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400-year-old seeds found in Jamestown well

Find suggests early settlers adapted by using local food resources
By Sonja Barisic
Associated Press
Updated: 2:47 p.m. CT Jan 9, 2007

NORFOLK, Virginia - Seeds and plant remains preserved in a well at America's first permanent English settlement suggest the Jamestown colonists were not just gentlemen with few wilderness survival skills, as they are often portrayed, but tried to live off the land by gathering berries and nuts.
At least one tobacco seed — possibly representing the earliest known evidence of the cultivation at Jamestown of the cash crop that helped the settlement survive financially — was also discovered among samples from the 17th-century well.
Archaeobotanist Steve Archer will include results of his microscopic analysis of the plant matter in presentations at the Society of Historical Archaeology conference that begins Wednesday in Williamsburg.
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This new evidence changes how we view the people of Jamestown a little. It shows that they were able to adapt to the environment here after learning from the Native Americans which plants yielded nutritional value. It's interesting to learn that the colonists were seed savers and probably seed snatchers- like a lot of us. Maybe I won't feel so bad the next time I see a ripe seed pod in the planting of the local Target and pluck it and bring it home. Hey afterall if it's good enough for the first settlers it's good enough for me, right?

I just realized that they'd probably have an interesting answer to Carol's "Seedy Habits" meme going around the gardening blogs. I haven't posted my "Seedy Habits" because I'm pretty much a boring seed collector. I'll trade with people and I'll buy seeds from any rack I come across in a store.

Learn more about Jamestown.