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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 alba L.
[syns Basella cordifolia Lam., Basella lucida L., Basella nigra Lour., Basella rubra L., Gandola rubra Rumph. ex L.]
Ceylon Spinach, Indian Spinach, Malabar Nightshade, Malabar Spinach, Vine Spinach

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).

Referring to Basella rubra (luo kui; 落葵), Stuart (1911) records that the red juice from the berries is traditionally used in China as a pigmentary addition to facial cosmetics.


  • Perry LM, Metzger J (1980) Medicinal Plants of East and Southeast Asia: Attributed Properties and Uses. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press [WorldCat] [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • Quisumbing E (1951) Medicinal Plants of the Philippines. Technical Bulletin 16, Philippines Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Manila, Philippine Islands: Manila Bureau of Printing [WorldCat] [url]
  • Stuart GA (1911) Chinese Materia Medica. Vegetable Kingdom. Extensively revised from Dr. F. Porter Smith's work. Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]

Richard J. Schmidt

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