Monday, June 18, 2012

Lá Lót... Really?

Errata: This is quite embarrasing! In this quite chaotic world of flora in Miami, mistakes are easily made... In this blog, I have erroneously talked about two different plants as if they were one and the same. This note is to correct that oversight: The "Killer Vine" I refer to below stands as it was discussed, and that is NO Piper lolot (lá lót.) In fact, that invasive vine has been correctly identified as Dioscorea bulbifera (air potato) by a viewer. The photo in this blog has both species in it: the leaves of Piper lolot (lá lót) and the larger and climbing higher leaves are that of the D. bulbifera. Now you have that corrected. Sorry about the confusion. The invasive D. bulbifera is certainly undesirable. Unless I can be certain it is not poisonous, I will refrain to use it as wrapping for my beef to grill on my barbie. Back in August of last year, I talked about a killer vine that was trying to take over my yard. Little did I know that that was a well known and very well sought after important ingredient to southeast Asian dishes. In Viet-Nam, it is called lá lót. La Lot (Piper lolot,) is a perennial belonging to the plant family Piperaceae which includes other crops such as kava or ‘awa (P. methysticum), betle pepper (P. betle), and black pepper (P. nigrum). P. lolot is often used to flavor meat in southeast Asian dishes. This vine is propagated vegetatively, usually by cuttings. In Hawaii, P. lolot is sometimes grown under partial shade such as under saran shade fab:ric. But... here in my backyard, it is as invasive as can be and it does not need any help to propagate on its own. Last year, I had to rescue my Ylang Ylang tree from being taken over by cutting away a huge section of this vine that was climbing wild and high. Now it's back with a vengeance. Look how big their leaves are when they succeed climbing higher up. Although the entire plant is edible, the leaves are used to wrap beef into a roll in a special way beef is prepared in Vietnamese cuisine. When exposed to fire, they release a special aroma that is unique and delightful. I think I can retire by just harvesting these leaves and sell them by the kilos. La Lot

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