Leafy vegetables are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamins (A, C, and B-complex), and minerals (especially calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus). Dark green leaves are generally more nutritious than lighter green or yellow leaves. Some leafy vegetables contain anti-nutritive substances such as oxalic acid, nitrates, glycosides of hydrocyanic acid, and alkaloids and must be boiled to eliminate or reduce them. Many are perennial, producing food with minimal investment of labor.


  1. Grain Amaranth Amaranthus cruentus, A. hypochondriacus

    Grain Amaranth, Kiwicha, Bledo

    Grain amaranths are annual plants and include several species of Amaranthus grown specifically for the seeds which are usually lighter colored than vegetable amaranth varieties. The cultivation of grain amaranths as food plants is traceable to ancient Aztec civilizations of Mexico. The grain...
  2. Vegetable Amaranth Amaranthus tricolor, A. viridis

    Vegetable Amaranth, Brède De Malabar, Amarante Tricolor

    Vegetable amaranths are mostly erect, annual plants, and are collected from the wild or cultivated in hot humid regions of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Several species of Amaranthus are grown for their protein-rich leaves and plant tops. The seeds of vegetable amaranths may be eaten but grain...
  3. Collards Brassica oleracea var. viridis

    Collards

    Collards are a cruciferous crop (cabbage family) grown for the leaves. The wide, smooth, blue-green leaves of collards have a spinach-like flavor and are the highest in nutrients of the dark green, leafy vegetables.
  4. Beets Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris

    Beets, Beetroot, Garden Beet

    Garden Beets, also called beetroot, are a hardy, cool-season root crop with edible leaves and a fleshy, tap root. The most common beets are deep red throughout but there are varieties that are yellow, white or mixed. The roots are a source of calories and the leaves are a good source of fiber...
  5. Broccoli Brassica oleracea var. italica

    Broccoli, Calabrese, Chou Broccoli

    Broccoli is a cruciferous crop (cabbage family) grown for the head that is made of a cluster of many, dark green buds formed at the end of an edible stalk. It is a temperate crop that can be grown in the tropics at higher elevations. Broccoli has become a common, favorite vegetable around the...
  6. Kale Brassica oleracea var. viridis

    Kale, Abashaw Goman, Borecole, Cole, Leaf Cabbage

    Kale is a cruciferous crop (cabbage family) grown for the leaves. Kale will withstand more heat than other Brassicas and is also tolerant of light frost, which can actually improve flavor. There are many varieties of leaf shape, color and height from a low mat of curled shoots to 2 m high. The...
  7. Chinese Kale Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra

    Chinese Broccoli

    Chinese Kale, also called Kailaan or Chinese Broccoli, has glossy, blue-green leaves with crisp and thick stems. This vegetable adapts well to cold and hot climates and is grown all year round in mild climates. After the first cutting of the main stem, the plant will grow many branches for...
  8. Cabbage Brassica oleracea var. capitata

    Cabbage

    Cabbage is a hardy, leafy cruciferous vegetable that forms a compact, round head. It is native to southern Europe but can be grown in tropical or semi-tropical areas in cooler highlands where the winters are mild and there is a good supply of moisture. Some varieties in stock at ECHO are fairly...
  9. Pak Choi, Bok Choy Brassica rapa var. chinensis

    Pak Choi, Bok Choy

    Pak Choi is a cruciferous crop (cabbage family) grown for the rosette of flattened white stems topped by green leaves. This nutritious and fast growing green leafy vegetable is popular in Asian stir-fries and in other dishes calling for cooked or fresh greens.
  10. Turnip Brassica rapa var. rapifera

    Turnip, Turnip Greens, Turnip Rape, Field Mustard

    Turnips are a cruciferous crop (cabbage family) grown for the edible fleshy taproot. The leaves are also a good nutritious green leafy vegetable. There are also varieties that have been developed as a forage crop.
  11. Lagos Spinach/Quailgrass Celosia argentea

