] pre-
sented in a clear manner the present classification of Linum and the results of genetic
studies which, from my point of view, indicated the inadequate state of knowledge of this
important plant. .
The work G. D. Karpechenko [from the All-Union Institute of Plant Industry,
Leningrad] was represented by a display of interspecific hybrids of cruciferous plants. In
nature, fully fertile hybrids between kale and radishes are found. Results of new studies
toward the production of tetraploid cabbage were also shown.
The displays of the genetics of plants and animals were arranged in the new building
of the Institute of Genetics and Plant Breeding at Cornell University and in others adjacent
to it. They were accommodated according to different species. I had for a long time argued
N.I. VAVILOV - 150- FIVE CONTINENTS

with the organizers, since I preferred to distribute the displays according to the particular
problems. But the practical Americans persisted in accommodating the displays according
to different species of animals or plants. A number of rooms were devoted to displays of
Drosophik:t. and dozens of rooms were reserved for wheat, corn, barley, mice, rats, guinea
pigs and horned cattle. A large number of objects were also represented by living material.
Space was also set aside for displays on human genetics. These displays were in the form of
photographs, tables and microscopic objects. The Italians had brought along a whole car-
load of displays on interspecific hybridization of fowl. Almost an entire institute of genetics
of domestic birds was exhibited.
The scale of the exhibition can be judged by the fact that about 600 microscopes
with immersion lenses were needed for demonstrating the cytological slides. Ex p I a n a-
tions were usually given by the investigators themselves or by persons who were well ac-
quainted with the results of the work. The Soviet Union was represented by theAll-Union
Institute of Plant Industry (VIR), the Academy of the Sciences of the USSR and the
Timiryazev Academy of Agriculture. In brief, we showed results of research concerning
cultivated plants from allover the world, performed during the past couple of years accor-
ding to a definite plan. The varietal diversity of cultivated plants according to both quan-
titative and qualitative characteristics was presented. The work on rhe recognition of a
multitude of new species of South Ametican potatoes, which were discovered during the
past couple of years in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Mexico by Soviet expeditions, made a
great impression. The Genetic Laboratory ofVIR sent a display of hybridization of geogra-
phical races of barley. The Soviet cytologists were represented by G. A. Levitskiyand 1. N.
Sveshnikov [of the Timiryazev Academy of Agricultural]. The genetic laboratory of the
Academy of the Sciences of the USSR sent displays of both the genetics of qualitative
characteristics and the origin of domestic animals. In addition, I tried to give a clear picture
of the structure of all the research work within the field of genetics and plant breeding, but
also of the results and wotking methods of state-controlled testing and standardization of
important cultivated plants.
The publication in English of two pamphlets: 'Genetics in the USSR and 'Pk:t.nt
breeding in the USSR, issued jointly by the Academy of the Sciences and the All-Union
Institute of Plant Industry, was arranged especially for the Congress. The Soviet exhibition
attracted great interest although, in part, rhe displays were broken down according to the
different divisions for plants and animals; but we did succeed in accommodating a special
display of Out work as well.
It is impossible not to mention the remarkable displays of Datura by the school of
Blakesley or the original exhibits of new genetic research on fungi from the laboratory of
Dodge in New York and the laboratory in Winnipeg [Canada] for research on rust and
smut.
During the past couple of years, interesting investigations of ruSts and smut have
revealed facts concerning mutations and the development of new forms as a result of
hybridization. The first kind of smut, deprived of its normal black pigment, could be seen.
The formation of new, virulent races of rust by means of hybridization was also illustrated.
Later on, when returning via Berlin, a similar work ofHarrmann with algae was illustrated
to me at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Biology in Berlin-Dahlem.
At the time of the Congress literally whole laboratories were brought in for the
display of some materials. For this purpose, the organizers tried, if possible, to include
matetial which was completely monographic. Weeks would have been necessary to fami-
N.I. VAVILOV - 151 - FIVE CONTINENTS

liarize oneself with this exhibition, which was absolutely exceptional with respect to its
importance and contents and was a novelty for the organization of international con-
gresses. No doubt, future international scientific congresses must pay greater attention to
the organization of exhibitions than has been done so far. In contrast to many other con-
gresses, a characteristic trait of the Sixth International Congress was the exceptionally busi-
nesslike arrangements. All the attention of the organizers was directed towards including
the most modern level of knowledge. The exhibition should offer an opportunity for
scientists to actually get acquainted with the research material.
An important mistake made by the organization was, unfortunately, the scale of the
exhibition and the lack of any synthesis with respect to essential problems. More time
should have been spent to provide Some kind of guidelines for how to find all the material,
now broken down according to species of animals or plants and concerning general prob-
lems; as it was, it was easy to overlook some very important work.
The plant breeding division was excellently represented with respect to different
materials. Almost all the large research stations of the USA and Canada demonstrated
clearly the results of their work. New methods for studying the technical qualities of grain
and the resistance of plants to diseases were demonstrated. Much material concerning
interspecific hybridization was presented by the Bureau of Plant Industry in Washington.
The exhibition clearly demonstrated the persistent work in all countries toward
accumulating material for various purposes. In the coutse of the 5 years that have passed
since the Fifth Genetical Congress [in Berlin, 1927], a colossal number of new facts have
been collected, which provide a basis for a new concept of the species, for mastering them
both in the sense of improved cultivated plants and domestic animals and in the sense of
deepening our understanding of the genetic nature of the species and approaching an
experimental study of the evolutionary process.
Themes of the General Sessions
The morning sessions of the Congress, which lasted a week, were devoted to general prob-
lems of genetics, grouped around major themes. The problems were presented as brief
reviews of new trends and new ideas within the field of genetics. They properly reflected
what new and important matters had occurred and what was going on within genetics.
The series of general lectures was opened by an address given by the president of the
Congress, Thomas Morgan, on the theme of The Blossoming of Genetics. In it he summed
up the results of genetic investigations that began around the middle of the 19th century
and followed them up to the present. Wbat sounded new in the lecture was mainly the
statements concerning the problems faced by the future geneticists which Morgan referred
to in the following points:
1. The physical and physiological processes that OCCur owing to the nature of the
genes and their division are the explanation of the phenomenon of reproductive processes.
Wbat the solution to this difficult problem is, whetller it can be solved by means of con-
certed attacks from the side of cytology or chemistry or by some other science, Morgan did
not dare ro predict, although the latter approach appeared most promising to him.
2. The second problem is an explanation in physical terms of the changes taking
place duting the conjugation of the chromosomes, i.e. an explanation of the phenomenon
of crossing-over. This problem must be solved jointly by geneticists and cytologists.
3. The third point concerns phenogenetics, i.e. the relation of genes to external
characteristics and the study of the effect of the genes on the other parts of the cell.
N.I. VAVILOV - 152- FIVE CONTINENTS

4. The fourth problem is the nature of the muration process, i.e. the physiological
changes raking place when a gene is converted into a new form.
5. The fifth problem concerns the application of genetics to plant and animal breed-
ing, especially in rwo directions: as a study of the physiochemical characteristics and, sec-
ondly, as a utilization of the genes of wild species and varieties for improving domesticated
animals and cultivated plants.
"1 allowed myself," Morgan stared, "to try to advance these problems although I
realize very well that my choice perhaps only serves to indicate to future generations how
weak we were and how feeble I have been. If you ask me in what manner future discoveries
shall be made, I tell you: by means of persistent work, by searching, by sensibly utilizing the
hypotheses, by experiments on suitable materials, which is very essential and finally the last
condition by not holding congresses for geneticists too often."
The intentions of attacking the problems of the future and making plans for re-
search work begin to cross the ftontiers of the science. When confronting the work that has
been done by our geneticists and plant breeders during the years past until just before the
Congress and at a special conference for planning by geneticists and plant breeders in
Leningrad, it must be objectively acknowledged that in this respect the Soviet teams have
posed adequately broad and deep questions concerning research within the field of genet-
ics and that the level of our theoretical questions corresponds to those simultaneously
raised by geneticists in the rest of the world.
A number of questions put forward at our conferences coincided with problems
undertaken by the foremost contemporary geneticists. Artempts at planning genetic work
were made at the Congress: there were special conferences devoted to problems concerning
genes and other more specific matters. However, it is necessary to clearly state that world-
wide congresses are still not accustomed to planning science; individual trends within
research are still too strong and separatism in the work can be surmounted only with great
difficulty.
International genetic congresses devoted to the theories of plant breeding and ge-
netics are held once every 5 years. In spite of the difficulties due to the global economc
crisis, the present event gathered a large number of foreign workers and was, as a congress,
undoubtedly a great success. The enormous exhibition demonstrated much of the work
going on in the world within the field of improving animal husbandry and plant industry.
The United States, where the Congress convened, has made important advances within
theoretical genetics during the last couple of years. Especially much has been achieved
toward understanding the mechanism of inheritance within the field of hybridization and
toward production of strains resistant to diseases.
The role of Soviet science is undoubtedly highly important for the progressive move-
ments within genetics, which can already be seen by the faCt that in the very rigidly delim-
ited programme of general sessions of the Sixth Congress, five lectures were reserved for
Soviet work. All these lectures were unlimited with respect to time. Unfortunately three of
them had to be canceled owing to the absence of the lecturers and I alone had to represent
all of the Soviet Union. Interest in our work could be seen in the fact that the majoriry of
the participants of the Congress expressed a desire that the next Congress should, if pos-
sible, be held in Leningrad or in Moscow.
The question concerning the next Congress was to be decided in the course of 2
years bya 15-man committee of representatives from different countries where work within
N.J. VAVILOV - 153- FIVE CONTINENTS

the field of genetics and plant breeding is especially intensely pursued. I was elected to this
committee on behalf of the Soviet Union.
The most essential relevation during the Congress was the new trends toward ex-
perimental elucidation of problems concerning evolution of animals and plants, a field
extremely important both practically and theoretically and one that opens new oppor-
tunities for producing new strains of animals and plants. No doubt, within this field one
can expect major discoveries in the next couple of years and it is possible to state that the
Soviet Union will play an active role in the work within this exceptionally promising
section of the sciences.
4. MAJOR TECHNICAL PROBLEMS OF CANADIAN AGRICULTURE
While the greatest difficulties of Soviet agriculture are linked to drought and inadequate
conditions during winter for the survival of bread grains, Canada must cope to a consider-
able degree with the appearance of an epidemic of ruSt fungi as well as with the short
vegetative period. This does not permit normal ripening of wheat in the northern parts of
the country. Much work is being done in that direction. It is necessary to reveal the truth
about Canada: duting the last couple of years research work has been considerably ex-
panded there. In this respect Canada differs from all other capitalistic countries, which
curtail that kind of work. Recently the development of the large National Research Insti-
tute in Ottawa was completed at a cost of more than $3 million. Original agricultural work
has been given an important place within that institute.
Without any doubt the work done in the fight against rust fungi in Canada, as well
as in the northern USA, is of exceptional interest to us. The work of the Canadian labora-
tories in Winnipeg concerns the understanding of the developmental processes of the
epidemic but also those of the formation of new, virulent races of the parasites. Of particu-
lar interest is the research toward development of new varieties resistant to diseases. This
work should be utilized by us with respect both to the methods used and tile results of the
research done.
The short vegetative period in Canada, in particular in the northem areas, makes it
necessary to breed for rapid ripening, mainly by using the method of hybridization. In
principle no new discoveries have been made in this direction. Nevertheless a number of
new, fast-ripening varieties of wheat have been developed, such as the 'Garnet,' which
makes it possible to expand this crop toward the north. The assortment of bread grains in
Canada should be used in every manner possible within the USSR both for direct cultiva-
tion and for hybridization with our own varieties.
The material gathered by different skilled workers demonstrates that the produc-
tion of wheat in Canada could be raised 1.5 to 2 times if all the potential of the country
were utilized. It is necessary to take into account that even without this, Canada has doubled
. the area cultivated within the past 10 years. For us this fact is of course of essential interest
and a srudy of the research in Canada, going on in severe conditions similar to those of
ours, should attract great attention.
JUSt as in the Soviet Union, Canada has put great emphasis on the milling and
baking qualities of wheat during the last couple of years. The chemical appraisal of the
grain as far as albumen is concerned, which is already applied in some areas of the USA, has
so far not become widespread in Canada, although the central laboratories in Winnipeg
already regularly mal<e a large number of analyses of nitrogen content. Comparison be-
tween our Own data and several years' results concerning the albumen of the Canadian
N.!. VAVILOV - 154- FIVE CONTINENTS

