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.  Even if it did, it would be subject to change, as plant scientists are continually reconstructing evolutionary history to improve our understanding of how plant species are related.  The APG website provides a terrific discussion of how we should think about classification and phylogenetic trees.

Names ending in “ales” are of the taxonomic level of “order.”  Names ending in “aceae” are at the level of “family.”


Not meat, but also not plants:  fungi and most algae

Green Plants: green algae and land plants

  • Green algae (Ulva – sea lettuce)

Land plants: bryophytes (mosses, etc) and plants with well-developed vascular tissue (e.g. lycophytes, ferns, gymnosperms, angiosperms)

  • Fern fiddleheads

Seed plants:  gymnosperms (conifers, cycads, etc) and flowering plants (angiosperms)

Gymnosperms

  1. Pinales
    1. Pinaceae
      1. Pine nuts (Pinus species)
      2. Araucaria nuts
      3. Juniper berries (Juniperus communis)
      4. Spruce tips (Picea)
  2. Ginkgoales
    1. Ginkgoaceae: ginkgo nuts (Ginkgo biloba)

Flowering plants (angiosperms)

  1. Austrobaileyales
    1. Illiaceae: Star anise (Illicium verum)
  2. Piperales
    1. Piperaceae: Black, white, and green pepper (Piper nigrum)
  3. Magnoliales
    1. Annonaceae: custard apple family; many edible species in all genera, not just in Asiminia  and Annona
      1. Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
      2. Annona: many edible species including:
        1. soursop/guanabana (A. muricata)
        2. cherimoya (A. cherimola)
        3. African custard-apple (A. chrysophylla)
        4. African custard-apple (A. senegalensis)
    2. Myristicaceae: Nutmeg/mace (Myristica fragrans)
  4. Laurales
    1. Lauraceae
      1. Bay laurel
      2. Cinnamon
      3. Sassafras
      4. Avocado
  5. Alismatales
    1. Araceae: Colocasia esculenta –  taro root
  6.  Asparagales
    1. Alliaceae (=Amaryllidaceae)
      1. Onion
      2. Shallot
      3. Garlic
      4. Ramps
      5. Leek
      6. Scallion
      7. Chives
    2. Asparagaceae
      1. Asparagus
      2. Agave
    3. Orchidaceae: Vanilla
    4. Iridaceae: saffron
  7. Dioscoreales
    1. Dioscoreaceae: Yam (not sweet potato)
  8. Arecales
    1. Arecaceae
      1. Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
      2. Dates (Phoenix dactylifera)
      3. Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis)
      4. Heart of palm
      5. palm sugar
      6. carnauba wax
      7. Açaí and other palm fruits
  9. Zingiberales
    1. Musaceae: Banana and plantain
    2. Zingiberaceae
      1. Ginger
      2. Cardamom
      3. Turmeric
  10. Poales
    1. Bromeliaceae: pineapple
    2. Poaceae
      1. Wheat
      2. Rice
      3. Corn
      4. Teff
      5. Millet
      6. Rye
      7. Oat
      8. Barley
      9. Sugarcane
      10. Sorghum
      11. Lemongrass
      12. Bamboo
  11. Ranunculales
    1. Papaveraceae: Poppyseed
    2. Ranunculaceae: Nigella seeds
    3. Berberidaceae: Berberis (barberry)
  12. Proteales
    1. Proteaceae: Macadamia
  13.  Saxifragales
    1. Grossulariaceae: Currant and Gooseberry
  14. Vitales
    1. Vitaceae: Grape
  15. Oxalidales
    1. Oxalidaceae
      1. Star fruit (Averrhoa carambola)
      2. Oca (Oxalis tuberosa)
  16. Malpighiales
    1. Passifloraceae: Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis)
    2. Euphorbiaceae:
      1. Cassava, manioc (Manihot esculenta)
      2. Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis)
    3. Linaceae: flax
  17. Fagales
    1. Fagaceae: chestnut (Castanea)
    2. Betulaceae:
      1. hazelnut/filbert (Corylus)
      2. birch (Betula)
    3. Juglandaceae
      1. Walnut
      2. Hickory and Pecan
  18. Cucurbitales
    1. Cucurbitaceae
      1. The Cucurbita pepo group:  acorn squash, gem squash, pattypan squash, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, yellow crookneck squash, yellow summer squash, zucchini
      2. Other squashes (mostly Cucurbita maxima and C. moschata):  butternut, hubbard, delicata, turban, banana, kobocha
      3. Melons:  honeydew, muskmelon, cantaloupe, watermelon
      4. Cucumber
      5. Chayote squash
      6. horned melon
      7. bitter melon
      8. monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii)
  19. Rosales
    1. Rosaceae
      1. Rose
      2. Prunus spp.
        1. Almond (Prunus dulcis)
        2. Prunus persica
          1. Peach
          2. Nectarine
        3. Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)
        4. Cherry (Prunus avium)
        5. Plum (Prunus domestica)
        6. sloe (blackthorn; Prunus spinosa)
        7. chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
        8. beach plum (Prunus maritima)
        9. cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera)
        10. many other species (430 in all)
      3. Rubus spp.:  raspberry, blackberry, others
      4. Strawberry
