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Useful Plants from Robert Nold’s “High and Dry”

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One of the more challenging environments for food production is cold and arid. I’ve been investigating useful perennial plants for that climate for many years. A few years ago I purchased Robert Nold’s High and Dry: Gardening with Cold-Hardy Dryland Plants. Robert isn’t interested in growing these plants for food, but he has an incredible wealth of knowledge and years of experience in growing plants in his Littleton, Colorado garden with 10″/250mm of precipitation a year and -10F/-23C winter temperatures.

I was fortunate to be able to visit Robert and his garden with a class last year. It was fascinating to see his collection, and I was struck by the beauty of these tough high desert survivors.

Robert’s book is quite remarkable and offers great information on growing and propagating these species. He doesn’t say which are edible or otherwise useful though. This article is intended as a “key” to help permaculturists and edible landscapers utilize his book to select species for a cold, arid perennial food production system. I’ve already cross-indexed them with other resources for you. High and Dry also has much to say on the subject of gardening in cold, dry climates in general – for example, he reports that most of these plants grow in soils with little or no organic matter in their native habitats, and are more vulnerable to disease in compost-enriched soils.

This article features many of the useful species from High and Dry. Get a copy and read it to learn all about his experiences growing them. All of these species have survived Bob’s test conditions of 10″/250mm of rainfall a year and -10F/-23C. All are native to the western United States, and some to adjacent Canada and Mexico as well. Of course there are many other useful species, native and not, that are suited to this area. Growers in other cold, dry regions (particularly in Central Asia) may also want to grow some of these species.

My sense is that these might represent the things you grow farther from home, while close by you’d have water-loving crops like peaches and apples watered by greywater and roofwater (or plain old drip irrigation).

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Robert’s front yard with Cercocarpus (nitrogen), Lycium (fruit), Quercus (acorns), Cylindropuntia (fruit), Yucca (fruit), Elaeagnus (nitrogen), Opuntia (fruit, vegetable) and more. This is a zero-irrigation garden area in a region with -10F/-23C and 10″/250mm of precipitation per year, full of edible and useful plants (though he grows them only for beauty). The acorn from this oak (Q. undulata I believe) was the best I’ve ever had. Littleton, Colorado.
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A piece of Robert’s back garden with Cylindropuntia (fruit), Yucca (fruit), Cercocarpus (nitrogen), Pinus (nuts) , and Amorpha (nitrogen). This is a pattern that a cold, arid food forest can follow. Littleton, Colorado.

TREES

Few trees grow in the high and dry country, and fewer still are much use to us in the food forest. Here are some good ones recommended by Nold. Pinyons are slow to grow and don’t bear annually but can grow where nothing else will. Mesquites are delicious and nitrogen fixing. We could use people identifying and propagating good forms of oak, mesquite, and pinyon.

Latin Name Common Name Uses Functions
Cercocarpus ledifolius mountain mahogany   nitrogen-fixer
Pinus edulis, P. monophylla pinyon pine nuts  
Prosopis glandulosa honeypod mesquite staple pods, honey plant, coppiced firewood nitrogen-fixer, fodder pods
Quercus emoryi, Q. hybrids, Q. undulata “sweet” acorn oaks    
Robinia neomexicana New Mexico locust edible flowers, firewood nitrogen-fixer
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IMG_6586 New Mexico locust is a nitrogen-fixing, coppiced firewood plant. Sedalia, Colorado.

Cercocarpus ledifolius is a very tough nitrogen-fixer, handling arid conditions and -50F/-45C! Robert’s garden.

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Pinyon pine savannah, with Utah serviceberry. Near Reno, Nevada.
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Honeypod mesquite has excellent edible pods, fixes nitrogen. Some forms hardy to -10F/-23C, this is the hardiest mesquite. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
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Emory oak is one of the few I’ve eaten that can be enjoyed free of bitterness. Image public domain.

SHRUBS

This region excels in useful shrubs, including many edible berries and a large number of legume and non-legume nitrogen-fixers.

Latin Name Common Name Uses Functions
Amelanchier alnifolia, A. utahensis serviceberry berries  
Amorpha fruticosa, A. nana false indigo pesticide nitrogen-fixer, contour hedgerow
Ceanothus fendleri, C. velutinus snowbrush   nitrogen-fixer
Cercocarpus montanus mountain mahogany   nitrogen-fixer
Elaeagnus commutata silverberry soap nitrogen-fixer
Fallugia paradoxa Apache plume   nitrogen-fixer
Lycium pallidum wolfberry fruit (native goji)  
Prunus americana American plum fruit  
P. besseyi sand cherry fruit  
P. virginiana chokecherry fruit  
Purshia tridentata bitterbrush   nitrogen-fixer
Ribes aureum, R. cereum, R. odoratum currants fruit  
Shepherdia argentea, S. canadensis buffalo berry fruit (not fantastic), soap nitrogen-fixer
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The lovely nitrogen-fixer Amorpha nana with banana yucca. Denver Botanic Garden.
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Serviceberries are the blueberry of the arid west. Montreal Botanic Garden.
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Arctostaphylos patula and others make excellent evergreen groundcovers. Fruit edible but not fantastic. Denver Botanic Garden.
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Cercocarpus montanus, one of many in this nitrogen-fixing genus. Colorado National Monument.
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Eleagnus commutata, fruit terrible but used to make soap. Nitrogen-fixer. Robert’s garden.
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Fallugia paradoxa, Apache plume, a stunningly ornamental native nitrogen-fixer. Denver Botanic Garden.
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Lycium pallidum, our spicy-fruited native goji (one of many native American gojis in fact). Robert’s garden.
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Mahonia repens, creeping Oregon grape, a nice evergreen groundcover with small, sour fruits. Denver Botanic Garden.
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American plum, Prunus americana. Doesn’t bear well every year but when it does wow! Littleton Colorado.
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Sand cherry Prunus besseyi, extremely tolerant of arid conditions and heavy deer and elk browsing. Nice fruit but not great. Please find a good one and propagate it! Holyoke, Massachusetts.
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Bitterbrush, Purshia spp., nitrogen-fixer for cold arid lands. Near Reno, Nevada.
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Ribes aureum, buffalo or clove currant, heavy bearer in dry conditions. Holyoke, Massachusetts.
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Buffalo berry, a spreading nitrogen fixer. Some varieties taste better than others, I’ve never met anyone who said they were wild about the flavor though. Image Wikimedia Commons.

SUCCULENTS

This group includes cacti and “woody lilies” like agaves and yuccas. There are many useful species in this group. I’m not aware of any prickly pears with inedible fruit or pads, for example – though many are so small or spiny as to be not worth the trouble. A form of O. phaeacantha called “Mesa Sky” is noted for having particularly good fruit, while O. basilaris var. aurea is relatively spineless for nopale (edible cactus pad) production. I’m unaware of improved agaves or banana yuccas but would love to see people out there testing, selecting, and propagating them!

Latin Name Common Name Uses Functions
Agave parreyi agave swollen base cooked just before flowering living fence
Cylindropuntia imbricata, C. whippleyi cholla cacti flowerbuds, fruit living fence
Echinocereus engelmannii, E. stramineus strawberry cacti fruit  
Mammillaria heyderi, M. wrightii pincushion cacti fruit  
Opuntia basilaris, O. englemannii, O. fragilis, O. macrocentra, O. phaeacantha, O. polyacantha prickly pear cacti fruit, nopale vegetable pads living fence (some)
Pediocactus simpsonii hedgehog cacti fruit  
Yucca baccatta banana yucca cooked fruit, fiber living fence
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Cylindropuntia whipplei, with edible flower buds and fruit, surely as fine a living fence as you could ever want! Grand Junction, Colorado.
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Echinocereus species are known as “strawberry cactus” for their small, sweet fruits. Denver, Colorado.
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Opuntia basilaris var. aurea, the spineless beavertail prickly pear cactus, with edible fruit and nopales. Spinelessness definitely a plus for harvest! Note small glochid spines still present. Denver Botanic Garden.
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Fruits of banana yucca are cooked as a semi-sweet vegetable. Also a fiber crop. Image Wikimedia Commons.

 

HERBACEOUS PLANTS

The region excels in edible roots. Though I’ve not included them here, Nold lists a hundred or so plants in the aster family, which attract beneficial insects.

