Ekai Thabi - An aquatic vegetable cash crop in Manipur

Dr N Irabanta Singh *


Ekai Thabi (Manipuri)/ Water mimosa (English) is an aquatic floating perennial herb that attaches to the bank at the water edges and sends down a tap root. The North Eastern region of India particularly Manipur provide a favourable condition for mass propagation of water mimosa (Neptunia prostrata) owing to its ample rainfall, humidity and moderate range of temperature.

Moreover, about 70% of the total population of four districts( Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and Thoubal) of the state practised with paddy cultivation as the major source of income and 20% of this population are poor and marginal farmers.

In this article the author wishes to describe the taxonomy, preservation methods, propagation through seed, ecology, nutritional and medicinal values, cost benefit analysis of water mimosa cultivation in Manipur as well as suggestions for cultivation of water mimosa in their inundated paddy fields.

Description and taxonomy:

Botanically, water mimosa is known as Neptunia prostrata (Lam.) Baill. (Syn. N. oleracea Lour.). It is an aquatic legume (Order -Fables and Family- Leguminoceae) and native to several continents of the humid tropics and is used for both human consumption and as green manures for rice cultivation in India and some Asiatic countries (Subha Rao et. al., 1995).

N. prostrata stems ranges 1 to 1.5 m long, prostrate at the water edge, rarely branched, becoming detached from the primary root system, forming a spongy-fibrous indument between the nodes and producing fibrous adventitious roots at the nodes when growing in water. Leaves have leaflets, 8-20 pairs per pinna. The leaflets are very sensitive to touch and close quickly.

Flowers, yellow 30-50 per spike and each flower is 7.0-16.0 mm long, 0.5-1.0 mm broad. Seeds are oval and brown, 4-8 per legume. Each seed is, 4.0-5.1 mm long, 2.7-3.5 mm broad. Water mimosa can grow from seeds and from sections of stem that break free from the parent plant. Flowering begins in early summer.

Preservation methods:

Old stock plants could be preserved for supply of plantlets to the growers for the following season. The selected plants for preservation could be skipped off from harvesting at least one (1) month before the end of the season. In Manipur, three different indigenous methods are practised for preservation of water mimosa during off-season. They are i) Shallow water method, ii) Floating method and iii) Mud method.

Propagation through seed:
Water mimosa seeds could be collected from different sites of Manipur. For aseptic germination, water mimosa seeds could be scarified and surface sterilized for 5-10 min in 0.01% HgCl2 solution followed by repeated rinsing with sterile distilled water.

The seeds could be placed on sterile moistened double layered paper towels in petri dish and allowed to germinate at 25 degree +1 or -1 degree Celsius for 24 hrs in continuous dark. The germinated seeds could be transplanted aseptically in culture pot containing sterile soils and culture under control condition for 14 hr light/10hr dark at 25 degree Celsius for 30 days.


In Manipur, N prostrata grows in warm, stagnant ponds, slowly moving streams during rainy season (May-September). The plant flowers at the third month of its growth cycle (i.e. June-July). Whereas in the Manipur Valley, the growth of the plant is found poor, flowering also takes place abnormally and nodulation is hardly seen.

This variation in behaviour of N. prostrata is due to its different sensitivity to photoperiod, temperature, humidity, soil nature. The humidity plays a major role in nodulation due to infection of Rhizobiium. The plant prefers to very bright light intensity and short day (<12 hours) photoperiod. 25-30 degree Celsius is the optimum temperature of their growth. Studies on the soil habitat of the plant revealed that it prefers to slightly acidic soil (pH 5-6.5), soil depth (20-50 cm shallow) and high soil fertility.

Nutritional and medicinal values:

Water mimosa is nutritionally high in Calcium. A serving of 100g contains as much as 387 mg of Niacin. Niacin plays an essential part in the metabolic process of living cells and is involved in both DNA repair and production of steroid hormones in the adrenal glands. Moreover, water mimosa contains upto 5.3 g of fibre for every serving of 100g.

Juice of the stem and roots are used for medicinal purposes. Whole plant extract exhibited cytotoxic activity on neoplastic cell lines. Extract of the herb exhibited hepatoprotective activity.

Cost benefit analysis between water mimosa cultivation and paddy cultivation:
The cost benefit analysis for water mimosa (N. prostrata) cultivation and paddy cultivation revealed that more income could be earned from water mimosa cultivation (=Rs. 46,419/- approx. per year per 0.46 acre of cultivable land) than paddy cultivation (=Rs. 11,605/- approx. per year per 0.46 acre of cultivable land).


Water mimosa is cultivated as a vegetable in South-East Asia (leaves and shoots have cabbage-like flavour). Young ends of stems and pods are edible and usually eaten raw as a vegetable in Thailand and Cambodia which is cultivated much like rice. The young leaves, shoot tips and young pods are usually eaten raw or in stir-fries and curries.

On the other hand, water mimosa poses an extreme threat to Queensland’s (Australia) waterways and wetlands. It establishes from small plant pieces in water and from seed. Under favourable conditions, water mimosa grows out from the banks to form floating rafts of dense interwoven stems. These can be dislodged by water movement (especially during floods) and are soon replaced by more water mimosa.

