The 4 Weirdest Vegetables in the World

Vegetables aren’t many people’s favorites, are they? But what if I told you that some vegetables are so strange that you would be tempted to taste them? In this blog, you’ll learn about some of the strangest vegetables grown all over the world.

1. Purple corn (Zea mays L.) 

Purple corn 

Characteristics of purple corn 

Purple corn is a unique species in the world. It is native to the American continent, in fact, it has been used since pre-Hispanic times. As the name suggests, this type of food is peculiar because it has a dark purple color.

But why is it this color? Well, purple corn has a substance called anthocyanin responsible for providing foods such as grapes, blueberries, cherries, etc. with pigments of different shades of red, blue, or purple.

In addition to providing color, it also has functions such as: protecting the food from ultraviolet radiation and attracting pollinating agents, among others.

What are the benefits of purple corn? 

According to the scientific journal Scientia Agropecuaria (2020), purple corn has multiple benefits. For example, it has antioxidant properties that neutralize and protect the body from free radicals, that is, unstable molecules that damage cells and molecules that cause different negative effects on the body, such as increasing the risk of diseases like cancer.

On the other hand, anthocyanins, apart from giving this food its unique color, have benefits for human health such as increasing blood circulation, allowing for better visual health, and controlling blood pressure.

What are the uses of purple corn? 

Purple corn has several uses, for example, in some South American countries such as Peru they make chicha Morada, a traditional fermented alcoholic beverage made from purple corn. Also, in this same region, they make sweets or traditional desserts such as purple corn mazamorra.

In addition, its most popular use is as a natural colorant for:

  • Juices
  • Wines
  • Candies
  • Ice cream
  • Beverages
  • Jams
  • Jellies

2. Romanesco (Brassica Oleracea var. botrytis L.) 

Romanesco broccoli

Characteristics of broccoli romanesco 

According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Chile (2021), romanesco is a vegetable originating from Asia Minor that was later introduced in Italy, where it gained strength and popularity. The romanesco belongs to the family of cruciferous or Brassicaceae, and it has been said that it is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower because it has characteristics of both. However, you have to know that this is a lie since it is a variety of cauliflower.

The romanesco is green with light and dark shades. Its most unique characteristic is its shape, you see, it is said that the romanesco is a fractal object, which in simple words means that it has a geometric structure that repeats itself in different sizes and scales. It is quite unique, you could say that it has a pyramid shape and in turn, has cone shapes that repeat throughout its diameter; they have different sizes, but in general, they are larger at the base and smaller at the tip.  

What are the benefits of broccoli romanesco? 

Broccoli or romanesco cauliflower is a staple food with high amounts of fiber that allows the body to better assimilate food, which can promote improved digestive health.

It also contains vitamin B as folic acid, a substance that helps the body create new cells that can improve hair, nails, or skin. It is a nutritious vegetable because, in addition to the above, it has vitamins C and A, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium.

Fact: Romanesco broccoli can be consumed raw by making salads with vegetables, it can also be fried or cooked to make different preparations.

3. Tigernuts (cyperus esculentus)


Characteristics of tigernuts 

Tigernuts are tubers, which means that the edible part develops under the soil. They have rounded or elongated shapes, are small with a size of 8 to 16 mm approximately, have brown and yellow colors, and their exterior becomes progressively rougher as it dries. Tigernuts have a sweet taste that is said to be comparable to the taste of nuts.

According to the Black Sea Journal of Agriculture (2020), there are different theories about its origin. It is believed that it originated in Africa, Asia, or in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

Fun fact:

Tigernuts have been domesticated for many years for consumption, in fact, they were actually prized in Egypt.

What are the benefits of tigernuts? 

Tigernuts have been used for a long time thanks to their nutrients. They contain calcium, an important mineral for strengthening bones and teeth. They also contain potassium which allows nutrients to flow properly through the body and is also involved in important body processes such as muscle contraction and heart rate.

It is an excellent antioxidant due to its vitamin C content and this in turn helps the body absorb iron well. These substances allow to strengthen the immune system or repair and conservation of tissues.

Tigernuts not only contain the above nutrients, they also have vitamin B1, fiber, phosphorus, vitamin E, oleic acids, and arginine, among others.

What are the uses of tigernuts? 

Tigernuts have several uses, such as:

  • They can be consumed cooked, fried, or baked.
  • They can be used as an aroma in ice cream or cookies.
  • A kind of milk is made with this food that is commonly called “horchata”.
  • They are left to dry and consumed in this way.
  • They are used in flour, cakes, cookies, etc.
  • Oil is made from tigernuts.

4. Bitter melon (Momordica Charantia L.) 

Bitter melon

Characteristics of bitter melon 

This food has several names such as bitter melon, tomaco, bitter gourd, Chinese bitter melon, and balsam, among others. It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, just like pumpkin, cucumber, or watermelon.

It originated in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia and is currently cultivated in these same places.

The bitter melon has an elongated shape, and some varieties can measure approximately 2 to 20 cm in length.

Its main unique feature is its appearance; let me explain, its rind has warts, it is green when immature and as it matures it turns yellow and orange. Inside is the pulp, which is yellow and has red seeds that can measure between 5 to 9 mm, plus a peaked texture. The name of this vegetable is attributed to its rather strong and bitter taste, but it softens when cooked.

What are the properties of bitter melon? 

Bitter melon has high amounts of beta-carotene. These are the red, orange or yellow pigments present in some foods like this one. Beta-carotenes have important functions in the body, one of them is that it provides vitamin A that helps the body to grow and develop, improve visual health, allow the skin to look healthier, etc. Another of the functions is as an antioxidant, if you do not know, this compound fights against free radicals.

Bitter melon also contains iron, this mineral provides certain proteins to red blood cells, enabling them to transport oxygen to different parts of the body like the muscles or lungs. It’s worth noting that it should be included in the diet since iron deficiency can cause negative effects on the body such as anemia.

And not only that, it has other nutrients such as vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and fiber.

How is bitter melon consumed? 

Bitter melon is used in different dishes of oriental food, for example, they fry it and accompany it with pork or use it in soups. It is also consumed together with other vegetables or in juices made from this food together with fruits.

The different parts of both the vegetable and the plant have been used in different parts of the world as traditional medicine, as a purgative method, and to treat skin infections, asthma, and hypertension, among other uses.


Perhaps you didn’t know any of these unique foods, so we hope that this blog has allowed you to learn about the diversity of food that exists in the world, which can be strange but extraordinary at the same time. And now, would you dare to try any of the foods on the list?