Araucaria araucana - Monkey Puzzle tree

Araucaria anguvstifolia, another member of the pan-global Araucariaceae family, many of which have edible seeds and multiple other ethnobotanical uses.

Native to It is native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. A. araucana is the national tree of Chile. Its conservation status was changed to Endangered by the IUCN in 2013 due to the dwindling population caused by logging, forest fires, and grazing.

The large seeds, or pinions, are edible can be consumed, prepared in a wide variety of ways. The tree, however, does not yield seeds until it is around 30 to 40 years old, which discourages investment in planting orchards (although yields at maturity can be immense); once established, it can live possibly as long as 1,000 years.

Araucaria angustifolia - Para pine, Brazilian pine, Candelabra tree

Calochortus amabilis - Golden fairy lantern

Calochortus amabilis flowers.

Calochortus amabilis flowers.

Calopchortus amabilis, another California native flowering bulb. This is a stout branching plant with bright yellow flowers with a triangular outline.

The plant prefers higher levels of shade, and soil humus rich in organic matter, however it grows in the wild in a wide variety of conditions, including full sun, rocky hillsides, chaparral and Serpentine soils. .

In the wild the plant can be found along the North Coast Ranges from Solano and Marin Counties to Humboldt an Colusa County.

As with the bulbs of many Calochortus species, C. amabilis bulbs were traditionally eaten by Indigenous peoples in the region. Bulbs were baked or boiled and eaten in a similar way as sweet potatoes. Large swaths of land were carefully sustainably managed over generations to provide supply of these delicious and nutritious bulbs.

Young seed pods on Calochortus amabilis

Young seed pods on Calochortus amabilis

Calochortus amabilis flower close-up.

Calochortus amabilis flower close-up.

Edible Condiment Leaves of Southeast Asia

The following is a list of species whose leaves are used as condiments in Southeast Asia. The list is not, by any means, complete, but includes some of the lesser known, more obscure species.