Latin Name Common Name Uses Functions
Amorpha canescens leadplant tea nitrogen-fixer
Brodiaea spp.   bulbs  
Callirhoe involucrata purple poppy-mallow roots groundcover
Calochortus spp. Sego lily roots  
Cucurbita foetidissima buffalo gourd seeds groundcover
Dalea spp. prairie clover   nitrogen-fixer
Dichelostemma spp.   bulbs  
Erigeron flagellaris fleabane   attracts beneficial insects, groundcover
Helianthus maximiliani Maximilian sunflower shoots, seeds attract beneficial insects
Ipomoea leptophylla manroot roots  
Lewisia spp. bitterroot roots  
Lomatium spp. biscuit roots Roots attract beneficial insects
Lupinus spp. lupine   nitrogen-fixer
Oryzopsis hymenoides Indian ricegrass seeds  
Phacelia tanacetifolia scorpion weed   attracts beneficial insects
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Purple poppy-mallow, groundcover with edible roots.Near Moab, Utah.
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Sego lily, edible roots. Sedalia, Colorado.
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Buffalo gourd, groundcover perennial squash with edible seeds. Image Wikimedia Commons.
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Maximilian sunflower, edible shoots and seeds. Birmingham, Alabama.
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Manroot morning glory, wild relative of sweet potato with enormous edible roots. Image Wikimedia Commons.
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Biscuitroot, edible roots and attracts beneficial insects. Holyoke, Massachusetts.
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Phacelia, grown commericaly for beneficial insects on farms in Europe but native to dry western North America. Near Reno, Nevada.
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Indian ricegrass, important wild staple grain historically and a minor perennial crop today. Moab, Utah.

 

 

 

 

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Perennial Cereal Grains: A Promise Requiring Patience and Prioritization

This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices, and is part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which to complete the book. You can pre-order a copy and help make it possible for me to get this book out soon.

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Field of ripening intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) at The Land Institute’s research farm in Salina, Kansas. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Imagine corn, wheat, or rice that comes back every year without saving seed, tilling, or replanting. Such crops could have a tremendous impact in restoring degraded farmland, rebuilding soil, and sequestering carbon while providing humanity with the staff of life.

The dream of perennial grains is getting tantalizingly closer. Today there is more hopeful news than there was even just a few years ago. In 2009 the First International Perennial Grain Breeding Workshop gathered researchers from all over the world. Land Institute research director Stan Cox proclaimed “we will look back on this workshop as the international launching of the perennial grain revolution.”

Perennial grains include cereals (grass seeds), legumes (dry beans), and oilseeds. In this article I’m focusing just on what’s happening with perennial grass seeds, though in the book I’ll be addressing all three categories and many more.

When compared with other perennial staple crops, perennial cereals have their pros and cons. Their big advantage is that they are basically familiar. People already know how to harvest, process, cook, and eat them. Existing equipment and infrastructure needs few if any changes to handle them. There are perennial cereals under development for almost every climate, from the northern plains to equatorial highlands to salty tropical delta farmland.

Unfortunately perennial grains are still a decade or more in the future, though thanks to the visionary work of the Land Institute and others, we are already decades closer to achieving that goal. There are a number of breeding challenges, whether one seeks to “perennialize” existing annual crops or domesticate wild perennials.

My own attempts to grow perennial grains here in Massachusetts have all failed. Perennial selections of wheat, rye, corn, sorghum, and Agrotriticum were all either winterkilled or proved to be annuals. I will be giving it a try again this year with a perennial wheat from Oikos Tree Crops.

Fast-tracking perennial grain development should be a high priority for use of climate change funds and efforts. They are within our reach, and researchers have a road map to achieving this remarkable goal.  My thanks to the network of NGOs, Universities, governments, and backyard breeders who are making it happen. Funding may be the biggest obstacle between us and long-lived, soil-protecting, climate-stabilizing versions of the familiar crops we depend on today. A primary aim of my forthcoming book is to mobilize much greater support for development of perennial crops and production systems.

F3 seeds from a perennial F2 rice plant (D. Van Tassel, 2009)
F3 seeds from a perennial F2 rice plant (D. Van Tassel, 2009). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

MAJOR WORLD CEREALS AND A PROMISING NEW GRAIN

Corn or Maize (Zea mays) is one of the most important staple crops on the planet. Perennial corn could slow or reverse the degradation of sloping lands around the world that are inappropriately used to grow annual maize. Scientists and backyard breeders have been working toward this goal for many years, and have made some limited progress. Diploid perennial teosinte (Z. diploperennis) is a wild relative which is crossable with annual corn. Several other wild corn relatives have recently been found by scientists. Maize can also be crossed with more distantly related hardy perennials including Eastern gammagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) and the related dwarf Fakahatchee grass (T. floridanum).

The Land Institute has made substantial progress towards developing perennial corn. Their breeders report that with sufficient funding a perennial corn could be ready for field tests in as little as ten years. One challenge is that the perennial rhizomes that overwinter the plants are not cold-hardy, so their breeding is focused on deeper rhizomes that survive below the frost line. Of course this consideration is not important in the tropics where millions of people rely on corn as a staple.

Recently the US Department of Agriculture has begun to show interest in perennial corn breeding. If they were to dedicate a tiny fraction of their budget to this effort, great progress could be made.

First-generation cross of annual corn and diploid perennial teosinte. Photo (and breeding) courtesy Craig Hepworth.
First-generation cross of annual corn and diploid perennial teosinte. Photo (and breeding) courtesy Craig Hepworth.

Nipa (Distichlis palmeri) is a perennial salt-tolerant grass of the Sonoran desert deltas. The flavor of its grain is apparently excellent. Once a staple of the Cocopa people, wild populations of nipa have been greatly reduced due to dams and other watershed disruptions. Wild patches of nipa have been estimated to yield 1.25 tons per hectare, making this one of the most promising perennial grains on the planet. As a C4 grass it is particularly efficient at photosynthesis.

Dr. Richard Felger, a researcher associated with the University of Arizona herbarium and the Sky Island Alliance, has been researching the potential of nipa as a salt-tolerant perennial grain for decades. Though there were some efforts to commercialize the crop too early by other researchers, Felger feels that it will become a major world crop, comparable to short grain rice in grain size and flavor.

Nipa tolerates salty conditions including irrigation with saltwater, and can handle wet conditions. In the wild, the saltmarshes it grows in are inundated twice daily by tidal seawater. It does not, however, require salt or waterlogging. As unsustainable irrigation practices and sea level rise result in increasing salinization of coastal plain farmlands, nipa could become prominent in regions like the Colorado, Ganges, Indus, Murray, and Nile deltas. It is adapted to tropical and subtropical conditions, and prospects for crossing it with the cold-hardy D. spicata are not promising.

Nipa is still undomesticated, and poses several challenges. Roughly half of plants are seedless males. It also appears to take several years after planting until full yields are achieved.

This perennial grain, already a staple for ages, has great promise for salty tropical areas and beyond. Nipa development should be a high priority to agencies and individuals concerned with food security, salinization, and climate change. Perhaps it may also offer an opportunity to develop productive revegetation of barrier islands, to provide protection to coastal areas from extreme weather events.

Rice (Oryza sativa). Rice has several perennial relatives, one an African perennial rice and the other actually a strain of the wild ancestor of annual rice. Under some conditions, some annual rice plants will “rattoon” (re-sprout) for several years. Perennial rice breeding work was carried out at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines in the 1990s, and was picked up by the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Kunming, China in 2007. Perennial rice breeding is very challenging and many factors need to be overcome before field testable material is available. The current focus is on replacing annual upland rice, which is grown on steep slopes, as opposed to irrigated paddy rice, which is grown in terraces or level fields. Pest and disease control are challenges in perennial rice as crop rotation is not an option.

The Land Institute reports that Yunnan Academy breeder Hu Fengyi has lines of rice that have produced grain for three years in a row, with yields competitive with annual rice. This is very promising news, as the prospect of perennial rice could have tremendous impact in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

Rice_research_plots
Research plots in a perennial rice breeding nursery belonging to the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences near Sanya, Hainan Province, PRC. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Rye (Secale cereale) is one of the perennial cereals that is closest to commercial viability. Annual rye has been crossed with a wild rye (S. montanum) and several varieties have been developed, including “Permontra” and “ACE-1”. In a recent study perennial ryes yielded 73% as well as their annual counterparts in years one and two. Not enough plants came back for a third year to make further measurement possible. Annual rye itself yields quite a bit lower than annual wheat. Nonetheless, we are probably closer to seeing perennial rye in production on real farms than most other global cereals.

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is weakly perennial in the tropics and “rattoons” or re-sprouts for several years in ideal conditions. Perennial sorghum breeding at the Land Institute has focused on crosses with the perennial weed Johnsongrass (S. halipense). Like corn, there are challenges in overwintering tender rhizomes, which would not be an issue in the tropics. Perennial sorghum is farther along than most of the other perennial versions of major grains but is not yet ready for prime time. Perennial sorghum could be bred not just for grain but also for sweet syrup, which was once made from the stalks across the American Midwest. Sorghum is very versatile in terms of climates to which it is suited, but it is particularly appropriate to dry regions where it can outperform corn.

