Thursday, February 19, 2015

Surinam spinach - Talinum triangulare

I've wanted to write about this plant for a long time. As with so many perennial edibles in Australia I found it on the Green Harvest website. It's another useful food plant from South America along with Cassava, Sweet Potato, Potato, Chillies, Achira, Yacon etc etc. It is very heat tolerant and this is one reason it has become a popular vegetable in West Africa. It is quite ornamental too with pretty pink flowers and succulent green leaves. It is indeed heat tolerant and last year when temperatures in Melbourne climbed into the 40s for a week my Surinam Spinach plants didn't miss a beat. Although it is meant to contain fair amounts of oxalic acid I don't find it has any of that slightly floury aftertaste that you get from say Silverbeet, also high in oxalic acid. The edible portions of the plant are the stems and leaves and because of their succulence, with a touch of sourness, they help bulk up a stew or soup and are really quite delicious.  Surinam Spinach is easy to strike from cuttings and to my delight has started to self-sow in my garden - a handy way to get new plants each year. They will also overwinter in Melbourne although only just, and it's easier to strike a few cuttings and keep these new plants in a sheltered position or polytunnel/hoop house during the colder months until they race off again in mid to late spring. Definitely worth it.

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