Malabar Spinach: is a vine which thrives well in heat. The two varieties are
- Basella ruba : Red stem and green leaves with red veins underneath
- Basella alba : Both the stem and leaves are green
This is a vigorous climber. The leaves are edible. It can be propagated by cuttings or seed. It sends out multiple pinkish white colored flowers. The fruits resemble wild blueberry but much darker in color. If you open the fruit the pulp is purple (stain alert!). Make sure to collect some seeds and save for next year. If you want an easy propagation method, let some vines touch the ground, it will root readily.
The leaves may resemble spinach, but its not from the spinach family. The leaves are thick and fleshy. These are warm weather (tropical) plants and cannot tolerate frost. So seed should be started outdoors after the danger of frost, or can be started indoors six to eight weeks before frost.
They need a trellis system to take off. They like to climb and appreciates any rain during hotter months. Cattle panel, tepee or a thick twin attached to any structure will also help them. They do look beautiful if set to climb over a pergola. They can be grown as perennials in warmer climates.
I am not a great fan of Malabar spinach(in fact any leafy greens) so I can’t talk about the taste. But stir-fry is the most common method my mom would make.