wheat from diffetent areas demonsttates distinctly that we have the upper hand in this
tespect.
The gteat work done toward bteeding of fodder plants and especially of sweet-
clover [Meliwtus spp.J deserves in every way to be utilized by us. We have obtained a
valuable new assortment of fodder grasses, bred by the Canadian stations, which has al-
ready arrived in the USSR and should be sown this year.
5. IRRIGATION OF GRAIN CROPS
In connection with the grandiose irrigation project in the Volga area, I devoted special
arrention to familiarizing myselfwith tesearch done in this direction within North Ametica,
mainly from the point of view of agrotechnology and the vatieties of grain used.
It is necessary to state tllat in Canada, not to mention the western areas of the USA,
important teseatch is in progress concerning irtigated agricultute and not only in desert
areas. Problems of irrigation of wheat in more northerly areas as well have been given great
attention during the past 10 years. It is enough to mention that during the past year in
Canada, in the province of Alberta, more than half a million hectares have been irrigated,
out of which almost one halfwas sown witll wheat. In the USA (in the states of California,
Colorado, Montana and Washington state) many hundreds of thousands of hectares of
grain crops are cultivated by means of irrigation.
The debatable problem concerning the quality of irrigated wheat, insofar as I suc-
ceeded in elucidating it, has on the whole been solved in a positive manner according to the
most recent data, since the reduction of albumen, although it does take place, is actually
rather low (on average 1.5-2.5%) so that it does not act as an obstacle for the development
of irrigated crops. Later on, I even succeeded in finding a variety of wheat in Argentina,
'Alto-da-cerro,' which had not had its milling and baking qualities reduced but even im-
proved thanks to irrigation. In Canada and the USA there is astonishingly valuable re-
search on rotation of irrigated crops, which no doubt can be utilized by us in the Volga
area. The composition of fieldcrops for irrigated agriculture, although needed by us only
later on, is very rich even within the temperate belt as shown by experiments in Alberta,
Canada. Special emphasis should be put on the inclusion of leguminous plants in the
rotation, in particular sweet-clover [Meliwtus L.J, a crop which quickly restores the soil, but
also sugar beets [Beta Vtlfgaris L.], which produce a large crop wim a truly high content of
sugar [in Alberta up to 18%J.
The crisis within American agriculture has made it necessary to postpone major
irrigation projects. The new Roosevelt government intends to stop all those already started.
The reason is the great COSt and the general financial crisis in the country. Under the
conditions of a capitalistic management, major expenditures on irrigation sttuctures are at
present absolutely unprofitable. An advantage of our socialistic management is that it al-
lows us to proceed differently in such matters. On the basis of American research it seems
to me that the colossal Volga irrigation project can receive an even greater stimulus toward
a rapid completion.
6. UTILIZATION OF THE PLANT RESOURCES OF
CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA
The mountainous area of Central and South America, the Cordilleras, is of exceptional
interest to uS as a basic general centre of origin of a number of important plants: cotton,
potatoes, corn, as well as a number of medicinal plants such as the quinine tree and the
N.J. VAVILOV - 155- FIVE CONTINENTS

coca bush, not to mention a number of vegerables and field crops of lesser importance.
These mountainous regions are a basic centre of origin of the crops enumerated.There, as
shown by research, an exceptional wealth of varieties is hidden which has so far only been
little utilized by man.
American expeditions have achieved comparatively little but expeditions from the
Soviet All-Union lnstirute of Plant Industry, sent out during the last several years, have
given full evidence that there is still an opportunity to discover a great new 'America' there.
It is enough t9 tell about the brilliant discoveries of a number of new species of cultivated
and wild poratoes, so far unknown to science, which were made by S. M. Bukasov and S.
V. Yuzepchuk in Bolivia, Peru and Mexico. Among these species there were strains, resis-
tant to the diseases of the potato and varieties with an exceptional tolerance of frost and
drought. The great importance of these discoveries, made by a team of Soviet scientists, can
be judged by the fact that the year alier the preliminary report about the work of the Soviet
expeditions, the US Department of Agriculrure sent out fWo expeditions according to our
instructions, following in our footsteps in search of material for practical breeding of pota-
toes. The same was done in 1930 by the German Department of Agriculrure, which sent
Dr. Bauer to South America for the same putpose.
The planned and intensive research done by theAll-Union Instirute of Plant Indus-
try for the introduction of plants during the past couple of years has most of all permitted
us to determine on a worldwide scale the areas of maximum interest for introduction of
new species and varieties of plants. While continuing our work, I g a v ~ myself the task
during the present journey of trying to discover the areas with a maximum accumulation
of varietal wealth in Central and South America. The journey along the Cordilleras offered
a chance to fulfill this task and now I am able to determine with great accuracy the areas in
Central and South America that are of maximum interest for finding varieties suitable for
us. Special attention was paid to important crops such as cotton, corn, potatoes and qui-
nine trees [Cinchona spp.]. Of all the crops collected by myself and my assistants, consis-
ting of a number of scientists invited locally, a large amount has already been sent to the
Soviet Union or is, in parr, on the way.
The investigations made on potatoes in Peru and Bolivia led to the discovety of an
amazing variety of strains, the existence of which plant breeders had so far not suspected.
My sojourn in Peru and Bolivia during the period when potatoes flowered, i.e. when it is
particularly easy to distinguish varieties, allowed me to discover areas of maximum concen-
tration of varietal diversity and I set myself the task of collecting the material necessary for
us, which should arrive in the Soviet Union within a few months. On the eastern slopes of
the Andes I succeeded in finding groves of quinine trees [Cinchona spp.] with ripe seeds,
which were collected in considerable quantities. In addition to this I arranged for a special
collection of living material.
Local research had revealed considerable difficulties for the cultivation of quinine
trees. Although this tree is encountered at an altirude of up to 2200 metres, it does not
tolerate frost and therefore special precautions must be taken for its cultivation in our
country. In Ecuador I set out to collect an especially tolerant species of the quinine tree
which, unforrunately, was not yet in flower at the time of our expedition.
A large material of cotron [Gossypium spp.], especially of the long-staple type that is
of special interest to us, was collected. The research instirute in Trinidad, which I visited,
has during the past couple of years developed new methods for obtaining fenile hybrids by
crossing distant species; therefore the introduction of new species of cotron is of great
N.I. VAVILOV -156 - FIVE CONTINENTS

interesr for Soviet plant breeders. I paid special attention to crops from the extreme limits
of cultivation in the Cordilleras, at altitudes between 4000 and 4200 metres. Similar areas
are still poorly utilized in the Soviet Union. Among the crops there, it is necessary to
mention Chenopodium quinoa Willd., which reaches the extreme limit of cultivation there.
7. NEW PLANT MATERIAL COLLECTED DURING MY EXPEDITIONS
In Argentina a complete set of varieties of grain crops improved by breeding was obtained,
together with the best varieties of flax, corn and wheat bred and produced during the past
couple of years. Up to 7 tonnes of the material will be used in every possible manner for
experiments at state-controlled seed testing institutes all over the Soviet Union during the
current year. Among the material collected it is necessary to note which is resistant ro rust
and lodging. I succeeded also in obtaining a small quantity of varieties of wheat which
differ by producing high quality grain under irrigated agriculture.
Collecting seeds of quinine trees [Cinchona spp.]. was connected with great difficul-
ties, since the groves of wild quinine trees are found only on the eastern slopes of the Andes,
far from cultivated areas. Quinine trees are cultivated mainly in Java, from where the
export of seeds is strictly prohibited.
A large quantity of new varieties and species of cultivated and wild cotton [Gossypium
spp.] was collected for plant breeding purposes. New varieties of Jerusalem artichokes
[Helianthus tuberosus L.] were also collected. It is one of the new crops of particular interest
to us during the past couple of years.
A large assortment of new varieties offorage plants, developed during the past couple
of years at Canadian agricultural stations, was obtained. Among these were kinds of sweet-
clover [Melilotus spp.], produced by the well-known plant breeder Kirk.
A number of new species of fodder plants was obtained, suitable for subtropical
areas and as green manure.
With respect to potatoes, I arranged for an additional collection of the material
already collected by previous expeditions. We are particularly interested in varieties suitable
for providing food products by means of freezing, which can be preserved for a few years.
Since I was in South America during winter, the material will be sent to us later. New
samples from Ecuador and Peru are already found in Leningrad.
A set of standard varieties of cereals resistant to diseases was acquired.
High-altitude forms of plants in Peru and Bolivia (e.g. quinoa, Chenopodium quinoa
Willd.) are of particular interest to us as new kinds of crops. It is necessary to mention that
I also obtained for the first time varieties of various other crops from Ecuador and EI
Salvador, as well as from Brazil and Trinidad. A large number (more than 2000 copies) of
local agricultural literature was assembled from all the countries studied.
N.I. VAVILOV - 157- FIVE CONTINENTS

PLANT RESOURCES OF THE WORLD
AND THE WORK DONE TOWARDS THEIR UTILIZATION BY
THE ALL·UNION INSTITUTE OF PLANT INDUSTRY
Enormous problems face agriculture in the Soviet country. In connection with the collec-
tivization of small farms and state farms, the mechanization of agticulture and the ap-
plication of chemical fertilizets act as powerful forces; by means of them our backward and
poor agriculture of the past, split up into small plots, shall within a short time be converted
to the highest technological level. Most of all, the area under field crops, vegetables and
orchards must be increased. In the future the split up, small and individual farms will not
be able to handle the enormous agricultural potential of our country; they remain unman-
ageable.
In addition to the extension of crops, there is an enormous problem concerning a
new and more rational distribution of the crops. A well-planned regulation of the plant
industry; selection of crops and strains and their expansion; replacing low-yield crops and
strains by more valuable ones; increasing the quality of vegetable raw materials; increasing
the productivity of Out fields and gardens; developing valuable standard varieties; increas-
ing the technical crops in every way possible; introducing new plants such as those produc-
ing latex, tannin and so on, into extensive cultivation; developing cotton crops extensively
in new, nonirrigated areas of northern Caucasus and southern Ukraine; as far as possible
extending the basis for forage crops necessary for the development of animal husbandry;
utilizing every centimetre of the soil in our subtropical areas to become free from importa-
tion of foreign food stuffs; extending agriculture northward into areas where it is possible
to obtain reliable crops; these are all problems immediately facing plant industry.
As never before the Soviet Union faces the problem of how to utilize plant resoutces
for breeding more valuable crops and more productive and high-qualiry varieties.
We are trying to do our best to introduce bread grasses, forage grasses, roOt crops,
potatoes, vegetables and fruit trees from abroad, in particular from areas similar to OutS
with respect to climate and soils.
As demonstrated by the research done by the All-Union Institute of Plant Industry
[the former Institute of Applied Botany and New Crops], an important varietal wealth is
found within the borders of the Soviet Union itself Thus, as ptoven duting the last couple
of years, there is an exceptional wealth of local varieties of fruit trees in the Caucasus and
Inner Asia, which in this respect exceeds that of many other countries in the world. But, as
is well known, a very large number of cultivated plants originated initially from different
ancient agricultural areas of Asia, Africa and America.
The centres of origin of many cultivated plants, such as wheat, barley, Corn and
cotton and many vegetables are found in mountainous countries such as Mexico, Abyssinia,
India, Afghanistan, eastern China, Peru and Bolivia. These countries turned Out to be the
richest with respect to varietal diversiry. Indeed, agriculture was originally initiated in these
countnes.
For the purpose of a systematic acquisition of varietal material for use within prac-
tical plant breeding, the Institute of Plant Industry has made extensive studies of the globe
during the past decade for the purpose of establishing the sites of varietal resources,
introducting new crops and new plants and collecting seed material. To solve the practical
problems facing plant industry, Soviet expeditions have studied almost three-quarters of
N.I. VAVILOV - 158- FIVE CONTINENTS

