How come the Vikings in Newfoundland didn’t cause a Columbian exchange of plants, animals and diseases?


Gardening is my hobby, and I was just reading up on an edible weed called Common purslane because I want to encourage its proliferation in my garden. According to its Wikipedia article:

It has an extensive distribution, assumed to be mostly anthropogenic,3 extending from North Africa and Southern Europe through the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to Malesia and Australasia. The species status in the Americas is uncertain. In general, it is often considered an exotic weed, but there is evidence that the species was in Crawford Lake deposits (Ontario) in 1350–1539, suggesting that it reached North America in the pre-Columbian era. Scientists suggested that the plant was already eaten by native Americans, who spread its seeds. How it reached the Americas is currently unknown.4

Considering that Common purslane was known to have been present in modern-day Canada between 1001 (Leif Erikson's 1st visit to North America) and 1497 (John Cabot's landing in modern-day Canada), is this possible proof of a plant that came over from Europe through the Norse colonization of North America?

I then decided to then read up on the cuisine of the Vikings. While the Vikings at L'Anse aux Meadows may have been averse to planting crops there (perhaps partly because, as Adam of Bremen writes, "unsown crops abound there"), the Viking diet was also known to have included pork and lots of honey products. It seems kind of odd that Pigs and Honeybees didn't get introduced to North America by the Vikings, considering that these animals are well-documented of easily establishing feral populations after accidental or deliberate introduction.

I also found it surprising that no other aspects of the Columbian exchange happened with the Vikings in North America:

  • Old World human diseases didn't arrive and decimate the native populations.
  • Plant diseases such as Chestnut blight didn't arrive and ravage North American plants either.
  • Pests such as the Black rat didn't establish themselves in North America.
  • And finally, even though the Wikipedia article on Leif Erikson says that "after having wintered over in Vinland, Leif returned to Greenland in the spring with a cargo of grapes and timber", the Vikings neglected to introduce the following crops found in the L'Anse aux Meadows area to the Old World:

It just seems very odd that the Vikings would leave behind so little in North America, not even infecting the natives with diseases or introducing invasive plants and animals.

Source: reddit post


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