Common Name: Vietnamese Mint, Vietnamese Coriander, Laksa leaf, Rau Ram.
Latin Name: Persicaria odorata.
Origin: South America, now widespread in the tropics.
Description (what it looks like): It is a creeping, perennial herb ground cover 15-30cm high, growing abundantly in tropical wet summers. The top of its leaf is dark green, with chestnut-colored spots while the leaf’s bottom is burgundy red. Pink flowers may occur but not often. The stem is jointed at each leaf. Not related to the mint family, but fragrance and appearance is similar.
Uses (function): Use as a living mulch under fruit trees to keep moisture in the soil and act as a water indicator. Currently being studied in Australia as a source of essential oil. Great for container gardening. Edible and medicinal.
Nutritional value: Medicinally used for digestion issues, like indigestion cramps and flatulence. Vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Growing details (propagation, seed etc): Propagate by cuttings, 10-20cm long in moist soil. Grow it in a container if you have a small garden, as it is vigorous and spreads fast, in a similar way to other mints.
Best time to grow: Spring or summer wet season in tropical areas.
Soil: It prefers a moderate to rich loam. It is aquatic, so can be planted along edge of pond or dam.
Sun: Full sun, some shade.
Water: Warm, moist conditions, well-drained soil.
How to eat it: It has a peppery minty taste, commonly found in Asian style cooking. Commonly eaten fresh in salads, soups and stews or cooked into duck, chicken, rice and vegetable dishes. Great as a garnish. Popular ingredient in chicken salad and in raw summer rice paper rolls. In Singapore and Malaysia, shredded leaf is an essential ingredient of Laksa, a spicy noodle soup. In Laos, leaf is eaten with raw beef Larb salad.
- The Incredible Edibles - A Tropical Superfoods Guide by Tonielle Christensen.
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