Vietnamese coriander (Persicaria odorata) is a member of the knotweed family and is also known as Vietnamese mint or Rau Ram. It’s a tender perennial and thrives from late spring to early autumn.
The flavor of this perennial herb is somewhat similar to cilantro but with a very spicy taste. The leaves have a very strong scent. Vietnamese coriander leaves are used whole in curries, soups and noodle dishes.Vietnamese coriander is best when consumed young and fresh as older leaves can develop a tough texture and bitter flavor.
The foliage of this Asian favorite is quite unlike cilantro. It has narrow, pointed leaves. Most of the times the leaves are solid green, but occasionally some leaves may have a chestnut-maroon colored streak about mid-leaf. It’s typically purchased as a seedling and planted in a container – preferably a big pot as it grows quickly.The biggest benefit to growing Vietnamese cilantro over “regular” cilantro is its ability to take the summer heat. If your summers are at all hot, you’re likely to have trouble growing cilantro and keeping it from bolting. Vietnamese cilantro, on the other hand, loves hot weather and will grow straight through the summer. This is definitely a great plant for South African climate!
It is however necessary to keep its soil moist at all times – allow it to dry out and it will wilt almost immediately.
It’s a low, creeping plant that will spread into ground-cover if given enough time. It can’t handle temperatures below freezing, but if grown in a pot and brought inside under bright light for the winter, it can last for many seasons. It grows best in filtered sunlight, but it can also handle bright sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. It prefers a sheltered spot protected from the elements and lots of water.