Monday, September 8, 2008
Ceylon Spinach (malabar spinach)
Malabar spinach is in the Basellaceae family, not the spinach family. The taste is similar to spinach. It is also called Ceylon spinach, Vietnamese Spinach (Mong Toi). Malabar spinach is a tender and fast growing, climbing tropical vine; growing up to 12 feet tall. This variety has a green stem, dark green leaves in thick heart shaped, This species is called Basella alba.
USDA zone 9 - 11.
Seeds have hard coating and it is suggested to soak seeds in water overnight or the seed skin be scratched before planting. Sow the seed directly on the soil and cover with thin layer of soil.
The plant is almost insect-free and is very easy to grow.
Full sun / light shade; plant outdoors after last expected frost.
It can be grown as a spring-sown annual as high as zone 7.
Tolerates high rainfall and is extremely heat tolerant; soil pH 6.1 to 6.5.
The soil must be rich and well drained.
Late Spring to early summer.
approximately 60 days
Only the leaves and young stems are eaten; they are used in salads or steamed with tofu and ginger.
The taste is similar to spinach. It usually cook with noodles or soup, stir-fried. They have a succulent mucilage (a thick gluey substance produced by most plants) that is uses as a thickener in soups or stews. In Japan, it is cooked in tempura or braised and topped with a sesame dressing.
High in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium; also a good source of chlorophyll.
In China, the leaves and roots are sometimes used medicinally for digestive system.