Nothing in English travel narratives revealed the authors’ sense of America’s plenty better than the descriptions of plant life encountered there. From 1602 when John Brereton listed the berries he found on an island off the Virginian coast, to Patrick Copland’s 1622 description of ‘corne, wine, oyle, lemons, oranges, pomengranats’, authors emphasized the plenty and diversity of the flora they found in the New World.1 However, visitors such as Brereton and armchair commentators such as Copland never had to deal with the realities of settled life in America, so they did not explore the difficulties in exploiting native plants or introducing crops from England. In understanding early modern interpretations of flora in North America, it is important to analyse the intellectual assumptions with which the writers approached plant life and the categories into which they divided it. ese were: first, the agricultural crop cultivated on a large scale as a staple for profit; second, the subsistence crops grown for food or medicine by and for the settlers; and third, wild plant life which could be used and ‘tamed’. Despite the English settler’s understanding of plants and his prior experience of growing crops, and the themes of fertility, hard work and plenty appearing constantly in the literature, many of the early visions were not fulfilled and many native plants were not grown successfully. Was it because of economic constraints, a lack of enthusiasm or local knowledge, or practical difficulties?