Sissoo spinach, also known as Brazilian spinach, Sambu or Samba lettuce, is a tropical edible groundcover of the genus Alternanthera used as a leaf vegetable. Although it is referred to scientifically as Alternanthera sissoo hort., there are no known scientific descriptions of its taxonomy.
Description and Cultivation
Sissoo spinach is a vigorous and spreading groundcover about 30 cm high with crinkly leaves, rooting at the nodes. It does not set viable seed and is not considered invasive. It prefers 50% or more shade and tolerates a wide range of pH soil conditions, though it needs a high amount of nitrogen, organic matter and water. Plants are prone to leaf-eating caterpillar pests and slugs. It can be planted as a living mulch under fruit trees.
Use as food
The leaves are crunchy, slightly more so than the temperate climate spinach, and not slimy. Some cultivars are slightly bitter. They require steaming or boiling when eaten in large quantities because of the presence of oxalates. It is eaten alone as a green or added to other dishes as a spinach substitute. Reportedly, Brazilians usually eat it raw in salads with oil and or vinegar, tomato, and onion, although the literature recommends cooking it. Sissoo spinach can be added to quiches, pies, curries, dals, pasta sauces, lasagna or added to dishes and stir-fries late in the cooking process as a spinach substitute and to add a nutty flavour.
Notes and references
- "Sorting Alternanthera names". MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE. University of Melbourne. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- Toensmeier, Eric (2007). Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles. Chelsea Green Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 9781603581387.
- Hartmann, Julianne. "Highland Tropical Staples" (PDF). Remote Indigenous Gardens Network. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- Richards, Clare. "Brazilian Spinach". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
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