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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Derivation of specific name

alba: white
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Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Moist & dry deciduous forests also in the plains. Native of Tropical Asia & Africa, often cultivated"
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Miscellaneous Details

Tender leaves used as spinach.
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Brief

Flowering class: Dicot Habit: Climber Distribution notes: Exotic
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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Distribution: Probably native to Africa, but widely cultivated and naturalized throughout the tropics.

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"Uncommon in the forest borders and scrub jungles from plains to 2000m. Native of tropical Africa and Asia, often cultivated in the tropics."
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"Kerala: Alapuzha, Idukki, Kollam, Kozhikode, Malapuram, Palakkad"
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"
Global Distribution

Native of Tropical Asia and Africa, often cultivated

Indian distribution

State - Kerala, District/s: All Districts

"
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Distribution: A native of Tropical and subtropical Africa; introduced and widely cultivated in S.W. Asia to E. Asia, Fiji, Hawai, West Indies, Brazil and Guiana.
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Probably native to tropical Asia and Africa, often cultivated.
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Physical Description

Morphology

"
Flower

In axillary or terminal spikes; pinkish-green. Flowering from January-March.

Fruit

A globose or lobed pseudoberry; dark black when ripe; seed solitary, subglobose. Fruiting throughout the year.

Field tips

Branchlets terete, succulent, peduncles thickened when fruit ripe.

Leaf Arrangement

Alternate distichous

Leaf Type

Simple

Leaf Shape

Ovate-elliptic

Leaf Apex

Acute to acuminate

Leaf Base

Subcordate-acute

Leaf Margin

Entire-minutely crenulate

"
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Description

Perennial twining herb. Stem stout at the base, 1.5-2.0 cm in diameter, upper branches slender, fleshy and climbing. Leaves dark green, broadly ovate, 5-13 cm long and 2.5-8 cm broad, acute or acuminate, basally cordate, cuneate or truncate; petiole 0.5-3 cm long. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal spike, 8-14 cm long; rachis stout. Flowers white, pinkish or red, subsessile, remaining closed at anthesis. Sepals 3-5 mm long, united up to the middle, lobes short, 2-3 mm broad, cucullate. Bracts scaly, small; bracteoles similar to calyx, acute. Stamens included; filament short. Anther cordate. Ovary 1-locular. Fruit black or dark purple enclosed within the persistent fleshy calyx, c. 1.0 cm long. Seed globose, indehiscent.
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Elevation Range

200 m
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Description

Herbs annual. Stems green or red, to 10 m, fleshy, glabrous. Petiole 1-3 cm; leaf blade ovate or rotund, 3-9 × 2-8 cm, base shallowly cordate or rotund, margin entire, apex acuminate. Spikes 3-15(-20) cm. Bracteoles oblong. Perianth red-dish or purplish, ovate-oblong, 3-4 mm, base pale, margin entire, apex blunt. Filaments white; anthers yellowish. Utricle red to dark red or black, 5-6 mm in diam., containing violet juice. Fl. May-Sep, fr. Jul-Oct.
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Diagnostic Description

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Diagnostic

"Twining fleshy herbs; stems terete, glabrous. Leaves to 5 x 4 cm, ovate, acute or obtuse, rounded at base, thick, fleshy, glabrous; petiole 1 cm long. Flowers in axillary, stout, erect, 3-10 cm long spikes; bracts ovate, bracteoles orbicular; perianth calycine, lobes 5, 4 mm long, united at base; stamens 5, antitepalous, free; ovary glabrous, 1-celled; ovule 1, styles 3, stigma linear. Utricle globose, 5 mm across, fleshy, white, glabrous."
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Diagnostic

"Habit: A rhizomatous, succulent, twining herbs, to 5m."
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Diagnostic

Habit: Climbing Herb
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Synonym

Basella rubra Linnaeus.
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

"Moist and dry deciduous forests, also in the plains"
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General Habitat

"Common in thickets, by forest border, in plains, in scrub jungle. Hills above 500m. Probably a native of Tropical Asia and Africa, often cultivated."
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Habitat & Distribution

Widely cultivated. in China, naturalized in S China [pantropical].
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering and fruiting: December-February
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Flower/Fruit

Fl. & Fr. Per.: Feb.-March
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Basella alba

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Basella alba

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

"The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fibre, thought to remove mucus and toxins from the body. The plant is also a rich source of chlorophyll."
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Folklore

Indigenous Information: Fruits edible. Leaves and stems are cooked and eaten and said to cure mouth ulcers.
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Wikipedia

Basella alba

Leaves from West Bengal, India.
A variety of Basella alba with deep red and purple stems in the Philippines.
Malabar Spinach seeds from a 2005 photo in the Zhuji countryside.
Vinespinach, (basella), raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy79 kJ (19 kcal)
3.4 g
0.3 g
1.8 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.
(50%)
400 μg
Thiamine (B1)
(4%)
0.05 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(13%)
0.155 mg
Niacin (B3)
(3%)
0.5 mg
Vitamin B6
(18%)
0.24 mg
Folate (B9)
(35%)
140 μg
Vitamin C
(123%)
102 mg
Trace metals
Calcium
(11%)
109 mg
Iron
(9%)
1.2 mg
Magnesium
(18%)
65 mg
Manganese
(35%)
0.735 mg
Phosphorus
(7%)
52 mg
Potassium
(11%)
510 mg
Zinc
(5%)
0.43 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Basella alba is an edible perennial vine in the family Basellaceae. It is found in tropical Asia and Africa where it is widely used as a leaf vegetable. It is known under various common names, including Pui, vine spinach, red vine spinach, climbing spinach, creeping spinach, buffalo spinach, Malabar spinach and Ceylon spinach among others.[2][3][4]

