Some 3 billion people in the world live outside the cash economy in the world’s poorest nations. Food security and regular supply are their daily concerns. Chronic malnutrition is a leading cause of death and disease for them. Young children are amongst the most affected. One child every 5-10 seconds dies from undernutrition. Vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness for someone every minute. Most people in tropical and subtropical countries are iron deficient.
Our goal is to provide information that enables people to choose the right plant for their environment, to give them stable food production and a greater choice of plants to enrich their diets and improve their nutritional wellbeing.
The plant fact sheets listed in this collection are only a small portion of those available from FPI. Please check your plant inquiries in the ECHO Search and reference the FPI plant database for further information.
Most of the plants selected to list here are further described in country-specific publications by Food Plant Solutions (FPS in the Search).
8000 Starchy Staples
6000 Leafy Greens
3000 Nuts, Seeds, Herbs, and other foods
553 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues - )
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Edible portion: Fruit
A medium sized tree. The crown is rounded and the tree is evergreen. It grows 10-26 m high. The bark is black. The leaves are glossy and dark green. They are 10-15 cm long. The flowers are of one sex and are yellowish green. The female flowers occur singly and the male flowers in small clusters. The fruit are large and dark green to black. They are 6-12 cm across. The flesh is dark chocolate coloured, when ripe. It is edible with a sweet taste. The fruit may be seedless but often have 5 seeds.
A tropical plant. It grows in lowland and mountain forests up to 1,800 m above sea level. It suits hot tropical lowland areas. In Mexico trees grow from sea level to 1800 m altitude. They will grow in most soils. Fully grown trees can tolerate 1-2°C of frost. It can grow in arid places. It suits hardiness zones 11-12.
Edible portion: Flowers, Fruit, Root, Stem
A shrub. It grows 1.8-2.5 m high and spreads 1.2-1.8 m wide. The trunk is woody. The leaves form a ring at the ends of branches and are blue-green to dark green. The leaves are 60 cm long. They have spines at the tips. The flowers form a spike of bell-shaped flowers. These are creamy-white to pink and can be 1.8 m high. They are at the ends of branches and on a stout stem. They are 40-60 cm long. The fruit has 6 ribs. but does not split when dry
It grows on sand dunes in Mediterranean regions. It can tolerate salt exposure. In Melbourne Botanical Gardens. It suits hardiness zones 7-10
Edible portion: Fruit, Aril, Pods, Seeds, Seeds - oil
A shrub or small tree. It grows up to 10 m tall but can be 15-25 m tall. The trunk can be 50-60 cm across. There are many branches. The branches are spiny. These are in pairs and are 4-10 mm long. The young leaves are usually reddish. The leaves are twice compound with four leaflets. There is a small spine between the leaflets. The flowers are greenish white in rounded dense heads about 1 cm across. The pods are often twisted spirally. They are 10 to 18 cm long and red when ripe. They are about 1 cm wide and contain 6 to 8 black shiny seeds surrounded by a white to red fleshy aril or pulp. The seeds are flattened and 9 mm long by 7 mm wide and 2 mm thick.
A tropical plant. It is native to C and S America. Common and widely distributed throughout the Philippines. It suits dry coastal areas probably below 800 m altitude. It can grow in low and medium altitudes and in wet and dry areas. It needs light. It can tolerate drought. It can grow on a range of soil types. Well drained soils are best but it can grow in clay soils. In Nepal it grows to about 700 m altitude. It can grow in arid places. In XTBG Yunnan.
Edible portion: Root - oil for flavouring
A tropical grass. It keeps growing from year to year. It has stout roots. It grows 2 m high. It grows in dense tufts. The leaf blades are 90 cm long by 4-10 mm wide. The flower panicle is oblong and 13-30 cm long.
It is a tropical plant. It grows in areas that are seasonally flooded. It grows in ponds and ditches. It is good for cleaning dirty water.
Edible Portion: Pods, Seeds, Leaves, Fruit, Bark, Vegetable, Flowers,
It is a leafy shrub or a spreading tree. It loses its leaves during the year. It can grow to 12 m tall. The leaves are broad and lobed. The bark is rough and brown. The leaves are simple and can be 20 cm across. The tip of the leaf has lobes and the base of the leaf has notches. The veins spread out from this notch. The upper surface of the leaf is green and the lower surface a lighter colour and with red veins. The leaves are on thick stalks. The male and female flowers are carried separately. The male heads have fewer flowers than the female. The flower buds are fat and oval. They are velvety and in long strings on sturdy stalks. The flowers are 2.5 cm wide. Only one or two flowers open at one time in a bunch. They hang downwards and drop off easily. The pods are large and woody. They are up to 23 cm long by 8 cm wide. They are green but turn brown. They are covered with tiny raised lines. The pods do not break open but fall off. The pods and seeds are edible
A tropical plant. It grows in open woodland and often near streams. It grows in the Sahel. In Ethiopia it grows at low and medium altitudes especially between 900-1,700 m altitude. It cannot stand cold temperatures or frost and is tolerant of drought. It grows in areas with an annual rainfall between 400-1,200 mm. It can grow in arid places. It also grows on termite mounds. It grows in the lowlands. It grows in Miombo woodland in Africa.
Edible portion: Probably not edible. Used in medicine
A tree. It grows 7 m all. It does not have spines. The bark flakes into vertical strips. It is pale brown. The leaves ahve sharp teeth. They are compound. The flowers are in large branched clusters. The flower tube is yellow with red lines in the throat. The fruit are 7-32 cm long.
It is a tropical plant. It grows in coastal areas and along roadsides in full sunlight. It can tolerate drought. In Argentina it grows from sea level to 1,700 m above sea level.
Edible portion: Fruit
A grape vine. The leaves may not have lobes or can have 3-5 lobes. They are green above and hairy underneath. They have shallow teeth. The flowers are in a dense panicle. The are 5-15 cm across.
It is a temperate plant. In Canada it grows in dry woods.
Edible Portion: Fruit
A vigorous trailing bramble. This is a cross between a raspberry and probably a dewberry. The vine looses its leaves during the year. Plants are self fertile. The fruit is a berry. It is long and red but matures to a purple-black. The berry is larger than a Youngberry and has a dull colour because of fine hairs on the surface.
It is a temperate plant. It prefers fertile, well drained soil. It does best in full sunlight. They need cool conditions and moist soil. It suits plant hardiness zones 5-10.
Edible Portion: Fruit
An erect tree. It grows 5-12 m tall. It can be 30 m tall. It has yellow latex. The leaves are simple and opposite and narrowly oval.. The leaf blades are 8-25 cm long by 3-9 cm wide. The flowers are clustered in the axils of the leaves. They are greenish white. The fruit are 3-4 cm long. The fruit are oval and yellowish-orange. The flesh is white. There is one seed.
Asia, Belize, Brazil, Central America*, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, North America, Pacific, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, South America, USA, West Indies,
Edible portion: Gum
A tree. It grows 25 m tall. The trunk can be 60 cm across. The bark is smooth and powdery. The throns are straight and white in pairs and 10 cm long. The leaves have spines. The flowers are yellow and in round heads. The fruit are yellow brown pods. They are 13 cm long and flat. They are slightly constricted between the seeds and break into segments.
It is a tropical plant. It grows between 40-2,100 m above sea level. It can grow in arid places.