Acacia farnesiana, Cassie flower, Leguminaceae

Achronychia laurifolia, Ketiak, Rutaceae

Aegle marmelos, Bael fruit, Rutaceae

Allium odorum, Chinese chives, Liliaceae

Ancistrocladus extensus, Ox-tongue, Dipterocarpaceae

Antidesma ghaesembilla, Sekinchak, Euphorbiaceae

Begonia tuberosa, Tuberous begonia, Begoniaceae

Claoxylon polot, Rock blumea, Euphorbiaceae

Coleus tuberosus, African potato, Labiatae

Crypteronia paniculata, Sempoh, Lythraceae

Curcuma domestica, Turmeric, Zingiberaceae

Cymbopogon citratus, Lemon Grass, Graminae

Cyrtandra decurrens, Graminae

C. pendula, Rock sorrel, Graminae

Dendrobium salaccense, Cooking orchid, Orchidaceae

Derris heptaphylla, Seven finger, Leguminaceae

Elethariopsis sumatrana, Frangrant gingerwort, Zingiberaceae

Eugenia polyantha, White kelat, Myrtaceae

Evodia roxburghiana, Sour-relish wood, Rutaceae

Gymura procumbens, Akar, Compositae

Homalomena graffithii, Itch grass, Araceae

Hornstedtia, Tepus, Zingiberaceae

Horsfieldia sylvestris, Pendarahan, Myristicaceae

Kaempferia galanga, Chekur (Galangal), Zingiberaceae

Kaempferia rotunda, Kenchur, Zingiberaceae

Leucas lavandulifoia, Ketumbak, Labiatae

L. zeylanica, Ketumbak, Labaiatae

Limnophila aromatica, Swamp leaf, Scrophulariaceae

L. villosa

L. conferta

L. pulcherrima

L. rugosa

Lycium chinese, Kichi, Matrimony vine, Solanaceae

Lycopersicum esculentum, Tomato, Solanaceae

Medinilla crispata, Medinilla, Melastomataceae

M. hasseltii

M. radicans

Mentha longifolia, Longleaf mint, Labiatae

Murraya koenigii, Curry-leaf tree, Rutaceae

Nauclea esculenta, Pincushion, Rubiaceae

Ocimum canum, Hoary basil, Labiatae

Oenanthe javanica, Shelum, Umbelliferae

Ottelia alismoides, Pojnd lettuce, Hydrocharitaceae

Oxalis corniculata, Sorrel, Oxalidaceae

Pilea melastomoides, Sweet nettle, Urticaceae

Piper lolot, Pepper leaf, Piperaceae

P. caducibracteum

P. umbellatum

Pistacia lentiscus, Pistachio resin tree, Anacardiaceae

Pluchea indica, Indian sage, Comppositae

Polygonum hydropiper, Water polygonum, Polygonaceae

Staurogyne elongata, Cross flower, Acanthaceae

Trachyspermum involucratum, Wild celery, Umbelliferae

Passiflora palmeri - Passion flower, Granadilla, Sandia de la Passion

Here are some photos of the desert native Passiflora palmeri, photographed in Baja Sur, Mexico. 

Forage plant species of the European Mediterranean

Following is a list of wild flora species, or horta, which are traditionally collected and eaten throughout Greece and the European Mediterranean, and beyond. I will continue to update this list and provide links to species pages with more extensive information. 

The Mediterranean basin has a long and multifaceted cultural history and harbors a high biodiversity. Despite the increasing attention and studies on the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, no studies thus far have incorporated data related to the consumption of the many species of wild greens that make up such an important part of traditional diets throughout Greece, S. Spain and S. Italy.  Leoniti et. al argues that the "culinary use of wild gathered weedy greens evolved together with the neolithization process, since this offered the necessary ecological niches for them to thrive, thereby enriching and securing the diets of European agriculturalists."





Allium neapolitanum



Amaranthus blitum

Salicornia europea



Caucalis (bur chervil, kafkalithra)

Foeniculum vulgare (marathon, wild fennel   

Tordylium apium (Mediterranean hartwort) kafkalida

Scandix pectin veneris (shepherd’s needles, myroni)



Muscari comosum

Asparagus officinalis

Asparagus acutifolius

Asparagus stipularis



Carduus argentatus ssp. acicularis

Chichorium intybus – radiki

Taraxacum officinale - radiki, Dandelion

Helminthotheca echioides

Lactuca scariola - milk thistle, prickly lettuce, petromaroulo


Sonchus oleraceus - sowthistle, zohos

Tragopogon (yellow salsify, tragopogon)

Urospermum picroides (agriozohos)

Silybum marianum



Borage (boratzi)



Capsella bursa-pastoris

Eruca sativa

Sinapsis alba (white mustard, sinapi)

Lepidium sativum (kardamo)

Hirschfeldia incana (mustard greens, vrouves)



Opunitia ficus-indica



Capparis spinosa



Picridium vulgare – pikralida, galatsida



Tamus communis (Avronies, Black bryony) 



Erodium cicutarium (redstem stork’s bill, kalogeros



Salvia officinalis

Tymus vulgaris

Origanum vulgare



Ornithogalum umbellatum (grass lily, star of Bethlehem)



Malva sylvestris (blue mallow)



Myrtus communis



Oxalis pes-caprae



Rumex obtusifolius (lapatho) 



Portulaca oleracea



Reseda alba (rezda, white upright mignonette)



Rubus fruticosus



Solanum nigrum (styfno)

Scolymus (golden thistle, askolymbrus)



Urtica dioca – tsouknida



Vitis vinifera





Lactarius delisiosus

Lycoperdon perlatum

Cantharellus cibarius


Centaurea calcitrapa ssp. angusticeps, Centaurea hyalolepis, Ceratonia siliqua, Cichorium intybus, Crataegus azarolus, Crataegus monogyna, Crithmum maritimum, Cynara cardunculus, Cynara cornigera, Cynara scolymus, Echinops spinosissimus, Eruca sativa, Eryngium creticum, Eryngium glomeratum, Ficus carica, Foeniculum vulgare, Gundelia turnefortii, Laurus nobilis, Limonium sinuatum, Malva parviflora, Mentha pulegium, Mentha spicata, Muscari comosum, Myrtus communis, Nasturtium officinale, Notobasis syriaca, Onopordum bracteatum, Onopordum cyprium, Origanum dubium, Origanum majorana var. tenuifolium, Portulaca oleracea, Pistacia lentiscus, Pyrus syriaca, Rosmarinus officinalis, Scolymus hispanicus, Scolymus maculatus,  Silene vulgaris, Silybum marianum, Sinapis alba, Sinapis arvensis, Sonchus oleraceus, Taraxacum cyprium, Taraxacum hellenicum, Thymus capitatus,  Ziziphus lotus

Asparagus spp. - wild asparagus


Asparagus prostratus close.jpg

Asparagus is a member of the Liliaceae family, related to such familiar plants as onion, garlic, and tulips.

