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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Water Spinach


I'm fascinated by the blooms of the water spinach. Belonging to
the same family as the Morning Glory, the blooms of both these
plants look similar.The botanical name of the water spinach is
"Ipomoea Aquatica". Googling , I came up with several other names
such as Swamp Morning Glory, Chinese water spinach and swamp cabbage.

The flowers are generally white, pink and mauve. The wetland
near our house has this plant thriving amongst the colacasia
and myriad tangle of weeds. The flowers stand out in their
beauty amidst such surroundings.


The water spinach is an aquatic or semi-aquatic plant. It is
found in all tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.
In the right conditions, the plant can be 8 to 10 ft long. The
stems are hollow which enables it to stay afloat on water. Due
to the hollow stem the Chinese word for this vegetable translates
into "hollow heart vegetable".

As you can see from the photographs, the leaves are shaped like
arrowheads. The stems have a milky sap and roots form at the nodes,
so propagation is easy. Either seeds or stems are used.

Although this plant is native to south-east Asia, it is found
in many parts of the world where the conditions are right.It
is popular in our parts too. The vegetable markets here, always
have fresh green bundles. Although every part is edible, tender
stems and leaves are preferred. Like many green vegetables, the
water spinach is rich in iron and has a pleasant taste. Stir
fries are delicious!

I was surprised to find out that the water spinach is considered
a threat/noxious weed in southern U.S. states, mainly Texas and
Florida.The reasons are that it elevates mosquito breeding, impedes
boat traffic and clogs drainage canals. It is also considered a
threat to rice fields.

But here in my backyard I'm growing it in a small patch.....The
sight of the blooms is enough to uplift my spirits on any day!!

14 comments:

Mildred said...

Your pictures are just beautiful. I enjoyed the information about this lovely bloom. I love the color!

easygardener said...

What a beautiful plant. I like ipomoeas but had not realised there was an aquatic variety.

titania said...

It looks like a morning glory.I have never heard of the water spinach here. I think it is fantastic that it is edible and the flowers are gorgeous. Thank you for the info.

Linda Lunda said...

Lovely!!! It´s just lovely!
What fun to cook with that cind of coulor to!
Linda

Susie said...

They do look just like morning glory vine. Very pretty colors! I can see why they lift your spirits.

The bloom is also like a moon flower bloom which is also related to that family.

Thanks for the info Kanak.

Carla said...

I didn't even know about this (here in TX) plant! I know we have a weed form of morning glory, with darling, same colored, tiny blooms, and rampid small vines, and thousands of seeds. I don't know this drier plant is save to eat. Thank you for sharing, this is very interesting.

perennialgardener said...

What a lovely little bloom. They do remind me of the Morning glory.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Mildred, thank you so much for your comment!

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Easygardener, thanks for stopping by.

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Trudi, glad you found the blooms gorgeous.

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Linda, that's right. And very easy too because they cook so fast!

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Susie, I've seen moonflowers only on Blotanical and they're very pretty too!

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Carla, South-east Asians love this veggie and they must've taken it with them. The conditions just happened to be right for it to reach 'invasive' proportions. Reading about this also made me wonder...if I were to leave my familiar surroundings and settle thousands of miles away, what herb/plant/seeds would I carry with me?

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Racquel, thank you.

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tina said...

Yum! That is so cool to be able to eat all of it! Love that. I can see how it would be invasive here in the right conditions.Its cousins are very invasive but I wonder if Americans know they can eat it? Maybe that would knock it down a bit:)

Green thumb said...

The blooms always appeared beautiful to me but after reading your informative post, they look appetising too!
If only Americans start eating them it will somewhat address the recession and simultaneously take care of their clogging problems also.

Nicole said...

A beautiful post, but you should point out to your non-Asian readers that the morning glory they are accustomed to is highly poisonous. While related to the water spinach, they should not at all attempt to eat a plant they don't know. I mention this because I know of an American volunteer in Asia who when she went back home thought she had identified back home a plant she ate for the first time in Asia, and she almost died.

Dawn said...

Wow, what a beautiful flower, to bad it gets to being a thug here, I love the morning glories I see along the side of the roads.

Mildred said...

My husband and I both have enjoyed going through your past posts today and enjoying all the unusual plants - we have added you as one of our favorites to read each time you update so we won't miss a thing! Mildred

Kanak Hagjer said...

Tina, that would be great!!
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Greenthumb, thanks for dropping by. I hope they try...they might end up liking it too!

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Nicole, that's unfortunate. I'm sure majotity of people would not like to try out anything that's not been established as edible! Glad you pointed this out.

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Dawn, lovely to have you here. Thanks!

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MIldred, thank you so much! It's an honour...You'll be on my list too!
I've read all your posts and the moving stories about your mother's last days,the beautiful valley where you live, the house and the amazing coincidence, your husband's health... I already feel that I know you so well.....