Pak Wan is a tropical, woody, perennial shrub. It can be cultivated from cuttings.
Its young shoots and leaves are edible, raw or cooked. The shoots are eaten like asparagus.
The taste is somewhat like green peas.
Pak Wan is used in stir-fries, salads, and in soups as a pot herb. Pak Wan soup is made in Thailand.
Pak Wan is also popular in China (south-west), India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
In the mid-1990s, a diet fad in Taiwan was based around juice from the leaves, which led to high consumption of it several times a day.
Taiwanese doctors linked it to long-term, irreparable lung damage when consumed in these quantities, possibly owing to the high amounts of an alkaloid called “papaverine” that it contains.
Called “Katuk” (also spelled “katook “) in Indonesia.