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Luhao has the initial appearance of horsetail reeds, though it is not hollow. The stalks are thin, pistachio lime green with trademark black horizontal notches. Luhao has a crunchy, snappy quality, though it does lack succulence. Its flavor is nutty and fresh, comparable to asparagus with herbaceous undertones reminiscent of celery.
Luhao is available only in late spring into early summer.
Luhao is a fresh-water vegetable that is grown for its edible stalks. It is a member of the Equisetum genus, a family of grasses known for their medicinal qualities.
Luhao has a high nutritional density and medicinal value. It has been used in both raw and dried form for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Luhao is commonly eaten as an appetizer, lightly steamed or sauteed. It is also paired alongside tofu or pork in stir fries. Spring ingredients such as morel mushrooms, green garlic, fennel, leeks and citrus are also quite suitable pairings. Other complimentary ingredients include bacon, garlic, cream, eggs, vinegar, shoyu, butter, herbs such as basil and grains such as brown rice, quinoa and farro.
Luhao grows wild and in cultivated form in southern China in lakes and in high moisture growing climates. Luhao is rather exclusive to southern China, as it is not grown nor is it commonly eaten outside of this region. In fact, those in northern China and outside of the country are often neither familiar with it as food or a plant. Though it is a relatively obscure food plant, it has high food value - not only is it inexpensive to grow and buy, it also serves as a critical source of food for ox and sheep.