Sagittaria sagittifolia is one of the introduced vegetables in Indonesia.  The species has a wide range of origin distribution.  They originally did not come from tropical regions.  This species natively comes from the boreal and meridional zones of Europe and Asia (Hroudová et al. 1988). But because of the cultural and trade interaction, in the past, they were also found in some islands in Indonesia.  Based on Indische Groenten book, the cultivation of Sagittaria sagittifolia was reported in java and Bangka island. 

Indonesia is a mega biodiversity country

Indonesia is one of blessed country. firstly, located between 2 continents, Asia and Australia. Secondly, meeting point between two oceans, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. So it is not surprising that Indonesia become a cultural intersection since pre-historic times. The interaction was happen among peoples through trading and cultural interaction. Along with the interaction, It was followed by the introduction of many plants in Indonesia from many regions in the world. The most famous of course Coffee and palm. Currently, these two plants are important plantation commodities in Indonesia.

Many vegetables in Indonesia actually introduced plant

Undoubtedly, vegetables are one of the crops with a long story in Indonesia.  However, many vegetables which you can find in Indonesia today, actually is not originate from Indonesia.  Such as Pepper, tomato, cucumber, shallot is just examples of introduced vegetables.  Equally, Sagittaria sagittifolia is one of the introduced vegetables in Indonesia in the past. This species is on the list of Indonesian vegetables in the Indische Groenten book. 

Indische Groenten

Indische Groenten is an old book.  It was written by Osche in 1931.  The book contains information about vegetable plants in Indonesia.  The information of each species is not only the description, but also the distribution, and recipe or how Indonesian peoples prepare the vegetable as their food.  In fact, this book is one of the important sources, especially for us to learn about our ancestor’s culture and wisdom.

Introduced vegetables in Indonesia
Photo from alchetron.com

Local names of Sagittaria sagittifolia

Based on information from Indische Groenten book, actually Sagittaria sagittifolia has some local names.  In the past, peoples call them Bia-bia or Eceng.  Their habitat is in the paddy field or water pond.  In Java, people actually tried to cultivate and use young stems and leaves as vegetables.  While in Bangka, people cultivated them and harvest the tuber. People use the tuber as food.  But according to Osche (1931), during he wrote the book, this species is one of the rare species in Indonesia.  As a vegetable, Sagittaria sagittifolia is less popular compared to other vegetables. 

Today’s distribution

According to GISD, Sagittaria sagittifolia is an invasive species. Besides, it even become alien species in Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba, Mexico, and United States. The information is also represent in the GBIF secretariat data, which showing about their distribution.

The utilization of Sagittaria sagittifolia in some countries

Become one of the forgotten vegetables in Indonesia.  But it still exists in some countries.  Unlike in Indonesia, Singh and Singh (2009), reported that Sagittaria sagittafolia shoots and tuber are sold in Manipur, India.  In addition, they mention that the species was popular as a food with medicinal properties.  While Li et. al. (2007), reported that Sagittaria sagittifolia is also one of the favorite vegetable crops in China.  Last but not least, In Japan, people use the tuber as food.

The Nutrition Content of Sagittaria sagittifolia

In fact, the tuber chips taste is similar to a potato.  According to the report of USDA 22 April 2020, the tuber of Sagittaria sagittifolia is one of the cultural food for Chinese people.  It was imported into California, Hawaii, and New York for the Chinese New Year.  Every 100 grams of dried tuber, contain 364 calories, 17gram protein, 76,2 g carbohydrates, 44 mg Calcium, 561 mg phosphor, 8,8 mg iron, 2,480 mg potassium, 0,54 mg thiamin, 0,14mg riboflavin, 4,76mg niacin, and 17 mg ascorbic acid.

References

  • Hroudova Z and Zakravsky P.  1988.  Ecobiology and Distribution of Sagittaria sattifolia L. in Czechhoslovakia.  Folia Geobotanica December 1988.  DOI: 10.1007/BF02853355
  • Jain. A.  2011.  Dietary Use and Conservation Concern of Edible Wetland Plants at Indo-Burma Hotspot: A Case Study from Northeast India.  Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2011, 7:29
  • Li. L et. al., 2007.  Aquatic Vegetable Production and Research in China.  The Asian and Australasian Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology 1(2), 37-42.
  • Singh A.V. and Singh P.K. 2009.  An Account of Sagittaria sagittifolia With Special Reference To Phytochemical Studies And Its Socio-Economic Relevance.  J.Phytol. Res. 22(2):235-246

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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