    Quailgrass, Lagos Spinach, Soko, Aodoyokoto

    Lagos Spinach is a member of the Amaranth family and shares many features with members of the genus Amaranthus such as broad edible leaves with high protein content and flowers and seeds produced in dense spikes. Some members of the genus Celosia are well-known ornamentals called "Cockscombs.”...
  12. Jute Corchorus olitorius

    Jute, Bush Okra, Tussa Jute, Jew's Mallow

    Jute is an erect annual crop used primarily for fiber; however the leaves and shoot tips can be eaten and contain high levels of protein and vitamin C. Jute can be planted at the beginning of the rainy season and will withstand hot, humid months. It can also tolerate some drought conditions and...
  13. Malabar Spinach Basella alba, Basella rubra

    Malabar Spinach, Brède D'angola, Ceylon Spinach, Poi Sag, Malabar Nightshade, Zepina, Indian Spinach

    There are two species of Malabar Spinach, Basella alba, which is green and B. rubra, which has purple stems. The thick mucilaginous leaves are an excellent dark green leafy vegetable for hot and humid climates. Malabar Spinach grows as a spreading vine along the ground or climbing on a trellis; a...
  14. Ethiopian Kale Brassica carinata

    Ethiopian Kale, Abyssinian mustard

    Ethiopian Kale originated in the East African plain, particularly Ethiopia. The young, tender leaves and stem tips may be eaten raw in salads. Older leaves and stouter stem portions are cooked and eaten as a dark green leafy vegetable. The flowering stalks may also be cooked and eaten. Ethiopian...
  15. Mustard, Mustard Greens Brassica juncea

    Mustard, Mustard Greens

    Mustard greens are a cruciferous crop (cabbage family) grown for the leafy greens that have a slightly bitter, peppery or mustardy taste. Mustard’s dark green color makes it a very nutritious leafy vegetable that can be grown year round in many parts of the world.
  16. Cauliflower Brassica oleracea var. botrytis

    Cauliflower, Chou Fleur

    Cauliflower is a cruciferous crop (cabbage family) grown for its compact white immature flower head. Cauliflower is generally suited to temperate climates or higher altitudes in the tropics, preferring cool, moist soil and air. The heads are cut and eaten while the buds are still closed. In order...
  17. Chaya Cnidoscolus acontifolius

    Chaya, Spinach Tree, Arbre à épinard, Mayan Spinach

    Chaya is a fast-growing, drought-tolerant, perennial shrub, typically reaching 3 m in height. As one of its common names (spinach tree) implies, it is grown for its dark-green leaves, which it produces in abundance. Chaya's young leaves and thick succulent stems make a tasty, nutritious,...
  18. Roselle Hibiscus sabdariffa

    Roselle, Bissap

    Roselle is an annual plant with a tangy-flavored calyx used in drinks, sauces, or eaten fresh. The calyx is the fleshy structure left after the flower has faded. The leaves are edible and eaten raw or cooked. Fresh leaves contain 2-3% protein and traces of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Roselle...
  19. African Nightshade Solanum scabrum

    African Nightshade

    Edible nightshade is an erect short-lived perennial usually grown as an annual for the fresh leaves. The leaves contain protein, iron, vitamin A, and other minerals in much higher levels than European leafy vegetables such as cabbage.
  20. Cranberry Hibiscus Hibiscus acetosella

    Cranberry Hibiscus, False Roselle

    Cranberry hibiscus is a medium sized, semi-perennial bush that produces edible purple-red leaves. The tangy, deep maroon leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and the flowers blended in teas or lemonade.
  21. Tropical/Indian Lettuce Lactuca indica

    Tropical, Indian Lettuce

    Tropical lettuce is a fast-growing, self-seeding, upright, semi-perennial that will reach 2m in height and is very productive. Young leaves can be eaten raw, but can be bitter. Older leaves are usually steamed or boiled and served with vinegar. Tropical lettuce tolerates a variety of climates,...
  22. Moringa Moringa oleifera

    Moringa, Drumstick tree, Ben Tree, Benzolive, Horseradish Tree, Malunggay, Ben Oléifère, Ben Ailé, Drumstick Tree

