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There are two species of Malabar Spinach, Basella alba, which is green and B. rubra, which has purple stems. The thick mucilaginous leaves are an excellent dark green leafy vegetable for hot and humid climates. Malabar Spinach grows as a spreading vine along the ground or climbing on a trellis; a trellis is recommended to minimize leaf diseases. The young leaves may be eaten raw in salads, the leaves and young stems can be cooked as a potherb mixed with vegetables, the leaves may be cooked separately as a leafy green, and the leaves can be added to soups.


 ‘Red’ (B. rubra) has red tinged leaves, stems, and flowers. This variety can also be used for dye and jelly.