Archive for November 18th, 2009

Invasive Species: Water Spinach

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

This is Passport to Texas

I’m strong to the finish, ‘cause I eats me spinach. I’m Popeye the sailor man.

By eating water spinach, you won’t become as strong as Popeye. But in the 1970s water spinach was imported to the U.S. from Asia because of its nutritional value.

It does grow very fast, which makes it a good plant to cultivate for food.

For this same reason, many people worry that if water spinach isn’t regulated, it could invade waterways, creating problems such as becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Currently, growing and consuming water spinach is legal, but stores can’t sell it. But Parks and Wildlife is changing their regulations so distributors can legally sell the plant if they buy it from an approved cultivator.

Earl Chilton is a TPWD aquatic habitat enhancement director. He says the regulations are just a precaution.

Here in Texas it may not be that dangerous anyway because it’s been completely unregulated for almost 30 years. It has been sold at HEB and Whole Foods and restaurants without any permits because our law enforcement people and us simply didn’t know about it. We have yet to find it established in the wild anywhere, despite the fact that in the area where they’re growing it, there have been any number of hurricanes over the last 30 years that have destroyed greenhouses and washed plants here and there.

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Gretchen Mahan. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.