AskDefine | Define potherb

Dictionary Definition

potherb n : any of various herbaceous plants whose leaves or stems or flowers are cooked and used for food or seasoning

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Any plant whose leaves, stems or flowers may be used as a culinary herb

Extensive Definition

Leaf vegetables, also called potherbs, greens, or leafy greens, are plant leaves eaten as a vegetable, sometimes accompanied by tender petioles and shoots. Although they come from a very wide variety of plants, most share a great deal with other leaf vegetables in nutrition and cooking methods.
Nearly one thousand species of plants with edible leaves are known. Leaf vegetables most often come from short-lived herbaceous plants such as lettuce and spinach. Woody plants whose leaves can be eaten as leaf vegetables include Adansonia, Aralia, Moringa, Morus, and Toona species.
The leaves of many fodder crops are also edible by humans, but usually only eaten under famine conditions. Examples include alfalfa, clover, and most grasses, including wheat and barley. These plants are often much more prolific than more traditional leaf vegetables, but exploitation of their rich nutrition is difficult, primarily because of their high fiber content. This obstacle can be overcome by further processing such as drying and grinding into powder or pulping and pressing for juice.
During the first half of the 20th century many grocery stores with vegetable sections sold small bunches of herbs tied with a string to small green and red peppers known as "potherbs."


Leaf vegetables are typically low in calories, low in fat, high in protein per calorie, high in dietary fiber, high in iron and calcium, and very high in phytochemicals such as vitamin C, vitamin A, lutein and folic acid.


Most leaf vegetables can be eaten raw, for example in sandwiches or salads. Leafy greens can be used to wrap other ingredients like a tortilla. They may also be stir-fried, stewed or steamed. Leaf vegetables stewed with pork are a traditional dish in soul food, and southern U.S. cuisine. They are also commonly eaten in a variety of South Asian dishes such as Saag.
potherb in German: Blattgemüse
potherb in French: Légume-feuille
potherb in Japanese: 葉菜類
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