Economic Botany

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 57-70

First online:

Wild food plants in South Korea; market presence, new crops, and exports to the United States

  • Robert W. PembertonAffiliated withAquatic Plant Management Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA
  • , Nam Sook LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Ewha Womans University

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South Korean food markets were examined for the presence of wildgathered food plants between 1989 and 1995. One hundred twelve species belonging to 83 genera and 40 families were found. Plants used as leafy vegetables were the most common (73.2%), followed by fruits (22.3%), root vegetables (6.2%) and flower foods (4.4%). Nearly half of these plant species belonged to three families: Asteraceae (29) Liliaceae (10) and Apiaceae (7). As of 1992, 19 of these wild foods were also being grown as new crops, a development that involved more than 25000 farm households. At least eleven of these wild food plants were exported to the United States in 1994, where they are sold by Korean food markets.

Key Words

South Korea wild food plants gathering market produce food exports food-ways food culture