When it comes to food resources, the Philippines is one of the most fortunate countries to be bestowed with rich soil and fertile lands that can grow fruit-bearing trees. Such verdant forests and wide agricultural lands have served as habitats for various flora and fauna.
Among these species found in the country are fruits and edible plants that are quite foreign to many despite being endemic in the Philippines. Today, let’s get to know some of the edible native plants found in the Philippines that you have even have in your garden – but do not know of.
10 Native Plants in the Philippines that You Didn’t Know You Can Eat
Here are some of the native plants that grow abundantly here in the Philippines that you can actually eat and utilize for your next food preparation.
Chestnut? Nah, this indigenous fruit similar to chestnut is native to Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia. Underutilized, kubili (scientifically known as Cubilia cubili) is a tree that can grow up to 25 to 50 meters tall. Underutilized, this plant has been assessed as one of the threatened species in the country.
Kubili has been identified to be present in the towns of Pakil and Paete, Laguna, the seeds of kubili are known to be a great source of protein, fat, starch, and carbohydrates. Locals often boil or roast it for excellent quality. Its taste is described to be more or less similar to sweetpotatoes.
Known as the velvet apple or peach bloom in India, these fruits are known to grow from the Kamagong tree – one of the country’s hardest woods. Mabolo’s skin is fine and velvety, usually in reddish-brown colors. When eaten, it is soft and creamy with a distinctive delicate taste and aroma comparable to peaches. Because of its creamy texture, some likened the taste of this fruit to overripe apples, strawberry-mango yogurt, and cheese.
Another endemic plant of the Philippines that used to grow abundantly in low altitude forests is the katmon. Enclosed by sepals, the fruit produced by the katmon plan is edible and fleshy. As it is a little bit sour when eaten, many associates the taste of katmon with green apple. Locals often use katmon as souring ingredient. There are also others who make them into jams, sauces, and fish flavorings
Love mangoes, well here’s one that you must try: paho. This specific mango specie is native to the Philippines. Often growing in the wild and rarely cultivated, these mangoes are quite smaller than the usual mangoes sold in the market. These grow abundantly in the provinces of Batangas and in some parts of the Visayas. Unripe paho mango fruits are often used for pickles and salads.
Of the 75 known species of canarium, nine of them are endemic in the Philippines – like Camarines Sur’s renowned pili. This nut tree is classified as vulnerable because of its degrading population. Pili is often used for cooking and making green salads. When cut open, the hard shell opens up and shows a nut kernel that is edible, crispy, and delicious, with taste somehow similar to a nut. The Bicol region came up with a number of delicacies and dishes that highlight the flavors of pili, some making it into pudding, turon, pickles, and many others.
Familiarly known as rattan or yantok, littuko is another native plant in the Philippines that you can actually eat. According to those who have tasted that fruit, its sour taste is akin to tamarind. It has a scale-like covering with insides similar to lanzones. Littuko is often used by locals as a souring ingredient. It can also be eaten raw by adding salt or pickled.
While this may look similar to Indonesia’s cinnamon, Philippines’ clausena is an entirely different specie. This aromatic evergreen plant is native to the country and has been noted for its strong anise-like smell when crushed. Locals add this ingredient for flavoring dishes and beverages like biko, bilo-bilo, gurgurya, and anisado. Folk medicine also utilizes kayumanis in treating sickness.
Terminalia macrocarpa is one of the many underutilized resources of the Philippines. Kalumpit produces a soft wood and dark red or purple fleshy fruits that can be used for preserves. These can be eaten raw or made into wine. Because of its berry-like look and taste, there are those who add them to cakes and pastries.
Also known as parog-parog, gac, or balbas-bakiro, this plant produces fruits that contain an extremely high amount of beta carotene, according to the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center. The immature fruits are often cooked along with other vegetables. Its taste is likened to upo with smell akin to pipino.
Silage or budjawi is another endemic plant that grows abundantly in the Philippines. It is produced from the buri palm tree. Buli fruit can be sweetened and utilized as a primary ingredient for desserts and beverages.
Have you tried eating these plants? What other native fruits and plants do you know of? No debates needed, the Philippines is indeed gifted with much charm and resources. Hopefully, we can continue taking good care of them so that the next generation can still get a chance to see and taste these edible plants and fruits.