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Vegetable Stems We Eat – The Guide to Edible Stems

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Vegetables are a necessary part of our diet. There are so many vegetables out there that you could have a variety of vegetables every night of the week and never run out of options. Every vegetable can be made in a variety of ways. 

You can never say you don’t like vegetables in general because there are truly so many vegetable options. Sometimes the key to finding the best vegetable options has to do with how the vegetables are prepared or even what part of the vegetable you eat. 

We’re so used to primarily eating seeds, flowers, leaves, and the actual fruit or vegetable produced from a plant that we often forget to consider that sometimes multiple parts of the vegetable can be enjoyed. In fact, you may be consuming edible stems and not really even notice that you’re eating the stems. 

So what vegetable stems can we eat? How do we know if the stem is edible? There are certain things to look for to determine an edible vegetable stem, and we regularly deal with vegetables that have edible stems. The most common edible stems are asparagus, celery, rhubarb, broccoli, and cauliflower.

In this guide, we will cover everything you should know about edible stems. We will share with you vegetables that have edible stems and dive a little deeper into each vegetable that has an edible stem for preparation purposes.

The purpose is to identify and understand edible stems for reference and preparation purposes. Keep reading to learn all about edible stem vegetables and more. 

The Complete Guide to Edible Stems of Vegetables

You’re familiar with the most common vegetables like corn, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, onions, and more. The list of vegetables could easily go on and on. There are just so many vegetables. Even the list of popular and well-known vegetables could be quite lengthy.

As we look at vegetable options, one thing to consider is that many vegetables are consumed by the leaf, the root, the produce itself, the seed, or the flower.

Of course, this varies across the board but it’s certainly interesting to understand just what part of a plant we consume when it comes to vegetables. 

edible stems

One such vegetable piece to consider is the stem. There are a lot of vegetables with edible stems.

In fact, there are some vegetables of which you might eat the stems but you don’t eat any other part of the vegetable – take celery, for example. 

Here are some of the most common vegetable stems that we eat. 

  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Rhubarb
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Garlic leeks 
  • Green onions

These are just a few examples. Let’s talk in more detail about some of these and whether or not there’s anything special you should know about using them. 


Asparagus rarely gets the attention it deserves. Asparagus is by definition a stem vegetable. There are many ways to cook asparagus but the key to really good asparagus is to season it just right. 

asparagus spears

You can typically eat the entire stalk of asparagus if you prepare it right.

The bottom-most part of the asparagus stalk is often tossed away because it can be rather tough but it is edible if you decide to consume it.

Otherwise, you can simply cut that part off

Here are some great ideas for serving asparagus:

  • Roasting with pepper, garlic, and parmesan
  • Baked with butter and seasoning of your choice
  • Grilled with some salt and pepper
  • Boiled and then seasoned appropriately

The most popular ways to eat asparagus typically include seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic, and parmesan. 

Asparagus comes in stalk form and you can enjoy the entire vegetable from leaf to end of the stem. 


Celery is another vegetable of which we often eat the stem or stalk. We eat the leaves and the stems.

Celery is used a lot in cooking and it can be eaten fresh as well. You can chop it and mix it into a salad or other dishes. 


You can slice it and eat it by itself or even dip it into cream cheese or peanut butter to give it some extra flavor. 

Here are some great ideas of things you can make with celery:

  • Salads
  • Celery soup
  • Waldorf slaw
  • Homemade dressing
  • Add to salads
  • Caponata
  • Add to pasta dishes
  • Eat fresh

To eat celery, you typically wash it and cut off the base art of the stems. Celery is great to be eaten raw or cooked. 


Broccoli is a vegetable that we are all familiar with. When it comes to broccoli, you typically buy it in a bulkhead.

The head comes with the tops of the plant as well as the stems. You can eat the stems by themselves or you can eat it as a whole. 


