8 Best African Vegetables | What Vegetables Grow in Africa

Sheri Dorn is a versatile homesteader and culinary artist with a strong focus on organic and heirloom gardening. Holding a Master's degree in Culinary Arts, she combines her love for cooking and gardening in a unique way. Sheri is an active contributor to online gardening communities and enjoys quality outdoor time with her family and pets.
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Rich in proteins and great in taste, you can use these Best African Vegetables in delicious recipes for Afro-fusion cooking!

When it comes to vegetables, Africa has a variety of options on offer. Many of them are super rich in protein, vitamins, and other nutrients with a mouth-watering taste. Sounds like a perfect combo? Check out the Best African Vegetables that are rare and uncommon.

Types of Best African Vegetables

1. African Black Nightshade

Best African Vegetables

Botanical Name: Solanum scabrum

Also popular by the name ‘Garden huckleberry,’ both its leaves and shoots are edible. You can boil, stir-fry, or blanch it with other vegetables or add in soups. Berries have a bitter taste and not eatable.

Growing Tips

You can easily propagate it by seeds in pots or directly in the garden.

2. Stinging Nettle

Botanical Name: Urtica dioica

It is native to Northern Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. The young leaves can be a replacement to spinach. The roots taste best with turnips and parsnip. Use it in the preparation of puddings, soup, pesto, and beer.

Growing Tips

Grow them four to six weeks prior to the last frost date in your region.

3. Amaranth

Best African Vegetables 2

Botanical Name: Amaranthus spp

Amaranth is a famous leafy vegetable in many parts of Kenya. It is famous as a protein-rich grain, or as a leafy vegetable. Cook the leaves individually or combine them with other vegetables. The seeds can be used as a cereal-grain, popcorn, sprouts, or as a flour.

Growing Tips

It can do well in both partial and full sun.

4. African Cabbage

Botanical Name: Cleome gyandra

African cabbage is also known as Shona cabbage and cat’s whiskers. The leaves, seeds, and roots are edible. Its leaves have a bitter taste, which is neutralized by cooking, soaking, or fermentation. It tastes great in soups, stews, pickles, and sauces as a flavoring agent. The pungent seeds can be an alternative to mustard seeds.

Growing Tips

Take care of watering as lack of it can result in stunted plant and cracked heads.

5. Cowpeas

Best African Vegetables 3

Botanical Name: Vigna unguiculata

Cowpea is an important crop in Africa and Asia. It is mainly cultivated for the protein-rich seeds. However, immature seed pods and leaves are also edible. Use the seeds in soups, curries, and stews or ground into paste or flour.

Growing Tips

You can grow them like other beans.

6. African Eggplant

Botanical Name: Solanum aethiopicum

Also popular as bitter tomato and Ethiopian nightshade, it is a staple in African cuisines and available in a range of shapes and colors. It comes in four groups; Gilo, Shum, Kumba, and Aculeatum. You can consume it in both raw and cooked forms or, in rice dishes, meat, and vegetable recipes. The leaves and shoots also pair well in soups, stews, and pickles.

Growing Tips

You can grow them as you would grow tomatoes in pots.

7. Ethiopian Kale

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Botanical Name: Brassica carinata

Also known as Ethiopian mustard and Abyssinian mustard, it is a hybrid between Brassica nigra and Brassica oleracea. The leaves and stems are popular in salads and pickles.

Growing Tips

Using manure in the soil increases the protein content and leaf production.

8. African Baobab

Botanical Name: Adansonia digitata

The baobab tree is a nutritious food source. Eat its fruit fresh or process them in jams, juices, and sweets. The protein-rich leaves are used as a vegetable or in dried form in soups. Its seeds contain a good amount of fat and protein that can be enjoyed as a snack after roasting.

Growing Tips

To know how to grow a baobab tree, check out our article here.

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