- Paperback: 194 pages
- Publisher: ECHO; 3rd edition (October 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0965336018
- ISBN-13: 978-0965336017
- Package Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,718,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Edible Leaves of the Tropics, Third Edition Paperback – October 1, 1998
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About the Author
Dr. Frank Martin was head of the United States Department of AGriculture's Tropical Agricultural Research Station in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico for some years, where he spent most of his career conducting research concerning edible tropical crops and writing articles, books and bulletins on the subject of useful tropical and subtropical plants.
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Published by Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, Inc. 1998
To purchase this book or for more information contact: ECHO, 17430 Durrance Road, North Fort Meyers, FL, 33917; Email: ECHO@echonet.org; Website: http://www.echonet.org
This book contains ten chapters: (1) the place of green leaves in the diet, (2) the principal edible green leaf herbs of the tropics, (3) some vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants with edible leaves, (4) common weeds with edible green leaves, (5) tropical trees with edible green leaves, (6) tropical leaves as spices and teas, (7) temperate zone green leaves in the tropics, (8) lettuce in the tropics, (9) tropical leaves that are poisonous, (10) culture and care of green-leaved vegetables.
Chapter one contains a helpful list of other books with information on edible leaves. Unfortunately many of these books are hard to find because they were not recently published. For example, A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula (Burkill 1935) was published in 1935 and therefore difficult to obtain.
Chapter two was helpful in that it lists many edible plants which are perennial (i.e. can grow for several years) (i.e. xanthosoma brasiliense, basella alba a.k.a malabar spinach, gynura crepioides (okinawa spinach), ipomoea batatas (sweet potato), ipomoea aquatica (kangkon, water spinach , manihot esculenta (cassava), sauropus androgynus (katuk), sauropus, hibiscus sabdariffa (roselle).
Chapter three mentions which vegetables and fruits have edible leaves. For example, the young developing leaves of corn are edible. Leaves of young onions are edible. The spicy shoots of ginger (consisting of young leaves folded around each other) are edible. Leaves of okra, carrots, radishes, and eggplant are also all edible. Many fruit trees have edible leaves as well. For example, the leaves of mangoes, ambarella, durian, soursop, bignay, gooseberry, papayas, coffee can all be eaten.
Chapter four lists some common weeds with edible green leaves, including moonflower, mustard, butterfly pea, s macrocarpon. But the reader is cautioned that many of these plants, when eaten excessively, can be poisonous.
Chapter five lists tropical trees with edible leaves including coral trees, dwarf bucare, (p.47), g gnemon trees, pisonia alba (nyctaginaceac)(tree lettuce), neem, moringa.
Chapter six lists various tropical leaves used as spices. In fact, 52 tropical spices are listed in table 2 and 20 plant leaves used in tea are listed in table 3 of this chaper. But the chief spices of the tropics are not from the leaves, but from other plant parts, as with pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, chili peppers, cardamon, and nutmeg.
Chapter seven provides some information about temperate zone green leaves in the tropics. The chapter primarily describes different types of cabbages but it also describes chicory, endive, swiss chard, beet greens, celery, and a few miscellaneous species.
Chapter eight discusses different types of lettuce that can be grown in the tropics.
Chapter nine discusses tropical leaves that are poisonous.
Chapter ten discusses the culture and care of green-leafed vegetables such as climate, moisture, soils, fertilization, soil preparation, care and harvest.
The book ends with 56 helpful photos and illustrations of some of the plants mentioned in the book.
Strengths and weaknesses of the book
This book was a helpful resource which is readily available to the public. Many similar books are now out of print because they were published decades ago. The authors provide helpful advice in that they recommend cooking the vegetables because cooking reduces bacterial and fungal contaminants, tends to wash off any pesticides, and changes the nature of some nutrients (p. x).
The book did have a few weaknesses. One weakness was that the book had no glossary. A glossary would have been helpful for those of us who are not experts in agriculture. For example, the word ‘crucifers’ was used on the first page of the first chapter. But many readers may not know that crucifers are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae).
The book spoke of drying green leaves and preserving them as powder. But no instructions were given for this practice and no reference was given for those of us who would like to know how to do this (p.1). However, Motis and Berkelaar (2012) did have a short overview of this topic.
Also many of the plants mentioned in the book did not have corresponding photos or sketches or at least did not mention where to find those corresponding photos or sketches.
Most of the readers of this book would probably like to know where to obtain seeds for the plants mentioned in the book. The book did have a section for seed sources but most of the companies listed were not located in the tropics (p. 151). After this current reviewer contacted many of them asking for certain seeds listed in this book, the seed companies said that they did not carry those seeds since there are not selling tropical seeds. But this is not a shortcoming of the book. This is a shortcoming of the seed distribution system in the tropics.
However, overall this book is recommended for farmers, development workers, survivalists, and anyone else wanting to learn how to plant and eat what they plant in the tropics.
Burkill, H.L. 1935. A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula. Crown Agents for the Colonies, London. 2402. Pp.
Motis, Timothy N. and Dawn R. Berkelaar. 2012. Agricultural options for the poor: A handbook for those who seek to serve them. Fort Meyers, FL: Echo. p. 175.