Individual crops in the World Crops Database



Safflower is a thistle-like plant with yellow, orange or red flowers. It is cultivated to extract vegetable oil from the seeds.

Flowers of Safflower are sometimes used as a cheaper substitute for saffron, which is why it is sometimes called “bastard saffron”.

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Basil is a culinary herb which is used a lot in Italian food. It is also common in certain dishes of Northeast and Southeast Asia. There are different varieties of basil, each with a slightly different taste.

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St John’s wort

St John's wort

St John's wort, is a medicinal herb that is used to treat depression. It is grown commercially in some parts of south east Europe, but in other places it is considered a weed. The plant is poisonous to grazing livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, horses).

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Tuber vegetables - Jicama

Jicama is a vine with edible tuberous root which can be eaten raw. After peeling the skin the tuberous roots look a bit like potato and have a watery but fresh taste.

The seeds of the plant are toxic as they contain rotenone, which is a pesticide used to kill insects and fish.

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Indian screw tree

Pods of Indian screw tree

The Indian Screw Tree is a shrub which can be found in Asia (India, South china, Thailand, Malaysia, Java) and Australia. The fruits are pods that are twisted like a screw with a pointed tip.

This plant is sometimes classified in the Malvaceae family but sometimes in a different family: Sterculiaceae.

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Snow fungus

Snow fungus

Snow fungus (also White jelly mushroom) consists of white, gelatinous fruiting bodies, which measure about 7 centimeters. It is commercially cultivated and very popular in China, often used in soups or savory dishes. It has a crispy rubbery texture.

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White goosefoot

White goosefoot

White goosefoot is usually considered a weed but it is cultivated in some regions and used as a leaf vegetable. It is sometimes called pigweed, which is confusing as that name is also used for Common purslane and for Amaranthus spp.

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Ceiba flowers

Kapok or Ceiba is a large tropical tree which produces a type of cotton. These fibers are the hairs that grow on the seeds and are used as a filling in mattresses, pillows, padding of seats, stuffed toys, and for insulation.

Kapok originates from Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean.

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Irises are flowering plants in the genus Iris which includes many wild and cultivated species. The flowers are gold-yellow, yellow, white, blue, or purple, but cultivated varieties can have different colors (pink, orange, etc.).

Cultivated irises are used as ornamental plants in gardens or as cut flowers.

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Jojoba fruits

Jojoba is a shrub which is grown for the jojoba oil, a liquid wax in its seeds.

The jojoba oil has various uses for example as lubricating oil, in pharmaceutical products, as bio-diesel fuel, or cooking oil.

Jojoba originates from North America and is cultivated in desert and semi-desert regions.

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Wild rice

Wild rice

Four species in the genus Zizania are known as wild rice, but they should not be confused with Asian rice (Oryza sativa), which is a plant in a different genus.

Of all species the grains can be used as a cereal, but the Manchurian wild rice is nowadays mainly cultivated in China to use the thickened stems as a vegetable.

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Job’s tears

Job's tears

Job’s tears is a tropical plant in the grasses family which is sometimes used as a cereal. It is also sometimes grown as an ornamental plant.

In China it is used together with other herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.

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Fonio or White fonio (Digitaria exilis) is a cereal crop grown in the savannas of West Africa. It has very small seeds and is therefore one of the cereals that are called “millets”. Sometimes it is called “hungry rice”.

A related species Digitaria iburua is called Black fonio.

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Winter purslane

Winter purslane is a small annual plant which originates from North America and which is used as a leaf vegetable. It is sometimes called Miner's lettuce because during the California Gold Rush miners used to eat it as a source of vitamin C.

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Common daisy

Daisies are flowers with a yellow center with white petals. They are often seen growing wild in lawns.

But daisies are also cultivated, for example as ground cover in gardens.

Daisy young leaves are edible and can be used raw in salads or cooked. Also flower buds and petals are edible and can be used in salads or soups or as a tea.

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Spelt wheat

Spelt is a primitive type of wheat. It is an annual plant in the grasses family (Poaceae) which was already cultivated as a cereal 8 – 9,000 years ago.

Spelt wheat originates from the Fertile Crescent of the Near East, the same region where also other early cereals such as emmer wheat and barley were grown.

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Sweetleaf or Stevia is a plant originating from South America. It is known for its sweet leaves, which are used to make sweeteners, which are also known as “stevia”.

In Brazil and Paraguay the leaves have been in use for hundreds of years, not only as sweetener but also as a traditional medicine.