Sorghum2
Perennial sorghum breeding nursery at The Land Institute. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Wheat (Triticum aestivum). Perennial wheat breeding efforts began in the Soviet Union almost one hundred years ago. Only with recently developed techniques is perennial wheat breeding beginning to show results. Perennial wheats are typically crossed with wheatgrass (Thinopyron) species.

Several universities are working alongside the Land Institute on perennial wheat breeding including Washington State. In one Washington State study, some perennial wheat varieties yielded 93% as well as annual wheat the first year – most impressive. In a more recent study, perennial forms yielded 50% as well as annuals, in both the first and second years. Most of the plants died after their second harvest.

The Land Institute has had no success in perennial wheat survival in Kanasas (nor have I in Massachusetts). An Australian economic study has shown that perennial wheats could be economically viable if they yielded just 40% as well as annual wheat, but provided good fodder for several years after for grazing sheep. It seems that even this relatively low bar has not yet been cleared by perennial wheat, but breeding work continues.

Hybrid_perennial_wheat_in_the_field
Heads of plant derived from hybridizing wheat with Thinopyrum intermedium. These plants are completely male sterile, but they are strong perennials. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Additional Perennial Grains Worth Exploring

Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is adapted to very cold and short-season environments. The annual form has been crossed with a wild perennial (H. jubatum), probably to impart improved vigor or disease resistance. Researchers in Scandinavia, northern Canada, and Siberia might turn their attention to the potential of perennial barley for their regions.

Indian Ricegrass. This perennial North American native (Oryzopsis hymenoides) was a major staple to indigenous peoples of the west. Discovery of a non-shattering clone allows it to be grown today on a commercial scale in Montana, producing a specialty gluten-free flour marketed as “Montina”. High prices make up for low yields, and about 3,000 acres are in production. Little breeding work has been done of this remarkably drought- and cold-tolerant perennial grain.

Indian ricegrass is a candidate perennial grain for cold, arid climates.
Indian ricegrass is a candidate perennial grain for cold, arid climates.

Intermediate Wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium). The Land Institute has been working for several decades to domesticate this perennial wild grain. They have had relatively rapid success, and intermediate wheatgrass is currently undergoing a 30-acre field trial. The research fields are burned annually to control weeds, and apparently the crop can also be grazed to provide a non-seed yield. Production is still low, though researchers aim to see it reach one ton per acre. Thinopyrum species are also used as the perennial parent in attempts to develop perennial wheat.

Job’s Tears (Coix lacryma-jobi). Wild Job’s tears is a perennial from South and Southeast Asia. The seeds of the wild forms (var. stenocarpa and var. monilifer) have thick, hard shells that are often used as beads. These forms are grown around the world as ornamentals, and have naturalized widely. Though they have edible seeds, the shells make these forms impractical for use as food. Farmers in India domesticated an annual or mostly annual form with thin, soft shells (var. ma-yuen) between 3-4,000 years ago, which by 2,000 years ago was being grown in China. Before the arrival of corn, Job’s tears was an important grain in subtropical Asian highlands. Annual Job’s tears yields a respectable 2-3.5 tons per acre, and tolerates acid, poor, and waterlogged soils. Crossing annual grain types with perennial forms could result in a new perennial grain for the tropics and subtropics, including highland areas.

Job's tears. This is the perennial, less edible variety.
Job’s tears. This is the perennial, less edible variety grown as an ornamental.

Markouba Grass, or Afezu (Panicum turgidum) is a wild perennial grass, ranging from the heart of the Sahara desert through Pakistan. It grows in areas with as little as 25mm (1”) of precipitation, spreading by stolons to stabilize sand dunes. Markouba grains are an important staple in the Sahara. Efforts at domesticating this species could serve the dual functions of feeding people in very arid tropical areas and reversing desertification. It might be crossed with proso millet (P. miliaceum), an important annual world grain.

Oats (Avena sativa) are important both as livestock fodder and in oatmeal breakfasts in cold climates around the world. Oats have been hybridized with the perennial A. macrostachya, though not for the purpose of creating perennial oats. Who will rise to this challenge?

Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is an important world grain, thriving in arid environments and poor soils. It has been crossed with the (very weedy) perennial elephant grass P. purpureum. A perennial millet could be significant in Africa and India where millions of people rely on millet for survival.

Woollybutt Grass (Eragrostis eriopoda) is an Australian wild edible that has served as an important staple to indigenous people there for millennia. They are reported to have been the most important native grass seed, in part because of the ease of processing seeds, high yields, and holding on the plant for months. This species is now cultivated on a small scale by “bush tucker” (wild edibles) enthusiasts in Australia.

References and Further Reading

Cox et al. “Prospects for developing perennial grain crops” in Bioscience, 56: 649-659 (2006).

Duke, James. Handbook of Energy Crops, unpublished 1983, online at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/dukeindex.html, accessed April 16 2013.

Glover et al. “Increased food and ecosystem security via perennial grains” in Science 328: 1638-1639 (2010).

Hayes, R.C. et al. “Perennial cereal crops: An initial evaluation of wheat derivatives”, in Field Crops Research 133: 68-89 (2012).

Jaikumar et al. “Agronomic assessment of perennial wheat and perennial rye as cereal crops” in Agronomy Journal, 104:1716-1726 (2012).

Low, Tim. Wild Food Plants of Australia, Angus & Robertson, 1991.

O’Barr, Scott. Alternative Crops for Drylands. Amaigabe Press, 2013.

National Research Council. Lost Crops of Africa Vol. I: Grains. National Academy Press, 1996.

Pearlstein, Felger et al… “Nipa (Distichlis palmeri): A perennial grain crop for saltwater irrigation” Journal of Arid Environmental 82 (2012) 60-70

Shim, Junghyun. “Perennial rice: Improving rice production for a sustainable upland ecosystem” in SABRAO Journal of Breeding and Genetics ,44 (2) 191-201, 2012.

Smith, Keith & Irene. Grow Your Own Bushfoods, New Holland Publishers, 1999.

Van den Bergh, M.H. & N. Iamsupasit, 1996. Coix lacryma-jobi L.[Internet] Record from Proseabase. Grubben, G.J.H. & Partohardjono, S. (Editors).
PROSEA (Plant Resources of South-East Asia) Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. http://www.proseanet.org. Accessed from Internet: 16-Apr-2013

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A Global Inventory of Perennial Vegetables

A GLOBAL INVENTORY OF PERENNIAL VEGETABLES

Eric Toensmeier

 

This post is to celebrate the release of my new Perennial Vegetable Gardening DVD! 

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Perennial Vegetable Gardening DVD lores[1]

Perennial Vegetables Defined

These are crops that fit my definition of perennial vegetable: living three or more years, used as a vegetable and not a novelty crop or culinary herb, and not destroyed by harvesting. Some of these root crops are plant/replant perennials, meaning they are dug up for harvest but then some portion is replanted in the same or another hole, keeping the plant alive to produce again the following year. By vegetable I mean leaves, leafstalks, shoots, flowers, flowerbuds (broccolis), tubers, corms, rhizomes, roots, pods, beans and other above- or below-ground parts that are eaten raw or cooked as a meal or side dish. In the case of fruits I means fruits that are cooked and eaten as a meal or side dish (e.g., eggplant), not dessert fruits (e.g., strawberries).

Climate Zones

These are based on those listed in Perennial Vegetables, which were developed for the US and Canada. I have added a few more climate types to make this a more global resource, though it is not a perfect fit in every case. Species listed in a climate zone will be perennial in all or most of that zone. Woody plants listed as “dieback” will be frost-killed but re-sprout to provide a legitimate harvest of some or all of their products (e.g., moringa will re-sprout and grow 15-20’, sometimes setting pods but always plenty of edible leaves.)

The Species

This is by no means a comprehensive list. However it includes the best I know of, with more marginal species added in for cold climates. Tropical species are mainly the best candidates as a much greater number of crops are available. I’ve added about ninety crops not profiled in Perennial Vegetables for a grand total of almost two hundred.

Region of Origin

Note that this is a global inventory of perennial vegetables. Always start with species native to your region and build out from there. Some of these species are, or could become, serious weeds outside of their native range. A single asterisk (*) in the “Origin” column indicates a terrestrial species that has or could naturalize aggressively. A double asterisk (**) indicates aquatic species, which are particularly likely to naturalize and should be grown with caution outside their native range. Please don’t have a heart attack about seeing air potato for example, remember it’s a global list, and it is native from Africa through Australia. You don’t have to grow it just because it is listed in your climate zone.

Form

Describes the form of the plant, from tree to cactus to herb etc. There’s a lot more than herbaceous perennials out there!

Edible Parts

Describes the edible portion used as a vegetable, as well as other edible uses. Note that most of these vegetables should be cooked. The notes indicate some species noted for toxicity, which absolutely must be cooked before eating.

