10 Deliciously Exotic Plants, Fruits and Vegetables

(Part of an Exclusive WebEcoist Series on Amazing Trees, Plants, Forests and Flowers)

Move over, peas and carrots. There are thousands of edible plants, fruits and vegetables on earth, some of them truly odd looking but tasty nonetheless. If you haven’t dined on a romanescu or partaken of dragon fruit, you’ve missed out. Take a look at some of these wacky foods enjoyed throughout the world – “normal” is all in the eye of the beholder.


Kiwano Melon

(Image via ornosnatch)

The “steadfastly inedible” spiky kiwano melon is a beloved fruit in many cultures; it’s often called a “Cuke-asaurus”. Bearing resemblance to an excessively goopy bowl of cucumber seeds, this gelatinous fruit tastes like sweet cucumber, with a slight tart aftertaste.

Romanescu

(Image via docman)

Romanescu, or Romanesco, is closely related to cauliflower. If you enjoy cauliflower or broccoli you’ll like this unique fractal vegetable. It’s quite healthy being loaded with antioxidants.

Buddha’s Hand

(Image via Edible Eden)

The Buddha’s Hand, or fingered citron (no jokes please) is a popular and fragrant citrus fruit commonly consumed in Asia. If you can get through the thick peel you will find a tiny amount of seedless, rather dry flesh that is reminiscent of a lemon.

Durian

(Image via nuruhlraman)

The Durian defies explanation: but Weird Food has attempted to describe this foul, yet religiously revered fruit that is simultaneously adored…and banned from public spaces. “A fruit as big as a football, covered with tough spiky skin. The pulp is pale yellow, with shape and consistency of raw brains. Smell has been compared to rotting flesh, old gym socks, or sewage. Yet the taste has been called so exquisite that a European explorer of the 1700′s claimed it was worth the journey to experience it; “the King of fruits.” Many believe it aphrodisiac and hold durian-eating parties. Most hotels, and so on, forbid it on the premises. In Malaysia, a friend of mine witnessed someone on a bus grab another person’s durian and throw it out the window, after another passenger threw up.”

Monstera Deliciosa

(Image via wikipedia)

Bring a delicious monster into your home today. This unusual coughphalliccough fruit is not well known in the U.S. but it’s popular elsewhere as a food and houseplant, and it is very tasty. Monstera deliciosa has a rather unpleasant pungent odor that it emits while the kernels ripen and pop off; once they do, the sweet pineapple like flesh beneath can be consumed.

Paw Paw

(Image via wikimedia)

Did you know there’s a North American banana? The paw-paw, or prairie banana, Hoosier banana or poor man’s banana, grows in the southeastern United States. Resembling bananas, but shorter and with a more fragrant smell when ripe, these are a popular local treat but are not yet available commercially.

Dragon Fruit

(Image via agriculture products)

The dragon fruit or pitaya is an angry red fireball on the outside, a creamy sweet treat on the inside. Filled with a white flesh speckled throughout with tiny black edible seeds, the fruit looks like oreo cookie ice cream and tastes like a mild, sweet and creamy fruit with texture like a kiwi.

Jabotacaba

(Images via togofcoralgables)

No, it’s not a bug infestation on your favorite tree. It’s a fruit that cuts out the middle man, so to speak, of the stem or flower. The long lived tree produces sweet, plum-like fruit.

Star Fruit

(Image via Oahu Dreams)

The geometrically pleasing starfruit is firm, juicy, and sweet with a tart tinge. It tastes a bit like a grape, mango and lemon all in one. Also called the carombola, it is native to Sri Lanka but now raised throughout the world and popularly consumed in many places. It is high in oxalic acid so it is not good for those with kidney problems; too much should not be eaten at once due to the high acid content in general.

Goatsbeard

(Image via BBC)

Goatsbeard, or salsify, is popular in both Europe and the southern United States. The flowers and stems are not eaten; it’s the pungent root that is popular. Because it tastes somewhat like oysters, this fishy-flavored root is often called oyster plant. It is used to add savory flavor to everything from soups to stews.

Look for more wacky and weird edible house plants, fruits and vegetables soon. Sign up for the RSS feed so you don’t miss out. For more oddities of the world, be sure to check out the strangest endangered animals, strange plant defense mechanisms, and unusual animal self defense.

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