Basella (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Basella (Sturtevant, 1919)

Basella rubra Linn.


Accepted name : Basella alba

Tropical regions. This twining, herbaceous plant is cultivated in all parts of India, and the succulent stems and leaves are used by the natives as a pot-herb in the way of spinach[1]. In Burma, the species is cultivated and in the Philippines is seemingly wild and eaten by the natives[2]. It is also cultivated in the Mauritius[3] and in every part of India[4], where it occurs wild[5]. Malabar nightshade was introduced to Europe in 1688[6] and was grown in England in 1691[7], but these references can hardly apply to the vegetable garden. It is, however, recorded in French gardens in 1824 and 1829[8]. It is grown in France as a vegetable[9], a superior variety having been introduced from China in 1839[10]. According to Livingstone, it is cultivated as a pot-herb in India. It is a spinach plant which has somewhat the odor of Ocimum basilicum[11]. The species is cultivated in almost every part of India as a spinach, and an infusion of the leaves in used as tea[12]. It is called Malabar nightshade by Europeans of India[13].


  1. Firminger, T.A.C., Gard. Ind. 145. 1874.
  2. Pickering, C. Chron. Hist. Pls. 696. 1879.
  3. Bojer Hort. Maurit. 270. 1837.
  4. Drury, H. Useful Pls. Ind. 66. 1858.
  5. Wight, R. Icon. Pls. 896. 1843.
  6. Noisette Man. jard. 559. 1860.
  7. Martyn Miller's Gard. Dict. 1807.
  8. Pirolle L'Hort Franc. 1824.
  9. Bon Jard. 432. 1882.
  10. Drury, H. Useful Pls. Ind. 66. 1858.
  11. Mueller, F. Sel. Pls. 66. 1891.
  12. Drury, H. Useful Pls. Ind. 66. 1858.
  13. Ibid.