Baselle, spinach from Malabar (… climbing, … from Ceylon, … from China), Brde from Angola: planting, cultivating, harvesting

Red or white basella, or climbing spinach (Basella alba) are annual leafy vegetables grown to produce basella shoots, but also attractive, twining and exuberant plants. Its sowing is easy, hastened in the house.

Baselle, Malabar pinard, Basella rubra


N. scientific Basella rubra

Synonyms Basella lucida, Basella rubra, Basella alba, Basella nigra, Basella cordifolia

Family Basellaces

Origin pantropical

Bloom may october

flowers blanc

Typeshort-lived annual or perennial plant


Foliage persistent

Height80 300 cm

Plant and cultivate

hardiness not hardy, 10 C

Exposition sunny shading

Solmoist and draining, but tolerates poor soils

Acidity very acidic slightly alkaline

Humidity normal cool, even humid

Utilisationvegetable garden, ornamental garden, leaf vegetable, food coloring




basella alba et Basella rubrathe white or red basellae are tropical twining plants belonging to the family Basellacaceae. basella alba et rubrasuspected of belonging to the same species, probably originated in tropical Asia: in India, on the edge of hot and humid forests, the basellae are sometimes more than 10 m long. Today baselles are pantropical, distributed or widely grown wherever the climate permits.

In effect, basella alba is a vegetable sheet. Even in frosty climates, where it cannot fight frosts, this climbing spinach is grown as an annualsince with enough heat it is able to show a rapid growth.

This vegetable therefore has many common names: baselle, Malabar spinach, Ceylon spinach, Chinese spinach, brède d’Angola or brède gandole, climbing spinach…

Description of the base

basella alba or Basella rubra develops from long, thick fleshy stalks and quite tender, talkative, bearing large cordate leaves (up to 15 cm wide), glabrous and shiny, dark green, sometimes veined with pink.

These rods stretch up to 10 m in climate tropical, for example in India. Cultivated in France, you will have to settle for a baselle 3 m at mostand if the summer is too cool, it will be difficult for this giant spinach to exceed 80 cm.

Nevertheless, in the right conditions, either with heat and not limited in water, Basellla alba grows vigorously and very quickly.

The basel develops its flower buds from leaf axils : small subsessile rounded buds arranged on a robust and erect spike from 3 to 16 cm.

The flowers are 4 mm wide, white to pink.

Pollinated, they turn into fleshy purple fruitsof about 1 cm, containing the round and black seeds.

Varieties or species of baselles?

basella alba, Basella rubra et Basella cordifolia are sometimes considered separate species.

Basella cordifolia would be a variety with thicker stems and larger leaves.

Basella rubra sometimes also called basella alba ‘Rubra’red basella has purple stems, reddish leaves, and pinkish flowers.

basella alba, white basementit remains very green, both the stems and the leaves and its flowers are white.

How to grow basella?

Malabar spinach is a tropical plant. It is grown in France only as an annual plant that is sown each spring. Basellas require a lot of heat to grow, as they only develop when the daytime temperature exceeds 15°C.

In the climates of the south of France, the Malabar spinach will have its heat account, and with very regular waterings will be able to make long stems of 2 to 3 m, but in colder regions, it will be more limited and the cultivate under tunnel, in greenhouse, or against a warm wall allows it to grow further.

The bases are quite soil tolerant, while the latter is draining. However, to obtain exuberant growth, they are offered a substrate well enriched with organic.

They are installed outside in a large pot or in the ground only when all risk of frost has passed; for the open ground, you can even wait until the ground is well warmed up.

Then you have to water, water, water. In effect, the soil must remain moistbut not waterlogged, as a lack of water can trigger flowering.

Sowing in March April

Sowing basella starts 6 to 8 weeks before putting them in their final location. He is hurry indoors warm (20°C/25°C), in potting soil and possibly with an auxiliary lamp.

The seeds are surrounded by a hard seed coat; they are first soaked for 24 hours, then rubbed lightly on abrasive paper. They will germinate in 10 to 20 days.

Young plants are transplanted individually quite young, disturbing their roots as little as possible.

As soon as the stems rise, they are attached to a support, then voluble, they will climb while rolling up.

The basellae, in particular the red basellae, are decorative plants which bring lushness and exoticism in the garden. They are therefore sometimes cultivated as ornamental plants.

And it’s sometimes heartbreaking to pick them to eat them.

Malabar spinach harvest

Harvesting this vegetablesheet ne is done only before flowering ; indeed, flowering makes the foliage more bitter.

Basella shoots: it is the 20/30 cm stem ends, with their leaves not yet fully deployed, which are picked.

Use of red or white basella in the kitchen

The leaves and stem tips who are tender, eaten raw or cooked.

Basella shoots are considered finer in taste than large leaves.

It is a vegetable that is best picked shortly before eating so that it keeps all its freshness, hence the interest of having it on hand in the garden.

  • The raw flavor chopped basella sprouts is pleasant, sweet and tangy : it offers a tender and crunchy greenery very appreciable in a salad.

  • Cookedthe large leaves of baselle are similar to spinach, however, they should not be cooked for too long, otherwise they will become viscous: it comes with experience.

These mucilage-rich leaves are also used as a thickening agent in sauces, stews or soups.

  • One can make an infusion with the leaves.

  • Fruit: the juice of the fruit, purplish red, makes a food coloring made more vivid with a few drops of lemon, which can be used on cakes.

Medicinal use

This vegetable, cooked and consumed in large quantities, has laxative properties.

Leaf juice stimulates the appetite.

The leaves in poultices are used externally to treat infections (pimples or sores).

Species and varieties of Basella

5 species, 3 of which are endemic to Madagascar

  • Baselle excavataa threadlike plant from western and southwestern Madagascar
  • Leandrian Basellafrom central Madagascar

Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by

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