DID YOU KNOW?
Alugbati (Basella alba L.) is a succulent, branched, smooth, twining, herbaceous vine, reaching a length of several meters. The stems are green or purplish. The leaves are somewhat fleshy, ovate or heart-shaped, 5-12 centimeters (cm) in length, stalked, tapering to a pointed tip and heart shape at the base.
Alugbati grows well in tropical lowlands at elevations up to 500-3,000 meters (m). It also grows in temperate regions. Alugbati thrives in many soils, but sandy loam appears to be most suitable.
It is commonly grown for its young shoots which make an excellent succulent, slightly mucilaginous vegetable, used as a potherb in stews or soups; consumed boiled, fried in oil or sometimes as a green salad.
Its fruits seem to have been earlier used for dyeing purposes in China. The red fruit juice can be used as ink, cosmetic and for coloring foods. The young leaves can be used as a laxative, the pulped leaves to poultice sores, red fruit juice as an eye drop to treat conjunctivitis and the roots as a rubefacient. The red forms are commonly planted as ornamentals and are even becoming popular in Europe as a pot plant.
Alugbati is known by varied English names such as Malabar spinach, vine spinach, or Indian spinach. While its dark green leaves are similar to regular spinach, the alugbati stems are rather green-purple in color. Its texture is a bit more fibrous compared with the regular spinach. And just like the spinach, alugbati is rich in many essential nutrients like iron, Vitamin A, and folic acid. It’s also packed with a number of antioxidants like lutein and talinum.