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Waterleaf (Talinum triangulare) is one of those underrated and undervalued plants in Nigeria. Some regard it as a nuisance, a stubborn weed that grows all year. It flourishes more during the rainy season.
Like grasses in the fields, we match, piss on them and uproot them from our gardens in preference to other plants which we consider more important. But the more we weed them out, the more they grow again, as if in defiance.
If you care about your health, not satisfied with just being alive, but being well, then you should read this article carefully.
Waterleaf is an edible leafy vegetable that belongs to the Portulaca family. It was originally from West Africa before spreading to other parts of the world, such as Asia and South America. Waterleaf is a herbaceous perennial plant that has its stem above ground. The seed sprouts as a tiny, aqua-colored plant before growing into a more conspicuous plant with larger leaves.
As the name suggests, this green leafy vegetable is referred to as waterleaf due to its high moisture contents of approximately 90.8gm per 100 gm of the leaf. The leaf is sticky when cutting and this is attributed to its high pectin content that supplies the dietary fiber.
I make bold to say that waterleaf is one of the most valuable healing herbs in nature’s pharmacy. As is usually the case, the best and most valuable things are available, accessible and cheap. Name them: air, sunshine, sleep and good vegetation. Because they are cheap and available, we tend to take them for granted. As I have said on many occasions, if only to drive home the point, money is not the most important factor in preventive healthcare. Most people think that rich people are healthy because they are rich. Money may help you to get better treatment when you fall sick, but it won’t prevent you from falling sick.
To prevent falling sick, you need knowledge: knowledge of what to eat and not to eat; knowledge of the right combination of food and fruits. And the best food and fruits are easily grown and available. The harmful food is more expensive and more difficult to find. What I mean by having the right knowledge of what to eat is that even though fruits are good, not all fruits are good for everybody. Even though herbs are good, not all herbs are good for everybody. You must find out the right food and fruits for yourself.
Like most succulent plants, waterleaf leaves and stems, especially young ones, are easy to crush. It is also very sensitive to cold conditions and its roots will rot when water is logging the soil. This tenderness often makes it to appear growing wild as a yearly plant. It thrives in humid conditions, in rich compost or acidic well-drained soil under partial shade. But it can also grow under direct sunshine and fully exposed places, on pore sandy soils and in places on elevations. Waterleaf can stand scorching sun, excessive heat and drought. It can be easily propagated from seeds and cuttings and is ready to be harvested in less than two months. It spreads so easily from seed and in some places it is classified as the agricultural weed.
Waterleaf is called Gbur in Yoruba, Ebe-London in Edo, and in English is nicknamed Philippine spinach, sweetheart, flame flower, Florida spinach etc. The leaves are excellent for diarrhea, liver enlargement, and hepatitis. It is an excellent immune booster to those who often feel weak and tired, and those prone to frequent attacks of malaria. In many scientific studies and trials, waterleaf showed that it can inhibit proliferation of cancerous cells and shrink tumors.
Water leaf is a herbaceous annual and perennial plant that has green leaves that are edible. This vegetable is mostly found in West Africa and western North America. This vegetable is loved in most parts of Nigeria and is used in making different delicacies.