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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Basella alba (Malabar spinach, Ceylon spinach)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Order: Caryophyllales > Family: Basellaceae

A climbing perennial herb that has a pantropical indigenous distribution, including South Africa. It is cultivated as a vegetable: the leaves are are cooked and eaten like spinach. Leaves are rich in calcium, iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.


  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.