Oftentimes, ordinary weeds that are edible are taken for granted although they can also contribute to food security.
Just like the weed that is known in Western Visayas as Lupo. It is well liked by the Ilonggos as ingredient for their “ginisang mungo.” Yet, it is not being grown in the garden or farm as a source of vegetable for home use or for sale. People simply gather the shoots from the wild for their own use or for sale in the market. Unfortunately, it is not always in season.
When we first posted Lupo in our blog, we received inquiries regarding its scientific name. Well, Fernando Aurigue came to our rescue. He is a UP Los Baños graduate who is now with the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI). He also heads a research group at the Philippine Horticultural Society headed by Dorie S. Bernabe.
After seeing the picture that we posted in our blog, Nanding, as we often call him, readily knew that it is an Alternanthera species belonging to the Amaranth family to which the kutsarita that you and I know also belongs.
In Panay, he said, Lupo is Alternanthera paronychioides. He notes, however, that the weed is not indigenous to the Philippines. It could have been introduced many years ago. He texted us: “Maybe, it was naturalized as a weed!” To which we retorted jokingly: “So it was not natural born and cannot be voted as president of weeds!”
Anyway, something should be done with edible plants that are being taken for granted. Perhaps some research should be done regarding their nutritional value, cultural requirements, various uses and other aspects.