Sun and Shade

Indicates light preferences. One of the great things about perennial vegetables is that there are so many for shade

Moisture

Preferred moisture including wet, mesic (medium), and dry. Also includes aquatic plant niches, including emergent aquatics (roots under water but leaves emerging above the water surface, from deep or shallow water), emergent floaters (similar but leaves floating at the water surface and not extending above it), floating aquatics (floating at the surface but not rooted into soil below), and submerged aquatics (completely underwater).

Notes

This column has information on nuisances like spines and stinging, as well as toxicity or other concerns.

EXTREME COLD: This region covers most of inland Canada as well as the northern U.S. and portions of Europe and Asia. It corresponds with USDA zones 1-3, and Sunset Zones 1, 44, and 45. Note that heavy snow cover can provide excellent insulation in this zone, but the short season and lack of hot summers are serious limiting factors. 
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Allium cernuum nodding wild onion Eurasia herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Asclepias syriaca, A. speciosa showy & common milkweed North America herb shoots, flowerbuds, young leaves, pods sun dry to mesic  
Centranthus ruber red valerian Eurasia herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Helianthus maximiliani Maximilan sunflower North America giant herb shoots, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Helianthus tuberosus sunchoke Eastern North America giant herb tubers sun mesic  
Lemna spp. duckweed Worldwide** microherb greens sun floating aquatic  
Matteuccia struthiopteris ostrich fern Eurasia, North America fern shoots part to shade wet to mesic must be cooked
Nasturtium officinale watercress Eurasia** giant herb leaves sun emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Oxyria digyna mountain sorrel Eurasia, North America herb greens sun to part mesic  
Perideridia gairdnerii yampah North America herb tubers sun wet to mesic  
Rheum x cultorum rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Sagittaria latifolia arrowhead North America** herb tubers, shoots sun deep emergent aquatic  
Typha spp. cattail Worldwide** grasslike shoots, root shoots, root starch, flowerbuds, pollen sun shallow emergent aquatic to wet  
Wolffia spp. water meal Worldwide** microherb greens sun floating aquatic  

 

common milkweed
common milkweed

 

 

COLD TEMPERATE: This is a large and highly populated region covering much the eastern and central United States, as well as much of the warmer parts of Canada. Much of Europe and Asia, as some of temperate South America is in this climate type. This region corresponds with USDA Zones 4–7, and Sunset Zones 2–4, 6, 11, and 32–43.
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Allium ampeloprasum perennial leek Eurasia herb whole plants sun mesic  
Allium cepa aggregatum multiplier onion Eurasia herb bulbs sun mesic  
Allium cepa proliferum walking onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium cernuum nodding wild onion Eurasia herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Allium fistulosum Welsh onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium tricoccum ramps North America herb whole plants part to shade wet to mesic  
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Apios americana groundnut North America vine tubers, beans sun to part wet to mesic  
Aralia cordata udo Asia giant herb shoots part shade mesic  
Arundinaria gigantea river cane North America* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Asclepias syriaca, A. speciosa showy & common milkweed North America herb shoots, flowerbuds, young leaves, pods sun dry to mesic  
Asparagus officinalis asparagus Eurasia herb shoots sun mesic  
Asphodeline lutea yellow asphodel Eurasia herb tubers sun mesic  
Beta vulgaris maritima sea beet Eurasia* herb greens sun mesic  
Bunias orientalis Turkish rocket Eurasia* herb greens, broccolis sun to part dry to mesic  
Camassia cusickii camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Camassia leichtlinnii camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Camassia quamash camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Camassia scillioides camass Eastern North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Cedrella sinensis fragrant spring tree Asia tree greens sun mesic  
Centranthus ruber red valerian Eurasia herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Chenopodium bonus-henricus good King Henry Eurasia herb greens, shoots, broccolis sun to part mesic  
Cichorium intybus chicory Eurasia* herb greens sun to part mesic  
Crambe cordifolia colewort Eurasia herb greens, broccolis sun dry to mesic  
Crambe maritima sea kale Eurasia herb greens, broccolis, roots sun dry to mesic  
Dioscorea japonica jinenjo Asia vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Dioscorea opposita Chinese yam Asia* vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Diplotaxis muralis, D. tenuifolia sylvetta arugula Mediterranean* shrub, herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Hablitzia tamnoides Caucasian spinach Eurasia vine greens, shoots part shade dry to mesic  
Helianthus maximiliani Maximilan sunflower North America giant herb shoots, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Helianthus tuberosus sunchoke Eastern North America giant herb tubers sun mesic  
Hemerocallis spp. daylily Asia herb flowerbuds, flowers sun to part mesic  
Laportaea canadensis wood nettle Eastern North America herb greens part to shade mesic stings, must be cooked
Lemna spp. duckweed Worldwide** microherb greens sun floating aquatic  
Levisticum officinale lovage Eurasia herb greens, shoots, leafstalks sun to part mesic  
Lomatium spp. biscuit root North America herb tubers sun dry to mesic  
Lycium chinense leaf goji Asia shrub greens, fruits sun to part mesic spiny
Malva moschata gumbo leaf mallow Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Matteuccia struthiopteris ostrich fern Eurasia, North America fern shoots part to shade wet to mesic must be cooked
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Nasturtium officinale watercress Eurasia** giant herb leaves sun emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Nelumbo lutea American lotus North America** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Nelumbo nucifera Chinese lotus Eurasia** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Oenanthe javanica water celery New Guinea, Asia** herb greens sun to part emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Oxyria digyna mountain sorrel Eurasia, North America herb greens sun to part mesic  
Perideridia gairdnerii yampah North America herb tubers sun wet to mesic  
Petasites japonicus fuki Asia* giant herb leafstalks part to shade wet to mesic  
Phyllostachys spp. running bamboo Asia* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Physalis heterophylla clammy ground cherry North America herb fruits sun mesic  
Physalis longifolia longleaf groundcherry North America herb fruits sun mesic  
Physalis pruinosa ground cherry North America herb fruits sun mesic  
Phytolacca americana pokeweed North America* giant herb young shoots, cooked in three water changes sun to part mesic  
Polygonatum commutatum giant Solomon’s seal Eastern North America herb shoots, tubers sun to part mesic  
Rheum australe Himalayan rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rheum palmatum turkey rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rheum x cultorum rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rhus typhina staghorn sumac North America shrub shoots sun mesic  
Rumex acetosa French sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Rumex acetosella sheep sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Rumex scutatus buckler-leaf sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Sagittaria latifolia arrowhead North America** herb tubers, shoots sun deep emergent aquatic  
Sasa kurilensis running bamboo Asia* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Scorzonera hispanica scorzonera Eurasia herb leaves, roots, broccolis sun mesic  
Semiarundinaria fastuosa running bamboo Asia* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Sium sisarum skirret Asia herb tubers sun to part wet to mesic  
Stachys sieboldii Chinese artichoke, crosnes Asia herb tubers sun wet to mesic  
Taraxacum officinale dandelion Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Tetragonia tetragonioides New Zealand spinach Australia herb greens sun dry to mesic  
Tilia spp. linden, lime, basswood Eurasia, North America tree greens sun to shade mesic  
Typha spp. cattail Worldwide** grasslike shoots, root shoots, root starch, flowerbuds, pollen sun shallow emergent aquatic to wet  
Urtica dioica stinging nettle Eurasia, North America herb greens sun to part mesic stings
Wolffia spp. water meal Worldwide** microherb greens sun floating aquatic  

 

DSC03380

 

