Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Vietnamese Coriander
Persicaria odorata

Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Persicaria (per-sih-KAR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: odorata (oh-dor-AY-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Polygonum odoratum

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

13 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us


Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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There are a total of 12 photos.
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10 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive isom On Jul 12, 2013, isom from Mission BC
Canada (Zone 8b) wrote:

I was introduced to this herb by a Cambodian friend & I loved its strong peppery taste in Vietnamese foods. Since we have a Vietnamese grocery shop in a nearby town, I decided to try growing it from cuttings. It roots amazingly well. It's related to Polygonum punctatum (Smartweed) but needs much wetter conditions to thrive & letting the soil get too dry spells doom for the plant (though it might recover if caught in time).

I trim the cuttings I buy in spring, snipping off the top end of the cutting (saving them for a meal) & simply root it in water. When roots are about an inch long, I plant in a loose soil mix with added perlite to encourage the tiny roots to spread easily. I keep them in a semi-shaded place in a good sized pot outside, trimming what I need when I want some fresh. I enjoy the taste & use it a lot so grow it in a big pot. This way, taking what I need for meals won't harm the plant.

Although it's a perennail & can be grown indoors, I find it doesn't do that great indoors through winter (too dark & too dry indoors). So each spring, I start a fresh batch. I'm late doing it this year but will soon have fresh for eating again.

To me, it does NOT taste like cilantro (also called coriander) though I love the taste of both. Not sure what anyone who doesn't do Asian, particularly Vietnamese, cooking would use it for as it has a strong peppery taste. But wonderful to me.

Positive gen_s On Aug 8, 2012, gen_s from Saaint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
Canada wrote:

Pretty plant, easy and care free, lasting longer than coriander ( in our short but hot summers -z4b- coriander tends to seed quickly). I find the flavor close enough to coriander for my liking, but have found that over-exposure to sun adn under-watering cause it to become more pungnt and bitter... so a light shade location and constant humidity shoud do the trick.

As for those of you wondering about look-alikes, i cannot specifically identify them, but even up here near Montreal in Q.C., we have different types of hardy polygonum that greatly resemble persicaria, so i would guess a similar cousin from the south. (see wikipedia article about polygonum and more specifically polygonum persicaria -since more recent classifications of this last species list it as persicaria maculosa, its a little hard to untangle...). Some types of polygonum are edible, some mildly toxic, so make sure you i.d. before you eat!

Neutral bktstudio On Jul 11, 2012, bktstudio from Yukon, OK wrote:

there is a pest disease that I just found. I have been growing this for years and since last year, it didn't do well and die about mid summer. I saw alot of swollen nodes on the stems and didn't know what they were. This year, it happens again. And I decided to dissect one node to see what's inside. I've seen all kinds of creatures in the garden but this node gave me lots of goose bumps. There was a maggot like worm inside that node and that is the culpit that kills my plant. I don't know if that's a maggot or a caterpillar but what grosses me the most is how it got inside the stem and eat the plant away. I'm trying to find more info about this pest. I post a picture. check it out.

Neutral gsteinbe On Nov 18, 2011, gsteinbe from Trenton, NJ wrote:

I have been very disappointed with this plant. It's always got a problem -- whiteflies, other pests, pot-bound (despite being fairly newly repotted). And it doesn't taste like cilantro or coriander at all, as far as I can tell. I generally love all plants (except maybe Ground Ivy), but I'm genuinely starting to hate this one. So much bother for so little reward. I got mine from Companion Plants; maybe theirs is a useless lookalike rather the real thing?

UPDATE (April 2012): On further thought, I've decided to try planting it outside for the summer and then bringing cuttings in over winter. Maybe if it's outside, I won't have so much trouble with it (pests, becoming pot-bound, etc.). Maybe too it's flavor will increase.

Add in May 2013: No luck outside. Died after less than a month. Very disappointing.

Positive juku On Aug 20, 2011, juku from York Point, NS (Zone 5a) wrote:

One of my favorites. I left them outdoor ignorantly and it lasted for 2 winters (Zone 5a) before one extreme cold spell killed them. Now, I take a bush indoor and replant the cuttings outdoor in spring. By the 2nd week of summer, my garden bed are full of them.

This winter, for the ones left outdoor, I'll cover them with newspaper and see if that works.

Grows better in shade.

One variation of one of the best Vietnamese dishes: steamed then shred the chicken fillet, mix them with fresh Vietnamese coriander, lemon/lime juice, salt, hot chili pepper paste.

Happy Gardening & Cooking!

