Red Malabar Spinach

Basella rubra

A spinach substitute that beats the heat!

 A beautiful and tasty heat-tolerant edible ornamental. Native to tropical regions in Asia, this vigorous climbing vine serves as the perfect spinach substitute when the weather heats up. The succulent, deep green leaves of Malabar Spinach can be eaten raw in salads, sautéed, or used to thicken soups, stews, and curries. Red Malabar’s vining habit, gorgeous red-purple stems, sweet pink flowers, and rich purple-black berries are very attractive; grow this vine for a quick privacy screen or as part of an edible landscaping plan. The berries are edible (although not super flavorful), and they make a wonderful deep-purple dye for food or textiles.

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Direct sow 6" apart as soon after all danger of frost has passed, or start indoors 5-6 weeks before. Provide support for the vigorous vines to climb. Pinching back the vine tips encourages branching. Leaves can be harvested individually throughout the season and cooked or eaten raw as a pleasant, heat-tolerant spinach alternative; the edible berries make a wonderful deep-purple dye for food or textiles.

Days to Germination 10-21
Days to Maturity 70
Planting Depth 1/4"
Spacing in Row 6"
Spacing Between Rows 36"
Height at Maturity 84"
Width at Maturity 10"
Sun Preference Full Sun

To give an overall cultural sense of where this beautiful plant comes from, Svabhu Kohli has created a digital illustration of a scene from a quaint village in the Malabar district of India, where the vines are growing over an old traditional home, with an old step well in front of the house and a lady collecting the Malabar leaves, soon to prepare a delicious recipe.

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