the globe during the past couple of years, in spite of all the difficulties and obstacles put in
the way of Soviet citizens for entering various countries.
TheAll-Union Institute of Plant Industry, which is integrated into the system of the
Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has set itself the difficult task of mastering all the
most valuable varietal 'material of cultivated plants existing in the world within a short
time. We tell outselves that it will be possible to solve the basic, practical problems of plant
industry only by mastering all the original varietal material, while at the same time using
extensive plant breeding work.
Beginning in 1923, one after another Sovier expedirions were dispatched to differ-
ent countries of the world. These expeditions investigated all of agricultural Mongolia and
all of Afghanistan. Three years were devored to studies of Asia Minor and Persia. All the
Old World countries with an ancient agriculture and situated around the shores of rhe
Medirerranean were studied: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco,
Cyprus, Crete, Sardinia, Sicily, Syria, Palestine, Trans-Jordania and Egypt. Soviet expedi-
tions penetrated also into Abyssinia and French Somalia as well as Eritrea, the Italian
colony in Africa. An enormous amount of seed material was collected from these areas.
The culrivated plants of Japan, Korea, Formosa, western China, northern India, Java and
Ceylon were thoroughly studied. Moreover, the Sovier expeditions penetrated into the
New World. Mexico and the Central American countries of Guatemala and Honduras
were thoroughly studied. In South America, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Chile were also
explored. Such detailed work has never before been done by anybody.
These expeditions, sent out according to a specific plan based on a realistic theory
concerning the origin of cultivated plants, furnished the Soviet Union within a short time
with a colossal new varietal plant reservoir, such as never before seen by agronomists, plant
breeders, or botanists. At present the Sovier Union commands an exceptionally complete
varietal material of important crops, which is being distributed to research stations in the
country to serve as a basis for plant breeding.
It should be mentioned that the main supply of varietal material turned out to be
associated with mountains, mosr often southern high-altitude areas. Thus, in spite of the
fact thar the native lands of many cultivated plants are found in subtropical or tropical
regions, they appear to be comparatively frosr tolerant and can be transplanted far to the
north owing to the fact that they are associated with mountainous areas. It is enough to
mention that the homeland of the potato is in Petu, not far from the equator, but as-
sociated with an altitude of3000-4000 metres above sea level. Therefore ir is not surprising
that tropical potatoes can be grown in the Soviet Union even at Murmansk [on the Kola
peninsula J.
At present the mosr utgent problems of Soviet plant industry consist of the practical
mustering of varietal resources, an extensive utilization of the wealth of original strains
from allover the world for pracrical plant breeding and the introduction of new, more
valuable species. For the purpose of systematically accommodating crops and varieties all
over the Sovier Union and systematically regularing the production of seeds, the Institute
of Plant Indusrry has organized a so-called national seed control, which is led by Professor
VV Talanov. At 200 sites, distributed throughout the Union, large-scale concurrent com-
parisons in the field between our best strains, bred and produced by the research stations
during the pasr couple of years, are in progress. The best standard varieties in the world, the
besr wesrern European varieties and the best American wheat, barley and corn are com-
pared with outS for the purpose of establishing which of them are most valuable.
N.I. VAVILOV - 159- FIVE CONTINENTS

In accordance with the decisions of the national seed control concerning extensive
reproduction at state and cooperative farms on millions of hectares, the most valuable
strains will be made available. Research has demonstrated that urilization of selected strains
can increase the yield by 25-30%.
Systematic state-controlled exchange of strains instead of the elementary processes
used in the past makes it possible to quickly modifY the composition of our fields and
make our gardens, our vegetable plots and our fields more productive. We find ourselves at
the very beginning of a reconstruction of agriculture; we are only just starting our; bur we
can already predict enormous changes for the betrer which will take place during the next
couple of years in agriculture in our country, affecting the composition of the crops in our
fields and in our gardens. This will develop our agriculture into the very best of all.
I believe that what at present occurs within the agriculture of the Soviet Unions is of
world-wide and historic importance. At the same time as the global economic crisis envel-
ops all the large old capitalistic countries, countries in the grip of typical anarchy, compe-
tition, overproduction and fulling prices trying to curtail the growth of the areas cultivated,
the Soviet country is steadily improving the production of its land and carrying our a
reconstruction of the agriculture at an unprecedented rate, based on collectivization, the
cteation of state farms, mechanization and the application of chemical fertilizers to their
agriculture.
The most recent investigations, performed at a worldwide scale, indicate that there
are enormous resources for agriculture in general. However, only 5% of all the landmass of
the globe is used for agticulture. Enormous expanses can still be urilized within the temper-
ate zone in Canada and the United States. A farmer armed with science and technology
can fearlessly begin to enter the tropical zone with its exceptional fertiliry, lack of winters
and abundant precipitation. Until recently mankind was afraid of the tropics, ttopical
diseases and especially yellow fever. But now science can take measures in the fight against
diseases. An entire third of the landmass of the earth is covered by the humid tropics,
suitable for agriculture and still inadequately utilized by mankind.
Almost unlimited opportunities for worldwide agriculture exist. Even if the popula-
tion of the world should increase three- to four-fold, the resources are still abundantly
adequate for a true and full utilization. Howevet, it is also clear by now that mankind only
after its complete reorganization will be able to utilize the enormous resources of our
world.
N.I. VAVILOV - 160- FIVE CONTINENTS
LIST
Acacia MilL - acacia
Acer L. - maple
OF LATIN
Acbras sapota L. (= Manilkam zapata (L.) P. Rayen) -
sapodilla
Actinidia cbinensis Planchon - kiwi, Chinese gooseberry
Adansonia digitata L. - baobab
Adeno/inurn perenne Reichb. - wild flax
Aegilops sp. (= Cylindropyrum A. LOve) - goatgrass
Agave atrovirens Karw. - magey agave
flurcroyoides Lemaire - henequen agave
siso/ana Perr. - sisal
Agropyron Gaenn. - wheargrass
desertorum (Fisch.) Schult. (= A. cristflttltn
CL.) Gaerm. subsp. desertorum (Fisch.) A.
Love - desert wheatgrass
tenerum Vasey ( =Elymus trflch),cflulusCLink.)
Gould - crested wheatgrass
Agrostis sp .. - bentgrass
Aleurites cordata (Thunb.) R. Sr. (= Vernicia cordata
(Thunb.) Airy-Shaw) -Japanese tung-oil tree
flrdii Helmsley (syn. V. flrdii (Helmsley)
Airy-Shaw - rung-oil tree
A. maurorum Med. (syn.A. camelormn Fisch.) - camel's
thorn
Allium L. - onions
ampeloprasum L. - elephant or giant garlic
cepa 1. - garden onion
sativmn L. - garlic
Alopecurus sp. - meadow foxtail
Amorphophallus rivieri Our. var. konjac (Schou) Eng!.
e", A. konjac K.Koch) - devil's tongue,
konjaku
Ananas comosus (L.) Merr. - pineapple
Anethum graveolens L. - dill
Annona cherimola Mill. - cherimoya
cinerea Dun. -
purpurea Moc. & Sesse -
Antirrhinum L. - snapdragon
Arachis hypogaea L. - peanuts, groundnuts
Aralia cordata Thunb. - udo
Arctium lappa L. var. edttle (Sieb.) Mansf. - edible
burdock, Japanese gobo
Artemisia sp. - wormwood
Artocarpus altilis (Parkins.) Fosb. - breadfruit tree
Aster $p. - aster
Astragalus sp. - milkvetch
gummifer Labill. - gum-tragacanth
Attalea sp.
fimiflm C. Mart. - Brazilian coconut palm,
Bahia piassava
Avena sp. - oats
byzantina C. Koch ('" A. sativa L.) -
Mediterranean oats
fatua L. - wild oats
sterilis L. subsp.ludoviciana (Dur.) Gillet &

PLANT NAMES
Magne - animated oats
strigosa Schreb. (according ro Mansfeld '" A.
nuda HOj.) - sand oats
Bambtlsa sp. - bamboo
Barbarea vulgaris R. Br. - wintercress
Berberis L. - barberry
Berthollena excelsa H.& B. - Brazil nut
Beta maritima L. (= B. vulgaris L. subsp. maritima (L.)
Arcang.) - wild beet
vulgaris L. subsp. vulgaris - beer, sugarbeer
Betula L. - birch
Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaud. - ramie
Bougainvillea spectabilis Willd. - bougainvillea
Brassica campestris L. (",B. mpai. subsp. silvestris(Lam.)
Briggs) - turnip
carinata A. Braun - Ethiopian (Abyssinian)
mustard
napus L. incl. subsp. oleifera Metzg. - rape
nigra (L.) Koch, incl. var. pseudocampestris
Sinsk. - black mustard
pekinensis (Lour.) Rupr. - Chinese cabbage
rapa L. var. sylvestris (Lam.) Briggs - turnip
Broussonetia papyriflra (1.) Vent. - paper mulberry
Cajanus indicus Spreng. (= C cajon (1.) Huth.) - pigeon
pea
Calocarpum viride Pitt. (=Pouteria viridis(Pitt.) Cronq.)
- white sapodilla
Calotropis procel'll R. Br. ('" Calotropisprocera (Air.) Dry.)
- small crown-flower
Canavalia ensifolia 1. - jackbean, horsebean, swordbean
Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze - Chinese tea
Cannabis sativa 1. incl. spp. indica (Lam.) E. Small &
Cronq. - hemp, marijuana, hashish
Capsicum sp. - peppers
ammm L. - bell pepper
Camgana Lam. - pea-shrub
Carica papa)'a L. - papaya, melon tree
Carnegieagigantea (Engelm.) Britt. & Rose (syn. Cereus
gigamettS Engelm.) - saguaro cacms
Carthamus tinctorittS 1. - safflower
Carum copticum (L.) Bench & Hook. ("" Ihlchyspennum
ammi (1.) Sprague) - ommu, omum
Casimiroa edltlis (L.) Llave & Lex. - white sapote
CllStanea crenata Sieb. & Zucco - Japanese chestnut
molissima Blume - Chinese chestnut
vesca 1. ('" C sativa Mill.) - chestnut
sativa Mill. - edible chestnut
CllStilloae/asnca Cerv. (::: Castilla elasnca Sesse) - castilloa
rubber
Cast/arina equisetifolia 1. - Australian pine, casuarina
Cednts deodara Loud. - Himalayan cedar
libani Loud. - cedar of Lebanon
N.J. VAVILOV - 161 - FIVE CONTINENTS
Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn. - silk-conon cree, kapok
Centaurea sp. - knapweed
Cjal1us L. - bachelor's bunon, cornflower
Ceratonia siliqlla L. - carob, Sc John's bread tree
Cereus gigantelts Enge1m. (= Camegiea gigal1tea
(Engelm.) Britt. & Rose) - saguaro cacrus
Chamnerops /JUmilis L. - European fan palm. windmill
palm, palmetto
Chameriol1 al1gllstifolium CL.) Scop. (syn. Epilobitlm
angustifolium L.) - fireweed
Chaenomefes /agenaria (Loisel.) Koidz. - Chinese quince
sinensis (Dum.) Schneid. - Chinese quince
Chenopodium quinoa Willd. - quinoa
Chrysanthemum corollarillm L., incl. var. spatiosum
Bailey - miso, edible chrysanrhemum
x morifolium Ram. var. sinense Makino -
chrysanthemum, 'mum'
Cieer arietinum 1. - chickpea, garbanzo, yellow gram
Cinchona sp. - quinine trees, including C. ca/isaya
Wedd"C.
ojficinalis L., and pubescens Vahl (syn. C.
Stlcdrubra O. Kuntze)
Cinnamomum eamphora (L.) J. S. Pres!' - camphor tree
Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad. - colocymh, biner
melon
lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai
Uapanese) watermelon
var. caifer Mansf. - wild wacermelon
Citrlls all1'tlTltium L. - Seville or bitter orange
limon (L) Burm. f. -lemon
x paradisi Macf. (c. maxima (Burro.) Merr.
xc. sineJlSis (L.) Osb.) - grapefruit
reticulata Blanco - tangerine, mandarin,
satsuma organge
sinensis CL.) Osb. - sweet orange, Jaffa orange
Coffia arabica L., incl. var. abyssiniea Chev. - coffee tree
CoL'C lacryma1·obi L. - Philippine rice
Cola acumillata (PB.) Schon & End!. - cola tree
Coriaudrum sativum L. - coriander, Chinese parsley,
cilantro
Corylus avellal1a L. - hazel nut
maxima Mil!. - giant filbert nuc
Cotoneaster L. - cotoneaster, 'buckthorn' in the Pamirs
according ro Vavilov
Crataegus L. - hawthorns
Cryptomeria japonica (L.) Don. - cryptomeria
Cucumis chinensis Pang. (= c. melo L. subsp. conomon
(Thunb.)) Greb. - Chinese melon
melo L. - melon
subsp. jlexuoStls (L.) Greb. (syn. C. jlexuosus
L.) -long cucumber indo var. tarra
Pang. - tarra
prophetarum L - Prophet'sgoutd, goosebeny
gourd
sativus L. - cucumber
ClIcurbita L. - gourds
moschata (Dcne.) Poir. (= c. moschata
(Dcne.) Dcne.) - pumpkin, squash, incl.
burrernur squash
ClIpresStls sp. - cypress
qdonia oblonga Mill. - quince