These floating rafts can restrict water flow in creeks, channels and drains. It can impede recreational water sports and boating access. These rafts are so dense they can reduce water quality by preventing light penetration and reducing oxygenation of water. This creates favourable habitat for mosquitoes and reduce fish activity, causing the death of native, submerged water plants and fish.

Thus, water mimosa comes under legal requirements in Australia. Water mimosa are restricted invasive plants under the Biosecurity Act 2014. The Act requires that all sightings of water mimosa plants must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours of sighting.

By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of spread of water mimosa until they receive advice from an authorised officer. It must not be kept, moved, given away, sold or released into the environment without permit.


In Manipur, large areas of cultivable land surrounding the Loktak lake has been left unused due to seasonal inundation caused by Ithai barrage being constructed for generating Loktak Hydro Electric Project, commissioned in 1983 under National Hydro Power Corporation. This barrage has brought a great hardship to thousand of peasants in Southern Manipur Valley.

The cost benefit analysis of cultivating water mimosa with paddy cultivation in the same area revealed that more income could be generated from water mimosa cultivation than paddy cultivation. This suggests that the farmers could start plantation of water mimosa in their unused inundated lands in order to generate sustainable income.


The technology for mass propagation/ cultivation of water mimosa is an effective income generating enterprises for the poor and marginal farmers of Manipur in their unused inundated paddy fields.