COOL MARITIME: From San Francisco north to Vancouver and the Alaska panhandle is a narrow, highly populated coastal region. This region corresponds with USDA Zones 8–9, and Sunset Zones 5 and 17. Much of Britain is similar, as are some mild southern hemisphere regions including New Zealand.
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Allium ampeloprasum perennial leek Eurasia herb whole plants sun mesic  
Allium cepa aggregatum multiplier onion Eurasia herb bulbs sun mesic  
Allium cepa proliferum walking onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium cernuum nodding wild onion Eurasia herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Allium fistulosum Welsh onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Allium ursinum ramsons Eurasia herb whole plants part to shade wet to mesic  
Apios americana groundnut North America vine tubers, beans sun to part wet to mesic  
Apium prostratum filiforme wild celery Australia herb stalks sun wet to mesic  
Aralia cordata udo Asia giant herb shoots part shade mesic  
Asparagus officinalis asparagus Eurasia herb shoots sun mesic  
Asphodeline lutea yellow asphodel Eurasia herb tubers sun mesic  
Atriplex halimus saltbush Mediterranean, North Africa shrub greens sun dry to mesic  
Berula erecta water parsnip North America, Eurasia** herb greens sun wet  
Beta vulgaris maritima sea beet Eurasia* herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica napus “Western Front” kale Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea wild cabbage Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea “Colocha” Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea acephala “Tree Collards” Eurasia shrub greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea alboglabra Gai Lon Eurasia herb greens, broccolis sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea botrytis “9 Star” perennial broccoli Eurasia herb greens, broccolis sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea ramosa branching bush kales, “Dorbentons” kale Eurasia shrub greens sun mesic  
Bunias orientalis Turkish rocket Eurasia* herb greens, broccolis sun to part dry to mesic  
Camassia cusickii camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Camassia leichtlinnii camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Camassia quamash camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Camassia scillioides camass Eastern North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Canna edulis achira, edible canna Andes giant herb tubers, shoots sun to part wet to mesic  
Cedrella sinensis fragrant spring tree Asia tree greens sun mesic  
Centranthus ruber red valerian Eurasia herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Chenopodium bonus-henricus good King Henry Eurasia herb greens, shoots, broccolis sun to part mesic  
Cichorium intybus chicory Eurasia* herb greens sun to part mesic  
Colocasia esculenta taro New Guinea, Asia herb tubers, greens sun to part wet to mesic must be cooked
Crambe cordifolia colewort Eurasia herb greens, broccolis sun dry to mesic  
Crambe maritima sea kale Eurasia herb greens, broccolis, roots sun dry to mesic  
Cynara cardunculus cardoon Eurasia* herb leafstalks sun dry to mesic  
Cynara scolymus globe artichoke Eurasia herb flowerbuds sun dry to mesic  
Dioscorea opposita Chinese yam Asia* vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Diplotaxis muralis, D. tenuifolia sylvetta arugula Mediterranean* shrub, herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Hablitzia tamnoides Caucasian spinach Eurasia vine greens, shoots part shade dry to mesic  
Helianthus maximiliani Maximilan sunflower North America giant herb shoots, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Helianthus tuberosus sunchoke Eastern North America giant herb tubers sun mesic  
Hemerocallis spp. daylily Asia herb flowerbuds, flowers sun to part mesic  
Laportaea canadensis wood nettle Eastern North America herb greens part to shade mesic stings, must be cooked
Levisticum officinale lovage Eurasia herb greens, shoots, leafstalks sun to part mesic  
Lomatium spp. biscuit root North America herb tubers sun dry to mesic  
Lycium chinense leaf goji Asia shrub greens, fruits sun to part mesic spiny
Malva moschata gumbo leaf mallow Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Marsdenia australis bush banana, Austral doubah Australia* vine pods, tubers, greens sun dry to mesic  
Matteuccia struthiopteris ostrich fern Eurasia, North America fern shoots part to shade wet to mesic must be cooked
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Nasturtium officinale watercress Eurasia** giant herb leaves sun emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Nelumbo lutea American lotus North America** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Nelumbo nucifera Chinese lotus Eurasia** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Oenanthe javanica water celery New Guinea, Asia** herb greens sun to part emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Opuntia ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. streptacantha nopale cactus, tuna Mesoamerica* cactus pads, fruit sun dry to mesic spiny
Oxalis tuberosa oca Andes herb tubers sun mesic  
Oxyria digyna mountain sorrel Eurasia, North America herb greens sun to part mesic  
Perideridia gairdnerii yampah North America herb tubers sun wet to mesic  
Petasites japonicus fuki Asia* giant herb leafstalks part to shade wet to mesic  
Phaseolus coccineus runner bean Mesoamerica vine beans, pods sun mesic  
Phaseolus lunatus lima bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun dry to mesic  
Phyllostachys spp. running bamboo Asia* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Physalis peruviana goldenberry Andes herb fruits sun mesic  
Phytolacca americana pokeweed North America* giant herb young shoots, cooked in three water changes sun to part mesic  
Piper auritum root beer leaf, hoja santa Mesoamerica* shrub greens, leafstalks sun to part mesic  
Polygonatum commutatum giant Solomon’s seal Eastern North America herb shoots, tubers sun to part mesic  
Rheum australe Himalayan rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rheum palmatum turkey rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rheum x cultorum rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rhus typhina staghorn sumac North America shrub shoots sun mesic  
Rumex acetosa French sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Rumex acetosella sheep sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Rumex scutatus buckler-leaf sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Sagittaria latifolia arrowhead North America** herb tubers, shoots sun deep emergent aquatic  
Sagittaria sinensis Chinese arrowhead Asia** herb tubers sun deep emergent aquatic  
Sasa kurilensis running bamboo Asia* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Scorzonera hispanica scorzonera Eurasia herb leaves, roots, broccolis sun mesic  
Semiarundinaria fastuosa running bamboo Asia* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Sium sisarum skirret Asia herb tubers sun to part wet to mesic  
Smallianthus sonchifolia yacon Andes herb tubers sun mesic  
Solanum tuberosum potato Andes herb tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Stachys sieboldii Chinese artichoke, crosnes Asia herb tubers sun wet to mesic  
Taraxacum officinale dandelion Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Tetragonia tetragonioides New Zealand spinach Australia herb greens sun dry to mesic  
Tilia spp. linden, lime, basswood Eurasia, North America tree greens sun to shade mesic  
Tropaeolum tuberosum “Ken Aslett” mashua Andes vine tubers, greens sun mesic  
Typha spp. cattail Worldwide** grasslike shoots, root shoots, root starch, flowerbuds, pollen sun shallow emergent aquatic to wet  
Urtica dioica stinging nettle Eurasia, North America herb greens sun to part mesic stings
Yucca guatemalensis izote Mesoamerica succulent flowerbuds sun dry to mesic spiny

 

edible leaf mulberry
edible leaf mulberry

 

HOT AND HUMID: This warm band extends from east Texas through the coastal Carolinas. This region corresponds with USDA Zones 8–9 and Sunset Zones 26–28 and 31. This is not a tropical climate, though it features hot humid summers, winter temperatures drop below freezing, sometimes typical subtropical chilling and sometimes quite a bit colder.
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Nots
Allium ampeloprasum perennial leek Eurasia herb whole plants sun mesic  
Allium cepa aggregatum multiplier onion Eurasia herb bulbs sun mesic  
Allium cepa proliferum walking onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium cernuum nodding wild onion Eurasia herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Allium fistulosum Welsh onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Apios americana groundnut North America vine tubers, beans sun to part wet to mesic  
Arundinaria gigantea river cane North America* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Asclepias syriaca, A. speciosa showy & common milkweed North America herb shoots, flowerbuds, young leaves, pods sun dry to mesic  
Asparagus officinalis asparagus Eurasia herb shoots sun mesic  
Bunias orientalis Turkish rocket Eurasia* herb greens, broccolis sun to part dry to mesic  
Canna edulis achira, edible canna Andes giant herb tubers, shoots sun to part wet to mesic  
Cedrella sinensis fragrant spring tree Asia tree greens sun mesic  
Colocasia esculenta taro New Guinea, Asia herb tubers, greens sun to part wet to mesic must be cooked
Crambe cordifolia colewort Eurasia herb greens, broccolis sun dry to mesic  
Cynara scolymus globe artichoke Eurasia herb flowerbuds sun dry to mesic  
Dioscorea bulbifera air potato Asia, Africa, Australia* vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked, some forms toxic
Dioscorea opposita Chinese yam Asia* vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Diplotaxis muralis, D. tenuifolia sylvetta arugula Mediterranean* shrub, herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Helianthus tuberosus sunchoke Eastern North America giant herb tubers sun mesic  
Hemerocallis spp. daylily Asia herb flowerbuds, flowers sun to part mesic  
Maranta arundinacea arrowroot Amazonia herb tubers sun mesic  
Moringa oleifera moringa Africa dieback tree greens, pods, bark, tubers, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Moringa stenopetala African moringa Africa dieback tree greens, pods sun dry to mesic  
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Nasturtium officinale watercress Eurasia** giant herb leaves sun emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Nelumbo lutea American lotus North America** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Nelumbo nucifera Chinese lotus Eurasia** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Opuntia ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. streptacantha nopale cactus, tuna Mesoamerica* cactus pads, fruit sun dry to mesic spiny
Phaseolus lunatus lima bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun dry to mesic  
Physalis peruviana goldenberry Andes herb fruits sun mesic  
Phytolacca americana pokeweed North America* giant herb young shoots, cooked in three water changes sun to part mesic  
Piper auritum root beer leaf, hoja santa Mesoamerica* shrub greens, leafstalks sun to part mesic  
Psophocarpus tetragonobolus “Day Neutral” winged bean New Guinea, Asia vine beans, tubers, flowers, greens, pods sun mesic  
Sagittaria latifolia arrowhead North America** herb tubers, shoots sun deep emergent aquatic  
Sagittaria sinensis Chinese arrowhead Asia** herb tubers sun deep emergent aquatic  
Sechium edule chayote Mesoamerica* vine fruit, greens, tubers sun mesic  
Smallianthus sonchifolia yacon Andes herb tubers sun mesic  
Typha spp. cattail Worldwide** grasslike shoots, root shoots, root starch, flowerbuds, pollen sun shallow emergent aquatic to wet  
Urtica dioica stinging nettle Eurasia, North America herb greens sun to part mesic stings
                             