Cynara scolymus L. - common artichoke
Cyperus eseulemus L. - chufa, nutsedge, zulunur
papyrus L. - papyrus
Datura L. - datura, Jimson weed
DauCtfs carota L. - carrot, wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace
Dioscorea sp. - yam
batatas Dcne - Chinese yam
hispida Dennst. - intoxicating yam
japonica Thunb. - Japanese yam
Diopyros digyna Jacq. - black sapoce
kaki L. f. - Japanese, Chinese persimmon,
kakee p.
sinensis Bl. (= D. kaki L. f.)
virginiamwz L. - American persimmon
Drosophila sp. - banana fly, fruit fly
Echillocbloa crus-galli (L.) P. Beauv. (syn. Panicum crus-
galli L.) - barnyard grass, cockspur grass
Eleocharis dulcis (Burm. f. )Trin - Chinesewaterchesmut
Eleusine eoracalla (L.) Gaertn. - African millet
Elymus trachycaulus(Link) Gould (syn.Vasey) -slender
wheatgrass
Emete velZtrieomm (Welw.) Cheesm. - Abyssinian
banana
Ephedra L. - e p h e d ~
Eragrostis abyssil1ica Link (= E. tef(Zucc.) Trotter) - teff
Eremums olgae Regel- Olga's eremurus
Erianthus sp.
Eriobotria japollica (Thunb.) Lindl. - loquat, nespole,
Japanese plum
Erman (milia L. (= Vida ervilia (L.) WilJd. - bitter or
fodder vetch
lens L. (= Lens culinaris Med.) -lentils
ErytbroAyloll coca Lam. var. coca - coca bush
Eucalyptus sp. - eucalyptus
Eucommia ulmoides Oliver - guttapercha cree (China)
Eugenia L. - (incl. E. braziliensis Lam. [syn. E. dombryi
Skeels] - grumichama or Brazil cherry)
aquM Burm. f. (=Syzygium 4qet/m (Burm. f.)
Alsron) - rose-apple
Ettryale ftrox Salisb. - Chinese chien, edible lorus
Ficus carica L. - common fig
Fouquieria splendens Engelm. - whiplash cactus
Fusarium sp. - a wilt fungus
Gardnia mangostana L. - mangos teen
Ginkgo biloba L. - ginkgo, maidenhair tree
Glycine max (L.) Merr. - soyabean
GOSS)'Pium barbadmse L. - sea island cotcon, Egyptian
cotcon
herbaceum L. - Levant cotton
hirsutum L. - upland corcon
vitifolium Lam. ('" C. barbadense L.) - extra
longstaple cotron
var. bmsifiense (Macf.) Hutchins.- (tropical
S. America)
Guizotia abyssillica (L.f.) Casso - Niger seed, noog, nug,
raffitil
N.I. VAVILOV - 162- FIVE CONTINENTS
Hagenia abyssinica WiJld. - hagenia
Hedysarum coronarium 1. - sulla
HeliantlJIIs sp. - sunflower
1l1l11t1US L. - sunflower
tIIberostls 1. -Jerusalum artichoke, sunchoke
Hevett brasiliensis L. (=H. braziliensis (Willd.) Muel!.)-
rubber tree
Hordeum bulbosum L. - bulbous barley
coe/tste L.
var. bimn/aymsc Kiuig - Himalayan barlcy
var. pamiricum Vay. - Pamiri barley
vulgare 1. - barley
Humulus lupulus L. - hops
Hyacinthus orientalis L. - common hyacinth
Hjrphaellt t"ebaiea (1.) c. Marr. - doum-doum palm
llex parngllariensis A. S(. Hil. - mate, yerba mate,
Paraguayan tea
Ipomoea btltaMs (L.) Poir. - sweet potaro
Iris L. - iris, flag
Juglans sp. - walnut
ailanthifolia Carr. (syn. J sicha/diana
Maxim.) - Japanese walnut
nigra L. var. cordifolium (Maxim.) Rehd. -
black walnut
regia 1. - English or Persian walnut
sinensis Dade - Chinese walnut
Juniperus excelsa MB. - tall juniper
procem Hochst. - Ethiopian juniper
Laell/casativa L. var. angustana Irish - asparagus lenuce,
au-sen
Lagenaria siceraria (Mol.) StandI. - bottle gourd
vulgaris Ser. (o=: L. siceraria (MoL) Stand!.)
Larhyrus gorgonii ParI. - 'gorgon vetch'
sfltivus L. - chicklingvetch, vetchling, fodder
verch
Lens eulinaris L. (syn. ErVll1n lens L.) -lentil
Lepidium sativum L - garden cress, pepper grass
Limon sp. - fla.x, linseed
angustifolium Huds. - pale or wild flax
tlsitatissimum L. - flax, linseed
vat. albiflomm Vav. - white-flowered flax
var. mediterraneum Vav. -large-flowered flax
Lolium !emulenturn L. - darnel
Luffo aeutangu/a (L.) Roxb. - angled luffa
aegyptiaca Mill. - luff a, vegetable sponge
cylindrica (L.) Roem. (:::: L. aegyptiaca Mill.)
Lllpil1US sp. -lupine
1l1agnolia L. - magnolia
Mal1gifera indica L. - mango
Manihot eseu/mta Cranrz (syn. M. utilissma Pohl) -
cassava, manioc, tapoica
d"lcis (j.E Gmel.) Pax va;. aipi (Pohl) Pax-
sweet manioc (sometimes considered 0=: M
eseu/enta Cranrz)
utilissima Pohl (0=: M esculenta Crantz)
1l1al1ilkam ZIlpota CL.) Royen (syn. Achras sapota L., or
Sapota sapotilla Oacq.) Cov.) - sapodilJa
N.!. VAVILOV

Medicllgo sativa 1. subsp. sativa - alfalfa, lucerne
subsp. folcata (L.) Arcang. - yellow alfal[1.
Melilows sp. - sweetclover
J\1enthax piperita L. (M arvensis 1. xlv!. aquatica L.). -
mim
Monstera sp. - Cut-leaf philodendron
MortiS alba L. - white mulberry
nigra L. - black mulberry
rubl'l1 L. - red mulberry
Musa x paradisiaca L. (M acumil1ata Colla x Ai
balbisiana Colla) - banana, plantain
textilis Nee - Manmila hemp
lVf;losotis asiatiea (Vestergren) Shishkin & Sergievskaja-
forget-me-not (rhe Pamirs)
Myrtus communis L. - myrtle
Narcissus L. - daffodil, jonquil, narcissus
Nasturtium officillale R. Br. - watercress
Nelumbo lltlciftra Gaercn. - sacred lotus
Nerium oleander L. - oleander
Nicotiana sp. - robacco
!'Ustiea L. - Aztec tobacco, peasant tobacco
tabaCtlm L. (an amphiploid between N
sylvestris Speg. & Comes and N orophora
Griseb. or N. subii Brit.) - ordinary tobacco
Oenothera sp. - evening primrose
Oidium ruckeri Berk. - oidium
Olea europea L.
subsp. afiicana (Mill.) P. Greene - wild olive
subsp. europea - olive
var. sylvesn-is Brat. Co=: subsp. africal1a)
Opuntia sp. - cactus
ficus-indica (L.) Mill. - Indian fig,
prickJypear, spineless cactus
Orchidaceae L. - orchid ['tmily
Oryza sativa L. - rice
Palaquium gutta (Hook.£) Baill. - gunapercha nee
(Borneo, Molucca, Sumatra; see also
Eucommia)
Pana>: ginseng c.A. Mey. - Chinese ginseng
quinquefolia c.A. Mey. - American ginseng
Pd11icum cms-galli L. (= Echinoch/oa cms-galli (L.) P.B.)
- barnyard grass, cockspur grass
miliaceum L. - proso millet
Papaver sp. - poppy
somnifemm L. - opium poppy
Pal't!Jenium argentatum A. Gray - guayule
Pegal1um hannala L. - African rue, harmel, piganum
Persea americana Mill. (syn. P. gratissima Gaertn. f.) -
avocado
Petasites japollicus (Sieb. & Zucc.) Maxim. - butterbur
Petunia sp. - petunia
Phaseolus angularis (WilJd.) \"Xf.E.Wight (:::: Vigna
anglliaris (Willd.) Ohwi & H. Ohashi) -
adzuki bean
Phoenix ab)'Ssillica Drude - wild Abyssinian palm
dactylifera L. - date palm
sylvestris (L.) Roxb. - wild dare palm
Phormium rena>: Forst. & Forst. f. - New Zealand flax
163 - FIVE CONTINENTS
Phyllostarhys bambusoides Sieb. & Zucco - Japanese
timber bamboo
Pirea sp. - spruce
Pinus sp. - pine
exrelsa Wall. - Himalayan pine
Gerardiana WalL - Gerard's pine
Piper sp. - pepper
Pistacia khinjuk Stocks. - kinjuk pistachio
vera 1. - pistachio nur
Piston sativum 1. - garden pea
Plasmopara vitico/a Perlese & de Toni - grape mold
Platanus occidentalis L. - western planetree or sycamore
orientalis L. - oriental plane-tree
Popul1l$ sp. - poplar
POllteria viridis (Pitt.) Cronq. - white sapodilla
Prunus Il1meniaca L. - apricot
domestica L. - garden plum
dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb. - almond
mume sieb. & Zucco - mume
pmica (L.) Batch. - peach
tomentosaThunb. - Chinese,Japanesecherry
Psidium gila java L. - guava
sartoriI/in (Berg) Niedenzu - wild guava
PseudostlSa japonica Male. - Japanese bamboo
Punicagranatum L. - pomegranate
PyrztS communis L. - garden pear
pyrifolia (Burm. f.) Nakai sand pear,
Japanese pear
sinensis Lindl. - Chinese pear
Quercus ba/oot Griff. - baloot oak
ilex L. - stone oak
suber L. - cork oak
Raphanus sativtlS L. - radish
var. acanthiformis Makino - daikon. long
Japanese radish
var. oleifera Metzg. - oil radish
Rheum officinale BailL - medicinal, Chinese rhubarb
palmatum L. - Chinese rhubarb
rhabarbarum L. - garden rhubarb
Ribes L. - currant, gooseberry
Ricinus communis L. - castor bean
pmicus Pop. (=R. sommunis L.) - Persian
Rosa sp. - rose
RubttS idetls L. - raspberry
Saccharum officinarum L. - sugar cane
sinense Roxb. - Chinese sugar cane
Sagittaria latifolia WilJd. (syn. S. chinensis Pursh) -
Chinese arrowhead
sagittifllia 1. var. sinensis Makino - Chinese
arrowhead
trifolia 1. - three-leaved arrowhead
Salsola L. - salrworr, tumbleweed
Sapota saporilfa Qacq.} Cov. (= Manilkara zapota (L.)
van Roy) - yellow sapodilla
Secale sp. - rye
africanum Stapf (= S. montanum Guss.)
cereale 1. subsp. cereale - rye