Broccoli is a very versatile vegetable. You can make it many ways and it’s safe to eat the entire vegetable. You can buy broccoli chopped and frozen—typically called broccoli florets. 

The great thing about broccoli is you can eat it raw and fresh or you can cook it in multiple ways. A popular warm broccoli dish is broccoli and rice casserole.

You can also coat your broccoli in cheese and heat it. It’s so delicious that way. 

Some other options would be to make a broccoli salad. You can also chop it into a cold salad. Or you can just dip your fresh broccoli in ranch and have it for a tasty and healthy snack. 


Rhubarb is a vegetable but it is often used as a fruit when you cook with it. Rhubarb is a lesser-known vegetable that many people simply don’t understand. It’s harder to find at some grocery stores.

It’s a great option but it’s unfamiliar for the most part so you don’t hear about it as much. 


The stem is the only part of rhubarb that you eat. You don’t eat the lives or roots, in fact, those parts of the plant can be toxic. 

Some people prefer to peel the skin off of rhubarb to prepare it but it’s actually not necessary. 

Here are a few great things you can make with rhubarb:

  • Rhubarb pie
  • Chutney
  • Rhubarb crisp
  • Rhubarb salsa
  • Rhubarb muffins
  • Brownies with rhubarb
  • Rhubarb jam
  • Glaze, syrup, or dressing

Rhubarb is often served much like a fruit. It pairs really well with things like strawberries, mangoes, and peaches. 

Rhubarb is a vegetable but it’s fairly sweet and people tend to enjoy it used as a fruit. 


Cauliflower is another great option that we eat the stems of regularly. It is most common to eat the florets of cauliflower but it is certainly not uncommon to eat the stems.

Many people eat cauliflower whole or a combination of florets and stems. 


Most of the time the stems are not eaten by themselves but they can be if you want to eat them that way.

Cauliflower can be cooked or eaten fresh. You can enjoy the stems, leaves, or florets of the cauliflower and every part of them tastes about the same. 

Cauliflower is loaded with nutrients and vitamins. They are very healthy for you and offer a lot of great benefits.

You can prepare cauliflower in a multitude of ways. Cauliflower is pretty similar to broccoli and is often prepared or used in similar ways.

Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo is a less common vegetable but it’s pretty popular in Asian cuisine. When you eat bamboo, you eat only the shoot, which is the stem. There is no other part of bamboo that you would traditionally consume. 

Bamboo shoots are popular in things like spring rolls.

bamboo shoots

Bamboo shoots must be cooked to eat. You should not eat them raw as they can potentially house harmful toxins. Bamboo shoots are usually boiled to use in food. 

Bamboo shoots don’t have a ton of flavor and the exterior fibrous area is typically cut away, leaving you with the inside of the shoot or stem. 

Related Questions

We hope that you find this guide to understanding vegetable stems we eat to be a valuable resource for identifying edible stems and understanding a few of them for eating purposes. There are many vegetables with edible stems and you can do a lot of things with them. 

We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that you might find helpful. 

Why Are Lettuce and Cabbage Considered Stem Vegetables?

While these may not look like stem vegetables, they actually are because the leaves that we consume are grown onto the stem of the vegetable. The stems are actually integrated into the vegetable and you eat the stem when you eat the leaves. 

Can You Eat Carrot Stems?

Carrot stems are often overlooked since the carrot is the most popular part of the carrot is the vegetable itself. Carrot stems can be eaten and they are quite nutritious, much like the carrot itself. 

Carrot stems are rich in protein and minerals, particularly potassium. The flavor of carrot stems can be slightly bitter so they are not quite as versatile as the carrot themselves. 

Up Next: 5 Best Cutting Boards For Cutting Vegetables

One Comment

  1. Thanks Jared,
    this is helpful for my gardening lessons class. I use the bannana slug string bands music: Roots, Stems LeavesFlower fruits and seeds.. highlight each plant part function … stems are this week.. have done celery before just wanted tosee if there were other raw stemveggie ideas..

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