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Monday, October 23, 2017

Tropical Spinach: Talinum



This plant is so gorgeous in the garden. It self sows (grows new plants from its seeds it shoots all over the garden). It is susceptible to root knot nematodes (microscopic worms that burrow in the roots) so it does not last forever. Snap off a branch and plant in moist soil then watch it take off. Pull "weeds" of it and eat in your salad. 

Talinum Spinach
(Talinum triangulare
AKA Philippine spinach, Waterleaf, Ceylon spinach
Synonym (Talinum fruticosum)
AKA Surinam purslane, Florida spinach

Talinum Spinach is considered a weed in some countries, it is in the same family as purslane. Talinum loves lots of sun, heat and humidity, and moist soil. Under these conditions it is very easy to grow.
This plant is for EVERY edible gardener in South Florida. It was gifted to John and me by the Fruit & Spice Park in Homestead Florida. Talinum will grow anywhere as long as it has water/irrigation and HEAT. It generously self sows even in poorest soil. We allow it to self sow everywhere then pull it when we no longer want it growing in that location (and eat it that day). Weeding for food, we call it.

Talinum spinach grows year round in just about any soil (yes, even in our awful sandy "soil") in Florida but it does prefer our Southern hot, rainy summers. Frost will kill it to the ground, however it will most likely come up again. Take a cutting before a frost and replant it outside when the weather warms up. Talinum roots are prone to root knot nematodes, but this does not appear to affect the plant much if you grow it as you would a head of lettuce instead of a perennial plant.

Grown in both full sun and full shade, we cannot tell the difference in quality of the leaves. Talimum spinach self pollinates and can be propagated from either its tiny seeds or from cuttings. Its petite pink flowers close at night and open in the morning. This plant is used as an annual bedding plant in the Philippines and we hope to see more of this in SW Florida plantings!

We enjoy Talinum spinach in raw salads and stir fry. It is not suitable to cook beyond stir frying because it breaks apart and becomes mushy. Talinum contains protein, fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin B, niacin, and vitamin C. The negatives: it has high oxalate content which inhibits calcium and iodine absorption. (FYI: Most greens have oxalate content.)

Grows year round
Never have to buy again
Grow in pots and in ground
Requires very little care
Easy to propagate
Self sows

Self sows in places you might not want it to
Frost sensitive (take a few cuttings before a frost)
High oxalate content