What is the plant
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 native to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and New Guinea.
Basella alba, commonly called Malabar spinach, is native to the East Indies. It is a vigorous, climbing, tropical vine that may be grown in St. Louis as (1) an annual leafy vegetable for cultivation of its edible spinach-like stems and leaves or (2) as an ornamental foliage vine. This is a fast-growing tropical vine that, if trained on a support, will rise to 6' tall in a single season. Although in a different family than spinach, the leaves taste like spinach and, unlike spinach, the plants thrive in hot summer weather. Leaves and stems are a good source of Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Small purple-white flowers may appear at the end of the summer (plants will not flower until daylight decreases to less than 12 hours per day). Genus name comes from the Latinized version of the vernacular name. Specific epithet means white.
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