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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - March 26, 2009

From: Ignacio, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives, Edible Plants
Title: Edible plants beginning with I, T, X and Z in Colorado
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My friend would like to know a fruit or vegetable that he would plant in his garden and come back yearly. The plants would have to start with the letters I,T,X, & Z. It has to be edible, of course.

ANSWER:

We guess you might not want to tell us why the names of the plants need to start with I, T, X and Z? We get a lot of repetitious questions, but we're fairly certain that this one is unique.

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown.  Most fruits and vegetables, although not all, are either non-native to North America or have been so extensively hybridized that they are no longer recognizable as native. They would therefore not appear in our Native Plant Database and would be out of our area of expertise. Another complication is that we ordinarily refer to all plants by their Latin or scientific names, to avoid confusion, and we don't know whether your friend is thinking of common names, like "carrot"  which is a domesticated form of Daucus carot, the Latin name of a wild carrot native to Europe and Southwestern Asia. So, we don't know if that's a "d" or a "c" word, it isn't on your list of letters, and not native to North America (or Colorado), anyway. 

Just for fun, we are going to do a search in our Recommended Species, click on Colorado on the map, and scan the listed plants (which are listed alphabetically by Latin name in our database) for anything  that might be edible, could be grown in Colorado and starts with one of the specified letters. There were 110 species listed as recommended for Colorado, but not a single one began with "I", "T, nor "X". Zinnia grandiflora (Rocky Mountain zinnia) was listed but I don't believe that could be regarded as edible, except maybe to an aphid. 

Still game, we tried Googling "edible plants of Colorado," but they were listed by common names and not alphabetically, but you might try that to see if you could locate something. And we really would like to know the reason for the choice of letters.

 

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