Nasturtiums and the birds and the bees

Hummingbirds and ancient bees are responsible for the color and shape of nasturtium blossoms and have a unique view of them, explains Jeanne over salad.  Fall frost hasn’t yet claimed our nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus; Tropaeolaceae family). The large, colorful blooms amidst the round leaves are still spilling over planting boxes.  All parts of the plant are […]

Maca: A Valentine’s Day Call for Comparative Biology

Sometimes food is medicine, and sometimes that medicine is an aphrodisiac. Such is the case with Andean staple maca. What elevates this high-altitude root vegetable above its cruciferous brethren? The ancient Greek Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, famously said: “Let food be your medicine.” For most of human history, categorizing an edible item as […]

Sugar

This is our first of two contributions to Advent Botany 2015. Sugar plums dance, sugar cookies disappear from Santa’s plate, and candied fruit cake gets passed around and around. Crystals of sugar twinkle in the Christmas lights, like scintillas of sunshine on the darkest day of the year. Katherine and Jeanne explore the many plant […]

The most political vegetables: A whirlwind tour of the edible crucifers

Jeanne provides an overview of the cultivated brassicas. Two days after the re-election of Barack Obama, the arugula at the farmer’s market reminded me of John Schwenkler’s excellent commentary from the 2008 campaign season on political trends in food choices, taking issue with Republican opposition to arugula. Arugula was the subject of a gaffe by then-candidate […]

Outline View (with links)

The food plants listed here are classified according to names and relationships accepted by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website, maintained by the Missouri Botanical Garden: Stevens, P. F. (2001 onwards). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 12, July 2012. Obviously, this list does not include the full diversity of plants, or even a complete listing of plant families. […]