Limnophila aromatica or the more popular ‘rice paddy herb’ is a variable species common to Southeast Asian regions. It is extensively used in Vietnamese cuisines and in certain Cambodian and Thai recipes. Despite it’s much talked about pleasant and unique flavor, it is quite difficult to find this herb outside Vietnamese market.
Over the years, Limnophila aromatica is also being recognized for its growing popularity as an aquarium plant.
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This tropical flowering plant belongs to plantain family of Plantaginaceae.
The herbal plant is popularly referred to as ‘rice paddy herb’. In the country of Vietnam, they call it ngò om or ngổ.
This herb is also called ‘phak kayang’ in Thai cuisines.
Limnophila Aromatica Description
Limnophila Aromatica is a variable species of stem plant with vibrant green and purple leaves. It is mostly popular as an aquarium plant.
Height: Immersed under water, the plant stem can attain a round-about height of 25-50 centimeters (10-20 inches).
Leaves: The beauty of this plant is flaunted by its green leaves with purple underside. These leaves are approximately 1-2 inches long.
Flowers: This plant blooms only under immersed conditions. It bears small pretty purple flowers at the leaf nodules.
Flavor: This herb has a unique and tantalizing flavor reminiscent of lemon, nutmeg and curry.
Limnophila Aromatica Habitat and Distribution
This plant is mostly grows in watery environments, like those of the flooded rice fields in areas with hot temperature.
Limnophila aromatica is native to countries of Southeast Asia like Vietnam, India and China. However, it got introduced to North America in the early 1970s.
Limnophila Aromatica Cultivation
Site: This herb is usually cultivated in flooded rice fields in Vietnam.
Soil: Limnophila aromatica grows best in swampy or boggy soil that is typical to its native regions of southeastern Asia.
Temperature: High temperatures and high air humidity is extremely essential for this plant.
Water: Limnophila aromatica flourishes in watery environments.
As an aquarium plant: If you are growing it as an aquarium plant, it is important to remember that light is very important for the plant’s growth. You are recommended to provide a rich wet substrate of loam for the plant.
Once you note that the plant has formed plenty of roots, it is time to transfer and plant the stem in a tall transparent glass or plastic container. Make sure the container is filled with sufficient amount of soil that can cover most of the plant’s roots. Even in the growing phase, it is very important to keep the plant warm as well as humid.
After sometime, the plant will grow beautifully even in intense sunlight or partial sunlight.
Limnophila Aromatica Care
If you intend to keep these plants in your aquarium, these care tips could come in handy for you. These plants tend to grow very fast in aquariums.
- The recommended size of the aquarium should be around 30 – 40 centimeters (11.81 – 15.75 inches). Carbon dioxide requirement: moderate
- Water pH range of 6-7.5 would be ideal for the plant.
- Please note that carbon dioxide requirement for the plant is moderate.
- The dH of water hardness should be dH 3 -14 °N.
- Water temperature in the fish tank should be maintained around 21 – 28 °C (69.8 – 82.4 °F).
- You are recommended to provide a rich wet substrate of loam for the plant.
- Lighting should be bright.
- In fish tanks, it is always recommended to place the plant somewhere in the background.
Limnophila aromatica is propagated by cutting. The fresh stems are placed in water. One can notice the formation of plant roots in a short period of a couple of weeks. In the rooting phase, it is recommended to cover the plant with a transparent plastic bag in order to provide humidity to the plant. Thereafter one can place it a somewhat shadowy place since sunlight can prove to be fatal for the plant.
Limnophila Aromatica Nutritional Value
Apart from being a tasty seasoning, the rice paddy herb is also considered to be healthy and nutritious. It has vitamins A, B and C along with essential minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus etc.
One will find it difficult to find these herbs elsewhere outside a Vietnamese market. Limnophila aromatica is generally sold in small containers during the summer time.
Limnophila Aromatica Uses
This herb is mostly eaten raw or chopped to serve as garnish in a variety of Vietnamese dishes. Its essence and flavor is best captured when served raw.
These herbs are known for the special flavor that they add when teamed up with soups, meat or fish dishes or curries.
In the Vietnamese kitchen, this herb is extensively used in sour fish soup with tomato and tamarind.
It acts as an active enhancer of sweet and sour dishes.
The catchy flavor of Limnophila Aromatica is often considered to be a refreshing substitute for cumin.
Rice paddy herb is used as an important culinary herb especially in Vietnamese cuisines.
It is also extensively used in all kinds of Cambodian soup dishes.
Intake of 2 tablespoons of the leaves of this plant immersed in hot water can provide relief from fever and mucous decoction.
The leaves of this herb are famous for the amazingly refreshing aroma. Once crushed, the refreshing aroma of the leaves can be used to de – stress your body and mind.
Limnophila aromatica is well suited as a perfect backdrop in aquariums and fish tanks. Its usage as an aquarium plant has become quite popular over the years.
Limnophila Aromatica Interesting Facts
- Limnpphila aromatica is a polymorphic species, thereby occurring in more than one distinct form.
- Rice paddy herb is an integral part of Vietnamese cuisines.
- After the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese immigrants introduced this plant to North America in the late 1970s.
- After the harvest, rural Cambodians place the rice paddy herb on their house roofs for future usage.
Limnophila Aromatica Pictures
Given below are some pictures of this lovely herbal plant.
- by baishakhee
- November 28th 2011