 

edible canna
edible canna
ARID & HOT: This region covers the low and mid-elevation deserts and hot drylands of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southwestern California. This region corresponds with USDA Zones 8–10 and Sunset Zones 10, 12, 13, 29, and 30. These are subtropical deserts or somewhat colder. Large areas of Australia and Latin America are in this climate type. 
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Acacia holosericea, A. murrayana, A victoriae edible seed acacias Australia* tree dry beans sun dry spiny
Agave parreyi, A. chrysantha, A. deserti, A. utahensis, A. palmeri hardy agaves Western North America succulent hearts sun dry to mesic spiny
Agave salmiana, A. tequilana tropical agaves Mesoamerica succulent hearts sun dry to mesic spiny
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Cajanus cajan pigeon pea Asia shrub beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Cercidium microphyllum palo verde Western North America tree beans sun dry  
Cnidoscolus chayamansa chaya Mesoamerica dieback shrub greens sun dry to mesic cyanide: must cook
Cnidoscolus palmeri bull nettle Mesoamerica herb tubers sun dry to mesic stings
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa cholla Western North America cactus flowerbuds sun dry to mesic extremely spiny
Cymopteris spp. gamote Western North America herb tubers sun dry to mesic  
Moringa oleifera moringa Africa dieback tree greens, pods, bark, tubers, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Moringa stenopetala African moringa Africa tree greens, pods sun dry to mesic  
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Opuntia ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. streptacantha nopale cactus, tuna Mesoamerica* cactus pads, fruit sun dry to mesic spiny
Phaseolus coccineus runner bean Mesoamerica vine beans, pods sun mesic  
Phaseolus lunatus lima bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun dry to mesic  
Phaseolus polysanthus cache bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun mesic  
Plectranthus esculentus Livingstone potato Africa herb tubers sun dry to mesic  
Tylosema esculentum marama bean Africa vine beans, tuber sun dry  
Yucca guatemalensis izote Mesoamerica succulent flowerbuds sun dry to mesic spiny

IMG_0779

 

 

MILD MEDITERRANEAN: Southern and central California has a mild climate well suited to perennial vegetables. This region corresponds with USDA Zones 8–10 and Sunset Zones 7–9, 14, 15, 16, and 18–25. Much of Australia, southern South America, soutern Africa, and of course the Mediterranean are similar.
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Abelmoschus esculentus perennial okra Africa shrub pods, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Acacia holosericea, A. murrayana, A victoriae edible seed acacias Australia* tree dry beans sun dry spiny
Agave parreyi, A. chrysantha, A. deserti, A. utahensis, A. palmeri hardy agaves Western North America succulent hearts sun dry to mesic spiny
Agave salmiana, A. tequilana tropical agaves Mesoamerica succulent hearts sun dry to mesic spiny
Allium ampeloprasum perennial leek Eurasia herb whole plants sun mesic  
Allium cepa aggregatum multiplier onion Eurasia herb bulbs sun mesic  
Allium cepa proliferum walking onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium fistulosum Welsh onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Apium prostratum filiforme wild celery Australia herb stalks sun wet to mesic  
Aponogeton distachios water hawthorn Africa** herb flowerbuds, greens sun emergent floating aquatic  
Aralia cordata udo Asia giant herb shoots part shade mesic  
Asparagus officinalis asparagus Eurasia herb shoots sun mesic  
Asphodeline lutea yellow asphodel Eurasia herb tubers sun mesic  
Atriplex halimus saltbush Mediterranean, North Africa shrub greens sun dry to mesic  
Berula erecta water parsnip North America, Eurasia** herb greens sun wet  
Beta vulgaris maritima sea beet Eurasia* herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica napus “Western Front” kale Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea wild cabbage Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea “Colocha” Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea acephala “Tree Collards” Eurasia shrub greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea alboglabra Gai Lon Eurasia herb greens, broccolis sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea botrytis “9 Star” perennial broccoli Eurasia herb greens, broccolis sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea ramosa branching bush kales, “Dorbentons” kale Eurasia shrub greens sun mesic  
Bunias orientalis Turkish rocket Eurasia* herb greens, broccolis sun to part dry to mesic  
Camassia cusickii camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Camassia leichtlinnii camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Camassia quamash camass Western North America herb bulbs sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Canna edulis achira, edible canna Andes giant herb tubers, shoots sun to part wet to mesic  
Carica pentaloba babaco Andes tree fruit sun mesic  
Cedrella sinensis fragrant spring tree Asia tree greens sun mesic  
Centranthus ruber red valerian Eurasia herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Chenopodium bonus-henricus good King Henry Eurasia herb greens, shoots, broccolis sun to part mesic  
Cichorium intybus chicory Eurasia* herb greens sun to part mesic  
Cnidoscolus chayamansa chaya Mesoamerica shrub greens sun dry to mesic cyanide: must cook
Colocasia esculenta taro New Guinea, Asia herb tubers, greens sun to part wet to mesic must be cooked
Crambe cordifolia colewort Eurasia herb greens, broccolis sun dry to mesic  
Crambe maritima sea kale Eurasia herb greens, broccolis, roots sun dry to mesic  
Crotolaria longirostrata chipilin Mesoamerica* shrub greens sun mesic must be cooked
Cucurbita ficifolia figleaf gourd, chilacayote Mesoamerica vine fruit, seeds sun mesic  
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa cholla Western North America cactus flowerbuds sun dry to mesic extremely spiny
Cynara cardunculus cardoon Eurasia* herb leafstalks sun dry to mesic  
Cynara scolymus globe artichoke Eurasia herb flowerbuds sun dry to mesic  
Cyperus esculentus sativus chufa Africa, worldwide grasslike tubers sun wet to mesic sterile strain of global weed
Dioscorea japonica jinenjo Asia vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Dioscorea opposita Chinese yam Asia* vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Dioscorea trifida cush cush yam Amazonia vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Diplotaxis muralis, D. tenuifolia sylvetta arugula Mediterranean* shrub, herb greens sun to part dry to mesic  
Dolichos lablab lablab bean Africa vine beans, pods, flowers, greens, tubers sun dry to mesic  
Eleocharis dulcis water chestnut Asia** grasslike corms sun shallow emergent aquatic to wet  
Ensete ventricosum enset Africa giant herb starchy trunk, tuber sun mesic  
Hablitzia tamnoides Caucasian spinach Eurasia vine greens, shoots part shade dry to mesic  
Helianthus maximiliani Maximilan sunflower North America giant herb shoots, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Helianthus tuberosus sunchoke Eastern North America giant herb tubers sun mesic  
Hemerocallis spp. daylily Asia herb flowerbuds, flowers sun to part mesic  
Hibiscus acetosella cranberry hibiscus Africa shrub greens sun mesic  
Ipomoea batatas sweet potato, boniato Amazonia herb tubers, greens sun to part mesic  
Levisticum officinale lovage Eurasia herb greens, shoots, leafstalks sun to part mesic  
Lycium chinense leaf goji Asia shrub greens, fruits sun to part mesic spiny
Malva moschata gumbo leaf mallow Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Marsdenia australis bush banana, Austral doubah Australia* vine pods, tubers, greens sun dry to mesic  
Moringa oleifera moringa Africa dieback tree greens, pods, bark, tubers, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Moringa stenopetala African moringa Africa dieback tree greens, pods sun dry to mesic  
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Nasturtium officinale watercress Eurasia** giant herb leaves sun emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Nelumbo lutea American lotus North America** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Nelumbo nucifera Chinese lotus Eurasia** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Oenanthe javanica water celery New Guinea, Asia** herb greens sun to part emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Opuntia ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. streptacantha nopale cactus, tuna Mesoamerica* cactus pads, fruit sun dry to mesic spiny
Oxalis tuberosa oca Andes herb tubers sun mesic  
Oxyria digyna mountain sorrel Eurasia, North America herb greens sun to part mesic  
Perideridia gairdnerii yampah North America herb tubers sun wet to mesic  
Petasites japonicus fuki Asia* giant herb leafstalks part to shade wet to mesic  
Phaseolus coccineus runner bean Mesoamerica vine beans, pods sun mesic  
Phaseolus lunatus lima bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun dry to mesic  
Phaseolus polysanthus cache bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun mesic  
Phyllostachys spp. running bamboo Asia* bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Physalis peruviana goldenberry Andes herb fruits sun mesic  
Physalis pruinosa ground cherry North America herb fruits sun mesic  
Piper auritum root beer leaf, hoja santa Mesoamerica* shrub greens, leafstalks sun to part mesic  
Plectranthus esculentus Livingstone potato Africa herb tubers sun dry to mesic  
Psophocarpus tetragonobolus “Day Neutral” winged bean New Guinea, Asia vine beans, tubers, flowers, greens, pods sun mesic  
Rheum australe Himalayan rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rheum palmatum turkey rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rheum x cultorum rhubarb Eurasia herb leafstalks sun mesic leaves and roots toxic
Rumex acetosa French sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Rumex acetosella sheep sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Rumex scutatus buckler-leaf sorrel Eurasia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Scorzonera hispanica scorzonera Eurasia herb leaves, roots, broccolis sun mesic  
Sium sisarum skirret Asia herb tubers sun to part wet to mesic  
Smallianthus sonchifolia yacon Andes herb tubers sun mesic  
Solanum muricatum pepino melon Andes herb fruits sun mesic  
Solanum tuberosum potato Andes herb tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Solonostemon rotundifolius hausa potato Africa herb tubers sun mesic  
Stachys sieboldii Chinese artichoke, crosnes Asia herb tubers sun wet to mesic  
Taraxacum officinale dandelion Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Tetragonia tetragonioides New Zealand spinach Australia herb greens sun dry to mesic  
Tilia spp. linden, lime, basswood Eurasia, North America tree greens sun to shade mesic  
Tropaeolum tuberosum “Ken Aslett” mashua Andes vine tubers, greens sun mesic  
Tropaeolum tuberosum mashua Andes vine tubers, greens sun mesic  
Typha spp. cattail Worldwide** grasslike shoots, root shoots, root starch, flowerbuds, pollen sun shallow emergent aquatic to wet  
Ullucus tuberosus ulluco Andes vine tuber, greens sun mesic  
Urtica dioica stinging nettle Eurasia, North America herb greens sun to part mesic stings
Yucca guatemalensis izote Mesoamerica succulent flowerbuds sun dry to mesic spiny