Basella alba is native to the Indian Subcontinent, southeast Asia and New Guinea. It is reportedly naturalized in the China, tropical Africa, Brazil, Belize, Colombia, the West Indies, Fiji and French Polynesia.[1]

Description[edit]

Basella alba is a fast-growing, soft-stemmed vine, reaching 10 metres (33 ft) in length. Its thick, semi-succulent, heart-shaped leaves have a mild flavour and mucilaginous texture. The stem of the cultivar Basella alba 'Rubra' is reddish-purple.

Soil and climate requirements[edit]

Basella alba grows well under full sunlight in hot, humid climates and in areas lower than 500 metres (1,600 ft) above sea level. The plant is native to tropical Asia.[5] Growth is slow in low temperatures resulting in low yields. Flowering is induced during the short-day months of November to February. It grows best in sandy loam soils rich in organic matter with pH ranging from 5.5 to 8.0.

Food uses[edit]

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 fiber. Among many other possibilities, Malabar spinach may be used to thicken soups or stir-fries with garlic and chili peppers.

In the Philippines the leaves of this vegetable is one of the main ingredients in an all vegetable dish called utan that is served over rice.

In Karnataka Cuisine (Karavali and Malnad regions), the leaves and stems are used to make Basale Soppu Saaru/Curry (Especially in combination with Jackfruit seed). In Bengali cuisine it is widely used both in a vegetable dish, cooked with red pumpkin, and in a non-vegetarian dish, cooked with the bones of the Ilish fish. In Andhra Pradesh, a southern state in India, a curry of Basella and Yam is made popularly known as Kanda Bachali Koora [Yam and Basella curry]. Also it used to make the snack item bachali koora bajji. In Odisha, India, it is used to make Curries and Saaga (any type of dish made from green leafy vegetables is called Saaga in Odisha). In the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, India, it is used to make bhaji (भजी).

The vegetable is used in Chinese cuisine. It has many names including flowing water vegetable. It is often used in stir-frys and soups. In Vietnam, particularly the north, it is cooked with crab meat, luffa and jute to make soup.

In Africa, the mucilaginous cooked shoots are most commonly used.[6]

Malabar spinach can be found at many Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, etc. grocery stores, as well as farmers' markets. It has been shown to contain certain phenolic phytochemicals and it has antioxidant properties.(citation?)

Names[edit]

Basella alba is usually referred to as the "spinach" equivalent of a certain country in English, even though it is not related to the true spinach (Spinacia oleracea). Examples include "Malabar spinach", "Ceylon spinach", "Indian spinach", "Surinam spinach", "Chinese spinach", or "Vietnamese spinach". Other common names include "vine spinach", "red vine spinach", "climbing spinach", "creeping spinach", "buffalo spinach", "Malabar nightshade", and "broad bologi".

In South Asia, it is known as pui shak (পুঁই শাক) in Bengali; poi ni bhaji in Gujarati; basale soppu in Kannada; valchi bhaji or vauchi bhaji in Konkani; vallicheera (വള്ളിച്ചീര ) in Malayalam; mayalu (मायाळू) in Marathi; poi saaga (ପୋଈ ଶାଗ) in Oriya; vel niviti (sudu) in Sinhalese; kodip pasaLi (கொடிப்பசளி) in Tamil; bachhali (బచ్చలి) in Telugu; and basale in Tulu.

In Southeast Asia, it is known as 'pui shak' in Bengali; kubay in Ibanag; libatu in Kapampangan; alugbati in Tagalog and Visayan languages in the Philippines. It is known as pag pang (ผักปั๋ง) in Thai; and mồng tơi in Vietnamese.[5]

In East Asia, it is known as 木耳菜、落葵, 蚕菜, being saan choy, shan tsoi, luo kai, shu chieh, and lo kwai some of the pronunciations in Cantonese; and tsurumurasaki (つるむらさき) in Japanese.[5]

In Latin America, it is known as espinaca china ([espiˈnaka ˈtʃina], "Chinese spinach") or espinaca de Malabar ([espiˈnaka ðe malaˈβar], "Malabar spinach") in Spanish, and bertalha ([beʁˈtaʎɐ], etymology is tentatively "creepy green", "dense green") or espinafre indiano ([ispiˈnafɾ ĩdʒiˈɐ̃nu], "Indian spinach") in Portuguese.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Basella alba
  2. ^ http://parkseed.com/product.aspx?p=05660-PK-P1
  3. ^ "Dictionary of Philippine Vegetables". Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.foodrecap.net/health/alugbati-benefits/
  5. ^ a b c "WorldCrops Malabar Spinach". Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
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Notes

Comments

There is dramatic variation in growth form, colour of stem and the shape of inflorescence, according to age.

In Pakistan it is cultivated and cooked as a pot herb.

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Comments

Sometimes regarded as native, this species has long been cultivated as a vegetable and an ornamental. The juice is harmless and used as a food coloring. The plants are used medicinally.
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