The Botanist in the Kitchen takes a look at the phylogenetic relationships among some of the major plant foods in Western diets: “The Food Plant Tree of Life”.
There are 172 species on our initial list of plant species in the human diet. Though hardly an exhaustive list, it certainly includes the plants primarily responsible for feeding the global population. Even if the number of species on this list were doubled or quadrupled it would still only represent a miniscule fraction of the estimated 315,000 plant species on the planet. This small sample nonetheless is spread across most of the major clades on the plant tree of life. Every branch has a story, something consequential for the species in its clade.
I’ll be sharing this with my Evolutionary Biology students, it’s a neat example.