* Dr N Irabanta Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic Grade)/ Life Sciences Dept, MU and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University
This article was posted on September 24, 2017.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Lui-Ngai-Ni @Longmai (TML) #1 : Gallery
  • Death of Guerrilla General Charles Wingate
  • March Past @Republic Day #3 : Gallery
  • Mini-dam at Tuidimjang, Myanmar
  • Tips for facing Board exams
  • Children by the River :: Poem
  • Manipur House : Accommodation in Delhi
  • Mass Anti Drug Rally at Lilong
  • Saroi Khangba #1 : Gallery
  • NEROCA Vs Churchill Brothers #1: Gallery
  • Nationalist Democratic (NDPP) Manifesto
  • Journeying in Lenten season
  • Multidimensionality: Strength of sociology
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Your mandate for Naga solution: Imkong
  • Impositions on information
  • Centre to fund NE plans fully: DoNER
  • Manipur tops NE in forest conservation
  • Phases of Manipur Culture #1
  • Rengtokung, Rinchonwon :: eMing
  • Brajabashimayum Jugolchandra : Akademi
  • Meetei as General category is wrong
  • Fear :: Poem
  • Cong cracking the PS whip
  • Lodges complaint over threats of KPLF
  • Students embark on integration tour
  • District Sales Manager - Globizs Solutions
  • Keeping doors of the NPF wide open
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Thanga Landscape with Loktak : Gallery
  • Imphal Art Camp @Kangla #3 : Gallery
  • On the Question of Nation and Nationality
  • Cry of a Dying River - 18 : Poem
  • Simultaneous election ok, but EVM ?
  • First Balloon Pulmonary Valvotomy perform
  • Free medical health camp by Loktak PS
  • Tomorrow's Manipur
  • Cracking down on traffic violators
  • Hazarika's 'Strangers No More' released
  • Likkon Sanaba @ Lamshang : Gallery
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni : Flash Presentation
  • Shopping for Shivaratri #1 : Gallery
  • Yet it galloped :: Poem
  • Cheirao Ching Kaba & Double Ninth Fest
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni - Seed Sowing Festival
  • Understanding share market as career #2
  • Hope floats
  • Time for SIT to pull up socks
  • Framework shrouded in mystery: NNPGs
  • 2 NE earn 'special mentions' in Forbes list
  • SSS MANIFA @ Kakching : Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Leima Jagoi : Gallery
  • Shrinking wetland in Manipur
  • Parent cant be replaced by rose on 14 Feb
  • Lifetime award for Salesian Varsity VC
  • Something is terribly wrong: SC to CBI
  • Demand for regulatory over alternate media
  • Are our women safe?
  • Church in electoral politics ?
  • Priority remains unchanged- Shurhozelie
  • Landscape of Loktak Lake #2 : Gallery
  • Sentinel Cup Equestrian #3 : Gallery
  • You Are The Only One- 15 Lightgrey
  • Tribute paid to Guerrilla General- WW-II
  • Customer-centric services in medical
  • Checking noise pollution
  • Tackling the level of noise
  • Final Naga pact to be in Constitution
  • NEROCA FC Vs Aizawl FC #1 : Gallery
  • Khousabung observed 'Black Day' : Gallery
  • Pains :: Poem
  • Sainik Schools under foster care- ironic truth
  • Cattle urine: An alternative to chemical use
  • My lachrymose week at Govt hospital
  • Laiphadibigi Bor :: Funga Wari
  • Imphal Art Camp @Kangla #2 : Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs Gokulam #2 : Gallery
  • Turning sunset years into gold
  • T Gwite and his Thanlon Times
  • NPCC for Secular Front
  • Be a leader of the people, as chosen
  • February 27 : 'If elections are held...'
  • Cross border trade resumes in Manipur
  • MaiOn - Scenes #3 :: eRang
  • Rhizome Festival @Thoubal #2 : Gallery
  • Moirangthem Rajen: Akademi Awards 2014
  • MSAD Annual Report 2016-17 : Download
  • Saving Nambul: Need of the hour
  • Lifeless Words :: Poem
  • Ridiculous supposition of TR Zeliang
  • Illegal timber smuggling curbed
  • Act Jiribam policy also matters for Manipur
  • Banning Catholic schools
  • Folk Dance @ Republic Day #1 : Gallery
  • Day 1- Imphal Jamboree #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur Radio- Streaming Android App
  • A song of victory :: Poem
  • Redefining the lingo
  • Learn lessons from your past mistakes
  • Fire at Namphalong Market
  • Beware of middlemen
  • Increasingly polluting Nambul river
  • ACAUT accepts resignations of Chairman
  • Loree Kaju Luita Phanit #1 : Gallery
  • Royal Crematorium at Bangkok #3 : Gallery
  • 1994 batch seek help for Sir Sekaran: DBS
  • 13 Jobs at NIELIT Kolkata [Upd]
  • Biology is Chemistry
  • Recruitment of MIL (Tribal) teachers
  • Corruption at Pravabati College
  • Birth Heart Defect treated
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Back to the hot seat
  • Ambience for education
  • Aribam Chitreswar Sharma : A Profile
  • Sentinel Cup Equestrian #2 : Gallery
  • Election despair in Nagaland
  • Share market as career options
  • Sentinel Cup Equestrian Championship
  • DG Assam Rifles calls on Chief Minister
  • The danger seen in the N. Biren Govt
  • As Feb 27 approaches: High octane drama
  • Singcha Wuya Won @Kamjong #5: Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs Gokulam #1 : Gallery
  • Nongthombam Lakshman : Natyabhusan
  • Tableaux @ Republic Day #2 : Gallery
  • Alien at Home
  • Cry of a Dying River - 17 :: Poem
  • Leadership skills for 21st century
  • Task before new MPP president
  • Landscape of Loktak Lake #1 : Gallery
  • Sentinel Cup Equestrian #1 : Gallery
  • Dongkhojam Lunkim: Akademi Award 2014
  • Padmashree L Subadani felicitated
  • Cosmological evolution with baby cosmos
  • Russian wife scam - The perfect crime
  • My Fevered Dream :: Poem
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • CCNTHCO decides not to interfere in poll
  • SC recommends names of new CJs
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Day 1- Imphal Jamboree #1 : Gallery
  • Heart Foundation financial assistance
  • The cry of a disgruntled citizen
  • Harassment of activists: Pravish's death
  • TSA condemns KPLF/KPLA's diktat
  • Appeal to join Reservation Kalhousi Rally
  • Educating the educators
  • Rejecting boycott call: Delivering a point
  • IISER: Impact of Establishment in Manipur
  • MSAP Sports Meet @ Pune : Gallery
  • March Past @Republic Day #2 : Gallery
  • Wetlands: Why we should care ?
  • World Wetlands Day: Decommission Ithai
  • MSAP Sports Meet & elections held
  • NPF to abide by principle of democracy
  • Chairman, SC/ST Orgs visit Manipur
  • Pollution pangs
  • Nagaland BJP in a fix : Catch-22 situation
  • Rongmeikai & Langbung: Manipuri Folktale
  • State Kala Akademi Award, 2014 : Gallery
  • Imphal Jamboree by Global Shapers
  • Architecture as a career
  • Towards positive change; let's win together
  • Training for NSS Program Officer concluded
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Cooperation rather than conflict
  • Imphal Evening: Promoting nightlife
  • Total lunar eclipse of January 31, 2018
  • February Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • Women's Polo Tournament #4 : Gallery
  • The other half :: Poem
  • Towards a final Framework Agreement
  • Don't wanna miss the Misses
  • Job @Ascend Institute of Training
  • President of Natl Higher Education Body
  • Technology to the rescue
  • Heading towards Central rule : Nagaland
  • Indigenous Game of Wrestling: Gallery
  • List of MLA (Jan 2018) #2 : Gallery
  • Tableaux @ Republic Day #1 : Gallery
  • Joint Indo Myanmar Cleanliness Drive
  • CM's cash awards for toppers
  • Ichangi Laidhi #2 :: eRang
  • Gaan Ngai @ Ragailong #2 : Gallery
  • Reporting in Conflict Situation #2
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #4 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #3: Gallery
  • Lafoi Shamda puthorkpa #2 : Gallery
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3: Gallery
  • Time Table - Class XII Exam 2018
  • Time Table - Class XI Exam 2018
  • Maring: Kummui Chaa-um : Gallery
  • Time Table - HSLC Exam 2018
  • Front Page Photo #6: Gallery
  • Calendar for the Year 2018 :: e-pao Tools
  • Restricted Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Public Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • General Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #7 : Ooba
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic