The Top 5 Strangest Edible Plants

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Most of the flora humans eat is clearly discernible as food. When looking at a ripe tomato hanging off the vine or a bright orange carrot freshly pulled from the soil, it’s clear enough that these are examples of plant life both evolved and cultivated to be consumed. But the human vegetable diet doesn’t stop with bright berries or crisp leafy greens; we eat some pretty weird stuff, when it comes right down to it. We’re not sure about the first gastronomic pioneers who decided to eat these strange but edible plants; all we know is that at some point they crossed the line from “weird thing I will avoid at all costs” to “dinner.”

5 Durian

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The durian fruit is a strange character. It can grow as big as a football and weigh nearly ten pounds. It is covered with spikes and a hard husk. And it gives off a strong odor some people compare to onions or even sewage waste. And yet once chopped open, the insides of this strange fruit are considered by many to be a wonderful delicacy. Some compare the flavor to a sweet pudding, while others describe it as vaguely citrusy.

4 Pineapples

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When you think about pineapple, you likely picture the super-sweet, juicy yellow meat of this wonderful tropical fruit, right? But seen in their raw state, a pineapple basically looks like a cross between a hand grenade and an angry armadillo wearing a spiked helmet. They are anything but inviting … until you chop one open and realize that beauty really is only skin deep. Beneath the rough exterior of the pineapple lies a one-way ticket to flavor land.

3 Mushrooms

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For some people, the mushroom is an absolute favorite food. People just love their shiitakes, their portabellas, their buttons and so on. But think about this little fact … there are thousands and thousands of varieties of mushrooms, as many as 10,000 different types in America alone, and only a small percentage of them are edible. The others will either send you on a psychotropic hayride, make you sick to your stomach or even kill you. So unless you are an experienced mushroom hunter, stick to the fungi in the grocery store.

2 Seaweed

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Most types of seaweed are slick and slimy and pretty much just gross. But a few are delicious. What would sushi be without nori, right? The task of separating which types of algae are delicious, which are disgusting and which are in fact toxic fell to previous generations of bold aquatic gourmands. We appreciate it, you adventurous diners of yesteryear … especially those of you who tried eating freshwater algae, much of which is poisonous.

1 Cactus

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The typical cactus plant has done just about all it can to prevent animals from eating it. They grow in deserts where water is scarce and searing heat plentiful, so the chances of a hungry herbivore/omnivore coming across a cactus are already reduced by the limited number of desert dwellers. Then, to throw the trump card, most cacti have evolved to be covered by sharp spikes. One would think a plant that makes its home in a desolate wasteland and swaddles itself in spines would be safe from hungry mouths, but no dice, cactus: you’re still on the menu. And your little fruits, too!

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