      5. Apple
      6. Pear
      7. Saskatoon berry (Amelanchier)
      8. medlar
      9. quince
      10. loquat
      11. Aronia (chokeberries)
    2. Moraceae
      1. Fig
      2. Mulberry
      3. jackfruit and breadfruit
    3. Urticaceae: Nettles
    4. Elaeagnaceae
      1. sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
      2. soapberries (Shepherdia spp.)
      3. Elaeagnus multiflora
    5. Cannabaceae
      1. hops
      2. hemp
  20. Fabales
    1. Fabaceae
      1. Tamarind
      2. String Beans (various)
      3. Dry Beans (various, black-eyed peas, chick peas)
      4. Lentils
      5. Peas
      6. Carob
      7. Peanut
      8. Jicama
      9. Soy
  21. Myrtales
    1. Lythraceae: Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
    2. Myrtaceae
      1. Clove
      2. Guava
      3. Allspice
      4. feijoa
  22. Brassicales
    1. Brassicaceae
      1. Brassica oleracea: Kale, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Collard Greens
      2. Mustard greens
      3. Napa cabbage
      4. Mizuna
      5. Bok choi
      6. Mustard
      7. Radishes
      8. Canola Oil
      9. Rutabagas
      10. Turnip
      11. Horseradish/wasabi
      12. Watercress
      13. Arugula
      14. Tatsoi
      15. Maca
    2. Caricaceae: Papaya
    3. Capparaceae: Capers
    4. Tropaeolaceae
      1. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
      2. Mashwa (Tropaeolum tuberosum)
  23. Sapindales
    1. Sapindaceae: Maple syrup (Acer species)
    2. Anacardiaceae  (poison oak/ivy/sumac family)
      1. Mango
      2. Pistachio
      3. Cashew
      4. Pink peppercorns (Schinus terebinthifolius)
    3. Rutaceae
      1. Citrus: lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, bergamot, various citrons, kaffir lime leaves
      2. Sichuan peppercorns (Zanthoxylum simulans)
  24. Malvales
    1. Bixaceae: annato/achiote
    2.  Malvaceae
      1. Cocoa, chocolate (Theobroma cacao)
      2. Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
      3. Durian fruit
      4. Okra
      5. Hibiscus flower tea
  25. Caryophyllales
    1. Polygonaceae
      1. Buckwheat
      2. Rhubarb
      3. Sorrel
    2. Portulacaceae: Purslane and miner’s lettuce
    3. Caryophyllaceae: chickweed
    4.  Basellaceae:
      1. Malabar Spinach (Basella alba)
      2. ullucu (Ullucus tuberosus)
    5.  Cactaceae
      1. Dragon fruit
      2. Prickly Pear fruits and pads
    6. Amaranthaceae
      1. Amaranth seeds and leaves
      2. Quinoa
      3. Spinach
      4. Chard
      5. Beets
      6. Sea beans (Salicornia)
  26. Ericales
    1. Actinidiaceae: Kiwifruit fuzziness and greenness
    2. Theaceae: Tea
    3. Ericaceae
      1. Cranberry
      2. Blueberry
      3. Huckleberry
      4. Wintergreen
    4. Lecythidaceae: Brazilnut
    5. Ebenaceae: Persimmon (Diospyros species)
    6. Sapotaceae:
      1. Sapodilla, sapote, chicle (Manilkara)
      2. lúcuma (Manilkara)
      3. shea
      4. “miracle fruit” (Synsepalum dulcificum)
      5. argan oil (Argania spinosa)
  27. Gentianales
    1. Rubiaceae
      1. coffee
      2. cinchona
  28. Solanales
    1. Solanaceae
      1. Tomato
      2. Potato
      3. Eggplant
      4. Tobacco
      5. Peppers
      6. Tomatillo
      7. Andean and Himalayan and tropical sweet fruits:  Inca golden berries and goji berries and tree tomatoes, ground cherries
    2. Convolvulaceae: Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), not yam
  29. Lamiales
    1. Verbenaceae: lemon verbena
    2.  Lamiaceae
      1. Herbs such as mint, thyme, basil, marjoram, savory, oregano, lavender, rosemary, sage, hyssop, lemon balm
      2. Chia seeds
      3. African Livingstone potato tubers (Plectranthus esculentus and P. rotundifolius)
    3. Oleaceae: Olive
    4. Pedaliaceae: Sesame (Sesamum)
  30. Aquifoliales
    1. Aquifoliaceae: Yerba mate, holly (Ilex paraguariensis)
  31. Dipsacales
    1. Caprifoliaceae
      1. Valerian
      2. Lamb’s lettuce/mâche
      3. Honeyberry (Lonicera caerulea)
    2. Adoxaceae
      1. Elderberry (Sambucus)
      2. Nannyberry and highbush cranberry (Viburnum spp.)
  32. Boraginales: Boraginaceae: comfrey and borage
  33.  Asterales
    1. Campanulaceae: Rapunzel
    2.  Asteraceae
      1. Tarragon
      2. Sunflower (seeds, sprouts)
      3. Lettuce
      4. Artichoke
      5. Sunchoke
      6. Chicories
      7. Dandelion
      8. Edible chyrysanthemum
      9. Yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolius)
      10. Chamomile
      11. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
  34. Apiales
    1. Apiaceae
      1. Carrot (root, tops)
      2. Celery (root, stem/leaves, seed)
      3. Parsley (root and leaves)
      4. Cilantro/coriander
      5. Cumin
      6. Fennel (stems, seeds)
      7. Caraway
      8. Anise seed
      9. Parsnip
      10. Dill
      11. Chervil
      12. Lovage
      13. Ajwain
      14. Angelica
      15. Arracacia xanthorrhiza root

