Have you ever thought about growing your own veggie & herb garden but decided against it because you thought it would be too much work or you wouldn’t have time to care for it? Aquatic gardening is just the answer. Aquatic plants are some of the easiest plants to grow & just think you never have to water them. A pond or water garden can be more than just a habitat for wildlife, Koi & beautiful Water Lilies; it can be a floating salad bar too. I’m sure you are familiar with Water lilies & Lotus but did you know that there are over two dozen different aquatic plants that are edible including the Lotus!
Following is just a few of both some common & exotic aquatics that will not only add beauty to your water garden but can be useful as well. Please remember if you are going to eat plants from your pond that you do not add algaecides or other chemicals to the pond water.
We’ll start with the Lotus (Nelumbo sp).This plant is almost entirely edible from the seeds to the tubers. The Tubers are the “root” of the plant & are similar to sweet potatoes. The seeds have a nutty flavor to them & can be eaten peeled or whole. In Japan there is a traditional Lotus ceremony where wine is drank from the hollow stem of a lotus flower.
A couple of common or more well know aquatic plants are Taro (Colocasia spp.) & Water Chestnut (Eleoricharis spp.). Go to any health food store & you will find Taro chips. Of course if you go to a Chinese restaurant they will have water chestnut in many of their dishes. How about Wasabi, yes it’s an aquatic. Water Cress (Nasturtium officinale) & Bog Cranberry (Oxycoccus) also aquatics, can be found in your grocery store.
A few of my favorites bog plants are Aquatic mint, Water Celery & Lemon Bacopa. Aquatic mint is very similar to the mint you grow in your herb garden but with a different root system. The leaves can be added to cake, ice cream & of course mint juleps. Boy does it smell good! Water Celery (Oenanthe javanica) is a bit different. The leaves of this small plant are beautiful changing from green to pink & add a peppery taste to a salad. Lemon Bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana) is used as a seasoning & you guessed it, it has a lemony taste to it.
Cattail (Typha latifolia) is probably not a plant you would think about eating, but believe it or not all of it is edible. The pollen, shoots, hearts, young spike heads & seeds can all be cooked & eaten. How about Duckweed (Lemna minor)? The small floating plant you see covering the surface of many natural lakes & ponds, it is a perfect garnish on a salad.
Some aquatics are even used for medicinal purposes like the Marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis). It is used as a cough suppressant, immune system booster & as a wound healant. Pennywort (Hydrocotyle spp.) is used for arthritis relief.
I could go on and on but I’m starting to get hungry. I think I’ll go out & have a snack, maybe a couple of Odorata Water Lily flowers & some mint tea, yum!