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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 - ) |

Guadua angustifolia - Guadua

Edible portion: Shoots?

A bamboo. 

It is a tropical plant. At ECHO

Manihot carthaginensis subsp. glaziovii - Tree Cassava

Edible portion: Leaves, Roots, Tubers, Seeds, Stems, Vegetable

A tree. It grows 10 m high. The stem is crooked and it has bushy branches. The bark is smooth and pale grey. The leaf stalks are 7-14 cm long. The leaf blades are 10-28 cm across. They are deeply divided with 3-5 lobes. They are dark green above and pale bluish-green underneath. The flowers are loosely arranged. The fruit are about 2 cm across. The seeds are about 1.5 cm long by 1 cm wide.

A tropical plant. It is best in a dry climate and with sandy soil. It can grow in poor soils. It can tolerate drought. It can grow in arid places.

Moringa peregrina - Moringa

Edible portion: Fruit, Leaves, Roots, Seeds-oil, Stems, Flowers

An erect shrub. Seedling trees develop an exposed tuber. From this 3-5 broad leaflets emerge. Then the plant branches and produces longer leaves with many widely spaced leaflets. These leaves fall. The flowers are pink and occur in long stalks.

A tropical plant. It grows naturally near the Red Sea. It can survive arid conditions. It grows below 1,000 m above sea level. It can grow in arid places. It suits hardiness zones 10-12.

Morus alba - White Mulberry

Edible portion: Leaves, Fruit, Flowers, Bark, Leaves - tea, Manna, Vegetable

A small tree up to 9 m high but it can grow to 20 m tall. Often it is low and spreading. It has dark green toothed leaves. The leaves vary considerably in shape even on the one tree. They can be oval, heart shaped or 3 lobed and 5-15 cm long. The tip is pointed and the leaf is on a stalk 5 cm long. The upper surface is smooth but there can be some hairs on the veins underneath. Male and female flowers occur separately either on the same or separate plants. The flowers are greenish and in spikes which droop down. The fruit is a dark red or black berry but pale kinds also occur. The fruit is about 2 cm long.

It is native to N. China. A warm temperate plant. The white mulberry (Morus alba ) is normally used for silk worms and the black mulberry suits more highland regions. The normal range is 700 to 2200 m altitude in the tropics. In India it grows to 3,300 m altitude. Once established it can tolerate heat and drought. Hobart Botanical Gardens. It is winter hardy and can tolerate salt. It can grow in arid places. It grows in Miombo woodland in Africa. It suits hardiness zones 4-10. Arboretum Tasmania. In Yunnan. In Sichuan.

Peltophorum pterocarpum - Copperpod

Edible portion: Leaves, Bark

A tree that loses its leaves. It grows 15-25 m tall. The trunk is 1 m across. The leaves are 30-60 cm long and twice divided. There are 16-20 pinnae and each on has 20-40 oval leaflets. These are 5-25 mm long and 4-10 mm wide. The flowers are yellow and 3-4 cm across. They are in large compound groups 20 cm long. The fruit is a pod 5-10 cm long and 2.5 cm wide. It is red when young but turns black. It contains 4 seeds.

It is a tropical plant. It grows along beaches behind mangroves and in open lowland forests. It can be on limestone plateaus and grows up to 100 m above sea level.

Citrus aurantifolia - Key Lime

Edible portion: Fruit, Herb, Spice, Leaves - flavouring

A small much branched evergreen tree. It grows up to 5-6 m tall with short sharp spines. It spreads to 3 m across. The leaves are small and dark green. There are narrow wings on the leaf stalk. The leaf blade is about 5 cm long by 3 cm wide and oval. They have a sweet smell when crushed. There is a thorn at the base of each leaf. (Thorn free kinds are known). The flowers are yellowish white. They are 2.5 cm across and have 5 petals. The flowers are produced in the leaf axils or at the ends of branches. The fruit is small, round 3-4 cm across and become pale orange to yellow when ripe. They are thin skinned. The flesh of the fruit is green. West Indian limes with larger, better fruit also occur. There are several named cultivated varieties.

A tropical plant. They need a warm climate and are most common in coastal regions in the lowland tropics. They grow from sea level to 2200 m altitude in Papua New Guinea. They suit humid areas and can survive in poor soils. Light to medium well drained soils are best. It is drought and frost tender. In Hobart Botanical gardens. It grows in Nepal to about 1800 m altitude. It can grow in alkaline soil. It suits hardiness zones 11-12.

Dalbergia sissoo - Sissoo

Edible portion: Seeds - oil

A tree. It grows 10-30 m high. The trunk is 50 cm across. The crown is narrow. The leaves have 3-5 alternately arranged leaflets. The leaflets are broadly oval. They taper to a tip. The flowers are small and creamy-white. They turn yellow. The fruit are pods in clusters. They are flat and have 1-2 seeds.

It is a tropical plant. It grows in open woodland. It grows to 1,500 m in the Himalayas. Young trees need good sunlight. It cannot tolerate water-logging.

Gigantochloa apus - Tabashir Bamboo

Edible portion: Shoots

A bamboo. It is an erect plant and forms tillers. It grows 10-20 m tall. The young culms have dense hairs. These stems can be 3-15 cm across. The walls can be 1 cm thick. The internodes are 30-65 cm long. The angles of the leaf sheath is rounded on the upper section. The leaves are oval or sword shaped and are unequal at the base. They are dark green above and lighter underneath. They are 9-40 cm long by 2-6 cm wide. The flowering shoot does not have leaves. The groups of flowers are 1-9 cm apart. There are many flowering spikes in the group.

A tropical plant. In Java it grows from the lowlands to the high mountains. It is best in a fertile, clay soil and a moist climate. In the Cairns Botanical Gardens. It is cultivated as a food in Indonesia.

Hieronyma alchorneoides - Sudran

Edible portion: Fruit

A tree. It can grow 50 m tall. The trunk is straight and 1-1.2 m across. The base has buttresses. It can have stilt roots in flooded forest. The twigs are densely covered with grey hairs when young. The leaves are alternate and the leaf blade is papery. They are broadly oval and 8-18 cm long by 6-13 cm wide. They have grey scales on both sides. Trees are separately male or female. The flowering shoots are 11-20 cm long with clusters of flowers. The fruit is fleshy and red to black. It is round and 3-4 mm long by 3-5 mm wide. There are several had stone in the fruit. They have one seed.

It is a tropical plant. It grows in lowland tropical forests.

Syzygium samarangense - Wax Jambu

Edible portion: Fruit 

A tree up to 15 m high that branches near the base giving a spreading open tree. The leaves are smaller (25 cm x 10 cm) and more pointed than Malay apple and on short stalks. Flowers are about 3 cm wide and white. They are on leafy twigs. It produces clusters of attractive glossy pink waxy looking fruit. Fruit are 3 cm long and 3-5 cm wide. At the end of the fruit there is a cavity almost enclosed by four lobes. The fruit has a waxy skin and crispy flesh.

A tropical plant. Trees grow in coastal areas in the tropics. They need a deep fertile soil. It needs adequate rainfall and some humidity. In Samoa it grows from sea level to 930 m altitude. It suits hardiness zones 11-12. In XTBG Yunnan.