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edible plants

Nature has provided us with a vast world of edible plants that is yet to be fully discovered. We all are familiar with many edible plants that we see in markets and farms. But apart from these, there are also many unusual plants with different tastes and textures that can be consumed and provide many benefits.

These unusual edible plants can be easily grown at home and can be relished. Explore these various species of plants and their benefits. Also, learn how to grow and identify these plants. Some edible plants are:

Unusual Edible Plants

1. Oca (Oxalis tuberosa)

edible plants

Oca also known as the New Zealand yam is a popular alternative to potato in many parts of the world. Native to the central and southern Andes these plants are easy to grow due to their high tolerance and the ability to grow in poor soil. This tuberous vegetable comes in vibrant colors such as purple, white, red, pink, and yellow. Oca adds a tangy lemon-like flavor to the food.

Tips on growing Oca:
  • Oca prefers a cool and temperate climate.
  • Use well-draining soil.
  • Plant it in a sunny place.
  • Water it regularly until established.
Uses and Benefits of Oca:
  • Oca is rich in vitamin C and minerals like iron, potassium, and calcium.
  • This plant also contains antioxidants that can help in overall health.
  • Oca is used in many salads, stews, sides, pickles, and in the preparation of many desserts.

2. Romanesco Broccoli (Brassica oleracea)

edible plants

This is probably one of the most bizarre yet mesmerizing-looking vegetables on this list. With its fractal pattern romanesco broccoli can really make an eye-catching thing on your dinner plate. This plant is native to Italy and is also called Roman Cauliflower and is also tastes like one and is a part of the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. It has the same taste as these vegetables but a more earthy and mildly sweeter one.

Tips on growing Romanesco Broccoli:
  • Plant it in slightly shaded areas.
  • Use well-draining soil.
  • Also, it needs regular and a good amount of watering for optimal growth.
Uses and Benefits of Romanesco Broccoli:
  • This plant is rich in dietary fibers and vitamins C and K.
  • Romanesco broccoli can be used the same as broccoli and cabbage.

3. Nopal (Optunia ficus-indica)

edible plants

Nopal commonly known as the prickly pear cactus is a tough and versatile plant that is usually found in arid regions. This paddled-shaped cactus is native to Mexico but is also found in many parts of America. Nopales should be picked and cleaned carefully before cooking because of their sharp spines. These are very popular edible plants that are used in many Mexican dishes. This plant also bears edible fruits.

Tips on growing Nopal:
  • These unusual edible plants thrive in sandy, well-draining soil.
  • Plant it in a sunny spot so it receives ample sunlight.
  • Protect it against the frost in the winter.
Uses and Benefits of Nopal:
  • Nopales are used in salads, stews, and as side vegetables. They can be eaten raw.
  • They are also used in tacos and soups.
  • Nopales contain vitamins C and B6 and are rich in antioxidants.
  • They are also rich in minerals like magnesium and calcium.

4. Ground Cherry (Physalis spp.)

Ground cherries also known as golden berries and cape gooseberries are closely related to the tomato family. These edible plants can bring their fruit to maturity in one season which makes them ideal for someone who does not want to grow shrubs and trees and wait for them to get established. Like tomatillos, each fruit of ground cherries grows inside its own packaging. Furthermore, the fruits have a juicy and pineapple-like flavor.

Tips on growing Ground Cherry:
  • Plant them in a sunny and warm place.
  • Use a nutrient-rich, well-draining soil.
  • The fruits are easy to harvest as they fall on the ground once ripe, hence the name “ground cherries”.
Uses and Benefits of Ground Cherry:
  • These plants are high in vitamins A, C, B3, B12, B2, and B1.
  • They are used in fruit salads and as a decorative garnish in desserts.
  • They can also be used as an alternative to green tomatoes in dips and ketchup.

5. Sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

Sunchoke or Jerusalem artichoke is a bizarre-looking root vegetable. This plant is native to North America. This is a very low-maintenance plant that requires almost no care. They have a sweet, nutty flavor, and a crisp texture. The flavor of these unusual edible plants matches that of potatoes. However, the sunchoke is considered an invasive plant that would completely take over the place where it’s growing. Therefore, it is a very rarely cultivated plant.

Tips on growing Sunchoke:
  • Use well-draining, loose, or sandy soil.
  • Plant them in a sunny location.
  • Also, provide regular water.
Uses and Benefits of Sunchoke:
  • These plants are a good source of vitamins B6 and C, and dietary fibers.
  • They are also rich in prebiotic fibers that help in glucose control and support heart health.
  • Sunchoke can be eaten raw or cooked in soups and many dishes.

