Types of Plants

Plants are autotrophs who can make their own food. They are a source of food for animals and humans.

However, we cannot eat all types of plants. 

  • Edible Plants – Plants that we can eat.
  • Non-Edible Plants – Plants that we cannot eat.

Let’s explore the world of edible and non-edible plants!

Edible Plants

Edible plants are suitable for consumption as food in either raw or cooked form. However, some parts of an edible plant can be poisonous too.

  • A plant’s most common edible part is the raw fleshy fruit.
  • Vegetables are also an edible part eaten for their nutritional value.
  • Other plant parts like leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, and roots are also edible, depending on the type of plant.

Examples of Edible Plant

Here are some edible plant parts that we consume daily

  • Fruits – Apple, strawberry, orange, and kiwi
  • Vegetables:
    • Roots – Carrots, potatoes and radish
    • Leaves – Spinach, kale and arugula
    • Stem – Asparagus and celery
    • Bulbs – Onions and garlic
  • Flowers – Hibiscus, rose and chamomile
  • Seeds – Pumpkin seeds, rice and wheat

Non-Edible Plants

Non-edible plants cannot be eaten as food as they may contain toxins that are harmful or even fatal to us if ingested. 

  • Non-edible plants can be used for ornamental, medicinal, and industrial purposes.
  • They improve the indoor air quality.
  • They provide a habitat for wildlife.

Examples of Non-Edible Plants

Here are some non-edible plants that humans use for other purposes

  • Ornamental Plants – Lilies, hydrangea and poinsettia
  • Medicinal Plants – Foxglove to treat asthma and heart conditions 
  • Industrial Plants – Rubber is made from rubber plants, and paper is made from papyrus plants.

Fun Facts

Here are some fascinating facts about edible and non-edible plants:

  • Bitter almonds from wild almond trees are poisonous if eaten raw. We need to cook and consume them.
  • Even though we think it is a weed, the dandelion is an edible plant rich in antioxidants that boost the immune system.
  • There are more than 30,000 edible plants. 90% of the food consumed by humans comes from only 30 edible plants (mainly rice, maize, and wheat). 


Let’s quickly recap what we learned about edible and non-edible plants:

  • Humans can eat all plants. True or False? False
  • Which is the most common edible part of a plant? Fruit
  • What are the three main purposes for which non-edible plants are used? Ornamental, medicinal, and industrial
  • What percent of the food humans consume comes from only 30 edible plants? 90%
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