FB159 Red Malabar Spinach ( Basella rubra v Rubra )
Charming twining climber, dark red-olive leaf, purple red stem, pink flowers, vine for large pots or beds or as vegetable.
Also known as Ceylon spinach, vine spinach or Malabar nightshade. It is a climbing perennial plant, mostly cultivated as an annual vegetable against a support in home gardens but in some areas as a vine like market vegetable without staking. Malabar spinach is not a true spinach (Spinacia oleracea L., chenopodiaceae), but its leaves, which form on a vine, resemble spinach, and are used in the same way. The plant is a native of the East Indies, and found its way to the New World from China. It has spread throughout the tropical world and it is one of the best tropical spinach widely adapted to a variety of soils and climates. It is particularly abundant in India, Malaysia, and the Philippines, but it is also seen throughout tropical Africa, the Caribbean, and tropical South America.
Malabar spinach has thick tender stems and the leaves are almost circular to ovate, alternate, and short petioled. The flowers, borne on axillary spikes or branching peduncles are bisexual and inconspicuous. The fruits are fleshy and purplish black and the juice is sometimes used as a dye.
The succulent young and mature leaves, and the stems are eaten. The most common method of cooking is as a pot herb, mixed with stew or other vegetables. The leaves have mild flavor. Malabar spinach is a good source of vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.
Malabar spinach is a perennial that tends to extend itself over time. Seeds can be sown directly or vines may be established directly from stem cuttings. These need a little shade on transplanting, but root readily. Malabar spinach can thrive under conditions of moderate soil fertility, but is quite responsive to nitrogen fertilizer. Can be harvested at 57 days after planting.