Botanical Name: Abelmoschus manihot
Some other names: Tree lettuce, Hibiscus Spinach, Slipper Cabbage, Aibika, Ibika
How to grow it:
Tree spinach is a perennial shrub that grows to about 2 metres. Does best in full sun with a well drained soil, but I’ve found it does well in a wide range of conditions including drought.
In cooler areas you might have to treat it as an annual as it is frost tender, but in warmer areas it will grow all year round.
Grows well in large pots but does need good moisture and feeding in its growing season.
Propogates fairly easily by tip or stem cuttings. I find the easiest way is to cut 10-20cm stems, snip off all the leaves & put them in pots or the ground on a rainy day.
There are many different varieties of tree spinach and it may be a bit of work to obtain it in your locality, but it’s well worth the effort!
Tree spinach is extremely nutritious being very high in protein, and also high in vitamins A, B & C, and calcium, potassium, iron & magnesium. It’s high mucilage content is great for detoxifying the body. Eat it regularly and often!
Using it in the kitchen:
The young raw leaves are tasty and kind of crunchy – use them freely in salads & sandwiches.
Older leaves can be added to hot dishes like quiches, soups & casseroles at any time – the high mucilage will help thicken the meal. If using in stir fries, omelettes or as a cooked vegetable, only cook for a minute or so or you might find they become slimy.
Tree spinach is one of the better survival foods due to it’s hardiness & regular supply of nutritious greens which can be used in almost any type of meal.