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Basella

Basella is grown throughout India for its tender leaves. Besides India, it is widely cultivated in tropical regions of Asia and Africa. The freshly stem and leaves of Basella plant are of trailing habit. This crop is said to have originated in India. It is also known as Poi, Indian Spinach or Malabar Nightshade. The crop belongs to the family Basellaceae and genus Basella. Several species of Basella are cultivated. The species B. rubra is highly variable and the other species B. alba, B. caninifolia, B. cordifolia, B. crassifolia, B. japonica, B. lucida, B. nigra, B. ramose and B. volubilis are thought to be different forms of B. rubra. Composition and Uses The plant is reported to contain moisture 93%, protein 1.2%, calcium 0.15% iron 1.4 mg/100g and vitamin A 3250 I.U/100g. It also contains significant amount of fluoride, carotene, vitamin C, P and Mg. The tender shoot and leaves are chopped and cooked as vegetable. The colouring matter present in red cultivar is used as a dye in China. The juice of leaves is prescribed in case of constipation. Cultivars There are three main types under cultivation. The most commonly grown is the green basella with dark green round oval leaves; the second type has red colour leaves and stem; the third type has dark green cordate leaves. All the cultivars are trained on poles or trellis or sometimes grown on ground. Climate and Soil The crop grows well in warm and heavy rainfall under high humid conditions. The optimum range of temperature is 25-320C. Well-manured sandy loam acidic soil is ideally suited for its luxuriant growth. Partial shade and adequate moisture induces formation of bigger succulent leaves. Cultivation Basella is propagated through seeds or by stem or root cuttings. In northern and eastern India, seeds are sown from March to May, while in southern parts it is grown twice, once sown in June and again in October to November. About 12.5-16.0 kg seed will be required for sowing one hectare of land. Stem cuttings of 40-45 cm long are planted before the onset of monsoon at a spacing of 30-40 cm. Seeds may be sown in situ or in seedbed and seedlings are transplanted in beds at a spacing of 45 cm between rows and between plants. Organic manure is beneficial to the crop and only nitrogenous fertilizer application increases its growth and yield. Among the different sources of nitrogen, application of nitrogen in the form of mustard cake @ 50 kg N/ha has been found to produce high yields. Diseases and Pests Diseases like damping off, leaf spot and mosaic disease have been identified in Basella. It is almost insect-free.
1 Dr.T.K.Maity

Harvesting and Yield Fleshy and succulent leaves and stem could be harvested after 8-10 weeks from seed-sown crop and 6 weeks after planting from root or stem cutting crop. The average yield varies from 140-185 quintals per hectare.

2 Dr.T.K.Maity