Garden Lifestyle

Herb Harvest Fall Festival featuring Plants of South America

Last weekend, we celebrated the 27th annual Herb Harvest Fall Festival featuring the foods of South America at the Ozark Folk Center.

Indigenous foods of South America display. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

Last weekend, we celebrated the 27th annual Herb Harvest Fall Festival featuring the foods of South America, as well as chile peppers at the Ozark Folk Center. Learn about some of the foods indigenous to this continent–you might be surprised!

There are many plants that are native to south America that we eat in our everyday lives. Some of these fruits, vegetables, herbs and fruits like bananas, tomatoes, chile peppers and potatoes are familiar, while others like cinchona (source for quinine), papaloqulite (herb substitute for cilantro), and manioc root (also known as cassava and yucca) are unknown to some of us. Depending upon where we live, many of us gardeners already cultivate these food crops.

I bought a quantity of manioc roots to display and cook for one of our lunches and also the cassava flour (also sold as tapioca flour), which we made a delicious, gluten-free cheese bread from–called pao de queijo. Manioc root should never be eaten raw since it contains prussic acid (hydrocyanic acid) which can cause cyanide poisoning; cooking or pressing the root thoroughly to remove all liquid removes the poison. The poisonous liquid was used on the tips of hunting spears and arrows. Tapioca is derived from the starch of this plant and we had a chocolate tapioca for dessert that was scrumptious. I also found three colors of quinoa: black, red and white and we had a tasty quinoa salad with tomatoes and avocado garnished with toasted cashews–all ingredients indigenous to South America. Here is the link to that recipe: /item/64909/quinoa

Below is a list of foods that we researched and learned about at the Herb Harvest Fall Festival. Why don’t you cook dinner with some of these ingredients and have your own South American feast?

Some of the indigenous food crops (vegetables, herbs, fruits and nuts) of South America:

Avocado, Persea americana

Beans, Phaseolus vulgaris

Brazil Nut, Bertholletia excelsa

Cacao, Theobroma cacao

Cashew, Anacardium occidentale

Chile Pepper, Capsicum species

Cinchona, Cinchona succirubra

Coca, Erythroxylum coca

Corn (origin: Central America), Zea mays

Grain Amaranth, Amaranthus species

Lemon Verbena, Aloysia tryphylla

Manioc, Cassava, Yucca, Manihot esculenta

Papaloqulite, Porophyllum ruderale

Peanut, Arachnis hypogaea

Pineapple, Ananas comosus

Potato, Solanum tuberosum

Prickly Pear, Opuntia ficus-indica

Quinoa, Chenopodium quinoa

Stevia, Stevia rebaudiana

Sweet Potato, Ipomoea batatas

Tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum

Tomato, Solanum lycopersicum

Quinoa, Chenopodium quinoa

Vanilla, Vanilla planifolia

Yerba Mate, Ilex paraguariensis

There are numerous other South American tropical fruits, which most of us are not familiar with, that I am not including here.

Here are a few tropical fruits, as well as coffee, which are not natives, however they have been naturalized and are grown in large quantities as food crops.

Banana, Musa sapienta

Coconut, Cocos nucifera

Coffee, Coffea arabica

Lemons, Citrus limon

Limes, Citrus aurantifolia

Papaya, Carica papaya

Mango, Mangifera indica

Oranges, Citrus sinensis

Papaya, Carica papaya

Sugar Cane, Saccharum officinarum

Note: Thanks to herbalist and speaker, Kathleen Connole, for her well researched list with the botanical names of these plants.


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