montanum Guss. tsyn. S. africanum Stapf) -
mountain rye
Sequoiadendron giganteum (LindL) J. Buchh. - giant
sequoia
Sesamllm indicum 1. - sesame seed
Setariaitalica(L.) PB (syn.Panicum italicumL.) - foxtail
millet
Sinapis alba L. - white mustard
Solamon sp. - potatoes, etc.
dulcamara L. - biuersweet nightshade
melollgena L. - eggplant, aubergine
nipum L. - common nightshade
tubero$llm 1. - common potato
Sorghum Moench - sorgum
bicolor (L.) Moench - grain of sweet
sorghum, milo
durra (Forssk.) Stapf. (" S. bicolor (L.)
Moench) - durrah
nervosum Bess. (= S. bicolor (L.) Moench) -
caffir corn, kaoliang millet
Spal'tium junceum L. - Spanish broom, ginst
Spinacia oleraaa L. - spinach
Spiraea sp. - spirea
Stellaria sp. - starwort
Stipa tenacissima L. - alfa (feathergrass)
Swierenia macrophylfa King - 'brazil' tree, mahogany
mahagoni{L.) Jacq. -West Indian mahogany
Syzygium aqueum (Burm. f.) Alsron - rose apple
Tamarix sp. - tamarisk
Theobroma cacao L. - cacao
grandiflom (Willd.) K. Schum. - large-
flowered caeoa
Thymus se'lyllum L. - creeping thyme
vulgaris L. - garden chyme
Tithonia tubaeformisCass. (syn.HelianthtlS tubaefonnis
Ort.) - Mexican sunflower
Trachyspermum ammi (L.) S p ~ o u e (syn. Camm
copticum Femh. & Hook.) - ommi, omum
Trapa natans L. - water chestnut
bispinosa Roxb. (= T. natans L. var. bispinosa
(Roxb.) Makino) - singham nut
T recutia africana Dene - African breadfruit
Trichopymm A. Liive (syn. Aegilops L.) - goargrass
Tnfolium alexandrinum L. - berseem or Egyptian clover
pratense L. - red clover
repens L. - white clover
var. giganteum Lag.-Foss. - ladino or giant
clover
resttpinatum L. - Persian dover
TrigoneI/o flenum-graecum L. - fenugreek
Triticum sp. - wheat
aestivum L. - bread wheat, soft wheat
compacwm Host (= T. aestivum L. subsp.
compactum (Host) Theil.) - club wheat
dicoccoides (Koern.) Aarons (= Gigachilol1
polonicum (L.) Seidl. subsp. dicoccoides
(Koern) A. Love) - wild wheat
dicoccum Schrank (= Gigachilon polonicum
(L.) Seidl. subsp. dicoccum (Schrank) A. Love
-emmer
N.I. VAVILOV - 164- FIVE CONTINENTS
durum Desf. (= Gigachilon polonicttm (L.)
Seidl. subsp. dumm (Desf.) A. Love) - durum
or hard wheat
monococctnn L. (= Crithodium monococcum
(L.) A. love) - einkorn
persicum (Perc.)Vav. (= Gigachilon polonicttm
(L.) Seidl.
subsp. carth/icum (Nevski), A.love - Persian
wheat
spelta L. (= T. aestivum L. subsp. spe/ta (Perc.)
MacKay) - spelr
tllrgidu1n L. (= Gigachi/on polonicttm (L.)
SeidL subsp. tllrgidum (L.) A. Love) - cone
wheat, poulard wheat
Tulpa sp. - tulip
U/ex europaeus L. - gorse
Ustilago avenae P. J ens. - oat smur
Vanilla p/anifolia Andrews (syn. V. fragrans (Salisb.)
Ames) - vanilla
Vernida cordata (Thunb.) Airy-Shaw - Japanese tung-
oil free
fordii (Helmsley) Airy-Shaw (Aleuri res fordii
HelmsIey) - rung-oil tree
Vida sp. - vetches, horsebeans
articulata Hornem. - single-flowered vetch
ervilia Wilid. (syn.Ervum ervilia L.) - bi[{er
vetch. erse

foha L. - broad bean, horse bean, fava bean
narhonensis L. - Narbonne or French vetch
pliniana (Trabue) Murarawa (syn. Faha
vulgaris L. var. plinianaTrabur) - wild bean
sativa L. subsp. sativa - common vetch
Vigna angularis (Willd.) Ohwi & H. Obashi - adzuki
bean
sinensis Endl. (= v. unguiculata (L.) WaIp.) -
cow pea,
unguiculata (L.) WaIp. subsp. unguiculata -
black-eyed pea
subsp. mqttipedalis (1.) Verdc. - long
Chinese bean
Vitis viniftra L. subsp. viniftra - grapevine, vine
var. apyrena L. - currantS
var. spontaneamPop. -
wild grapevine
subsp. caucasica Yay. - Caucasian grape
Yttcca sp. - yucca
Zea mays L.
subsp. mays - corn, maize
subsp. mexicana (Schrad.) H. litis - teosinte
Zizania latifolia (Griseb.) Turcz. - Manchurian or
eastern wild rice
Zizyphus jujuha Mill. (syn.Z sativa Gaenn.,Z vulgaris
Lam.) - common jujube, Chinese date
N.J. VAVILOV -165- FIVE CONTINENTS
..
COMMON PLANT NAMES
Vernacular names are given according ro Terrell, E.E. et
al. (A Checklist of 3000 Vascular Plant Names of
Economic Importance, in USDA. Handbook no. 505,
rev. ed. 1986) or Mansfeld, R. (Vorlaufiges Verzeichnis
landwircschafdischer oder ganoe-rischer kuhivierren
Pflanzenarten in Die Kuimrpflanze, Berlin, 1959).
Triticeaeis treated according to Love, A. (Conspectus of
the Triticellc in Feddes Rep. 91, 7-8: 425-521, 1984).
Acacia - Acacia Mill.
aegilops, goatgrass - Cylindropyrum A. Love (syn.
A'gilops L.)
agave - agave
henequen - Agave flllrcroyoides Lemaire
magey - A. atrovirens Karw.
sisal - A. sisaial1ll Perro
alfa, esparto grass - Stipa tel1flSissima L.
alf.'llfa - Medicago sativa L. subsp. sativa
yellow-flowered -M. sativa L. subsp. foleata
(L.) Arcang,
almond, common - Prunus dufcis (MilL) w'A. Webb
apple - Malus domesticua Borkh.
apricot - Prunlls armeniaca L.
arrowhead, Chinese -Sagittariasagittifllia L. var. sinensis
Makino
three-leaved - S. trifllia L.
artichoke, common - Y'nam scol)'mllS L.
Jerusalem or sunchoke -Heliauthus tuberosus
L.
asparagus - Asparagus L.
lettuce asparagus, ou sen - Lactuca sativa L.
var. angtlStana Irish
aster - Aster L.
astragalus - Astragalus L.
aubergine, eggplant - Solanum melougena L.
avocado - Persea americana L. (syn.P. gmtissima Gaerm.
f.)
Bachelor button - Centaurea cyantls L.
bamboo - Bambusa Schreb, and other genera
Japanese - Pseudosnsa japoniea Makino
Japanese timber bamboo - Phy!!ostaehys
bambusoides Sieb. & Zucc,
banana, Abyssinian - Ensete ventrieosum (\'{felw.)
Cheesman
common - }.{usa x paradisiaca L. (M
acuminata Colla x M balbisiana Colla)
banana fly, fruirfly - Drosophila L.
baobab tree - Ada11Sonia digitata L
barberry - Berberis vulgaris L
barley - Hordeum vulgare L.
bulbous - H. bulbosum 1.
Himalayan - H coeleste L. var. himalayense
Kitcig
Pamiri - H coeleste 1. var. pamiricum Vav.
barnyard grass, cockspur grass, - Echinochloa crus-ga!!i
(L.) P. Beauv. (syn. Panicum cmsgalli L.)
beans, adzuki - Wgna angularis (Willd,) Ohwi & H.
Obashi (syn. Phaseolus angularis L.)
broad or fava - Vicia foba L. var,foba (incl. var
equina Pers. - horsebean)
jackbean, horsebean, sword bean (tropical,
subtropical) - Canavalia ensiflrmis (L.) DC.
long Chinese beans - Vigna unguiculata (L.)
Walp. subsp. sesquipedalis (L.) Verde.
mung beans - Vigna radiata (1.) Wilczek
(syn. Phnseolus aureus Roxb.)
wild bean -Viciapliniana(Trabut) Muracawa
beet, incl. sugarbeet - Beta vulgaris L
wild - B. vulgaris L. subsp. maritima (L)
Arcang. (syn. B. maritima L.)
bentgrass - Agrostis L.
berseem, Egyptian clover - Trifolium alexandrinum L.
birch - Betula L.
blackberry - Rubus L
bougainvillea - Bougainvillea spectabilis \'V'illd.
Brazil nut - Bertho!!etia excelsa Humb. & Bonpl.
'brazil' (ree , mahogany - Swietania macrophylla King
breadfruit tree - Artocarptls a!tilis (Parkins.) Fosb.
African - Treculia afrieana Dcne.
broom, Spanish or ginst- Spartium junceum L.
'buckthorn' in the Pamirs according to Vavilov
Cotollenster L.
burdock, edible, gobo - Areti1lm lappa L. var. edule
(Sied.) Mansf.
butrerbur - Petmites japonic({s (Sieb. & Zucc.) Maxim.
Cabbage - Bmssica L
chinese - x (Lour.) Rupr.
cacao - Theobroma cacao L.
large-flowered - T: grandifllia K. Schum.
cactus - Cactus L and other genera
saguaro - Camegiea gigamea (Engelm.)
Brire. & Rose (syn. Cereusgigallteus Engelm.)
spineless - Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.
whiplash - Fouquieria splmdms Englem.
camel's thorn - Alhagi mauromm Med. (5)'n. A.
camelorum Fisch.)
camphor tree - Cillnamomum campbora (L.) J.S. Pres!'
carob tree, Sc John's bread tree - Ceratol1ia siliqua L
carrot, Queen Anne's lace - Dauerls carota L. subsp.
carota
casuarina, Australian pine - Casuarina equisetifolia L.
cassava, bitter manioc - Manihot eseulenta Cranrz (syn.
M. utilissima Pohl)
castor bean - Ricinus communis L
Persian - R. perjiClts Pop (= R. commul1is L.)
N.I. VAVILOV - 166- FIVE CONTINENTS
cedar, Himalayan or deodar - Cedrus deodara Loud.
Lebanon - Cedrus libani Loud.
cherimoya - Anona cherimola Mill.
wild - A. purpurea Moq. & Sesse, A. cinerea
Dun.
cherry, sweet - Pnmus avium L.
Japanese - Prunus tomentosa Thunb.
chestnut, edible - Castanea sativa Mill. (syn. C vesca
Gaertn.)
Chinese - C molissima Blume
Japanese - C crenata Sieb. & Zucco
waeer-chestnut, Chinese or waternut - Eleocharis
dulcis (Burm. f) Trin. water-chestnut,
common - Trapa natans L.
chickpea - Cicer arietinum L. (incl. var. pisiforme Pop)
chrysan chern urn, garden - Chrysanthemum x morifolium
Ram. var. sinmse Makino and others species
miso, edible-C coronariumL. var.spatiosum
Bailey
chuf.1., nutsedge, Zulunut - Cyperus esculentus L.
cilantro, Chinese parsley, coriander - COJ';andrum
sativum L.
clover, berseem or Egyptian - Trifolium alexandrinum L.
Persian or shabdar - T: reStlpinatum L.
red - T. pratmse L.
sweet - Melilotus alba Med., M officinalis
Lam.
white - T. repens L., incl. var. gigantellm Lag.-
Foss.
coca bush - Elytho.rylol1 coca Lam. var. coca
cockspur or barnyard grass - Echinochloa cmsgalli (L.)
PB. (syn. Pal1iCUIll al/sgalli L.)
cocoa {fee - Theobroma cacao L.
coffee {fee - Coffia arahica L., incl. var. abyssinica Chev.
cola nut tree - Cola aCl/minata (P. Beauv.) Schott &
Endl.
colocynth, bitter melon - Citrlllllls colocynthis (L.)
Schrad.
coriander, Chinese parsley, cilantro - Coriandrum
sativum L.
cork oak - Quercus st/her L.
corn, maize - Zea mays L.
cornflower - Cemaurea cyanus L.
canon - Gossypium L.
Levant - Gossypium herbaceum L.
sea-island or extra longstaple - G. harhademe'
L. (syn. C vitifolium L.)
upland - G. hirst/tum L. (esp. var. pUllctat1ll11
(Schum.) Hutch.
cress, garden, or pepper grass - Lepidium sativuJlZ L.
water-cress -NasturtiumofficinaleR. Br. (syn.
Rorippa nasturtium-aquatieum (L.) Hayek)
winter cress - Barharea vulgaris R. Br.
crown-flower, small- Calotropis procera (Ait.) Dry.
crypromeria - Cryptomeria japonica (L.) Don.
cucumber, Chinese - Cucumis chinensis Pang.(= C melo
L. subsp. conomon (Thunb.) Greb.
garden - C sativlls L.
long, or tarra-C melo L. subsp.flexllosusCL.)
Greb.(syn. C jlext/osus Ser. var. tarm Pang.)

