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About 25 species in four genera are found in America, Africa, and Asia.

Basella alba L., of pantropical distribution, is cultivated in India and elsewhere as a pot herb.

The roots of one species have rubefacient properties.

Basella rubra L.
(syn. Basella alba L.)
Malabar Nightshade

This somewhat variable species is said to have rubefacient properties (Quisumbing 1951), the roots being employed in the Philippines for this effect (Perry & Metzger 1980).

Stuart (1911) records that the red juice from the berries is traditionally used in China as pigmentary addition to facial cosmetics.


  • Perry LM and Metzger J (1980) Medicinal Plants of East and Southeast Asia: Attributed Properties and Uses. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  • Quisumbing E (1951) Medicinal Plants of the Philippines. Tech. Bull. Philipp. Agric. Nat. Res. (16). Manila, Philippine Islands: Manila Bureau of Printing.
  • Stuart GA (1911) Chinese Materia Medica. Vegetable Kingdom. Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press

Richard J. Schmidt [Valid HTML 4.01!]

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