1) Plant History & General Information:
- Location on Property: Garden D, Garden M
- Scientific Name: Gynura nepaliensis,G. procumbens or G. crepioides
- Region of Origin: Native to the Indonesian Islands and Japan
- General History: It is cultivated throughout eastern Asia including China, Taiwan, Japan, and Okinawa. No one knows for sure, but with Hawaii’s strong ties to Japan and Okinawa, but it probably came into Hawaii from one of those places. It made a big splash when it first became popular in Hawaii. There were (and still are) claims that this green lowers cholesterol. Hence one of the names – cholesterol spinach.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food: The leaves and young shoot tips can be cooked. Steam, stir fry, tempura or add to soups, stews or anything and uses cooked greens. Unless you don’t mind okra-like sliminess, add these greens at the very end of the cooking process or use a quick-cook method such as stir-frying. When overcooked Okinawan spinach can get a rather slimy texture. The purple variety will lose its color when cooked. Okinawan spinach also fits nicely into the recent green drinks fad. It can be juiced with other greens or mixed into a smoothie. Its relatively mild flavor is palatable in any number of green drink recipes, but it can tend to get a bit foamy if too much is juiced at any one time.
- As Medicine: The purple variety of this plant is unusual not only in that it has fancier color. It also is the variety grown for medicinal purposes. This type produces way more Proanthocyanidin than any other variety. It is the Proanthocyanidin content which is currently being investigated for its health benefits. Proanthocyanidin is the same famous health boosting chemical which is in red and black grape skins, grape seeds, grape juices, and red wine. Supposedly, the active daily dose for cholesterol reduction (and many other positive effects) is around 1 tbsp fresh foliage- about 2 to 3 mature leaves.
- Other Uses: /
3) Growing Instructions:
Growing: Water regularly, but do not overwater. It is one of the easier perennial green leafy vegetables. Many plants grown for salads are a pick-once and plant some more type of situation. Okinawan spinach will thrive most anywhere you plant it and provide you with plenty of leaves year-round.
- Best time to Harvest: The leaves and new shoots are harvested. It is best to cut back the stems pull the leaves off those cut stems rather than just pulling the leaves off the plant. Younger leaves taste better than older leaves, though both are perfectly edible.
- Sunlight Requirements: Full Sunlight to Partial Shade
- Soil Requirements: Okinawan spinach will grow in pretty much any soil type – from clay to silt to sandy soils. It is not too particular to pH either, doing equally well in very alkaline soils and acidic soils.
- Controlling Spread: This plant can spread so pick a spot carefully or be prepared to harvest or prune regularly. It isn’t overly aggressive, but the sprawling stems will root if the soil is moist enough. It is easily pulled up and can take severe pruning, to keep it in check. Cut back the flowering branches, as the leaves tend to dwindle in size on the flowering branches. And since the leaves and new shoots are what is harvested, it is best to discourage flowering.
- Cut about 6 inches of the stem at an angle
- Lay each stem one down in the correct direction (top of stem pointing up, bottom of stem pointing down) to the side
- Remove the bottom leaves of the but keep a few of the top baby leaves on the top piece,
- Choose the area you are planting to and stick the angle cut ends into the ground at least 2-3 inches,
- Cover base of plant with a brown paper bag, put soil and a few lava rocks or guava to hold down paper on top and water thoroughly.
- Propagation: Cutting, Division, Grafting, Seed, Separating
- Difficulties with this plant: Do NOT put this plant near lodgings as the flowers stink like smelly feet!
History of this Plant at Hedonisia: /
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