Waterleaf, the scientific name Talinum fruticosum or Talinum triangulare is an herbaceous plant.
It possibly originated from Central Africa or South America.
Waterleaf belongs to Family – Portulacaceae, and it’s a perennial plant.
Waterleaf is grown as a vegetable crop in some places but in most parts of Nigeria, it grows like a weed.
It is a low herb, 20-30cm tall with fleshy leaves and doest take long before it starts to grow.
Waterleaf will grow after about one week and will remain dormant on the soil when there’s no water in the soil.
The oval leaves (6-7cm long) are soft green with notched tips.
The roots are smooth and fleshy. The pink flowers are just over one cm wide.
The fruits are green and fleshy and contain small brown-black seeds.
Propagation is by seeds or cuttings of 15-20cm in length which root readily.
Approximately 0.5g of seed is required per m².
Planting is in rows 30-40cm and 25-30cm within the row.
Many forms of waterleaf are drought tolerant.
Nitrogen may be applied to stimulate leaf development.
Waterleaf is a vegetable with a short lifespan that you can cultivate in your garden and enjoy after two months of planting.
Harvesting of waterleaf can commence at thirty to forty days after planting when the leaves have become fully developed.
While you can harvest the vegetable in less than two months, Plants may produce harvestable shoots for up to one year.
If you don’t uproot the plant during harvest, it can remain in the soil for more than a year and bloom again during winter.
To increase your yield, you should avoid cutting it from the main shoot so that it can continue to shoot more branches and leaves.
Yield is approximately 1kg of leaves and shoots per plant per annum.
The waterleaf seeds are produced about fifty to sixty days after planting them.
Seed production is limited since the seed capsules readily dehisce.
Uses and Benefits of Waterleaf
Waterleaf is a popular vegetable among the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria.
The leaves can be eaten raw in small quantities but not to be encouraged.
It can be used in preparing soup, stew, pizza, Itis usually prepared with melon in Nigeria.
Both the leaves, shoot and even seeds are edible but the seeds are usually removed before cooking.
Many forms of waterleaf have a relatively high content of oxalates, which are destroyed by boiling.
When you want to prepare your waterleaf, it is better to wash it thoroughly before cutting it, then you can put it in a pot and steam for one or two minutes rather than boiling it.
Waterleaf is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus, iron, and Vitamin A, C, and other nutrients.
There are several health benefits of waterleaf.
Waterleaf juice has health benefits for pregnant women, it can improve the skin and help control blood pressure.
It’s also helpful to aid digestion and control constipation, amongst other benefits.