Botanical Name: Polygonum hydropiper
Some other names: Tade, Marshpepper knotweed, Smart weed
How to grow it:
Water pepper is a hardy annual plant to about 60cm that is considered a weed of waterways in many parts of the world. It’s attractive foliage varies from deep red to green.
It will grow well in boggy conditions or shallow water, but will do better for leaf production in moist, fertile soils. Prefers sun, but handles shade well too.
Being an annual plant, it will set seed & die in winter, but in my subtropical climate it seems to be available all year round by self seeding.
Propogation is by seed, cuttings or root division. It seems that either insects or birds like the seed as it comes up all over my garden, but not in an invasive way – it’s very easy to remove by hand
Will also do well in pots – keep them mulched, watered and fertilised for a regular supply of leaves.
High in protein & potassium and other vitamin & minerals. Many herbal actions.
Using it in the kitchen:
Water pepper doesn’t have a great deal of flavour – perhaps a hint of horseradish, but what you’ll realise as soon as you try some is that it’s hot – a peppery kind of hot.
If you like the heat, add leaves freely to salads and sandwiches and if you don’t, tear them up and add them to salads sparingly. The red tinge on the leaves will add interest.
I tend to use them for their health giving benefits, and I don’t mind a bit of bite in fresh salads.