We grow five different kinds of spinach on our property – a Brazilian spinach, also called Sisoo (it grows almost like a ground cover and has really curly leaves), two different varieties of Okinawan spinach – one that has purple leaves, and one that has light green leaves that is often referred to as longevity spinach, Malabar spinach (it’s almost succulent like in its appearance) and Tongan Spinach (its leaves are large, the size of your head!).
Longevity spinach purple Okinawan spinach Sisoo spinachTongan spinachMalibar spinach
Spinach has a lot of benefits no matter which one you decide to grow. They all have different tastes and textures, so before you decide to plant a whole bunch of one kind, it’s best to try samples and see which one you prefer. It’s also important to do a little research to see what types of spinach can grow in your area and climate. We’re fortunate because most of the tropical spinaches can be grown year round with little problem.
Of all the spinach we grow, I personally like the longevity spinach the best. Its scientific name is gynura procumbens. It is also called “cholesterol spinach.” As the name implies, it’s really good for you. It’s been called a “super food” – a term we’re hearing a lot lately. But this actually may be just that. A native to southeast Asia, it is claimed to help treat a number of different ailments – high cholesterol (bet you could’ve figured that one out yourself), high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatism, insect bites or other wounds, menstrual issues, seizures, and cancer. It’s even been known to remove age spots!!
You can eat this raw or cooked. It can be put in smoothies, soups, salads, and even steeped for tea. Be creative. I put it in my veggie lasagna and with eggs in a frittata. We use it in stir fry a lot and my husband likes it in his siamin. I will say I do prefer it cooked as opposed to raw, but that’s just a personal preference.
You may be one of those people who feel like they have a black thumb when it comes to gardening, but this is one of the hardiest plants we grow. It also seems to be fairly pest resistant which is always a problem in our Hawaii climate. Some people even grow it indoors in kitchen window boxes. It’s known to do better in semi shade, however, ours is in pretty much full sun and it’s growing really well.
So if you’re looking to expand your dietary repertoire a bit, eat healthy, and add something to your own home garden, this is the plant to do just that.