Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

guascas (or huascas) Galinsoga parviflora, a herb of tropical America, especially the Andean region and Colombia, which has found its way by one means or another to parts of N. America, Europe, and Asia. It belongs to the family Compositae, is of erect habit, and may grow to a height of well over 1 m (say, 50").

Although in countries where it is naturalized the leaves are sometimes used as a vegetable (for example, writing of Java, Ochse, 1980, comments that the plants ‘grow incredibly fast’ and very densely, on roadsides and similar sites, and states that the young ‘tops’ constitute ‘a much relished and savoury lalab [side dish of greens or fruit] which is eaten, steamed, with rice’), it is more usually regarded as a weed (sometimes called quickweed) and it is only in the lands where it originated that it has real culinary importance.