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Basella alba

(Ceylon Spinach)


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Although this vine is edible raw, it is usually cooked. Reportedly high in vitimins A and C.

Interesting Facts

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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Arabic:


Common Names in Bengali, Bangla:

পুঁই শাক

Common Names in Burmese:


Common Names in Catalan, Valencian:

Espinac de Ceilan

Common Names in Chinese:

Chan Cai (Cantonese Saan Choi, Lü Luo Kui, Luo Kui, Luo Kui (Lor Kwai), Mu Er Cai, Qing Chan Cai (Cantonese Tsing Shan Tsoi), Shan Ts´oi), 落葵

Common Names in Danish:

Indisk Spinat, Malabarspinat

Common Names in Dutch:

Ceylonspinazie, Malabar Spinazie, Oostindische Spinazie

Common Names in English:

Ceylon Spinach, Ceylon-Spinach, Climbing Spinach, Creeping Spinach, East-Indian Spinach, Indian Saag, Indian Spinach, Indian-Spinach, Malabar Nightshade, Malabar Spinach, Malabar-Nightshade, Malabar-Spinach, Red Vine Spinach, Slippery Vegetable, Surinam Spinach, Vine Spinach, Vine-Spinach

Common Names in Finnish:


Common Names in French:

épinard De Malabar, Baselle, Baselle Blanche, Brède D´angola, Epinard De Malabar

Common Names in German:

Indischer Spinat, Malabarspinat, Weisse Beerblume

Common Names in Hindi:

Lalbachlu, Poi, Saag, पोई, लालबाचलू

Common Names in Italian:

Bassella Bianca, Spinacio Della Cina

Common Names in Japanese:


Common Names in Korean:


Common Names in Malay:

Gendola (Indonesia), Remayong

Common Names in Malayalam:


Common Names in Marathi (Marāṭhī):


Common Names in Nepalese:

Poi Saag

Common Names in Portuguese:

Bacela, Bertalha, Bretalha

Common Names in Russian:

Malabarskij Spinat, Базелла белая, Малабарский спинат

Common Names in Sanskrit (Saṁskṛta):


Common Names in Spanish:

Alcaparra, Espinaca Basela, Espinaca Blanca, Espinaca Blanca De Malabar, Espinaca China, Espinaca De Ceilan, Espinaca De La China, Espinaca De Malabar

Common Names in Swedish:

Indisk Spenat

Common Names in Tagalog:

Alugbati, Libato

Common Names in Telugu:

Baccali, batstsali, బచ్చలి

Common Names in Thai:

Phak Plang (Phak Ptlang)

Common Names in Turkish:


Common Names in Vietnamese:

Mồng tơi


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Family Basellaceae

Vines herbaceous or herbs twining , usually fleshy , glabrous . Leaves simple , alternate, usually petiolate , margin entire. Inflorescences of spikes, racemes , or panicles; bracts 3, caducous ; bracteoles 2, persistent . Flowers bisexual , actinomorphic , small. Perianth segments 5, white or reddish, distinct or connate at base , imbricate in bud, persistent in fruit. Stamens 5, opposite to petals; filaments inserted on perianth. Ovary superior, 1-loculed; ovule 1, basal, campylotropous. Pistil united from 3 carpels. Style simple with 3 stigmas or 3 free styles. Fruit a utricle, dry or fleshy, often surrounded by persistent bracteoles and perianth. Seed globular ; testa membranous; endosperm copious ; embryo spirally twisted or semicircular to horseshoe-shaped.

Four genera and 25 species: tropics and subtropics, mostly in the Americas; two genera (introduced ) and three species in China.[1]

Genus Basella

Herbs twining , annual or biannual. Spikes axillary ; rachis long, thick. Bracts minute. Bracteoles and urceolate perianth adnate , ovoid or oblong , opening very little in anthesis , fleshy and enclosing the fruit after flowering. Flowers sessile; perianth segments short, fleshy, blunt , ridged on back, hardly opening at anthesis, not wing-shaped in fruit. Stamens included ; filaments inserted near apex of perianth tube, very short, erect in bud; anthers dorsifixed , or versatile. Styles 3; stigmas linear . Utricle globose , fleshy. Embryo spiral ; cotyledons large, thin.

Five species: one species endemic to tropical Africa, three endemic to Madagascar, one pantropical ; one species (probably introduced ) in China.[2]

Physical Description

Species Basella alba

Herbs annual . Stems green or red, to 10 m , fleshy , glabrous . Petiole 1-3 cm; leaf blade ovate or rotund , 3-9 × 2-8 cm, base shallowly cordate or rotund, margin entire, apex acuminate. Spikes 3-15(-20) cm. Bracteoles oblong . Perianth red-dish or purplish, ovate-oblong, 3-4 mm, base pale, margin entire, apex blunt . Filaments white; anthers yellowish. Utricle red to dark red or black, 5-6 mm in diam., containing violet juice. Fl. May-Sep, fr. Jul-Oct. [source]

Habit: Vine , Forb/herb

Flowers: Bloom Period: June. • Flower Color: purple


Size: 8-10' tall.


Widely cultivated[3].

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 4,002 meters (0 to 13,130 feet).[4]


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Duration: Perennial


Culture: Space 9-12" apart.

Soil: Minimum pH: 6.1 • Maximum pH: 6.5

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade.

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 10a, 10b, 11. (map)


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Basella rubra Linnaeus.


Publishing author : L. Publication : Sp. Pl. 1: 272 1753 [1 May 1753]

Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 15-Mar-2000

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Basella

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 1 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

B. alba (Ceylon Spinach)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 12, 2007:



  1. Yilin Chen, Shinobu Akiyama & Hideaki Ohba "Basellaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 5 Page 445. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. "Basella". in Flora of China Vol. 5 Page 445. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  3. "Basella alba". in Flora of China Vol. 5 Page 445. Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  4. Mean = 891.450 meters (2,924.705 feet), Standard Deviation = 1,219.080 based on 105 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06