6. Fiddlehead Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

These ferns are the young and coiled species of fiddlehead. They are identified because of their curled shape and vibrant green colors that resemble the head of a fiddle hence the name “fiddlehead”. These unusual edible plants have a distinctive earthy flavor. However not all species of fiddlehead are safe for consumption some may be toxic therefore, it is advised to boil them well before use. Furthermore, boiling them eliminates the presence of a compound named shikimic acid which is poisonous.

Tips on growing Fiddlehead Fern:
  • This plant loves shady locations.
  • Plant them in a moist location with rich soil.
  • Harvest the young crop before it unfurls.
Uses and Benefits of Fiddlehead Fern:
  • Fiddlehead ferns are a good source of vitamins A and C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Also, they can be used in side dishes, pasta, and salads.

7. Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea)

This might be the most bizarre-looking plant on this list. These unusual edible plants are a part of the Brassica family and are known for their bright purple colour and other-worldly appearance. Kohlrabi has long and thick stems with large leaves. Also, the plant has a flavour that tastes like a blend of turnip and cabbage with a crisp and crunchy texture.

Tips on growing Kohlrabi:
  • Use well-draining soil with rich compost.
  • These edible plants thrive in ample sunlight for at least 6 hours daily.
  • Also, water the plant regularly.
Uses and Benefits of Kohlrabi:
  • Kohlrabi is rich in vitamins A and C and fibres that help in digestion and boosts immunity.
  • This plant can be eaten raw in salads or cooked with various dishes.
  • Additionally, it is also used in many soups and stews.

8. Indigo Rose Cherry Tomato (Solanum Iycopersicum)

These unique varieties of tomatoes is created by researchers at Oregon State University in the USA. The aim was to create more beneficial edible plants. Rose cherry tomatoes are also more plant disease resistant and are purple in colour wherever the sun falls on them. Moreover, these unusual edible plants have a flavour that is both sweet and acidic.

Tips on growing Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes:
  • Plant them in well-draining soil in place with full sun exposure to ensure optimal growth and appearance.
  • Water the plant consistently but avoid over-watering.
  • Also, provide support to the plant as it can grow vigorously.
Uses and Benefits of Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes:
  • This plant is rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins which are also the reason behind its unique colour.
  • Also, its sweet and tangy flavour makes it a perfect addition to salads, salsas, and snacks.

9. Alpine Strawberries (Fragaria vesca)

edible plants

This petite and dainty fruit is very famous for its sweet aroma and flavourful taste. Alpine strawberries also known as woodland strawberries are another unusual edible plant. Just like their much bigger counterparts, these edible plants provide the same punch with their taste.

Tips on growing Alpine Strawberries:
  • Plant them in well-draining soil with full to partial sun exposure.
  • Provide constant moisture.
Uses and Benefits of Alpine Strawberries:
  • These fruits are rich in vitamin C, dietary fibres, and antioxidants.
  • Their sweet flavour makes them a perfect addition to cakes, ice creams, and many other desserts.
  • Furthermore, they are also used in jams.

10. Cucamelons (Meothria scabra)

These mini delights resemble watermelons but pack a more juicy flavour. Also known as mouse melons these tiny 1 to 2-inch-long edible plants have a cucumber-like taste. Also a part of the Cucurbitaceae family and native to Mexico, these juicy and flavourful plants can be a great addition to your cuisines and garden.

Tips on growing Cucamelons:
  • Plant them in well-draining soil and ensure enough space for them to climb.
  • Provide support such as fences to the vines.
  • Regularly water the plant to ensure consistent moisture.
Uses and Benefits of Cucamelons:
  • These unusual edible plants are a good source of vitamins A and C and minerals like calcium and iron.
  • Cucamelons can be eaten raw as a snack or used in salads.
  • Furthermore, they are also used to garnish drinks or added to appetizers.

11. Oregon Grapes (Mahonia aquifolium)

edible plants

Native to North America these evergreen shrubs are varieties of grapes that are characterized by their holly-like leaves, and showy bright-yellow flowers with clusters of small, black and bluish berries. Apart from their striking appearance, Oregon grapes also have a rich taste with a very sour flavour but can be improved by adding sugar.

Tips on growing Oregon Grapes:
  • Water consistently during the growing season as shrubs thrive in moist soil.
  • Use well-draining soil and a location with partial to full sun.
  • Also, prune the shrub after flowering to ensure the new growth of these unusual edible plants.
Uses and Benefits of Oregon Grapes:
  • These grapes contain a compound called berberine which is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
  • They are also rich in antioxidants.
  • However, the Oregon grape is usually used as a medicinal plant to treat digestive and skin problems.