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Lemon verbena

Lemon verbena is a small shrub which is used as a herb. It has a typical lemon flavor. The leaves are used to make herbal tea or to flavor fish, poultry, salad dressings, jams, puddings, tea, etc. Lemon verbena can also be used in potpourri.

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Common Dandelion

Dandelion greens

Often considered a weed, the common dandelian can also be used as a medical herb and as food. Dandelion leaves can be collected from the wild but are also sometimes grown to be used as a leaf vegetable. Young leaves and unopened buds are used raw in salads. Older leaves are cooked.

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Canary grass

Canary grass

Canary grass is a relatively unknown cereal which is grown mainly for birdseed. This plant which belongs to the grasses family (Poaceae) originates from the Mediterranean region.

Most canary grass is produced in Canada and Thailand.

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Jack bean

Jack bean, is a legume which originates from Central America. The entire plant can be used as a fodder for animals. The beans are sometimes eaten but they are slightly toxic and should be boiled to remove the toxicity.

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Shiitake mushroom

Shiitake mushroom is an edible mushroom which originates from East Asia. The first part of the name (shii) is the Japanese name for a tree. Shiitake mushrooms are grown on dead wood of this tree.

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Açaí palm

Acai palm with fruits

Açaí is a palm which is cultivated for its fruits. These Açaí berries are edible and often used to make fruit drinks. Also the Açaí palm heart is edible and can be used as a vegetable.

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Tangerine is a variety of the Mandarin orange. There are many varieties of tangerine with different colors and taste. Some are called tangerine, others are called mandarins, and sometimes these names are mixed. Clementines are seedless tangerines.

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Centella, or Asiatic pennywort, is a medicinal herb, which is used in traditional African and traditional Chinese medicine. Some claim that it can cure or help relieve arthritis.

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The Kudzu vine is a fast growing plant that originates from east and southeast Asia, where it is used for erosion prevention and soil improvement. Other uses include animal feed and it is used in traditional medicines. Fibers of the plant are known as ko-hemp and can be used to make clothing or paper.

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Most olives are produced in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea where the orchards with their garbled trees are a typical part of the landscape. Olive trees are usually cultivated to produce olive oil, which is a high quality edible oil used for cooking and in salads.

Olive trees can be very old, sometimes several centuries.

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Oat is a cereal that used to be the staple food for people in Scotland. In most other countries its main use is as a fodder for livestock. When oats are used for human consumption it is often in the form of oatmeal or rolled oats which are used to prepare oat porridge or oat cookies.

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Rye is closely related to wheat and barley. It grows in temperate climates and is the most winter hardy of all cereals.

Rye is usually grown for its grain, which can be used to make dark (sometimes almost black) rye bread, but can also be used as a fodder crop.

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Sorghum is an important cereal in relatively drier tropical regions. Usually it is grown for the grain, as a fodder crop or as a biofuel. Globally it is now the 5th important cereal after maize, rice, wheat and barley, but in Africa it is the second most important cereal after maize.

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In the highlands of Ethiopia the main staple food grown is Tef or Teff, which is a very fine grass-like cereal. Tef flour is used to prepare ‘injera’ or ‘enjera’, which is a soft spongy bread that looks like a pancake. In a few other countries tef is grown to produce hay as a fodder crop.

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Wheat is worldwide the third most-important cereal after maize and rice, but it is the most important cereal of the temperate regions. It has been cultivated domestically for at least 11,000 years. Wheat flour has many uses, but its main use is to make bread, a staple food for many people around the world.

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Oyster mushroom

Oyster mushrooms

The Oyster mushroom is an edible mushroom species which was first cultivated in Germany during World War I. Nowadays it is used worldwide. It can be collected from the wild or it can be cultivated commercially on straw and other media.

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Cumin is a plant in the Apiaceae family, which makes it a relative of carrots and parsley.

Cumin seeds are used as a spice either whole or ground to a powder. It is used in the cuisines of various cultures.

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Miracle fruit

Miracle fruit

Whenever you eat Miracle fruit followed by food with a sour taste, you will find that the sour food suddenly tastes sweet.

The name Miracle fruit is also used for some other plant species which also can change the perceived sweetness of food.

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Asian pear

Asian pears

The Asian pear originates from China, Japan and Korea but is now also cultivated outside Asia.

The Asian pear (or Nashi pear) is sometimes called 'Apple pear', but it is not a cross between apples and pears, as this name suggests. It is a pear that rather looks like an apple.

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