Common name: 
Climbing Spinach, Indian Spinach, Malabar Spinach
3 - decent flavor
Requires a well-drained moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter and a warm sunny sheltered position[200]. Prefers a sandy loam[206]. Tolerates fairly poor soils but does much better in rich soils[206]. Tolerates high rainfall[206]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 7. A frost-tender perennial, it is not hardy outdoors in Britain but can be grown as a spring-sown annual[200]. A fast growing plant, capable of producing a crop within 70 days from seed in a warm climate[200, 264], though it requires a minimum daytime temperature of 15°c if it is to keep growing vigorously so it seldom does well outdoors in Britain[264]. It does tolerate low light levels plus night temperatures occasionally falling below 10°c, and so can do well in a cold greenhouse[206]. Plants do not flower if the length of daylight is more than 13 hours per day[200]. Widely cultivated for its edible leaves in the tropics[200], there are some named varieties[183]. It is an excellent hot weather substitute for spinach[183]. Some authorities recognize three different species, B. alba, B. rubra and B. cordifolia[206], they are all treated here as being part of one species[K].
Seed - sow March or April in a warm greenhouse. The seed requires a minimum temperature of 18 - 21°c in order to germinate[264], it germinates within 10 - 21 days at 20°c, pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water shortens the germination time[206]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots of fairly rich compost and grow them on fast, planting them out after the last expected frosts. Stem cuttings[200]. These can be taken in the late summer, overwintered in a greenhouse and then be planted out in late spring or early summer.
Basella alba

Range: Africa, China

Drought tolerant: Maybe

Habitats: full sun, semi-shade

Edible Uses: leaves, tea

Other Uses: dye

Flood tolerant: Maybe

Zone hardiness: 10

Family: Basellaceae

Genus: Basella

Physical characteristics: deciduous, vine
Leaves and stem tips - raw or cooked[200]. A pleasant mild spinach flavour[206], the leaves can be used as a spinach or added to salads[183]. Do not overcook the leaves or they will become slimy[206]. The mucilaginous qualities of the plant make it an excellent thickening agent in soups, stews etc where it can be used as a substitute for okra, Abelmoschatus esculentus[206]. A nutritional analysis of the leaves is available[218]. An infusion of the leaves is a tea substitute[183]. The purplish sap from the fruit is used as a food colouring in pastries and sweets. The colour is enhanced by adding some lemon juice[183]. Astringent - the cooked roots are used in the treatment of diarrhoea[206, 264]. Laxative - the cooked leaves and stems are used[206, 264]. The flowers are used as an antidote to poisons[218]. A paste of the root is applied to swellings and is also used as a rubefacient[272]. The plant is febrifuge, its juice is a safe aperient for pregnant women and a decoction has been used to alleviate labour[218]. The leaf juice is a demulcent, used in cases of dysentery[218]. It is also diuretic, febrifuge and laxative[218]. The leaf juice is used in Nepal to treat catarrh[272]. A paste of the leaves is applied externally to treat boils[272].