Basella rubra Linn.
Perennial twining herb. Stem stout at the base, 1.5-2.0 cm in diameter, upper branches slender, fleshy and climbing. Leaves dark green, broadly ovate, 5-13 cm long and 2.5-8 cm broad, acute or acuminate, basally cordate, cuneate or truncate; petiole 0.5-3 cm long. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal spike, 8-14 cm long; rachis stout. Flowers white, pinkish or red, subsessile, remaining closed at anthesis. Sepals 3-5 mm long, united up to the middle, lobes short, 2-3 mm broad, cucullate. Bracts scaly, small; bracteoles similar to calyx, acute. Stamens included; filament short. Anther cordate. Ovary 1-locular. Fruit black or dark purple enclosed within the persistent fleshy calyx, c. 1.0 cm long. Seed globose, indehiscent.
Fl. & Fr. Per.: Feb.-March
Type: Basella fore albo & caulibus viridibus in Thran, Hort. Carolsruh. 10, n. 100. 1747 (teste Verdcourt, l.c.).
Distribution: A native of Tropical and subtropical Africa; introduced and widely cultivated in S.W. Asia to E. Asia, Fiji, Hawai, West Indies, Brazil and Guiana.
There is dramatic variation in growth form, colour of stem and the shape of inflorescence, according to age.
In Pakistan it is cultivated and cooked as a pot herb.