Scientific name: Basella alba
Typical of leaf vegetables, Malabar spinach is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is low in calories by volume, but high in protein per calorie. The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fibre. It is used especially in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, China, and across Africa.
The ethnobotanical properties of Basella alba have been reviewed in this article. Various parts of the plant are used for treatment of diseases as well as various healing activities across the globe, especially in India and China. Its use has been discovered as asperient, rubefacient, and for catarrh infections. Some of the compounds available especially in the plant are basellasaponins, kaempferol, betalin, and others. Several extracts such as aqueous, chloroform, ethanol and petroleum have been used for different pharmaceutical activities (Adhikari, 2012).
Other uses: dye
A red dye is obtained from the fruit extract, which has been used as a rouge and also as a dye for official seal.
Agroforestry Uses: The plant can be grown on living stakes, usually on a fence or on a hedge.
Other Uses: A red dye is obtained from the fruit extract. which has been used as a rouge, an ink, for food colouring, and also as a dye for official seals (L., 2012).
Country of Origin
Native to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and New Guinea; the plant is found in tropical Asia and Africa where it is widely used as a leaf vegetable. It is reportedly naturalised in China, tropical Africa, Brazil, Belize, Colombia, the West Indies, Fiji, and French Polynesia.
Time to harvest
The leaves from the spinach plants can be harvested for about 70 days after planting the seeds, when the plants reach maturity. The plant continues to produce leaves throughout the growing season. Young, tender leaves taste better than older leaves, which are usually tough (King, 2019).