Sambung

Tonielle Christensen Edible Plants, Land & Nature Stewardship

Sambung


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Common Name:  Sambung, Moluccan Spinach, Leaves of the Gods, Sambung Nyawa, Akar Sebiak, Daun Dewa, Kelemai Merah, Bai Bing Ca.

Latin Name:  Gynura procumbens.

Origin:  Tropical Asia.

Description (what it looks like):  A sprawling perennial bush, grows 40-100cm tall with oval-shaped, fleshy green leaves 5-10 cm long. The stems are green, while older stems may develop a purple and green stipple effect.  Flowers are yellowish orange thistle-like.  It is a close relative of Okinawa Spinach.

Uses (function):  Hardy ground cover and soil protector.  Grows abundantly in summer, for edible leaves and stems, as well as extras for chicken fodder.

Nutritional value:  Sambung traditionally has many medicinal uses and is reputed to extend life which is why it is called 'Leaves of the Gods'.  Packed with vitamins including A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, C, E, K as well as calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium.

Growing details (propagation, seed etc):  Difficult to grow from seed, but easily to propagated from cuttings, which can be started in water until roots form, or put in small pots in loose soil, in a shady spot, kept moist.  Regular trimming and using the leaves is a practical way of keeping the bush tidy.

Best time to grow:  Any time in the subtropics and tropics

Soil:  It prefers a moderate to richloam.

Sun:  It is shade loving, part-shade works well.

Water:  Keep moist.

How to eat it:  Leaves have mild flavor, enjoyed as a spinach vegetable, often said to taste like green beans.  Eat raw in salads, added to soups, stir-fries, casseroles, condiments and sauces, rice dishes and other savoury meals.  The leaves make an excellent filler-food when added to any dish.  Add at the last minute to cooked dishes so not to over cook it.  Value this plant as a survival food too.  Add to a green smoothie.  Often cooked with taro or other starches in coconut milk with fish.

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