Basella alba - Malabar Spinach - Seeds
- East Africa
- z8 (annual)
- >z10 (perennial)
- Synonyms: Ceylon Spinach, Malabar Spinach, Vine Spinach, Indian Spinach
- Origin of the cultivated strain: India
- 1 packet of 20 seeds
Malabar Spinach is native to the tropical areas of East Africa, and widely distributed in all tropical areas of the planet, where it is grown as an ornamental plant and as a leaf green.
Basella alba is a small vine, which stems rise on a support by rolling-up.
In the wild, it is eaten by monkeys like Gorilla beringei and Cercopithecus mitis.
Its broad leaves are green (purple or tinged with purple in some cultivars), fleshy, tender, and brittle, hairless, smooth for the smaller ones, or embossed for the larger ones.
They lend a beautifully lush to the plant.
From the base of the leaves emerge ramifications, or most of the time inflorescences (from early summer until autumn).
The inflorescences are axillary spikes bearing globose, non-fragrant pink flowers above the foliage.
The flowers quickly give way to fleshy berries, green, then black, which fall to the ground when ripe.
Each berry contains 1 seed.
The young shoot and leaves of Basella alba are edible, and usually eaten cooked.
They are delicious and highly sought after in Asian cooking (powerful aroma between spinach and chard).
The fleshy berries release a very striking bright magenta color, alas not substantive.
However, the fermented berry give a magnificent slightly orange golden yellow dye, perfectly solid.
Sow the Vine Spinach seeds in heat, sun, pots, at 0.5-1 cm deep, around April or May.
Germination speed depends on temperature.
Protect seedlings from snails and slugs.
Transplant in the vegetable garden in June (earlier in warmer regions), in a fertile soil, rich in organic matter, and moist.
Choose a location protected from:
- direct sun at the hottest hours, to obtain wider and tender leaves
- strong winds to prevent leaf damage
Harvest the leaves throughout the whole season and according to plant capacity.
Growth is slow in spring, but fast in summer : this tropical plant loves heat (optimal growth: 27°C).
Basella alba will grow all the best in warmth and fertile soil regularly watered.
Indian Spinach is generally grown as an annual plant, because it is frost-tender.
However, this perennial plant can regrow each year from its stump if protected from winter frost.
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