c ~ u r r a n t - Ribes L. (or Vitis vinifera L. subsp. viniflra var.
apyrel1a L.)
black - Ribes nip'um L.
red - R. ruhmm L.
cut-leaf philodendron - Monstera sp.
cypress - Cupressus sp.
Daffodil, jonquil, narcissus - l'larciss!lS L.
daikon, Japanese long radish - i?aphall11S sativtls L. var.
ncanthifonnis Matsum.
darnel - Lolitlm temulentum L.
date, Chinese or jujube - Zizyphus jujuha Mill.
palm - Phoenix dactylifera L.
datura - Datura L.
deodar or Himalayan cedar - x Loud.
devils tongue, konjaku - Amorphophnlllts kon/ac K.
Koch (syn. A. rivieri Dur. var. konjllc
(Schott.) Engl.)
dill - Anethllm g1'llveolens L.
doum-doum palm - Hyphaene thehaica A. Sc. Hi!.
durra - Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench. (syn. S. dul'l'll
(Forssk.) Stapf)
Eggplant - Solaman melongena L.
einkorn - Crithodium mOl1ococcum (L) A Love (s)'n.
Triticum m011Ococcum L.)
elm - Ulmus L.
emmer -Gigachiloll polollicum (L.) Seidl. subsp. dicocCOll
(Schrank)A. Love (syn. 1i'iticum dicoccum
Schrank)
eremurus, Olga's - EremuI"IlS algae Regel
erse, bitter verch - Vida el"vilia (L.) Willd. (syn. Erml1n
avilia L.)
espano grass, alfa - Stipll tenacissimll L
eucalyptus - Eucalyptus I'Her.
Fan-palm, windmill palm, palmetto - Chamaerops
humilis L.
feather-grass - Stipa L.
fenugreek - TJ'igol1ella joenllm-graecum L.
fig - Ficus caricll L.
Indian, spineless - Gpuntia ficus-indica (L.)
Mill.
filbert or hazel nuts - Corylus avellana L., C maxima L.
fireweed - Chamerioll 1l11gustifolium (L.) Scop. (syn.
Epilohium al1gustifolium L.)
flag or iris -Iris L.
flax or linseed - Liml1n L.
longstaple and linseed -Lil1um lIsitatissimum
L. incl. var. mediterraneuJI1 Vav.
New-Zealand - Phonnium tmax Forse. &
Forst. f.
wild - Admolinllm perenl1e Reichb.
forget-me-nor (in rhe Pamirs) - Myosotis asiatica
(Vestergren) Shishkin & Sergievskaja
foxtail, meadow - Alopecu/"Us pratensis L.
fruid1y, banana fly - Drosophila sp.
fusaria - Fusarium spp.
Garlic - Allium sarivum L.
elephant or giant - A. ampeloprasum L.
N.I. VAVllOV - 167- FIVE CONTINENTS
gingko - Gingko bi/oba L.
ginseng, American - Panax quinquejo/ia L.
Chinese - Panax ginseng C. Mey.
ginsr, Spanish broom - Spartium junceum L.
goargrass - Cylindropyrum A. Love (syn. Aegi/ops L.)
gobo, edible burdock - Arctium lappa L. var. x (Sieb.)
Mansf.
gooseberry, Chinese or kiwi - Actinidia chinensis
Planchon
European - Ribes uva-crispa L.
'gorgon verch' - Lathyrus gorgonii ParI.
gorse - Ulex europaeus L.
gourds - Cucurbita, Cucumis spp.
bottle - Lagenaria sicemria (Mol.) StandI.
(syn. L. vulgaris Ser.)
Prophet's gourd - C. prophetarum L.
grape, grapevine - Vitis L.
Caucasian -Vitis viniferaL. var. caucasica Vav.
wine grape - V. vinifera L. subsp. vinifera
wild grape - V. vinifera L. subsp. vil1ifem var.
spontanea Pop
grapefruir - Citrus maxima Merr. s.iar., C.X pamdisiaca
Macfad.
groundnuts, peanurs - Amchis hypogaea L.
grumichama, rose-apple - Syzygium aquea (Burm. f.)
Alston
guava - Psidium guajava L.
wild - P. sartorium (Berg) Niedenzu
guayule - Parthenium argentatum A. Gray
gum-tragacanth - Astragalus gummifer Labill.
guttapercha trees -Eucommia ulmoides Oliver (China),
Palaquium gutta (Hook. f.) Baill. (Malacca,
Sumatra, Borneo).
Hagenia - Hagenia alrjJsinica \Villd.
harmel, African rue - Peganum hannala L.
hashish, marijuana, hemp - Cannabis sativa L. subsp.
indica (Lam.) E. Small & Cronq.
hawthorn - Crataegus spp.
hazelnur - Caryl/us avellana L.
henequen agave - Agave fourcroyoides Lemaire
hemp, marijuana, hashish - Cannabis sativa L. (incl.
subsp. indica (Lam.) E. Small & Cronq.)
manila hemp - Musa textilis Nee
hops - Humulus ftpulus L.
horsebean - Canavalia ensifonnis (L.) DC, sometimes
also Vicia foba L. var. equina Pers.
Iris or flag - Iris L.
Jackbean, horsebean, sword bean - Canavalia emiformis
(1.) DC.
jonquil, daffodil, narcissus - Narcissus L.
jujube, Chinese dare - Zizyphus jujuba Mill. (syn. Z.
sativa Gaerm., Z. vulgaris L.)
juniper, Ethiopian - Juniperus procera Hochst.
call -J excelsa MB.
Kaffir corn, grain sorgum, kaoliang - Sorghum bic%r
(I.) Moeoch (syo. S. caffrorum (Rea.) PB.

