Scientific Name : Basella alba
Common Names : Malabar Spinach, Vine Spinach, Buffalo Spinach, Climbing Spinach
Malay Name : Remayong
Chinese Name : Saan Choy (蚕菜)
Tamil Name : Vasalakkirai
Tagalog Name : Alugbati
Ceylon Spinach is in the Basellaceae family, not the spinach family. This crop is native to tropical Asia, probably originating from India or Indonesia, and is extremely heat tolerant. It is grown throughout the tropics as a perennial.There are 2 chief cultivars, Basella alba, which features green- stems and deep-green leaves, and Basella rubra with purplish stems and dark green leaves with pink veins. The mucilaginous texture is especially useful as a thickener in soups and stews1.
You may grow from seeds but stem cuttings about the length of 20 cm are preferred for natural propagation and faster growth. It prefers hot, humid climate and moist, fertile, well-drained soil to flourish. Being a vine, it requires trellising for its spread. It bears white or white-pink color tiny flowers depending upon the species and purple to black color berries.
The thick, fleshy leaves along its vine length are broad oval to heart-shaped. Basella rubra has pink or purplish stems and pink color veins running across its leaves.The fleshy greens and terminal, tender 8-12 inches stem are harvested about 35 to 45 days after planting (about 50 days after seedling)2.
Ceylon Spinach can be used raw, in salads, or as a stand alone vegetable. You can also use it like spinach in soups and stews. Steamed Ceylon Spinach is great and will yield more than conventional spinach due to its fleshy nature.
Ceylon Spinach is high in Vitamin A (100 grams contains roughly 8,000 units), Vitamin C, iron, and calcium. In addition, it has a high amount of protein for a plant and is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Ceylon Spinach is rich in antioxidants, particularly beta carotene and lutein – naturally occurring chemicals that help keep your cells from aging. The purple variety seems to be slightly higher in antioxidants, most likely anthocyanins due to the colour3.
Raw, nutritive value per 100 g2:
Carbohydrates : 63.40g or 2.5% RDA
Protein : 1.80g or 3% RDA
Folates : 140μg or 35% RDA
Niacin : 0.155mg or 13% RDA
Riboflavin : 0.155mg or 13% RDA
Thiamin : 0.050mg or 4% RDA
Sodium : 24mg 1.5% RDA
Potassium : 510mg or 11% RDA
Calcium : 109mg or 11% RDA
Copper : 0.107mg or 12% RDA
Iron : 1.20mg or 15% RDA
Magnesium : 65mg or 16% RDA
Manganese : 0.735mg or 32% RDA
Selenium : 0.8μg or 1.5% RDA
Zinc : 0.43mg or 4% RDA
- Malabar Spinach by World Crops For Northern United States.
- Basella (Vine Spinach) Nutrition Facts by Nutrition And You.com
- Malabar Spinach: Benefits and How to Grow and Eat it by DIY Natural
The contents and references in this posting are for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical professional before consuming this food either cooked or raw, especially if you have any medical conditions.