12. Armenian Cucumbers (Cucumis melo var. flexuosus)

Even though they look and taste like cucumbers, these edible plants are actually melons. Armenian cucumbers have a pale green and ribbed appearance with thin skin and few seeds. Also known as serpent cucumbers or yard-long cucumbers these unusual edible plants can grow six to eight feet in length. These plants are comparatively easy to grow and are also very drought-tolerant.

Tips on growing Armenian Cucumbers:
  • These plants thrive in warm climates and well-draining soil.
  • Armenian cucumbers are vining plants that require support to grow.
  • Regular harvesting of these edible plants encourages fruit growth.
Uses and Benefits of Armenian Cucumbers:
  • Armenian cucumbers are a great source of hydration. Moreover, these are rich in vitamins K and C and many minerals, potassium, and dietary fibres.
  • These edible plants are used in many food items such as sandwiches, wraps, and pickles. They are also paired with many herbs and spices due to their mild flavour.

13. Banana Melons (Cucumis melo)

These unusual edible plants are actually melons but take a strange banana-like shape. Banana melons can reach up to 18 inches in height and feature a hard melon-like outer shell that is yellowish-green in colour and a soft orange flesh inside that tastes like cantaloupe. Banana melons are also known as American Banana, Cuban Banana, and Mexican Banana.

Tips on growing Banana Melons:
  • Cultivate them in a warm and arid climate.
  • Plant them in a sunny spot as they require full sun to thrive.
Uses and Benefits of Banana Melons:
  • These edible plants are rich in vitamins C, and A, and dietary fibres. Its seeds offer healthy fats and proteins.
  • Banana melons are used in fruit salads, juices, and smoothies. They are also eaten raw.

14. Cosmic Purple Carrots (Daucus carota)

Among the many varieties of carrots, the one that you should grow at home is Cosmic purple carrots. These edible plants have an amethyst-coloured appearance with an orange interior. Cosmic purple can grow six to seven inches and tastes spicy and sweet. They feature green foliage at the top and tapered ends just like many other varieties of carrots.

Tips on growing Cosmic Purple Carrots:
  • These plants are grown in the same conditions as normal orange carrots.
  • Furthermore, plant them in well-drained, loose soil and full sun.
  • These are cool-season plants which are ready to harvest in 70 days.
Uses and Benefits of Cosmic Purple Carrots:
  • These unusual edible plants are rich in vitamins A and K, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Purple carrots can be grilled or roasted and added to soups and stews. They are also added to salads.

15. Chioggia Beet (Beta vulgaris)

edible plants

Chioggia is a famous variety of beets from Italy which feature striking white and red rings inside their red outer layer. This unusual edible plant got its name from a town situated on the outskirts of the city of Venice. These plants have a delicate flavour and feature concentric circles when cut horizontally which is why they are also known as bull’s eye beets. These red pigments of Chioggia beets can bleed when cooked so if you want to retain them just use a light steam.

Tips on growing Chioggia Beets:
  • These beets are grown just like any other variety of beets.
  • Provide well-draining and loose soil with full to partial sun shade.
  • You can harvest these beets after 50 to 60 days when they reach 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
Uses and Benefits of Chioggia Beets:
  • These beets are a good source of many dietary fibres, vitamin C, and minerals like potassium and manganese.
  • Chioggia beets can be roasted, boiled, steamed or eaten raw as salads when sliced thinly.
  • They are also used in soups, side dishes, and desserts just like other varieties of beets.

16. Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum)

These berries are for health-conscious people to add to their breakfast. Also known as wolfberries these small unusual edible plants are usually 1 to 2 centimeters in length and appear juicier when fresh. But when dried they appear translucent. These berries have a mild sweet-tart taste that crosses between cranberries and cherries.

Tips on growing Goji Berries:
  • These plants are very adaptable but thrive in temperate climates.
  • They grow on small shrubs that produce delicate, trumpet-shaped flowers.
  • Moreover, goji berries can be harvested when fully ripe.
Uses and Benefits of Goji Berries:
  • These small berries provide many health-related benefits. They are rich in antioxidants that support eye health and boost immune health. Moreover, these berries are also a good source of vitamins C, and A and many minerals such as iron and potassium.
  • Goji berries are often dried and used as a snack or mixed with oatmeal, smoothies, and many baked goods. These berries are also used in stews and teas in many cuisines.


These unusual edible plants open up a new world of flavor and delicacy that can be incorporated into our diets and can provide us with numerous health benefits. Exploring these plants expands our knowledge and diversifies our choices of tastes. Furthermore, most of these plants are easy to grow and can be added to a variety of dishes.

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