kakee, persimmon - Diospyros kaki L.
kale - Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala DC
kaoliang sorgum - Sorgum bic%r (L.) Moench (syn. S.
nervosum Bess.)
kapok, silk-cotton tree - Ceiba pemandra (L.) Gaerm.
kinjuk pistachio - Pistacia khinjuk Stocks
kiwi, Chinese gooseberry - Actinidia. chinensis Planch.
konjaku, devi!'s tongue - Amorphophaffus konjac K.
Koch (syn.A. rivieriDur. var. konjac(Schott)
Eogl.)
Ladino or giant white clover - Triticum repens L. var.
giganteum Lag.-foss.
lemon - Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
lentil- Lem culinaris Med. (syn. Ervum lens L.)
lenuce, garden - Lactuca sativa L.
asparagus, ou-sen-L. sativa L. var. angustana.
Irish
lily - Lilium L.
linseed, flax - Linum ttsitatissimmn L.
loquat, nespole, Japanese plum - Eriobotrya japonica
(Thunb,) Lindl.
lams, edible - Eur),ale ftrox Salisb.
sacred - Nelumbo nuciflra Gaertn.
luff a - Luffa aegyptiaca. Mill.
angled - Luffa acutangula (L.) Roxb.
vegetable sponge - L. aegyptiaca Mill. (syn.
L. cylindrica (L.) Roem.)
lupine - Lupinus L.
Magnolia - Magnolia L.
maize, corn - Zea mays L.
mahogany - Swietenia macrophylla King
West Indian - S. mahagoni (L.) Jacq.
mango - Mangifera indica L. and other species
mangosteen - Garcinia mangostana L.
manioc, biner or cassava - Manihot escu!enta Cranrz
(syn. M. uti/issima Pohl)
sweet -M du!cis (Gem!.) Pax var. aipi (Pohl)
Pax.
maples - Acer L.
marijuana, hashish, hemp - Cannabis sativa L. subsp.
indica (Lam.) E. Small & Cronq.
mace, Paraguayan tea - flex paraguariemis A. Sr. Hil.
meadow foxtail - Alopecurns pratemis L.
melons - Cucumis melo L. and others
biner, colocynth - C colocynthis (L.) Schrad.
melon tree, papaya - Carica papaya L.
mildew (on grapes) - Plasmopora viticola Berlese & de
Toni
millet - Panicum, Setaria and other genera
African or negrito - Eleusine comcana (L.)
Gaertn.
barnyard millet or grass - Echinochloa crus-
galli (L) PB (syo. PaniCllm crusgalli L)
foxtail-Setariaitalica(L.) PB. (syn.Panicum
italicum L.)
grain or milo - Sorghum bicolor (L) Moench
proso - Panicum miliaceum L.
NJ. VAVILOV - 168- FIVE CONTINENTS
mint -Mmthax piperita L. (M arvmsis L. xM aquatica
L.)
mulberry - Monts L.
black - Monts nigra L.
paper - BrOllSSonctia papyrifira (L.) Vent.
red - M. mbra L.
white - M alba L.
mume - Prtmus mume Sieb. & Zucco
mustard - Brassica L., Sinapis L.
Abyssinian, Ethiopian - Brassica carinata A.
Br.
black - B. nigra (L.) Koch incl. var.
pseudocampestris Sinsk
white - Sinapis alba L.
myrtle - Myrtlls communis L.
Narcissus, daffodil, jonquil, - Narcisms L.
nespole, loquat - Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl.
niger seed, noog, nug or ramril - Guizotia abyssinica
(LJ.) Casso
nightshade - Solanum nigrum L.
bittersweet - S. dulcamara L.
noog, nug, or ramtil- Guizotia abyssinica (L.f.) Casso
nursedge, zulu-nut or chum - Cypents esct/lentus L.
Oak - Quercus L.
baloot - Quercus baloot Griff.
cork - Q. suber L.
smne - Q. ilex L.
oats - Avena L.
anima ted -Avena sterilis L. subsp.ludoviciana
(Our.) Gillet & Magne (syn. A. Itldoviciana
Our.)
Mediterranean - A. sativa L. (syn. A.
byzantina C. Koch)
ordinary - Avena sativa L.
sand - A. strigosa Schreb. (ace. to Mansfeld:
A. nuda Hoj.) incl. subsp. strigosa and subsp.
brevis (Roth.) Mans£
wild - A. [attta L.
oidium, a fungus - Oidium tuckeri Berk
oleander - Nerium oleander L.
olive tree - Olea e({ropnea L.
wild - 0. europaea L. subsp. africana (Mill.)
Greene
ommu, omum - Trachyspennllmammi (L.) Sprague (syn.
Carum copticum Benth. & Hook)
onions - Allium L.
garden - Allium cepa L.
opium poppy - Papaver somnifimm L.
oranges - Citrus L.
Jaffa - C. sinensis (L.) Osb. cultivar.
mandarine - C. reticlliata Blanco (syn. C.
nobilis Lour.)
Seville - C. aurantium L.
orchids - Orchidaceae 1.
au sen, asparagus lettuce - Lactttca sativa L. var.
angustana Irish

Palms - Palmae spp.
Abyssinian - Phoenix abyssinica Drude
Brazilian coconut, Bahia piassava - Attalea
fimiflra C. Martius
date palm
cultivated - Phoenix dactyliflra L.
wild - P. sylvestris (L.) Roxb.
doum-doum - Hyphaene thcbaiea (L.) c.
Martius
fan- or windmill palm, palmetto -
Chaemerops hnmilis L.
palmetto - Chamaerops humilis L.
papaya or melon tree - Carica papaya L.
papyrus - Cypents papyrus L.
Paraguayan tea or mate - flex pamguariensis A. St. Hi!.
parsley, Chinese, coriander or cilantro - Coriandntm
sativum L.
pea, blackeye or cowpea - Vigna unguiculata (L.) alp.
subsp. unguiculata
chickpea - Cicer arietinum L.
garden - Piston sativum L.
pigeon - Cajanus cajan (L.) Hurh (syn. C.
indicus Spreng.)
peanms, groundnuts - Arachis hypogaea L.
pea-shrub - Caragana Lam.
peach tree - Prumts persiea (L.) Barch.
pear, Chinese - Pynts sinensis Lindl.
Japanese or sand pear -Pyrus p)wifolia (Burm.
f.) Nakai
garden - P. communis L.
pepper - Piper spp., Capsicum spp.
bell - Capsicum annuum L.
pepper grass, garden cress - Lepidium sativum L.
persimmon, American - Diospyros virginiana L.
kakee or Japanese p. ~ Diospyros kaki L. £
(syn. D. sinensis Bl.
petunia - Petunia A.L. Juss.
philodendron, cur-leaf - Monsura sp.
pine - Pimts L.
Australian or casuarina - Casuarina sp.
Gerard's - P. gerardiana All.
Himalyan ~ P. excelsa All.
pineapple - Ananas comostlS (Stickm.) Merr. (syn. A.
sativtts (Lindl.) Schulr.)
pisracio nut - Pistacia vera 1.
kinjuk - P. kbinjuk Stockm.
plane tree or sycamore
western - Platanus occidentalis L.
oriental - orientalis L.
plum, garden - Pnmus domestica L.
Japanese, or nespole - Eriobotria japonica
(Thunb.) Lind!.
pomegranate - Punica granatum L.
poplar - Populus L.
poppy - Papav,," L.
opium - P. sonmiferum L.
porato - Solanum L.
garden - Solanum tuberosum L.
sweet, - Ipomea batatas (L.) Lam.
prickly pear or Indian fig - Optlntia ficus-indica (L.)
Mill.
N.I. VAVILOV - 169- FIVE CONTINENTS
proso miller - Panicum miliacemn 1.
pumkins - Cucttrbita moschata (Dcne.) Pair. and others
Queen Anne's lace, carrot - Daucus carota 1.
quince - qdonia oblonga MilL
Chinese - Chaellomeles sinensis (Dum.)
Schneid.
Japanese - C lagenaria (Loisel.) Koidz.
guinine trees - Cinchona calisaya Wedd. C officinalis 1.,
C.
pubescens vaW. (syn. C. succi.rubra O.
Kunrze)
guinoa - Chenopodium quinoa Willd.
Radish - Raphanus L.
daikon or long Japanese - R. sativum L. var.
acanthiflnnis Makino
garden -Raphanlls sativus L.,R. indicusSinsk.
oil - R. sativlIs L. var. oleifera Merzg.
ramie -Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaud. incl. var. tenacissima
(Gaud.) Mig. (syn. B. tenacissima Gaud.)
ramtil, niger seed, noog, nug - Guizotia abyssinica (L.F.)
Casso
rape seed - Brassica napus L. incl. subsp. oleifera Meczg,
raspberry - Rubus idaeus L.
rhubarb, Chinese - Rheum palmatum L.
garden - R. rhabarbarum L.
medicinal- R. officinale Baill., R. palmatum
L.
rice - Oryza sativa L.
Manchurian or easrern wild rice - Zizania
latifolia (Griseb.) TUfa.
Philippine - Coix lacrymajobi L.
rose-apple - Syzygium aqueum (Burm. f.) Alsron (syn.
Eugenia aquea Burm. f.)
rose, wild - Rosa sp.
rubber {fee - Hevea brasiliensis (Willd.) Muell.-Arg.
castilloa - Castilla elastica Sesse (syn. Cascilla
e. Serv.)
rue, African, harmel- Peganum hannala L.
ruse fungi
rye - Secale L.
African, moun rain - Secale montanum Guss.
(syn. S. africal1um Stapf)
ordinary - S. cereale L. subsp. cerenle
Safflower - Carthamus til1ctorills 1.
sagebrush - Artemisia spp.
saguaro cactus - Carnegiea gigantel1 (Engelm.) Britt. &
Rose (syn. Cereus gigalltells Engelm.)
St. John's bread, carob - Ceratonia siliqua L.
salnvott, tumbleweed - Salsola L.
sapodilla, whire - Pot/teria viridis (Pitt.) Crong. (syn.
Calocarpum viride Pitr.)
yellow -Manilkam zapota (L.) van Roy. (syn.
Achras sapota 1.,Sapotasapotilla (Jacq.) Cov.)
sapore, black - Diospyros digyna Jacg.
white - Casimiroa edulis (L.) L1ave & Lex.
sesame seed - Sesamum indicttm L. incl. subsp.
bicarpellatum Hillt.

shabdar or Persian clover - Trifolium resupinatum L.
silk-canon tree, kapok - Ceiba pental1dm (L.) Gaerrn.
singhara nut - Tmpanatans Roxb. var. bispinosa (Roxb)
Makino
sisal hemp - Agave sisalana L.
smut, oat - Ustilago avenae P. Jens.
snapdragon - Antirrhimtm majus L.
sorghum, grain or sweet -Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench
kaoliang sorghum - S. bicolor (L.) Moench
(syn. S. nervosum Bess.)
soyabean - Glycine max (L.) Merr. (syn. G. hispida
Maxim., Soya hispida Maxim.)
spelr - Triticum aestivum L. subsp. spelta (L.)Thell. (syn.
T. spelta L.)
spinach, garden - Spil1llcea oleracea L
spineless cactus, Indian fig - 0pulltia ficus-indica (L.)
Mil!.
spiraea - Spiraea L
squash, incl. burrernm - Cucltrbita moschata (Dcne.)
Poir.
srarwon - Stellaria L.
Sr. John's bread trec, carob - Ceratonia siliqua L
sugar beet - Beta vulgaris L subsp. vulgaris
sugar cane - Saccharum ojficinanml L.
Chinese - S. sinense Roxb.
sulla - Hedysarum coroJlfllium L.
sunchoke, Jerusalem artichoke -Heliamhus tuberosus L.
sunflower - Heliantlms an1l1tuS L.
Mexican - Tithonia tubaeformis Casso (syn.
H. tubaefonnis On.)
SweeHlover - Melilottts sp.
sweetporato -Ipomea batatas (L) Pair.
S\vord bean, horsebean, jackbean - Canavalia ensiflmlis
L.
sycamore, plane tree, western - Platanus occidentalis L.
oriental- P. orientalis L.
Tamarisc - Tamarix L.
tapioca, cassava, manioc-Mal1ihotesculemfl Crana (syn.
M utilissima Pohl)
rarra - CuCltmis melo L. subsp. fIexuosus (L.) Greb. (syn.
C flextioStts Ser. var. tarra Pang.)
tea, Chinese - Camellia sinensis (L) O. Kuntze var.
sinensis
Paraguayan or mate -flex paragufl),ensisA. St.
Hil.
teff -Eragrostis ttjlZucc.)Trott. (syn.E. abyssil1ica Link).
teosinte -Zea mays L. subsp. mexicana (Schrad. H. litis)
rhyme, creeping - Thymus serp),llum L. garden - T.
vulgaris L
tobacco, Aztec or peasant - Nicotial1a I'Ustica L.
common -N tabacumL. (an amphiploid of
N sJ1lvemis Speg. & Comes and N otopho1'l1
Griseb. or N Subbii Brit.)
tulip - Tulipa L.
tumbleweed, salnvorr - Salsola L.
tung-oil tree - Vemicia flrdii (Hems!.) Airy-Shaw (syn.
Aleurites flrdii Hems!.)
Japanese - Vemicia cordata (Thunb.) Airy-
Sha (syn.Aleurites cordata (Thunb.) R. Br.)
N.I. VAVILOV - 170- FIVE CONTINENTS
Uda Amlia cordata Thunb.
Vanil!a Vimilla planifolia Andrews incl. var. fragra1ls
(Salish.) Ames
vetch (s. lat.)
biner Vida ervilia CL.) illd. (syn. Ermon
ervilia L.)
chickling, fodder, vetchling -LathJ1rtlssativus
L.
common Vida sativa L. subsp. sativa
French or Narbonne - Vida narhonensis L.
fodder vetch - LatbJ"lIs sativus L.
'gorgon' Latbyrus gorgonii ParI.
-Vidaarticufata Hook. Csyn.
Erman m01lamhos L.)
vine, grapevine - Vitis vinifera L. subsp. vinifera
Caucasian - V. virlifera L. subsp. caucasica
Vav.
wild - V. vinifera L. var. sporltanea Pop.
\'{falnut tree, black - Juglans nigra L. var. codifolia
(Maxim.) Rehd.
Chinese iI/glans sinensis Dade
English - J regia L.
Japanese - J ailamhifofia Carr. (syn. J
sieboldiana Maxim.)
water-chestnut - Trapa natans L., T. bispinosa Roxb.
Chinese - Eleocharis dulds (Burm. f.) Trin.
watercress - Nasturtium officinale R. Br.
watermelon - Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. &
Nakai var. lanaws
wild - C fanaws (Thunb.) Matsuum. &
Nakai var. caffer Mansf.
waternut - Efeocharis dulds (Burm. f.) Trin.

