Sunday, August 27, 2023

Piper sarmentosum (wild betel, lolot)

 Piper sarmentosum is an herbaceous perennial, native to Southeast Asia, but is now cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

It is a popular culinary herb in its native land. The leaves are used to wrap meat and other foods, and they can also be eaten raw in salads. They have a mild herbal flavor that complements a variety of dishes. They are also good in soups and vegetable dishes.

Photo courtesy of one of my customers.

The leaves are dark green and glossy, and about 4 inches across. Thin, erect stems grow to a height of about 2-3 feet, and send out runners that root at each node where it touches the soil.

The plant also produces small, white flowers in spikes.

Piper sarmentosum will grow in sun or shade. The leaves are usually larger and darker green in the shade. Plants in full sun may need additional watering to look their best. This species is recommended for USDA Zones 9-12. Propagation is by transplanting the rooted runners.

The plant is known as "wild betel" because its leaves are similar in appearance to the closely related betel leaves, but these have a milder flavor. 

Lolot has a long history of medicinal use. The plant has traditionally been used to treat a variety of conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, cough, fever, and rheumatism. Recent research has confirmed some of these traditional uses, and lolot is now being investigated for its potential to treat other diseases as well. The plant has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. Lolot is a safe and effective herb for most people, but it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using it if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any underlying health conditions.

Photo courtesy of one of my customers.

Related reading: Piper auritum

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