Ginko Leaves The Odd Ones
The plants shown here are not necessarily "odd" - some are quite common, but they belong to small families or families that provide very few foods. Others really are odd. Some that were here have been moved to appropriate families or orders, and others will be as time permits.   Photo of Ginkgo Leaves in Autumn by Joe Schneid distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

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Arrowhead - [kuwai (Japanese), ci gu (China), Sagittaria sagittifolia (Asian)] - [Duck Poatao, Indian Potato, Broadleaf Arrowhead, Wapato Sagittaria latifolia (North American)]

The Asian species of this acquatic plant is seasonably available in Asian markets in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The tubers can be eaten raw or cooked. They are bland and starchy much like potato but when cooked are somewhat crunchier than potato. The photo specimens were 2-1/4 inches diameter and weighed 3 ounces each. They do not keep well even refrigerated so should be cooked within a couple of days.

Boiled arrowhead tubers figure prominently in both Chinese and Japanese New Years celebrations. They can also be sliced and deep fried like potato chips.

The North American version is not sold commercially. It was at one time eaten by the North American Indians but today is eaten mainly by beavers, porcupines and muskrats.

Drumstick Tree - [Horseradish Tree, Malunggay (Philippines), Sajina (India) Moringa oleifera]
These have been moved to Brassicales.

Ginkgo - [Ginkgo biloba]
Nuts/Leaves The Ginkgo doesn't actually belong here because it isn't a flowering plant - but it doesn't belong anywhere else either, so here it is. This tree has been with us for at least 270 million years and was widespread in the Jurassic an Cretaceous periods. While remarkably enduring, it evolved very slowly and was largely displaced by the flowering magnolia and it's rapidly evolving offspring. Finally, only a minor population remained in China, but it has now been planted worldwide as a popular decorative. Only male trees are planted in most places because the fruit contains butanoic acid which smells like very rancid butter. In China, female trees are widely cultivated for the seeds, sold here as "White Nut" in Asian groceries.

Dietary supplements made from extract of ginkgo leaves are thought to improve memory but this is controversial. The suplements are approved for treatment of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in Germany. I took them for that purpose when I contracted that problem from a certain brand of Australian red wine, but I'm not sure if they helped or the problem went away on its own. What is known is that ginkgo improves circulation in small blood vesels, reduces clotting and contains strong antioxidants.

The seeds are used in a number of Asian dishes and highly esteemed there, but should not be eaten by themselves in quantity over a long period of time because they cause poisoning by MPN (4-methoxypyridoxine). In the quantities called for by recipes and with the frequency such recipes are likely to be used they are perfectly safe.

Ginseng - [Panax quinquefolius (American), Panax ginseng (Korean)]
These have been moved to Parsley & Aralias.

Jujube - [Red Date, Chinese Date, Annab (Persia (dried)), Taejuja (Korea), Ziziphus zizyphus]
These have been moved to Buckthorns.

Mâche   -   [Corn Salad, Lamb's Lettuce, Fetticus, Field Salad, Feldsalat, Nut Lettuce, Rapunzel; Valerianella locusta]
This has been moved to Order Dipsacales.

Mangosteen - [Garcinia mangostana]
This fruit has been moved to Mangosteens.

Mauca - [Mauka, Chago, Mirabilis expansa]
This plant has been moved to Carnations.

Nettles - [Stinging Nettles; Urtica dioica]
This plant has been moved to Rosales.

Olluco - [Papa lisa (South America); Melloco (Ecuador); Olluco (Peru); Chugua (Colombia); Ruba (Venezuela); Ullucus tuberosus]
This plant has been moved to Carnations.

Papaya - [pawpaw, mamao, lechoza, Carica papaya]
These have been moved to Brassicales.

Pineapple [Ananas comosus]
Pineapple Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae) are a large family of fleshy leaved tropical and subtropical plants all originating from South America (with one genus established on the west central coast of Africa). They are very popular decorative plants and are also important in South America for food and fiber.

The Pineapple is the only bromeliad familiar as food in North America. There are several patented varieties sold in the U.S. and plenty of lawsuits as to who owns what. Taken throughout the tropics by the Spanish and Portuguese, the largest production is now in China and Southeast Asia, though Hawaii and Costa Rica produce most sold fresh in the USA.

South American pineapples are green when ripe but some of the patented varieties, particularly from Hawaii, are green and gold when ripe. Appearance and smell are the indicators of ripeness, not thumping or pulling leaves, and they do not ripen more once picked. Pineapples sold here in Southern Calfiornia are about 4 to 5 pounds. The photo specimen, a 4-1/2 pound fruit, yielded about 2-1/2 pounds (56%) when trimmed and cored. Chopped it's about 7-1/2 ounces per cup.

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