It may never have even crossed your mind, but take a moment to think of what vegetables you know of that grow on trees. None coming to mind?
Technically, any part of the plant that is involved in propagation, that is, the spreading of seeds, is known as a fruit. Vegetables are considered any part of the plant that is not the fruit.
This means that any edible part of a tree other than the fruit can in fact be considered a vegetable that “grows” on trees! Read on to learn more about this fascinating topic,
Vegetables: More Connected to Trees Than You Think!
What Exactly Is a Vegetable?
Most likely many of us have never taken the time to learn what a vegetable truly is. For us, it may just be the potatoes or broccoli served as a side with our dinner.
The line between fruit and vegetable is actually quite muddy. If you speak to a botanist their idea of a vegetable will be quite different from that of a culinarian.
Vegetables are in fact any part of the plant that is not the fruit. Meaning that any part of the plant that is not a seed-bearing structure is considered a vegetable.
Yes, that includes the stems, leaves, and even roots of the plant. All of these parts are considered vegetables.
This is why most vegetables that “grow” on trees are in fact part of the tree itself!
The use of the term “vegetable” in culinary terms is in fact solely subjective. It all depends on what the use of the product is in the dish.
For example, chefs tend to classify eggplants, bell peppers, and tomatoes as vegetables even if these are scientifically the fruit of their respective plants.
Mushrooms, although belonging to the biological kingdom of fungi, are also commonly considered vegetables due to their use and function in cooking.
Due to the fact that “vegetable” is not actually a botanical term, there’s no contradiction when referring to a plant part as a fruit when it is also considered a vegetable.
It may sound confusing, but given that general rule of thumb, we can classify vegetables as the leaves, stems, roots, flowers, bulbs, and seeds of the plant.
Of course, botanical fruits such as cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins may also fall under the umbrella of “vegetable”.
Now, with this information, we can understand why all edible parts of a tree can be considered a vegetable that “grows” on trees!
Examples Vegetables that “Grow” on Trees!
Since we now know that any part of a tree that we are able to eat can actually be considered a vegetable listing the various vegetables that “grow” on trees won’t be an issue at all.
Vegetables such as the Malunggay are indeed merely the leaves of the tree. But these are considered vegetables as they are served up and mixed in with many South American, African, and Asian dishes.
Additionally, the cassava is actually a tuberous root that is part of the cassava tree. Growing underground it may not even cross our minds that it is part of the tree itself.
As discussed earlier, other parts of the plant that are to be considered vegetables are the leaves, stems, roots, flowers, bulbs, and seeds.
Most trees do not have edible stems or trunks, but it may be surprising to learn that some tree bark, such as pine, is edible!
Although you won’t find this vegetable at your dinner table nowadays, in the past people (such as Native Americans) would often include the inner bark of pines as a staple of their diets.
This was so common in the past that in some areas of North America, early explorers recorded acres of trees totally stripped of their bark in order to supply food for the locals.
Not only that, but pine bark bread has been made for centuries in Sweden and Finland.
Other than the bark of the pine tree, tea can also be made out of the leaves of the tree. Pine needle tea is a healthy and vitamin-rich drink.
Just one cup of pine need tea contains up to five times the daily requirement of vitamin C. Truly, the pine genus is a surprising one for providing us with delicious vegetables.
In addition to the pine tree, the palmetto tree contains an edible stem or trunk.
The innermost portion of the trunk contains a long, slender vegetable that is called the heart of the palm.
Aside from the trunk, or stem, of trees being considered as vegetables, we of course have the leaves of the tree.
Many trees produce edible leaves. Malunggay was one discussed earlier, but a few more of note would be the hawthorn, mulberry, and moringa leaves.
For roots, cassava was mentioned previously. This tuberous root grows below the ground, and those who look at the tree above the soil may not even be aware that there is a yummy vegetable below the soil.
Seeds of trees are also vegetables that grow upon them. Again, the pine produces edible vegetables in the form of pine nuts.
These seeds are not only edible but are a delicious treat that showcases yet another great trait about the pine tree.
Coming back to mushrooms, the fact that they are a fungus means that they do technically “grow” on trees!
They are not actually a part of the tree itself, but they do grow upon a tree as either a parasite or symbiote.
The mushroom latches onto the tree itself, and this is how it propagates and grows.
Although this vegetable is not itself a part of the tree, it is quite possibly the most commonly known vegetable that has been mentioned that grows on trees.
Before reading this article, it may never have even crossed your mind what a vegetable truly is, and trying to think of one that grows upon trees may have come as a struggle.
But then again you possibly could have known about a variety of vegetables that grow on trees, considering that we now know that any part of the tree that is not a fruit is in fact a vegetable!
So next time you see someone enjoying some pine nuts or you are having some exotic cuisine that contains malunggay, just keep in mind that these vegetables grew on trees.