IMG_7959 IMG_7954

 

 

LOWLAND MONSOON AND HUMID TROPICS: Lowland Hawaii and south Florida are proper tropical climates, completely free of frost all year. This region corresponds with USDA Zones 10–12 and Sunset Zone 25. This climate type could cover monsoon and humid tropical lowlands throughout the world.
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Abelmoschus esculentus perennial okra Africa shrub pods, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Abelmoschus manihot edible hibiscus New Guinea shrub leaves sun mesic  
Adansonia digitata baobab Africa tree leaves, fruit, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Agave salmiana, A. tequilana tropical agaves Mesoamerica succulent hearts sun dry to mesic spiny
Allium fistulosum Welsh onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Alocasia macrhorrhizos giant taro New Guinea, Australia, Asia, Pacific giant herb starchy trunk, leaves sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Alternanthera sissoo sissoo spinach Amazonia herb greens part shade mesic  
Aponogeton distachios water hawthorn Africa** herb flowerbuds, greens sun emergent floating aquatic  
Aponogeton madagascarensis water yam Africa** herb tubers sun submerged aquatic  
Artocarpus altilis breadfruit New Guinea, Asia tree fruit, nuts sun mesic  
Artocarpus heterophylla jakfruit Asia tree young fruit as veg, fruit, nuts, greens sun mesic  
Bambusa spp. clumping bamboo Asia bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Basella alba Malabar spinach Asia vine greens sun mesic  
Cajanus cajan pigeon pea Asia shrub beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Canna edulis achira, edible canna Andes giant herb tubers, shoots sun to part wet to mesic  
Carica papaya papaya Mesoamerica tree fruit sun mesic  
Ceratopteris thalyctroides water hornfern Asia** fern greens sun to shade submerged aquatic to wet  
Chamaedora tepijelote tepijelote Mesoamerica palm flowerbuds part to shade mesic  
Cnidoscolus chayamansa chaya Mesoamerica shrub greens sun dry to mesic cyanide: must cook
Cnidoscolus palmeri bull nettle Mesoamerica herb tubers sun dry to mesic stings
Cnidoscolus stimulosus spurge nettle Eastern North America herb tubers sun dry to mesic stings
Coccinia grandis ivy gourd, perennial cucumber Africa, Asia* vine greens, fruit sun mesic  
Colocasia esculenta taro New Guinea, Asia herb tubers, greens sun to part wet to mesic must be cooked
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa cholla Western North America cactus flowerbuds sun dry to mesic extremely spiny
Dendrocalamus spp. clumping bamboo Asia bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Dioscorea alata white yam Asia vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Dioscorea bulbifera air potato Asia, Africa, Australia* vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked, some forms toxic
Dioscorea esculenta Asiatic lesser yam Asia vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Dioscorea trifida cush cush yam Amazonia vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Dolichos lablab lablab bean Africa vine beans, pods, flowers, greens, tubers sun dry to mesic  
Eleocharis dulcis water chestnut Asia** grasslike corms sun shallow emergent aquatic to wet  
Euryale ferox gorgon plant Asia** giant herb   sun deep emergent floating aquatic  
Gigantochloa spp. clumping bamboo Asia bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Gnetum africanum African jointfir Africa woody vine greens shade ?  
Gnetum gnemon jointfir Asia tree greens, nuts part to shade mesic  
Gynura crepioides Okinawa spinach Asia herb greens sun to part mesic  
Hibiscus acetosella cranberry hibiscus Africa shrub greens sun mesic  
Ipomoea aquatica water spinach Asia** herb greens sun emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Ipomoea batatas sweet potato, boniato Amazonia herb tubers, greens sun to part mesic  
Lemna spp. duckweed Worldwide** microherb greens sun floating aquatic  
Leucaena esculenta guaje Mesoamerica tree fresh beans sun dry to mesic  
Manihot esculenta cassava, yuca, manioc Amazonia shrub   sun dry to mesic some forms require processing to remove cyanide
Maranta arundinacea arrowroot Amazonia herb tubers sun mesic  
Momordica charantica bitter gourd Asia vine fruit sun mesic  
Moringa oleifera moringa Africa tree greens, pods, bark, tubers, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Moringa stenopetala African moringa Africa tree greens, pods sun dry to mesic  
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Musa x paradisica banana, plantain New Guinea, Asia giant herb fruits, flowerbud sun wet to mesic  
Nasturtium officinale watercress Eurasia** giant herb leaves sun emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Nastus elatus clumping bamboo Asia bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Nelumbo nucifera Chinese lotus Eurasia** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Opuntia ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. streptacantha nopale cactus, tuna Mesoamerica* cactus pads, fruit sun dry to mesic spiny
Phaseolus lunatus lima bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun dry to mesic  
Piper auritum root beer leaf, hoja santa Mesoamerica* shrub greens, leafstalks sun to part mesic  
Plectranthus esculentus Livingstone potato Africa herb tubers sun dry to mesic  
Psophocarpus tetragonobolus “Day Neutral” winged bean New Guinea, Asia vine beans, tubers, flowers, greens, pods sun mesic  
Psophocarpus tetragonobolus winged bean New Guinea, Asia vine beans, tubers, flowers, greens, pods sun mesic  
Sagittaria sinensis Chinese arrowhead Asia** herb tubers sun deep emergent aquatic  
Sauropus androgynous katuk Asia shrub greens part to shade mesic  
Sechium edule chayote Mesoamerica* vine fruit, greens, tubers sun mesic  
Sesbania grandiflora hummingbird tree Asia  * tree flowers sun dry to mesic  
Setaria palmifolia highlands pitpit New Guinea grass shoots sun mesic  
Solanum melongena eggplant Asia, Africa shrub fruits sun mesic must be cooked
Solonostemon rotundifolius hausa potato Africa herb tubers sun mesic  
Sphenostylis stenocarpa African yambean Africa vine tubers, beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Telfairia occidentalis fluted gourd Africa* vine greens, nuts sun mesic  
Trichostigma octandrum Haitian basket vine Mesoamerica, Amazonia, Florida, Caribbean shrub, vine greens sun to shade mesic  
Triglochin spp. Australian arrowgrass Australia** grasslike tubers sun shallow emergent aquatic  
Wolffia spp. water meal Worldwide** microherb greens sun floating aquatic  
Xanthosoma brasiliense belembe, taioba Amazonia herb greens sun to part wet to mesic must be cooked
Xanthosoma saggitifolium cocoyam Amazonia herb tubers sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Xanthosoma violaceum violet-stem taro Amazonia herb greens sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Yucca guatemalensis izote Mesoamerica succulent flowerbuds sun dry to mesic spiny
moringa coppice block
moringa coppice block

 

 

