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Basella alba

Basella alba
Malabar spinach
Basella alba
Finally climbing

Common name Malabar spinach
Family basellaceae
Life cycle tender perennial (Z10-11)
Flowers purple/white
Size 2-6'
Light sun-part shade
Cultural notes rich, moisture-retentive soil

Tropical vine whose edible leaves can be used as a spinach substitute. Native to tropical Africa and Asia, it doesn't appreciate any kind of cold, and is killed by even mild frosts – so definitely an annual for us. I planted ours in mid-July, and waited for a long time for it to do much of anything – but by October it was climbing into the nearby lattice. Two months later, after the first light freeze of the season, it was reduced to mush.

Malabar spinach
Mortally damaged by a December freeze...
Basella alba
...but plenty of seedlings appeared the following March
Malabar spinach
Our stand disappeared for a few years, but then returned after a winter with a severe freeze

This plant used to grow in our garden, but it slipped away...

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