Vine and the Worm of Grapevine: Struggle against Phylloxera in the Ottoman Empire


TARIH INCELEMELERI DERGISI, vol.30, no.2, pp.479-505, 2015 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 30 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.479-505
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


Phylloxera, which was first discovered in America in 1856, is a pest sticking to the roots of grapevines, absorbing its water and drying the roots. After reaching France, phylloxera spread all over the European continent and became a serious danger for all European countries growing grapes. Because of this, the European countries that decided to act in coordination took some preventive precautions. The Ottoman government also prepared its first regulations to prevent the spread of the parasite and put these regulations into effect in 1880. Despite the warnings of agricultural inspectors and the spotting of the traces of phylloxera on the Anatolian side of Istanbul in 1885, the Ottoman Empire did not recognize the existence of phylloxera until 1886. At around the same time, this danger spread to the Aydin Province, which had the highest level of grape production. The Ottoman government tried to prevent the spread of phylloxera following the experiences of France by using chemicals made from the mixture of carbon disulphide, potassium carbonate, tar and lime. However, even though it was in the long run, the real solution to this problem could be solved by the grafting of the native vine species with the American ones. For this solution, plantations were established first in Istanbul Erenkoy and Kiziltoprak, followed by those established in Izmir Karsiyaka, Urla, Seydikoy and Manisa. Saplings grown in these plantations were distributed for free to the vine growers upon demand. Besides, vine growers who built their vines with grafted saplings were exempted from tithe and they were given the opportunity for loaning with suitable conditions from the Ziraat Bank.