Botanical Name: Xanthosoma brasiliense
Some other names: Celery stem Taro, Tannier Spinach, Tahitian Taro
How to grow it:
Tahitian spinach is a perrenial clumper which comes from the same family of plants as the widely grown ornamental “Elephant Ears”. It will grow to 1-2 metres, and like it’s cousin, is very ornamental with huge leaves & stems.
It’s favorite conditions would be moist conditions in the tropics, though it will grow in any frost free conditions. Great in a boggy situation or on the edge of ponds.
In colder climates, you could grow it inside in a pot until conditions warm up. Prefers some sunlight, but will handle light shade well too.
It does well in large pots – I grow some in my greenhouse where it loves the warmer moist conditions.
Addition of manure, compost, worm juice or seaweed will help produce massive leaves & stems, but it requires very little care – seems to respond better to watering than feeding.
Propogation is easy once you have one patch established – you can either thin the patch out by taking the larger stems roots and all, or you’ll find lots of small side suckers to start new plants
Contains vitamins A, B, & C with protein, iron, calcium, potassium. Excellent source of fibre.
Using it in the kitchen:
Some sources say that the leaves can be eaten fresh, but I don’t find them particularly palatable. If you were to use them, I’d try only the youngest leaves sparingly.
The leaves and stems can be cooked into curries, soups, stir fries & casseroles where they’ll tend to take on the flavour of the dish. The stems provide a nice texture not unlike celery.
You could also use the leaves cut finely into quiches & omelettes.
In my garden, Tahitian spinach serves mostly as a survival food. I’ll occasionally use it in soups for a bit of variety, but it’s more important to us when severe wet season weather hits & destroys many other vegetable plants – that’s when it tends to thrive!