Edible wild plants in Indonesia are very numerous.  One of them is Kaman (Neptunia oleracea). Even though it grows wild, Kaman can be used as a vegetable. In addition, Kaman is also potential as a bioremediation plant and biofertilizer. in West Sumatra and some places in Kalimantan, Kaman is generally a very delicious vegetable. Kaman leaves are delicious as the main ingredient in curry dishes. Maybe this is why, so on some online menu links, almost all Kaman leaf dishes turn into curries.

Forgotten vegetable

Unfortunately, nowadays Kaman is increasingly being forgotten as edible wild plants. It happens with the fact that cultivated vegetables are abundant and easy to find everywhere. It is also a coincidence that Kaman’s habitat is only limited to wet areas such as lakes, reservoirs, and swamps. These two reasons then accelerated the Kaman process to become unpopular today.

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Sayur Lodeh from young Kaman leaves by Ummu Umaimah from Pontianak, West Kalimantan

However, almost all popular articles that discuss Kaman in Indonesia, mention that Kaman is Putri Malu (Mimosa pudica), instead of Neptunia oleracea. Both species have similar leaves shapes and branching. It happens because both are the member of Fabaceae family. In fact, they are different species and has different habitat.  Mimosa piduca mostly terrestrial special, while Neptunia oleracea is growing on the water surface area.

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Kaman (Neptunia oleracea) in the water surface

Besides the benefits as a vegetable, Kaman is also a potential plant for the bioremediation process, medicinal plants, biofertilizers, and animal feed. Kaman has a high nutritional content, especially antioxidants and anticancer compounds which are very beneficial for human health.

Classification

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade:  Angiosperms
  • Clade:  Eudicots
  • Order: Fabales
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
  • Genus: Neptunia
  • Species :  Neptunia oleracea

Local names

Kaman, Kemon (West Sumatra), Simarsinta-Sinta(North Sumatra), Supan-Supan, Susupan (South Kalimantan), Kangkung Malu (West Kalimantan), Sasupan, Uru Mahamen (Central Kalimantan), Mimosa Air (Indonesia).

Description

Kaman grows floating in the water by using spongy tissues around freshwater ponds, marshes, and canals in the lowlands. For optimum growth, Kaman requires exposure to direct sunlight and in humid conditions, and requires a depth of 30-80 cm in slow-moving water.

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Spongy tissue of Kaman (Neptunia oleracea)

Leaves alternate, bipinnate, with pairs of pinnae; petiole angled, 2-7 cm long; rachis 3.5-8 cm long, rachis of pinnae winged, 2.5-6.5 cm long; leaflets 8-20 pairs per pinna, asymmetrical, glabrous or with sparsely ciliate margins.  Inflorescences are yellow and an axillary, erect or slightly nodding solitary spike which is obovoid in the bud.  Legume’s fruits, oblong and flat, dehiscent along both sutures.  Fruits are containing 4-8 seeds, compressed ovoid with brown color.

Distribution

The species that are native to the humid tropics region from Africa, Asia, and South America.  In southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, Thailand, and Indochina, peoples also use it as vegetables.  The distribution in Indonesia mostly grows in Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Java.

Utilization

As a wild edible plant, Kaman is actually a multipurpose plant, because almost all parts of the plant are useful for human life. However, the general use of Kaman is for important vegetable and medicinal plants. There are many recipes using young shoots and leaves. You can easily find a variety of recipes online. Young shoots and leaves are eaten raw, cooked, or fried as fresh vegetables in many places.

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Kaman leaves, branches , and flowers

Apart from being a vegetable, Kaman has also been widely studied for its benefits as a bioremediation agent and biofertilizer.  The young shoot also has benefits to prevent gastritis, acidity, constipation, and as a detoxifier to treat fever, food poisoning, and allergic reactions.

The roots are uses as an external remedy for dysentery, necrosis of the bones of the nose, hard palate, syphilis, and gonorrhea treatment. While the stem is used as a stimulant by chewed the fresh stem.  The juice of the stem is squeezed into the ear to cure earache.

Fact about Kaman from scientific reports as edible wild plants

Kaman contains some chemicals which possible as anti-tumor chemicals, which can inhibit the cancer cell’s growth.  Kaman also contains Chlorophyll-related compounds, which have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory functions. 

While the methanolic compound from the leaves becomes the most important antioxidant content of Kaman.  Another benefit of Kaman chemicals is also anti-bacterial which comes from leaves extract.

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Young shoots of Kaman (Neptunia olerecea)

Other functions

Bioremediation agent

Many reports mention the ability of Kaman to reduce water pollutants from heavy metals, such as Pb, Cd, and Hg.  Besides, Kaman also has the ability to increase oxygen and reduce the carbon dioxide level in the water pond.

Bio Fertilizer

In fact, Kaman is a wetland legume that has the ability to contribute to nitrogen balance in wetlands. Wetlands are part of an area that is at risk of losing nitrogen from the system through leaching. However, by taking advantage of the legume-rhizobial symbiotic ability, Kaman is a potential plant that can be used to enrich nitrogen.

References

  • Romesh Sagolshemcha and Robindro Singh, W.  2017.  Traditional And Biological Uses Of Neptunia oleracea Lour: An Overview.  International Journal of Current Research Vol. 9. Issue 06. pp 51689-51694. June 2017
  • Abidin et.al., 2014.  Neptunia oleracea (water mimosa) as phytoremediation plant and the risk to human health: A review.  Advances in Environmental Biology, 8(15) Special 2014, Pages: 187-194
Categories: Edible

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses

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