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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

7000 Legumes

6000 Leafy Greens

5000 Fruits

4000 Vegetables

3000 Nuts, Seeds, Herbs, and other foods


553 Contenido (Mostrando Ediciones 3000 - 3000) |

Swietenia humilis - Mexican Mahogany

Edible Portion: No information noted at this time. 

A tree.

It is a tropical plant.

Tabebuia rosea - Pink Trumpet Tree

Edible Portion: Caution

A large tree. The bark is grey and has furrows. The leaves are compound with leaflets spread like fingers on hand. There are 5 leaflets. The flowers are pink. They are produced before the leaves.

It is a tropical plant. It grows in wet, moist and dry forests. It grows from sea level to 1,200 m above sea level. It grows in areas with a temperature range between 20°-30° C. It grows in areas with a rainfall above 500 mm.

Tagetes minuta - Mexican marigold

Edible Portion: Leaves, Flowers, Spice

An annual herb. It grows 1-2 m high. The stems are ribbed. The leaves are compound and alternate or opposite. They are 10 -12 cm long with 3-9 leaflets. The leaflets are 1-8 cm long by 5-9 mm wide. The flowers occur in a panicle of heads at the end of the branches or in the axils of leaves. The flower heads are 2-5 mm across. They are white and yellow in the centre. The fruit is a black nut. It is 5-8 mm long. It is hairy.

Theobroma cacao - Cacao

Edible parts - Seeds, Seeds for chocolate, Herb, Flavouring, Spice, Pulp

A small evergreen tree. It grows to 15 m tall. Often it is pruned to be only 6 m tall. The trunk is straight for about 90-159 cm above the ground then a fan arrangement of branches develops. The leaves are large and simple. They are in a spiral arrangement around the branch. They are 17-30 cm long and hang down. They are red brown when young. The leaves are wider towards the pointed tip. The leaves are thin but leathery with prominent veins. The flowers are on short shoots like cushions on the trunk and woody branches. The flowers are small, yellow-white and about 1 cm across. A ribbed pod develops. The pods are large about 15-20 cm long by 10 cm across. They are green when young but become yellow or red. The pods have rows of seeds. There are 20-50 oval seeds. These are white at first then become red-brown as they ripen. There is a sweet pulp surrounding the seeds.

Triadica sebifera - Candleberry-Tree, Chinese Tallowtree

Edible Portion: Seeds - oil

A tree which loses its leaves. It grows 6-9 m high and spreads 4.5-6 m wide. It has a rounded crown. The leaves are 5-10 cm long. They are rounded or almost diamond shaped and dull green. The leaves turn orange or red in autumn. The flowers are yellow-green. The fruit are about the size of peas. The fruit splits open to reveal 3 seeds. These are covered with a layer of pure wax. The seeds are 6 mm across.

Trichostigma octandrum - Basket Vine

Edible Portion: Leaves

A clambering shrub or creeper. It grows 5-10 m long or longer. The branches hang down. The stems are cylinder shaped and 5 -15 cm across. The leaves are alternate and papery and narrowly oval. They are 4-9 cm long by 2-4 cm wide. They are dull dark green on the upper surface and dull light green underneath. The fruit are round and fleshy and 5-7 mm long. They are purple.

Arenga pinnata - Black Sugar Palm

Edible Portion: Juice - Flowers, Sap, Seeds, Cabbage, Sago, Starch, Palm Heart

A large palm. It grows to 18 m high. It forms one trunk 30 cm across and covered with old leaf bases and black fibres. It has spines 7.5 cm long. It has long leaves which reach upwards. They have leaflets along the stalk made up of 100 or more pairs. The leaves are 8.5 m long. The leaflets are whitish beneath, lobed at the tip and with ear like pieces near the base. They have large flower stalks hanging down from the leaf axils. Several fruit stalks develop from the top downwards. When the palm is mature a flowering shoot is sent out from the axil of the upper leaf then followed by other flowers until the tree reserves are exhausted and the palm dies. The fruit are round and dark red. They are 4 cm across. The fruit pulp damages skin. There are usually 3 seeds per fruit. They have one flat side.

Bambusa bambos - Giant Thorny Bamboo, Spiny Bamboo

Edible Portion: Shoots, Seeds, Cereal

A densely tufted bamboo. The culm or stem is 30 m tall. It is 1`5-18 cm across. The wall is very thick. The internodes are 20-40 cm long. The stem is bright green. The nodes are slightly swollen. The lower nodes can have aerial roots. There are branches from the nodes. The lower branches have spines which curve backwards. The sheath of the stem is 15-35 cm long by 18-30 cm wide. It is wrinkled at the top. It is brown and hairy when young. It falls off as the branches develop. The leaf blade is sword shaped and 6-22 cm long by 1-3 cm wide. The flowering stalk is at the end of the leafy branches. After the bunch flowers, seeds are set and the clump dies.

Bambusa emeiensis - Ying Yang Yellow Strip Bamboo

Edible Portion: Flowers

A bamboo. It grows 5-10 m tall. The stems are 5-8 cm across. The tips hang down. The internodes are 15-30 cm long. Branches are higher up the stem.

Bambusa eutuldoides - China gold


Edible parts - shoots

A bamboo. The stems are 6-12 m long. They are 4-6 cm across. They droop slightly at the top. The internodes are 30-40 cm long. There are several branches that are in clusters.