8 responses to “Outline View (with links)

  1. Is the list accurate? Why would an American supermarket have hemlock in it (No.32 x)?

    Like

    • The list is biologically accurate to the best of our knowledge. You’re right that we do have a few interesting or charismatic species on the list that are not technically food but that help our understanding of the relationships among and biology of species in those clades. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  2. It’s difficult to find experienced people in this particular topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking
    about! Thanks

    Like

  3. Pingback: Our Easter Bunny is a Botanist | The Botanist in the Kitchen

  4. I may be missing something obvious here, but what is the organization of the angiosperms based on? It seems to me that an alphabetical organization would be more helpful in a list format such as this. Is the organization based on phylogenetic relationships?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lawrence Kirkendall

    As someone who teaches evolution and loves cooking, I love this! but as someone who recently was doing research in Chile’s monkey puzzle forests, you might want to correct the spelling of Araucaria 😉
    And a tiny quibble–wouldn’t it be better to say that cacao is from a plant in the Malvaceae, rather than chocolate is …, since the latter is a processed food based on the former? You wouldn’t say that masa harina comes from a plant in Poaceae, would you?

    Like

    • katherineapreston

      Thanks for catching the spelling error, which has been fixed. I also changed the way chocolate is listed. Thanks for the feedback.

      Like

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