Brasenia purpurea Casp.
Hydropeltis purpurea Michx.
Common Name: Water Shield
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The very young, curled leaf tip, coated with mucilage, is a springtime delicacy in Japan
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A 100g bottle of Tombo Jirushi Junsai - the unfolded leaftips of this plant.
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Brasenia schreberi is a floating, perennial plant producing stems up to 2 metres long.
The edible leaves are considered to be a great delicacy in Japan, where they are often bottled and sold in local markets[
]. The plant also has an edible root and various local medicinal uses.
Tropical and subtropical areas of eastern and southern Africa; China, India, Japan, Korea; northern S. America to N. America as far north as C. Canada
Oligotrophic or mesotrophic ponds, lakes, and sluggish streams at elevations from sea level to 2,000 metres in N. America[
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Brasenia schreberi has a very wide range, being found from the temperate to the tropical zones.
Best grown in still, lime-free water up to 1.8 metres deep[
]. Prefers a rich soil[
A good plant for the water's edge but it is difficult to establish[
The submerged parts of the plant are conspicuously covered in a mucilaginous jelly[
The young curled leaf tips, which are coated with a thick transparent mucilage, are eaten as a salad with vinegar, sake and soy sauce, or they are added to soups as a thickener[
]. They are mainly used in the spring[
]. A nutritional analysis is available[
Root - cooked[
]. Peeled then boiled and eaten, they can also be dried and stored for later use or ground into a powder[
The leaves are astringent[
]. They are crushed and applied to abscesses and boils[
], and are also used in the treatment of phthisis and dysentery[
A decoction of the seed is antidotal[
]. It is also used in the treatment of dysentery and to relieve thirst[
The plant is anthelmintic and vulnerary[
]. It is used in the treatment of cancer[
The plant has phytotoxic properties that allow it to inhibit the growth of other plants nearby and therefore allow it to become dominant. This gives it a potential for the natural control of invasive water weeds[
Seed - no details have been found for this species. Seeds of many water plants have a short viability if allowed to dry out so it is probably best to sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a warm greenhouse or to store it in water until the spring and to sow then. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Just cover the pots with water and then increase the depth as the plants grow. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Division in spring[