Newsletters 2017

Food and culture are linked.  And attitudes to different foods indicates whether we are willing to cross a cultural barrier.

This month Bruce looks at the Rubiaceae plant family which includes those plants from which coffee and coffee-like drinks are made. Often unfamiliar fruit in the Rubiaceae are reported as being sold in local markets or are popular fruits or are cultivated.  Others are often harvested from the wild and need domestication.  It is a family worthy or more careful study and attention.

The past should guide the future to feed the world well. Bruce reflects on his recent trip to Papua New Guinea.

Vudal Agricultural College in Papua New Guinea was the birthplace of an idea that would develop into a worldwide database of edible plants.

Bruce discusses his work as an agricultural extension officer and offers resources for extension officers in Papua New Guinea.

Bruce focuses on Vitamin A rich plants in Uganda, the large range of banana varieties and the large range of alternate plants for Vitamin A.

Countries mentioned: Uganda, Papua New Guinea

Bruce focuses of the country of Malawi and again highlights the importance of mulching gardens.

Organisations mentioned: ECHO Global Farm

Edible plants mentioned: Okra Abelmoschus esculentus; Cabbage Brassica oleracea var capitata; Pigeon pea Cajanus cajan; African oil palm Elaeis guineensis; Finger millet Eleusine corocana; Moringa Moringa oleifera; Proso millet Panicum miliaceum; Bulrush millet Pennisetum glaucum; Sorghum Sorghum bicolor; Maize Zea mays

This month Bruce writes about the Anacardiaceae family which include cashews, mangoes and pistachios. In our FPI database there are 315 edible species in 44 genera in this family.

Species mentioned in the genera Anacardium, Antrocaryon, Buchanania, Campnosperma, Dracontomelon, Lannea, Mangifera, Rhus, Searsi,; Semecarpus, Spondias

Bruce writes that the Food Plants International database now includes 28, 770 edible plants. This month he writes on edible palms.

Plant photographs: Areca catechu; Attalea cohune; Bactris gasipaes; Borassus flabellifer; Calamus caryotoides; Hyphaene coriacea; Metroxylon sagu; Nypa fruticans; Raphia farinifera; Salacca zalacca

Bruce writes: We should be giving far greater attention to the bean family or legumes.  There are 1,850 species in the bean family (Fabaceae – sometimes still called Leguminosae) that have been recorded as being used for human food (out of about 18,000 species in this family). 

Edible plants mentioned: Acacia seed; Cajanus cajan Pigeon pea; Ceratonia siliqua Carob; Inga spectabilis Ice cream bean; Pachyrhizus erosus Yam bean; Vigna radiata Green gram; Psophocarpus tetragonolobus Winged bean; Pueraria lobate Kudzu; Vigna mungo Mung bean; Vigna subterranean Bambara groundnut;  Vigna unguiculata subsp. Sesquipedalis Snake bean

“Many young children around the world forage daily for food and snacks.  What interests me is that many small berries and nuts are considered by adults to be not large enough to sell in local markets.”

Plants mentioned: Panama berry (Muntingia calabura); Coastal almond (Terminalia catappa)

This month Bruce highlights the Sapindaceae or soapberry family of plants which has several popular fruits. Plants in this family can grow in temperate to tropical locations.

Plants mentioned: Aesculus hippocastanum, Blighia sapida, Cupaniopsis anacardioides, Dimocarpus longan, Diploglottis smithii, Lansium parasiticum, Lepisanthes alata, Litchi chinensis, Nephelium lappaceum, Nephelium ramboutan-ake, Pometia pinnata, Talisia esculenta

Places mentioned: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Jamaica, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, South-East Asia, South America