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Basella alba

Description from Flora of China

Basella rubra Linnaeus.

Herbs annual. Stems green or red, to 10 m, fleshy, glabrous. Petiole 1-3 cm; leaf blade ovate or rotund, 3-9 × 2-8 cm, base shallowly cordate or rotund, margin entire, apex acuminate. Spikes 3-15(-20) cm. Bracteoles oblong. Perianth red-dish or purplish, ovate-oblong, 3-4 mm, base pale, margin entire, apex blunt. Filaments white; anthers yellowish. Utricle red to dark red or black, 5-6 mm in diam., containing violet juice. Fl. May-Sep, fr. Jul-Oct.

Sometimes regarded as native, this species has long been cultivated as a vegetable and an ornamental. The juice is harmless and used as a food coloring. The plants are used medicinally.

Widely cultivated. in China, naturalized in S China [pantropical].


 

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