Common name: Java waterdropwort
Local name: Selom
Scientific name: Oenanthe javanica
Distribution: East, South, and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia
Conservation status: Least concern, Cultivated, Native
Selom is a native plant found in the rainforest in Malaysia. Selom is an erect, perennial plant growing from 10 – 150 cm tall. The plant has creeping stolons by which it spreads vigorously, often forming large clumps. It bears small, white flowers in clusters. Selom often grows wild in swampy places such as the edge of wetland and rice field. However, there has been cultivation of Selom nowadays in response of market demand. It is rich in Vitamin C and minerals.
Selom was once a staple of Malay diets, freshly harvested leaves and stems were often served with a mix of Ulam raja, Pegaga or Tenggek burung as ulam. If you are a food lover, you should not miss the Northern Laksa or Laksa Utara in Peninsular Malaysia. The dish is normally presented together with fresh leaves of Selom.
Other than that, the tender stems and leaf stalks of Selom are used fresh as salad, to garnish steamed rice and other dishes, or boiled and chopped as greens.
Selom is considered a plant that is easy to grow. It thrives in various type of soil. However, it is best to grow the plant in fertile, moist soil with high organic content. To plant selom in seed bed or nursery, the soil must be plowed before planting.
Propagation: Seed, cutting
Instead of planting with seed, planting with cutting is faster to get the yield. Young plant needs sufficient water to grow well. It is good to water the plant two times per day, morning and dusk. The cutting start to develop roots within 2 to 3 weeks. After 4 to 6 months, reduce the times of watering. You can harvest the plant after 3 to 4 months of planting in soil.
The most common found disease of the plant is Sooty mould. Therefore, take precautions on the sanitation and implement good farming practices e.g. keeping a distance among plants and removing unhealthy plants.
Benefits to biodiversity
As a small plant that grows in moist places, Selom makes for excellent shelter for small wetland animals such as frogs. It can also be planted near ponds to act as a shelter for fry and small fish. The small white flower clusters are attractive to pollinators like butterflies as well as short- and long- tongued bees.