Scientifically known as Amorphallus Konjac, is a plant native to Asia. It is commonly found in regions such as Indonesia, China and Japan. Konjac is also thought to grow in some parts of Africa. It has other names such as devil’s tongue or snake palm. These names are likely due to the tonguelike structure of the flower. It grows for over two years, flourishing in the warm wet season and hibernates in the wintery season like most perrenials.
Konjac Plant structure
There are several strains of konjac growing in different regions with slightly variation in their appearance however they all have some standard features. The knojac plant has a large swollen stem whch grows underneath the ground to about 13cm radius. It has a single leaf which divides into many more leaflets. When it flowers, they grow into a spathe structure growing out of a spadix dark purple in colour.
The plant is commonly found growing in hilly parts of subtropical areas as wild or cultivated plants. Prefered conditions are around 16 degrees celcius and betweeen 800 and 2500m above see level.
Although known to grow in Asian regions including Indonesia, Korea, Japan and some parts of Africa, it is most popular in China where it is a significant part of the diet and traditional medicine. A good number of konjac farms and processing plants can be found in China such as the Baoji Konjac chemicals company limited.
Processing and Cultivation of Konjac Plant
The plant is cultivated by pulling or digging out of the ground by hand or using farming implement depending of the scale the harvest. To process the root is passed through a processor with several blades arranged in a grid. The end result of this process are konjac noodles known more comonly as shurataki.
The konjac powder is processed with water into various forms of meals jelly and non jelly snacks such as sweets, buscuits and cakes. Konjac is supplied as flour or chips widely used in Asian cooking for different meal types. Examples are Japanese oden, sashimi, sukiyaki, tofu and noodles.
Konjac is extremely low in calories and very high in fibre. It is marketed under different names in various forms. For example lychee and lipozend are made from konjac.