Did Columbus Make Any Important Discoveries In The Americas?
Although Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) did not take vast amounts of gold back to Spain after his voyages to the Americas (1492, 1493, 1498), he did return with a variety of previously unknown plants. These included maize (corn), sweet potatoes, capsicums (peppers), plantains (bananas), and pineapples. On later voyages other explorers discovered potatoes, wild rice, winter squash, pumpkins, cacao (chocolate beans), peanuts, cashews, and tobacco. Many of these plants continue to be cultivated in Spain.
Further Information: Lacey, Richard W. Hard to Swallow: A Brief History of Food. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994; Olson, James S., ed. Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Empire: 1402–1975. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1991.