Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Ceylon Spinach, Climbing Spinach, Indian Spinach
Basella alba

Family: Basellaceae
Genus: Basella (ba-SELL-ah) (Info)
Species: alba (AL-ba) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

14 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Vines and Climbers

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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By Dinu
Thumbnail #1 of Basella alba by Dinu

By Chamma
Thumbnail #2 of Basella alba by Chamma

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By Lily_love
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6 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Lily_love On Jun 24, 2013, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

Since this plant is an annual. You can grow this anywhere. For moderate climate gardeners; you can selectively save some seeds for the following year crops. Provide trellis for the vines to climb on. I cook the tender vines and leaves. Older leaves and young shoots alike. Last year I grew a few in a container. Some of the self sown seeds appeared this summer and are presently looking healthy. I discovered by chance that these seeds will over winter outdoor for me here in zone 7b where winters are mild, with occasional snow spells.

Positive stingingnettle On Jul 10, 2010, stingingnettle from Tampa, FL wrote:

The climbing spinach is successfully growing in Inverness Florida. It seems to love our summer heat.

Neutral vamsi On Mar 27, 2009, vamsi from OUlu
Finland wrote:

Hi all,

I would like to grow this plant in my home, I live in Finland which is quite cold and the summer temperatures hardly reach 25 for a month. Can i grow this plant indoors?, do any one has experiance of growing such plant in colder weather conditions?

Positive lanimore1 On Jul 19, 2007, lanimore1 from Mullica Hill, NJ wrote:

I live in Southern New Jersey, USA. I was given a bag of seeds from the wife of my primary care physician, whom has passed, to plant in remembrance of him. She said they were his favorite and they were a dark purple flower with hardy leaves. She never said they grew as vines though.... In apprx. the end of May, I tossed these seeds in the garden on the side of my house. Assuming they really wouldn't grow b/c I have in no way a green thumb. Well, they have gown into the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. They have grown up the side of my house, appx 4 ft. and still growing. They are actually growing as ground cover and climbing. They are a hardy plant with gorgeous, ornamental looking flowers. I spaced them about 6 inches apart and threw 5-6 seeds in each two inch hole. Then threw 2-3 inches of mulch over that. And they still came up and are absolutely a conversation piece. I think the BEST part of this is that they do produce "pea pod" like pods on the vines. Sooooo, I will always have seeds and be able to share seeds. Bottom line, even if you do not have a green thumb, this plant will make you "look" like a professional. Good luck and enjoy!

Positive Greenwend On Mar 18, 2007, Greenwend from Cairns
Australia wrote:

I am growing Ceylon Spinach in Far North Queensland, Australia. Not only is it an extremely attractive plant it certainly is edible. Young leaves and shoots are great in salads, and the older leaves, shredded, are good in stir fries. But be aware the larger leaves can be a little bitter.
We are having great success with it in our aquaponics system as well as the more conventional garden growing.
My propagation method is just cuttings.
I have become aware of a green variety commonly called "Sweet leaf" by my elderly gardening friend. Does any one know anything of this ?

Positive bragin On Nov 21, 2003, bragin from Stroud, OK wrote:

Great Plant. I grew it in Oklahoma from a big clay pot on my deck. It lasted all summer and produced beautiful burgundy leaves and little pink flowers that turned into purple seeds. I understand it is edible. It makes a great vine for your deck railing. Very unusual and conversation starter. I now have it growing in the pot inside as a house plant after I cut it back for the winter.

Positive frogmanic On Aug 9, 2003, frogmanic wrote:

I grow Ceylon Spinach in Queensland, Australia. It grows like a weed in the hot, humid summer we have here. The more humidity and rain, the faster it grows. My plants are flowering now and will develop purple fleshy seed pods which will stay fleshy for several weeks and then begin to dry to a black seed. I then collect the seed to sow again in November, which is the beginning of our summer. If I don't collect the seed it will drop off and sow itself.

If you cut off a piece of the plant stem and place in a jar of water it will grow roots within a week and can then be planted out.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Vincent, Alabama
Apache Junction, Arizona
Bartow, Florida
Hobe Sound, Florida
Inverness, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Laie, Hawaii
Kenner, Louisiana
Marrero, Louisiana
Mullica Hill, New Jersey
Stroud, Oklahoma
Belton, Texas
Burnet, Texas
Galveston, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
Kenosha, Wisconsin

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