Botanical Name: Alternanthera versicolor
How to grow it:
Mukuna Wenna is extremely easy to grow and will handle almost any conditions. Like many other plants described here, it can tend to become a weed.
It’s a spreading perennial plant to about 40cm that seems to handle sun or shade equally well. If you have cold winters it may die back and reshoot, but elsewhere it will grow all year round.
Definitely more vigorous in wet or boggy soils, but it’s also quite drought tolerant. In drier conditions it may tend to get “stalky” and bolt to seed, but you’ll always have usuable leaf for harvesting.
Regular fertilising will help it grow, but I’ve found it needs very little care of any kind.
Makes a decorative ground cover in garden beds and under trees and will grow very well in pots & even hanging baskets.
It’s very easy to propogate, simply pull some stems and roots up from an established plant, replant in it’s new position & water in once. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cutting that won’t strike. Same goes for tip cuttings if your plant isn’t well established.
I can’t find any nutritional information on Mukuna Wenna, but given that it’s a valued herb in eastern medicine, it would be safe to say it’s rich in vitamins & minerals. I think that the rich red colour of the leaves must offer something to our nutrition that isn’t available in greens.
Using it in the kitchen:
Leaves are pretty bland really – I find them best used with other leaves for variety & nutrition.
The purple leaves are really striking & appetising in a green salad, and for this reason I use them a lot.
Leaves can also be added to stir fries, soups, curries & casseroles for extra colour & nutrition.
An excellent survival food as leaves are available all year round and the plant is so hardy.