At a glance, they look like miniature betel (sireh) leaves, heart-shaped leaves which are light green when young and turn to darker green. The stems which are easy to break are succulent-like and light green in color. The plants require a moist soil to flourish as being almost succulent in nature, the plant itself contains a lot of water, within the stem as well as the leaves. The stem and leaves are crunchy due to this. On the other hand, due to the amount of water it retains, it is important to ensure that the plants are grown in good soil, free of contaminants and it is watered with clean water. Otherwise you will end up with all the contaminants being part of the plant and affecting the taste of the leaves and stems - the parts that you consume.
The leaves and stems have many therapeutic benefits as documented in the herbal world. It is alkaloid in nature. Amongst its therapeutic benefits are as :
It is because of all these benefits, that I consume this although as with any herbs, one should not consume it excessively. I consume it raw as I want to get maximum benefits. Due to its high water content, it is also often juiced. It can also be cooked as a "soupy" vegetable dish or boiled and drank as a tea. It has a subtle peppery taste and absorbs other flavours. A note to remember, if the plant is planted in contaminated soil or in mouldy areas, the taste will be affected and no amount of washing or rinsing will remove it as it will be present at the "cellular" level.
With its fresh, subtle peppery taste and crunchiness, this is nature's pharmacy at its best :)