LOWLAND ARID TROPICS: Proper lowland arid tropics are absent from the US and Canada but an important climate type worldwide in Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Australia.
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Abelmoschus esculentus perennial okra Africa shrub pods, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Acacia holosericea, A. murrayana, A victoriae edible seed acacias Australia* tree dry beans sun dry spiny
Adansonia digitata baobab Africa tree leaves, fruit, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Agave salmiana, A. tequilana tropical agaves Mesoamerica succulent hearts sun dry to mesic spiny
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Cajanus cajan pigeon pea Asia shrub beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Cercidium microphyllum palo verde Western North America tree beans sun dry  
Cnidoscolus chayamansa chaya Mesoamerica shrub greens sun dry to mesic cyanide: must cook
Cnidoscolus palmeri bull nettle Mesoamerica herb tubers sun dry to mesic stings
Cnidoscolus stimulosus spurge nettle Eastern North America herb tubers sun dry to mesic stings
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa cholla Western North America cactus flowerbuds sun dry to mesic extremely spiny
Dolichos lablab lablab bean Africa vine beans, pods, flowers, greens, tubers sun dry to mesic  
Leucaena esculenta guaje Mesoamerica tree fresh beans sun dry to mesic  
Manihot esculenta cassava, yuca, manioc Amazonia shrub   sun dry to mesic some forms require processing to remove cyanide
Moringa oleifera moringa Africa tree greens, pods, bark, tubers, seeds sun dry to mesic  
Moringa stenopetala African moringa Africa tree greens, pods sun dry to mesic  
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Opuntia ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. streptacantha nopale cactus, tuna Mesoamerica* cactus pads, fruit sun dry to mesic spiny
Phaseolus lunatus lima bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun dry to mesic  
Plectranthus esculentus Livingstone potato Africa herb tubers sun dry to mesic  
Sesbania grandiflora hummingbird tree Asia  * tree flowers sun dry to mesic  
Sphenostylis stenocarpa African yambean Africa vine tubers, beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Tylosema esculentum marama bean Africa vine beans, tuber sun dry  
Yucca guatemalensis izote Mesoamerica succulent flowerbuds sun dry to mesic spiny

 

baobab
baobab
TROPICAL HIGHLANDS – MONSOON TO HUMID: Within the United States and Canada, this region occurs only in Hawaii over although worldwide it is an important climate type. My definition is anything over 1500 meters elevation, including African, Latin American, New Guinean, and Asian highlands with sufficient moisture.
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Allium fistulosum Welsh onion Eurasia herb scallions sun mesic  
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Alocasia macrhorrhizos giant taro New Guinea, Australia, Asia, Pacific giant herb starchy trunk, leaves sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Arracacia xanthorhiza arracacha Andes herb tubers sun mesic  
Bambusa spp. clumping bamboo Asia bamboo shoots sun to part mesic  
Brassica oleracea “Colocha” Eurasia herb greens sun mesic  
Brassica oleracea acephala “Tree Collards” Eurasia shrub greens sun mesic  
Cajanus cajan pigeon pea Asia shrub beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Canna edulis achira, edible canna Andes giant herb tubers, shoots sun to part wet to mesic  
Carica pentaloba babaco Andes tree fruit sun mesic  
Chamaedora tepijelote tepijelote Mesoamerica palm flowerbuds part to shade mesic  
Cnidoscolus chayamansa chaya Mesoamerica shrub greens sun dry to mesic cyanide: must cook
Coccinia grandis ivy gourd, perennial cucumber Africa, Asia* vine greens, fruit sun mesic  
Colocasia esculenta taro New Guinea, Asia herb tubers, greens sun to part wet to mesic must be cooked
Crotolaria longirostrata chipilin Mesoamerica* shrub greens sun mesic must be cooked
Cucurbita ficifolia figleaf gourd, chilacayote Mesoamerica vine fruit, seeds sun mesic  
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa cholla Western North America cactus flowerbuds sun dry to mesic extremely spiny
Dioscorea alata white yam Asia vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Dioscorea bulbifera air potato Asia, Africa, Australia* vine tubers sun mesic must be cooked, some forms toxic
Dolichos lablab lablab bean Africa vine beans, pods, flowers, greens, tubers sun dry to mesic  
Eleocharis dulcis water chestnut Asia** grasslike corms sun shallow emergent aquatic to wet  
Ensete ventricosum enset Africa giant herb starchy trunk, tuber sun mesic  
Erythrina edulis chachafruto Andes tree beans sun mesic must be cooked
Helianthus tuberosus sunchoke Eastern North America giant herb tubers sun mesic  
Hibiscus acetosella cranberry hibiscus Africa shrub greens sun mesic  
Ipomoea batatas sweet potato, boniato Amazonia herb tubers, greens sun to part mesic  
Lycium chinense leaf goji Asia shrub greens, fruits sun to part mesic spiny
Manihot esculenta cassava, yuca, manioc Amazonia shrub   sun dry to mesic some forms require processing to remove cyanide
Maranta arundinacea arrowroot Amazonia herb tubers sun mesic  
Moringa stenopetala African moringa Africa tree greens, pods sun dry to mesic  
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Musa x paradisica banana, plantain New Guinea, Asia giant herb fruits, flowerbud sun wet to mesic  
Nasturtium officinale watercress Eurasia** giant herb leaves sun emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Nelumbo nucifera Chinese lotus Eurasia** giant herb tubers, seeds sun deep emergent aquatic  
Oenanthe javanica water celery New Guinea, Asia** herb greens sun to part emergent floating aquatic to wet  
Opuntia ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. streptacantha nopale cactus, tuna Mesoamerica* cactus pads, fruit sun dry to mesic spiny
Oxalis tuberosa oca Andes herb tubers sun mesic  
Phaseolus coccineus runner bean Mesoamerica vine beans, pods sun mesic  
Phaseolus lunatus lima bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun dry to mesic  
Physalis peruviana goldenberry Andes herb fruits sun mesic  
Piper auritum root beer leaf, hoja santa Mesoamerica* shrub greens, leafstalks sun to part mesic  
Psophocarpus tetragonobolus “Day Neutral” winged bean New Guinea, Asia vine beans, tubers, flowers, greens, pods sun mesic  
Psophocarpus tetragonobolus winged bean New Guinea, Asia vine beans, tubers, flowers, greens, pods sun mesic  
Rungia klossii rungia New Guinea herb greens sun mesic  
Sechium edule chayote Mesoamerica* vine fruit, greens, tubers sun mesic  
Smallianthus sonchifolia yacon Andes herb tubers sun mesic  
Solanum melongena eggplant Asia, Africa shrub fruits sun mesic must be cooked
Solanum tuberosum potato Andes herb tubers sun mesic must be cooked
Sphenostylis stenocarpa African yambean Africa vine tubers, beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Telfairia occidentalis fluted gourd Africa* vine greens, nuts sun mesic  
Tropaeolum tuberosum “Ken Aslett” mashua Andes vine tubers, greens sun mesic  
Tropaeolum tuberosum mashua Andes vine tubers, greens sun mesic  
Ullucus tuberosus ulluco Andes vine tuber, greens sun mesic  
Xanthosoma saggitifolium cocoyam Amazonia herb tubers sun wet to mesic must be cooked
Yucca guatemalensis izote Mesoamerica succulent flowerbuds sun dry to mesic spiny
mashua
mashua

 

 

TROPICAL HIGHLANDS – ARID: Arid highland over 1500 meters elevation,from Ethiopia tothe Mexican altiplano and beyond.
Latin Name Common Name Origin Form Edible Parts Sun & Shade Moisture Notes
Allium tuberosum garlic chives Asia herb greens, flowerbuds sun to part dry to mesic  
Cajanus cajan pigeon pea Asia shrub beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Cnidoscolus chayamansa chaya Mesoamerica shrub greens sun dry to mesic cyanide: must cook
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa cholla Western North America cactus flowerbuds sun dry to mesic extremely spiny
Dolichos lablab lablab bean Africa vine beans, pods, flowers, greens, tubers sun dry to mesic  
Manihot esculenta cassava, yuca, manioc Amazonia shrub   sun dry to mesic some forms require processing to remove cyanide
Moringa stenopetala African moringa Africa tree greens, pods sun dry to mesic  
Morus alba mulberry Asia* tree greens, fruit sun to part dry to mesic must be cooked
Opuntia ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. streptacantha nopale cactus, tuna Mesoamerica* cactus pads, fruit sun dry to mesic spiny
Phaseolus lunatus lima bean Mesoamerica vine beans sun dry to mesic  
Sphenostylis stenocarpa African yambean Africa vine tubers, beans, pods sun dry to mesic  
Yucca guatemalensis izote Mesoamerica succulent flowerbuds sun dry to mesic spiny
chaya
chaya