    Moringa is a very popular tropical fast growing tree up to 15 m in height. The young pods can be eaten and the leaves are an excellent source of calcium, vitamins, minerals and protein. The tree has a loose crown and can also be used for a hedge, living fence or windbreak. It coppices well to...
  23. African Moringa Tree Moringa stenopetala

    African Moringa Tree, Cabbage Tree, Malung Gay, Shefferew, Moringa éthiopien, Malung Gay, Murunga Kai, Sohnja

    African Moringa is a fast growing tree up to 15 m in height. It grows at higher and drier locations than M. oleifera. In comparison to M. oleifera, M. stenopetala has larger leaves with a milder taste when eaten raw, provides more shade, has a stockier and more bushy growth habit, can be more...
  24. Winged Bean Psophocarpus tetragonolobus

    Winged Bean, Asparagus Pea, Goa Bean, Four Angled Bean, Manila Bean, Kok Tau, Haricot Dragon

    The Winged Bean is a climbing, nitrogen-fixing, short-lived perennial vine, usually grown as an annual. The pods, beans, leaves, tubers, and flowers of this plant are all edible. It thrives in hot, humid areas where other beans are more likely to succumb to plant diseases.
  25. Katuk Sauropus androgynus

    Katuk, Sweet Leaf, Star Gooseberry, Sweetleaf Bush

    Katuk is a perennial plant usually grown as an edible hedge and is popular for its leaves and young shoots as well as for its ability to survive under hot and humid conditions even occasional flooding. The leaves and young stem tips make a good edible green with a flavor reminiscent of fresh peas...
  26. Lettuce Lactuca sativa

    Lettuce

    Lettuce is a fast-growing, semi-perennial, herbaceous plant grown for edible leaves that are usually eaten raw. Lettuce is adapted to cool, moist conditions in temperate areas and above 1,000 m in the tropics.
  27. Kohlrabi Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes

    Kohlrabi, German Turnip, Stem Turnip, Cabbage Turnip

    Kohlrabi is a short (45cm), biennial cruciferous crop (cabbage family) that is cultivated as an annual vegetable. The stems of each plant swell at the base to form a 5 - 10 cm in diameter edible, starchy globe. The broad edible leavesspiral in whorls around the globe-like swollen stem and are...
  28. New Zealand Spinach Tetragonia tetragonoides

    New Zealand Spinach, Tetragonia, Warrigal Greens, Bower Spinach, Ispinaka

    New Zealand Spinach is a vining herbaceous plant grown for the young, succulent leaves and stem tips are an excellent hot weather leafy green. Its growth habit is low and sprawling, reaching 30-40 cm in height and 100-125 cm in circumference.
  29. Baobab Adansonia digitata

    Baobob, African Baobab, Cream Of Tartar Tree, Monkey Bread Tree, Upside Down Tree

    Baobab trees are large, robust trees that originate from Africa and are found in arid to semi-arid areas. The trees typically grow up to 20-30 meters (m) tall with a diameter of 2-10 m. The tree is used for food, fodder, shelter, and shade. Baobab trees typically grow as solitary individuals and...
  30. Garland Chrysanthemum Glebionis coronaria

    Edible chrysanthemum, Crown Daisy, Tangho, Chop Suey Green, Japanese Green, Tango, Saruni Walanda, Tang'oo, Phaktang O, Phakkhikhwai

    Garland chrysanthemum is a leafy, annual herb that reaches a height of 90-120 cm by flowering time. The leaves add flavor to stir-fries, soups and salads and have a pleasing spicy, sweet, aromatic taste.
  31. Jewels of Opar Talinum paniculatum

    Jewels of Opar, Flameflower, Pink Baby's Breath, Ceylon Spinach

    Native to tropical America, this plant can now be found throughout much of the tropics. Jewels of Opar is an erect, herbaceous, perennial ground cover or low shrub that can reach a height of 1 m. The leaves are alternate, simple, and succulent. The self-pollinated flowers are small with 5 pink or...