William Hughes may have travelled to the new world in 1651 as part of a privateering voyage. He spent a great deal of time in the Caribbean touring British plantations and recording tropical plants that would have been new to Europeans.
Of Potatoes: As for Potatoes, we here only intend to speak of the Root; and for a description of the leaves and branches be pleased to see Ger.Herb. or from others who hath written of Virginia-Potatoes, wheich do very much resemble them in likeness and therefore may save me the labour of troubling myself or you further therewith. This root is thick, fat and tuberous in form. Some of them yellowish, or of a Gold color within; some are whitish, others very white, most of them are in form oval or round; some bigger some less as Spanish potatoes are but commonly somewhat bigger at their full growth. They grow in many places in America as in all the Caribee Islands that I have been in, namely Barbados, Antego, Mevis or Nevis, S. Christophers as also Hispaniola, Jamaica where they are planted in most plantations for daily food, the small ones or pieces being reserved in digging them up and replanted for increase. . . .
Of the Water-Melon: A water-melon is a very excellent fruit, some of them in shape like unto our middle-siz’d pumpions, and the substance within them spungy, tender, and well tasted and being cut something mixed with white and red: it is very moist and waterish and the seeds like those of the Italian musk-melon. They delight most in hot regions, as in the Caribee-Islands they grow plentifully, and in Jamaica I have often eat of them, but they are altogether novelties in the Northern parts. . . This fruit is naturally very cold and therefore it must be very moderately eaten otherwise it is apt to cause a fever by cooling the stomach too much and spoiling digestion. . . .
Of the Wheat of America or Maiz: Of this wheat there are divers sorts. . . consisting of divers coloured grains, as white, blew, yellow or Gold-color; some of a straw color, some red, etc. The stalks are much like that of the Reed, but bigger and stronger, full of spungy pith, set with many joints, five or six feet high. . . the leaves are not very broad, but long. . . the flower is white, red, yellow or purple as the Corn is like to be; this wheat is contained in very big Ears which grow out at the joints of the stalks, two three or four from one stalk.