Positive editanlaurel On Aug 15, 2011, editanlaurel from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

I have always liked the flavor of this Vietnamese coriander, especially in salads (even in Papaya salad made by a Cambodian). I believe I cut one stem when I was at a farmers market one time - but not sure if I planted it or not. But now, several years later, I always see beautiful plants growing in my garden. The leaves look exactly like the one in the picture - with the same description, etc. It also smells nice. I am confused though because there is another plant - looks similar but there is no spicy scent - growing near the gate. I am pretty sure that is not a Vietnamese coriander. Whenever I go to the farmers market I pinch a little bit and taste it, the flavor is not as bitter as the one that I have. I do hope it is not another look alike. I will be posting a picture of the two plants tomorrow.

Positive dojustdat On Jul 28, 2011, dojustdat from Baltimore, MD wrote:

After growing them in different spots, I found out that if you grow them in a location where you get too much sunlight will cause the dark V spot on the leaves. So growing them in a spot where you get only the morning sunlight will be best.

Positive elimar On Nov 28, 2010, elimar from Tallahassee, FL wrote:

I can't grow cilantro here very well, but this plant is completely trouble free. It tastes almost like fresh cilantro - i put it fresh chopped on tacos, etc.

Positive lokidog On Feb 25, 2010, lokidog from Logan, UT wrote:

I think the ID about this growing in PA are incorrect - it's not a hardy plant (maybe to zone 9), but there are many look alikes. It also does not get that tall (at least here where climate is similar). The plant rarely sets seed except in the tropics. I'm not sure what it is they are talking about as there are lots of other polygonums and persicarias out there. This plant is strongly flavored - and has a strong odor when crushed. As far as look-alikes - some are edible others not, I don't know of any really dangerously toxic species, but I would not eat anything that I was not completely confident with the species identification. Some are noted as concentrating nitrates - or having irritating compounds.

I have much success with this in a pot - a sort of mini pond. I thought it was a heat and sun fiend, but it actually does best in partial shade (sun is very intense here so other locals with lots of clouds may differ), and cooler temps. It grew most inside in the fall with hight light from a west window. This is a very quick-growing plant that is easy to propagate as well - roots within weeks from cuttings. It's probably hardier than zone 11 - especially in or neat water. It'll probably die back but come right back again. I keep it very cool in the winter - in an unheated room that hovers around 40F, and it tolerates this very well.

Neutral philotea On Aug 27, 2008, philotea from Philadelphia, PA wrote:

I have a "new" yard in Philadelphia this year (a friendly neighbor razed the back yard last June before we moved in). This year we had several volunteers of (I think) vietnamese coriander. I liked its form and let it I have a forest. When staked, they're about 6 feet tall!

Can anyone provide more information about its growing habit, propagation, etc.? Is there a look-alike plant I might be mistaking for persicaria odorata? Any warnings?

Positive melangemerchant On Aug 6, 2006, melangemerchant from Adelaide
Australia (Zone 10a) wrote:

Persicaria odorata grows best in warm sunny, to part shade position in moist or wet soil. It will grow in shallow water quite happily, in the margin of a pond or bog garden. When grown in a more shaded position its leaves become more pale green and lose their distinctive arrow shaped pattern. The plant overwinters here without any trouble, tollerating near frost but will die if exposed to temperatures below freezing.
Used as a culinary herb throughout South East Asia, in the cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos etc. The leaves are shedded or used whole in curries, soups, noodles etc, especially with coconut milk and famously in Laksa soup. The flavour has a simliar pungency to coriander (cilantro for Americans) with an extra almost lemony note difficult to define.
Definitely worth growing for anyone interested in cooking authentic Asian food.

Positive weedville On Aug 26, 2004, weedville from Marcus Hook, PA wrote:

This plant grows like a weed in my back yard herb garden. The soil is wet most of the time, and the plant is in part shade. Makes great herb vinegar!

Positive HelenaCook On May 5, 2002, HelenaCook from Oldham, Lancashire
United Kingdom wrote:

Easy to care for, needs to overwinter inside since it doesn't like the cold,(my garden being in the northwest of England!) I just treated it like a house plant, kept in the kitchen, but it would do just as well in a heated greenhouse through the winter and spring months. A lovely herb to use in stirfrys and curries... goes particularly well with pork and pineapple...has a hot slightly peppery spicy flavour...ideal for growing in a tub on the patio, in general purpose compost...doesn't like being to wet or too dry...


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Lafayette, California
Richmond, California
San Francisco, California
Cape Coral, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Marrero, Louisiana
Pownal, Maine
Baltimore, Maryland
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Yukon, Oklahoma
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cedar Park, Texas

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