wheat (so lat.) - Triticum L. and other genera
bread or soft - Triticum aestivum L. (syn. T.
sativum Lam., T. vulgare Vill.)
club T. aestivum L. subsp. eompactum
(Hose) TheIl. (syn. T. eompaetwn Host)
cone, poulard - Gigachilon pofonieum (L.)
SeidL subsp. wrgidum CL.) A.
Love (syn. Y;'iticum tllrgidum L.)
durum or hard - Gigachifon polollicwn CL.)
Seidl. subsp. durll1n CL.) A. Love (syn.
Triticum durum L.)
Persian Gigachilon polonicum CL.) SeidL
subsp. carthlicum (Nevski) A. Love Csyn.
Triticum carthlicum Nevski, T. persictlm Vav.}
fu - Y;'iticum aestivtlm L. subsp.
spbaerococcum (Perc.) MacKay (syn. T.
sphaerocllecum Perc.)
wild -Gigachilonpolonicum (L.) SeidL subsp.
dicoccoides (Aarons.) A. Love (syn. T.
dicoceoides (Koern.) Aarons)
wheatgrass, desert - AgroPJlJ'um cristatum CL.) Gaertn.
subsp. desertomm (Fisch.) A. Love
slender - Elymtls trachycaulus (Link.) Gould
(syn. A. tenerum Vasey)
crested - A. desertomm (Fisch.) Schult.
whiplash cactus - Fouquieria splendens Engelm.
wormwood, sagebrush - Artemisia L.
Yam, American or sweetpotato - Ipomaea batatas (L.)
Lam.
Chinese - Dioscorea batatas Dcne.
intoxicating - D. hispida Dennst.
Japanese D. japonicaThunb.
Yucca - YtlCca L.
Zulunm, chufa, nutsedge - Cyuperns esculenttls L.
N.J. VAVllOV - 171 - FIVE CONTINENTS

N.I. VAVILOV FIVE CONTINENTS

PHOTOGRAPHS
The first edition of Vavilov's FIVE CONTINENTS was published in Russian in 1962,
with 98 photographs collected into three sections. The second edition (1987) contained a
slightly different set of photographs. Some negatives and prints were not available for that
edition, so others were substituted. Duting the preparation of this 1996 volume, the staff
of the N.r. Vavilov Institute in St Petersburg searched in many different archives, including
private collections, to reasemble as many of the original images as possible. Not all of the
photographs could be located, and some that could be found were not of publishable
quality. Because of this, a number of new photographs have been included, many of them
never before published. These are marked with an asterisk (*). Some of the images are
reproduced direct from the original negatives or prints, others are reproductions of a pho-
tograph, or even a photograph of a photograph. Thus the qualiry of the images varies, but
their great interest should compensate for their lack of clariry. The captions are direct
translations from the original Russian text. Almost all of the photographs were taken by
Vavilov himself, berween 1916 and 1939.
N.i. VAVllOV
- 173- FIVE CONTINENTS
Irau. Farmer s family and their poor crop of wheat.
Iran. Win-king the stony soil.
Afghanistau. The ctlrallfl1l of the e>.peditiol1 on the way to Herat.
N.i. VAVILOV -174 -
FIVE CONTINENTS
Ajgbrmistrtn. Stands ofErianthus (onion).
Afgha1listan. Dove towers for collecting bird droppings.
Afghanistan. Bridge at the village of Diva.
N.I. VAVllOV - 175- FIVE CONTINENTS

Afgbanistan. Difficult road over boulders of large, sharp stones.
Afghanistan. Guides of the expedition from the Vtzma.
Afghanistan. A "o(ulside barbel:
N.I. VAVILOV -176 - FIVE CONTINENTS
Afghanistan. A killjull pistachio tree [Pistacia kinjuk Stocks} along a road east of the
Gil'mend desert at an altitude of 1400 m /lsI.
N.!. VAVILOV
AfghanistalZ. The Bnluva desert. Wild bitter melons
[Citrullus colocynth is (L.) Schtad.}.
Afghanistan. Date palms.
- 177- FIVE CONTINENTS

AfghanistalZ. Threshing naked barley by driving cattle over it, in the vicinity of BmlJitlll Ilt fln
altitude of 3100 111 ((sf. '"
Afgbmzistal1. Area of semi-nomadic culture and mixed population near Kbll11abad. '"
Tjpical village in area
1lear tbe settlement of Pashki. '"
NJ. VAVILOV -178 - FIVE CONTINENTS
Sinkifmg. J(ashgm: Tien Shan mountain range.
Sin/dong. Khghiz and yaks in the valley of SarYllol. ""
Sin/dang. Kaspgm: A typical peasant. '"
N.i. VAVllOV - 179- FIVE CONTINENTS
jflpml. A stack africe Oil tl wooden tr£pod.
Most popular way of !Jart
1
estil1g in
{{ok/mido.
III
Japall. Hokkaido. Large-sized
Em'opean pear-trees
nelll" Holtodate . ...
Japan. Town of Kagosbima. A girl with flowers . ..,
N.I. VAVILOV -180 - FIVE CONTINENTS
N.I. VAVILOV
Japan. Town of Kagosbima. Packing dailtoll rlldisb
/Rap han us sativus major vm: daikon}.o;,
Syria. Tilling a field wit/; a primitille plow.
- 181 - FIVE CONTINENTS
Palestine. Papyrus thickets 011 the
banks of the Jordan.

·Palestille. The caravan ofVnvilov S
expedition OIl the way from Jerusalem to
Nablus.
Ttmisia. Market in the city of Tunis.
N.J. VAVILOV
-182 - FIVE CONTINENTS
Ab.yssiJlia. Hare1: Somalinn jnrmel:
N.I. VAVILOV - 183- FIVE CONTINENTS
------------------------&1-------------------------
Top left: Abyssinia. Griuding durrab /Sorghum bicolor
(L.) Moench] in a 11101'tm .. the district of Hare1:
Top "ight: Abyssi1lia. Ham: Ma1lual plowi1lg of a field for
dm'ra planting.
Abozlc left: Ak},ssillia. Exchange trading ill Gondel: Salt
market. Roc/,-sait pieces serve
instead of coins for change.
Abolle rigbt: Abyssinia. Plowing. Abyssinian plow
northwards from Fiche (Gonder).
Abyssinia. Right: Dtllzgaltl> upper Nile. Flnt cakes made
of figs [Ficus carica L.J i1l a special ki1ld of basket.
N.I. VAVILOV -184-
FIVE CONTINENTS
N.i. VAVllOV
56. Abyssinia. Selling sugar calle on the market of Addis Ababa.
- 185-
Above left: AbyssiNia. Woma11
selling Abyssinia. '"
Above right: In the center oJDozazmag
Dabat {northwards from Gonder}.·'1<
Abyssinia. Right: Pilgrims from
Central Africa on the way to Jvlecca. In
tbe vicinity of J(erall.
FIVE CONTINENTS
N.J. VAVILOV -186-
Top left: Abyssinia. Tbe C/l1'all£l11 of
Vflvilov s expedition under tbe trees ill
Nortbern Abyssinia. "
Top right: Eritrea. Arborescent spurge.
Centre left: Eritrea. Baobab tree
[Adansonia digirara L.]. •
Abyssinia.
Centre right: Oasis of Ab)lssillian date
palm. Vicinity of Takkaze Rive}: *
Left: g y p t ~ lJiew from the Nile. *
FIVE CONTINENTS

Egypt. Tbresbing wbent.
SicilJl. Plowing with a latin-type plow. '*'
Left: Sicily. Threshing grain. *
Right: USA. Papaya ill California. '
N.i. VAVILOV - 187- FIVE CONTINENTS

USA. Arizo1la Desert.
Mexico. Agave.
N.I. VAVILOV -188 - FIVE CONTINENTS
N.I. VAVILOV
Mexico. Market with articles made of maguey agave
[Agave atrovirens /(aJ'w.j.
Mexico. Corn field near Mexico Cit)" strongly infested by teosinte
rZea mays L. subsp. mexicana (Sch1'fld,) litis}.
- 189- FIVE CONTINENTS

Mexico. ljpical 'Egyptiall' plow ofpresent-da), !1932} Illdialls (Oaxaca).
Mexico. Primitive Americall Indian bee-garden ill Mitle (Oaxaca).
N.i. VAVILOV -190- FIVE CONTINENTS
Mexico. irrigation of a garden in the
vici1lityof Mitle (Oaxaca).
PrimitilJc well. "'
Mexico. Vegetable mar/let in Oaxaca.

Mexico. Peasallt . ..
Mexico. Selling cbapuli [boiled crickets} for
food 011 the mar/let i1l Oaxaca.
N.I. VAVILOV - 191 - FIVE CONTINENTS
-----------------------------.1-----------------------------
Guatemala. Vilcell fence Ilt Antigua.
N.!. VAVILOV
Guatemala. Guatemalan village. 1<
Guatemala. Fann women carrying products to tbe
market in Antigua.
-192 - FIVE CONTINENTS
Guntemnla. 'Bagging' cor1l to speed up
tbe ripening.

Honduras. Plmztntioll of mmziUl hemp,
Musa textilis.
Honduras. Farm bOllse in the tropical zone of Honduras.
N.I. VAVllOV
- 193- FIVE CONTINENTS
Honduras. In tbe tropicalforest. Honduras. Sugar palm [Arenga saccharifera
Labile]. *
N.I. VAVILOV
Brazil. Silk-cotton or kapoll tree [Ceiba
pentandra (L.) Gaertll.] ill tbe tropical forest of
tbe Amazon delta.
-194 - FIVE CONTINENTS
Brnzil. V70rkillg 011 a coffee
pumtation. ""

Brazil. Harvesting palm fruits i11 Amazonia. "
Brazil. ludians in the forest of the State of Nara1la.
Bolivia. Grove of quinine trees
[ Cinchona sp.} in the 11l0ltJltains.
N.i. VAVILOV - 195-
Bolivia. Harvesting potato. '"
FIVE CONTINENTS
~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - . I - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Peru - Boiizlin. Reed boat on Ialte Titicflca.
Peru. Llamas in the vici11ity of Cusco. '"
N.!. VAVILOV -196 - FIVE CONTINENTS
USSR. TrallSCallcaS1ls. Vfzvilov with a horse.
USSR. Northall Caucasus. Vtwilov ill a cm:
N.I. VAVILOV - 197- FIVE CONTINENTS
----------------------------.1----------------------------
USSR. TrasCIluscnsus. Wine jugs. 1936
USSR. Norther1l CatlCtlSlls. Maikop Experimental Station o/VIR. 1936.
N.I. VAVILOV -198 -
FIVE CONTINENTS
Finito di Stampare nel mese di gennaio 1997
Albagraf S.p.A.

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