Mineral content of culinary and medicinal plants cultivated by Hmong refugees living in Sacramento, California

Jan L. Corlett, Michael S. Clegg, Carl L Keen, Louis E. Grivetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Since the end of the American-Vietnamese War in 1975, more than 1.5 million refugees from Southeast Asia have resettled in the United States. Included among these displaced persons were the Hmong from Laos, a subsistence-based, shifting-cultivation, agricultural society. Hmong who resettled in urban areas have viewed vacant lots adjacent to urban dwellings as potential garden sites for production of familiar herbs and vegetables. In the present study exotic culinary and medicinal herbs grown by Hmong refugees in Sacramento, California were identified and analyzed for mineral composition. The herbs grown in these urban gardens were significant ingredients of Hmong recipes, and herb leaves, or infusions of steamed herb leaves were widely consumed as a component of pregnancy and post-partum diets. Six common species, Acorus gramineus, aff. Angelica, Dendranthema indicum, Eupatorium lindleyana, Sedum aff. sarmentosum, and Sedum aff. spectabile, were used in combination to season chicken. Polygonum odoratum, also widely cultivated, was used to season fish. Exotic culinary-medicinal species with highest mineral profiles included: Basella alba (Ca, Mg, Mn, Zn); Houttuynia cordata (Fe, Mg, Mn); Justica gendarussa (Ca, Mg, Zn); and Polygonum odoratum (Ca, Mg, Mn). While vacant lots sometimes are heavy metal contamination sites, we found no detectable levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, or lead in the samples analyzed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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