Basella alba

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Photographs by: Dr. Maulik Gadani

  • Botanical Name : Basella alba L.
  • Synonyms : Basella rubra L.
  • Common Name : Pothi-ni-vel, Poi, Indian Spinach
  • Plant Family : Basellaceae
  • Earlier this plant was placed in family Chenopodiaceae by Bentham and Hooker but as per modern views it should be placed in family Basellaceae which is separated from family Chenopodiaceae.

  • Plant Form : Climbers
  • Occurrence (Sectors) : 5, 12, 17
  • Occurrence (Special Areas) : Indroda Park

About Basella alba Plant :

  • Habit : Annual twining herbs.
  • Stem : Much-branched, slender, succulent, glabrous, bright to dark-green, at times purple, with plenty of mucilage.
  • Leaves : Petioled, 4-14 x 3-11 cm pale to dark-green or bright purple, broadly-ovate, subfleshy, subacute or acute at apex, tapering at base, entire and slightly undulate along the margins, glabrous above, minutely hairy beneath, sometimes impressed between nerves; petioles 1-3 cm long, glabrous.
  • Inflorescence : Axillary spikes
  • Flowers :
    • Whitish or pinkish or reddish, 4-8 mm in diameter, upto 4 cm long or condensed only in the upper parts of 3-10 cm long peduncles; bracts small, apiculate.
    • Perianth divide half way down; pentafid, fleshy, lobes elliptic, oblong, obtuse, incurved.
    • Stamens 5, inserted on the mouth of the perianth-tube, anthers versatile.
    • Ovary globose, ovules 1, style 3, connate at base, stigma linear-clavate.
  • Fruit : Utricle, 3-4 mm in diameter, subglobose, glabrous, dark-purple to reddish, included into the fleshy perianth.
  • Flowering and FruitingTime : June to December.
  • Significance :
    • Leaves edible.
    • The pulped or bruised leaves, on account of the presence of mucilage are used as poultice.
    • The juice of leaves is prescribed in cases of constipation, particularly in children and pregnant women.
    • The tender shoots and leaves are used as vegetables or for preparing pakodas.
    • The leaves are diuretic, demulcent and useful inn gonorrhea. By its dense foliage, it also provides a good shade.