Known as rau muong in Vietnam, this vegetable is delicious when stir-fried with shallots, added to a soup, or eaten on its own with rice and soy sauce.
It's commonplace in many American homes with Asian inhabitants. Water spinach may be easy to come by on the West Coast, but that's not the case in the South.
There, the Plant Protection Act of the federal government makes it illegal to transfer the plant over state lines without a specific permit.
It's considered as a "plant pest." In Georgia, rumors circulate about people growing and selling water spinach from car trunks.
In humid, subtropical climes such as Georgia and Florida, and especially in the moist sections of the Everglades, it can be a deadly species.
Growing water spinach requires only water and moist soil. The fragile shoots can develop up to 70 feet every day, or four inches per day.
Multiplying this by a bundle yields a wild, unmanageable plant that can impede water movement, creating havoc beneath waterways, drains, and flood control canals.
Southern states including as Florida, Texas, and Georgia have severe restrictions in place to manage the vegetable because to its fast growth and destructive potential.
In Florida, it must be cultivated, harvested, and packaged on-site before transit. Also, you can't cultivate water spinach in ponds, lakes, rivers, or canals.
The conditions for this "herbaceous vine" are slowly improving. Georgia's Department of Agriculture approved water spinach for sale in March.