There are around 300 species of asparagus worldwide, 15 of which can be found in the Mediterranean region. Asparagus prostratus, once considered to be a subspecies of A. officinalis, is now thought to be an entirely separate species. I believe it is Asparagus prostratus that I have photographed here in Montenegro.


Wild asparagus is typically picked in spring in Greece, Montenegro and other parts of the Mediterranean Basin. It does, however come up here and there during warm winters in the almost subtropical climate of the Southern Ionian Sea in Greece. In Greece a purple variety seems to be most common in the winter. 

Asparagus prostratus handful.jpg

Asparagus.org notes asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well balanced vegetables in existence. According to NutritionData.com asparagus is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.


Elaeagnus x ebbingei - Silverberry, Oleaster


Elaeagnus x ebbingei, commonly called oleaster or Ebbing's silverberry, is from temperate / subropical Areas of Asia. It is a cross between Elaeagnus macrophylla x Elaeagnus pungens. It is a large, bushy, rounded shrub that typically grows to 8-10' tall and as wide. Branchlets lack spines. Leaves are evergreen in warm winter climates, but semi-evergreen to deciduous near the northern edge of its growing range.


Elaeagnus fruit

The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and are a good source of protein and fats. The fruit is edible, somewhat astringent until fully ripe (almost falling off), then very good and produced in large quantities. Fruits ripen in the middle of winter when few other fruit are available. Fruit will grow to be 3 cm long by 1 cm wide when ripe.

The fruit of all Elaeagnus species are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and E, flavinoids and other bio-active compounds. The fruit is also a good source of fatty acids, which is unusual for fruit. 

Reportedly, current research indicates that consumption of the fruit greatly reduces the incidence of cancer in humans. Not only that but the compounds in the fruit are possibly capable of slowing or even reversing the growth of cancers that are already in the body.

Flowers are inconspicuous but emit a very agreeable aroma.


The plant is nitrogen fixing, meaning its roots have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria which form nodules on the roots of the plant and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is used by the plant itself for its own growth, however some of the nitrogen is also available for plants growing nearby. Thus, planting E. ebbingei near other food crops can improve growth and increase productivity.

Due to the versatility of this plant, it has a wide range of uses for use in regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and agroforestry systems. It can grow in full sun or shade and can handle hot dry summers. 

Elaeagnus can have a vine-like growth habit, especially when growing in the understory of a larger tree. Prune back annually to keep the plant contained as a dense hedge or shrub, the plant can take heavy pruning and produces abundant biomass.

Elaeagnus is very wind tolerant and can be utilized as a superior windbreak. It is also highly salt tolerant. It can be heavily pruned as a hedge or let to grow freely, reaching 5 m in height.

I have planted this species in temperate Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, as well as in California, its a tough shrub with with many diverse uses. I believe Elaeagnus ebbingei has major potential for use in sustainable agriculture systems and deserves further investigation, selection and development of superior fruit / seed varieties. 


Amaranthus blitum - Purple Amaranth, Guernsey pigweed


Native to the Mediterranean Basin region, it is naturalized in other parts of the world, including much of eastern North America and Africa.

A. blithum grows in many regions of the world, most notably mediterranean, tropical and subtropical parts of the world. This species is found in central and western parts of Kenya in wet areas, on waste ground and in cultivated land. 

The Greeks call the Amaranthus blitum var. silvestrevlita (Modern Greek: βλίτα), and eat the leaves and the tender shoots cooked in steam or boiled and then served with olive oil, lemon and salt. Similarly, it is also picked as young shoots in Lebanon and cooked in olive oil, onion, chilli, and burghul, seasoned with salt and drizzled with lemon juice before eating with pita bread. It is considered a side dish and particularly popular in the north of Lebanon.


Leaves and young shoots are used as a vegetable. This is an important leafy vegetable in tropical and subtropical areas of Kenya and a popular species in traditional homegardens and sold in open markets.


The plant can be propagated easily by broadcast seeding. In favorable conditions it can become naturalized and is most likely considered invasive in some areas. But as a highly nutritious edible leafy green, perhaps that's not such a bad thing.