Wild Greens

Wild greens are edible plants that thrive without a gardeners hand in untended plots and even in the cracked pavements of the city. Also included are weeds in a home garden that are pulled up and discarded. Surprisingly, these can be a rich and plentiful source of nutritious greens — and free of charge.

It is important though to identify them properly (google their names to see images from all angles) and if you are collecting them from a wild area make sure it is not by the roadside where it can absorb heavy metals from automobile fumes. Plants that like wetland type situations can also absorb unhealthy elements - make sure its not rooted in tainted water. What may look like a wild patch could also be subject to occasional chemical pesticide spraying by local authorities - be wary of that too.

A solution to the above may be to pull the plant up by the roots and establish in your own garden, ideally in pots or a corner of the garden where their invasiveness will not be a concern. If you have fruit trees or a small orchard — under the trees would be a perfect spot where you can leave them to thrive and occasionally mow or harvest.

Chinese Violet, Asystasia gangetica

Native to South East Asia, Chinese Violet can be a noxious weed, but if you have space for it to colonise — its a great source and constant supply of green vegetables. Good in soups, quiches and omelettes as a spinach substitute. Use leaves only, discard fibrous stems. Flowers can be used in salads.

The nutritional composition of Asystasia gangetica leaves per 100 g edible portion is: water 82.6 g, energy 234 kJ (56 kcal), protein 3.7 g, fat 1.2 g, carbohydrate 10.4 g, Ca 226 mg, P 30 mg, Fe 4.7 mg, carotene 6250 μg, thiamin 0.19 mg, riboflavin 0.21 mg, niacin 1.0 mg, ascorbic acid 42 mg (Leung, W.-T.W., Butrum, R.R. & Chang, F.H., 1972). Extracts of Asystasia gangetica have shown analgesic and anti-asthmatic properties in pharmacological tests.

Alternanthera Sessilis

This plant is widely distributed through the tropics and can be found almost everywhere here in Malaysia. Leaves are used for food as well as medicine, the red form below is often sold in local night markets. Nice recipe here

Alternanthera Sessilis Red form

Lambsquarters, Chenopodium album,

The leaves and young shoots can be eaten as a leaf vegetable but should be cooked, and eaten in moderation due to high levels of oxalic acid, large quantities can disturb the nervous system and cause gastric pain. Good info here.

Nutritional info: 3.9% protein, 0.76% fat, 8.93% carbohydrate, 3%, 260 Calories per 100g, Protein: 24g; Fat: 5g; Carbohydrate: 45g; Fibre: 15g; Ash: 28g, Minerals — Calcium: 2300mg; Phosphorus: 500mg; Iron: 25mg; Vitamins — A: 31583mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.67mg; Riboflavin (B2): 1.58mg; Niacin: 2.5mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Peperomia Pellucid

Every gardener knows this weed because it pops up everywhere. Particularly good as part of a mix of greens in a salad as it has a crunch and slight spiciness. Can also be used as a cooked green.

A 100 grams portion of P. pellucida has approximately 277 mg of potassium. It also has: 1.1 grams carbohydrates, 0.5 gram protein, 0.5 gram fat, 94 mg calcium, 13 mg phosphorous, 4.3 mg iron, 1250 mg beta carotene and 2 mg ascorbic acid. Its leaves have also been used to make tea.

From: Eat the Weeds

Centella Asiatica

Native to wetlands in Asia and popular here as ulam, local name Pucuk Pegaga. Good for salad. Nice recipe here, which is a good base recipe for wild greens that are a little more fibrous or like this one — with a slight bitter flavour ie chopped fine and mixed with chopped onions, lime and grated coconut. Easy to find at local markets with roots intact.

Pennywort, Hydrocotyle umbellata

Often sold in the market as Pucuk Pegaga because of its longer, easier to harvest stems, Hydrocotyle umbellata is in fact a different plant altogether and a little more leathery than Centella Asiatica. Either cut it fine for use in salads or blend it for its colour in a drink or sauce.

Celosia Argenta

Not stricly wild but seeds itself quite randomly all over a garden . If you grow it for its flowers in your garden then youll have plenty of these young weeds to make a nice spinach like cooked vegetable.

Wild Ferns, Green: Pucuk Paku, Diplazium esculentum, red: Pucuk Piai,

The young red leaved shoots of Acrostichum aureum need to be sauteed after discarding the stems. The green Diplazium esculentum is more tender and can be cooked or eaten raw in a salads minus the woodier stems. These were bought at the farmers market foraged by villagers.

Wood Sorrel, Oxalis acetosella

Wood sorrel has a sour tang and is great as an accent in salads. Use only the leaves and discard fibrous stems. There is both a green and blackish form.

Bharath Sundry Store

Bharath on Jalan Tan Hiok Ngee in downtown JB is a heritage sundry shop which like many tends to stock items sourced from local suppliers. The item to look for here though is the fresh yoghurt delivered every morning from a small home farm with a herd of 6 cows, hand milked and humanely treated. Yoghurt is typically found in sundry shops that serve the Indian Malaysian community where you will also find a great selection of pulses and lentils for a vegetarian diet.

Green Grocers

There are specialty stores that sell organic produce condiments and noodles but local sundry corner shops can also be a great resource for green groceries as they tend to use small local suppliers and farmers. Supermarkets like Giant and Cold Storage are also increasing their assortment of organic items.

Orange Organic Shop

This small shop at No 145, Jln Perisai in Taman Sri Tebrau  (parallel to Tebrau Highway on the opposite side of Cyrstal Crown Hotel) is where you will find naturally brewed and organic soy sauces, seaweed stockcubes and an assortment of wholefoods. They have a small fridge of fresh produce including free range eggs. In the photo I selected products from Malaysia but on closer inspection the noodles didn't qualify as they are only packed here.

Green Farmers

One of the most important things to know about your food is where it came from hence the importance of knowing your farmers. Being able to talk to them at the markets or to visit them at their farms is a vital part of ascertaining the integrity of your food- is it safe, was it reponsibly grown. Check out our list below of local farmers who are doing the right thing.


We don't have a decent public transport system in the way of a MRT but we do have a lot of taxis which are better for the environment than driving your own car. Choosing this method also represents a safer option to travel as journeys can be tracked.

We like Grab as they are a local Malaysian startup. You can download their app from their web site.Check their facebook page for special offers and promotions.

Grab Taxi now also offer GrabCar (private cars) and GrabHitch for rideshares into Singapore.

Green Spaces

Green spaces are the green lungs of the city as well as refuges from urban life. A growing body of research tell us that city dwellers have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers  and those with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside."

Green U Market

Green U Market is a monthly green market and platform for sustainable living at Medini Green Parks

On the first saturday of every month vendors selling organically grown produce, artisanal food, handmade crafts  join enthusiasts and experts giving workshops, talks and demonstrations. A great resource to get sustainable produce and products and a great day out for the family.