5 Unusual Vegetables That You Probably Know Nothing About

Maybe you are a vegetarian and you touch no meat in your diet. Variety in vegetables is what you need; that is exactly what I am about to share to you. Sometimes you need change but what the supermarket offers is the usual. With minimum creativity your backyard can offer the variety you are looking for. These varieties may prove more nutritious than the usual cabbages, kales and spinach. Try them out.

Banana Flower

Banana blossom can be cooked as a vegetable

Banana flowers at the market (Image: Takeaway/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The unopened flower bud of a banana is a very tasty vegetable that is ignored by many Westerners. Banana blossom and banana hearts are commonly used in Asian cooking. Both the purplish bracts, or petals, and the undeveloped bananas can be eaten, as well as the heart.

I just use the petals. Chop the petals into pieces. Wash in hot water to remove the grease. Fry the banana flower in cooking oil with onions and tomatoes. You may add other spices if you love them.



Stinging Nettles As a Vegetable

Stinging nettle can be cooked like spinach or kale Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica
(Image: AllAnd/Pixabay/CC0)

This type of vegetable is very nutritious. Not all varieties are edible and one should be very careful. The nettle with the fleshy hairy and wider leaves happens to be the best. It is called Urtica species. Apart from it being a delicious vegetable, it has many medicinal values.

Cover your hands with gloves and cut the soft end stem with a knife. Boil it a bit to kill the stinging hair. Fry as you would do with kale.

Leaves of the Sweet Potato Vine

Sweet potato leaves can be eaten Sweet potato leaf, or camote top, can be eaten as a vegetable (Image: sarangib/Pixabay/CC0)

Sweet potato leaves are a very sweet vegetable that is enjoyed in both Africa and Asia. They are sometimes called camote tops. Pick the especially soft ones and wash them. Prepare and serve this vegetable as you would do kale or cabbage.

Pumpkin Leaves as a Vegetable

Pumpkin greens Pumpkin leaves are edible, as are the flowers
(Image: lentchok/Pixabay/CC0)

Pumpkin leaf is rich in minerals that are required by the body. Pluck the fresh young ones, including the stalk. Expertly remove the hard  fibers that are on both sides of the leaf. If you begin at the stalk, break a piece from inside out and peel as you would a banana. The fibre will come out easily. Do the same on the inside of the leaf. Then wash thoroughly and cut into small pieces.

Cooking pumpkin greens can be a challenge since you will need a kind of soda ash. We make our own from the ash burnt from banana leaves or dry bean stalks. Take the ash and put in a sieve. Add water and collect the sieved water. Put the soda ash, mixed with two cups of fresh water, in a pot and heat to a boil. Add your vegetables and stir till cooked. Add salt. You can fry it or eat like that. (Editor’s note: Other cooking methods exist that don’t require the ash)


Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew is an edible green Wandering Jew, or Tradescantia
(Image: Lynn Greyling/PublicDomainPictures/CC0)

This is a very notorious weed that is known to terrorize our farms. The weed is unstoppable and seems to announce a ‘No retreat and no surrender’ slogan. Yet it is a vegetable. Our forefathers ate it and lived long.

The preparation of wandering jew is very simple. You should just pluck the soft budding parts, then you wash them clean. You then chop them into small pieced and cook just like the pumpkin leaves. I hope you won’t mind its mucus state. Feed on.


Featured image: stevepb/Pixabay/CC0




  1. Tania K Cowling

    Interesting article. I have seen many of these plants in the yard, but never thought to cook them as a meal. The only encounter my family has had with stinging nettle is when they have walked over it with bare feet. Very painful.

  2. Gina M. Menorca

    Wandering jew and stinging nettles never heard of them. I don’t think they grow in our country. but the other vegetables you mention, we have them. and yes, you are right. I have already tried them all. In fact, I will try your cooking suggestion.

  3. Treathyl FOX

    Amazing tasty veggies and all this time I could have been eating the leaves too??!! So basically, we could feed a lot more hungry people in the world with food that we have been probably been throwing away because we didn’t know folks could eat it! Incredible! Great post!! 🙂

  4. Vickie Ewell

    Interesting article. I used to raise Wandering Jew as a houseplant. I didn’t know I could eat it! I’ve heard of people taking pumpkins and squash blossoms, dipping them in batter, and frying them, but I have never tried that myself.

  5. Ceci

    I am Asian, I know the banana flowers can be eaten, but not Pumpkin leaves, it may varies from races too, I think.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *