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It comes from South Asia, it is called basella and it is a sort of spinach rich in vitamins and with multiple beneficial properties. It is thanks to its characteristics that the basella it is starting to spread also in Italy.
Basella, geographical hints
There basella it is a low calorie vegetable, rich in calcium and vitamins. If in Asia and Europe the basella is brought to the table in North America basella it is used as an ornamental plant for the aesthetic value of its intense colored seeds. In Kenya, the leaves are used to treat stomach pain while extracted basella seeds they are used for the treatment of conjunctivitis and as a food coloring. It is native to South Asia even if it is difficult to identify its exact origin. The plant can be grown in all humid and hot regions, in Italy, therefore, it adapts well as a summer vegetable and, given the increasing temperature rise, even in spring.
Basella, the USDA nutrition factsheet
Each 100 grams of product contains 93 g of water, 1.8 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of carbohydrates, 109 mg of calcium, 52 mg of phosphorus, 1.2 mg of iron, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin , ascorbic acid and the precious folic acid. All this for a calorie content of only 19 kcal. Its properties are comparable to those of other leafy vegetables. In cultivation, the collection of young tips stimulates the growth and propagation of new tips.
There basella it does not tolerate winter frosts at all, the optimal temperature range is between 20 and 35 degrees. It grows well in a wide variety of soils but prefers well-drained and humus-rich soils with a pH that fluctuates between 5.5 and 7.0. It cannot be grown in areas adjacent to the sea because it will not tolerate saline environments, it also adapts well to shallow and nutrient-poor soils. Propagation occurs by seed or, occasionally, by cutting with a length of at least 15 cm. There basella it is sensitive to rot, which is why well-drained soils and regular irrigation are required, avoiding water stagnation.