Katuk aka Sweet Leaf Bush (Sauropus androgynus) is a staple vegetable in Borneo where it grows as an understory tree in the lowland rainforests.
Soil: Reported to tolerate acid soils, our soil is circum-neutral and they like it. We recommend lime just in case.
Water: Needs plenty, can tolerate brief flooding. Cannot tolerate dry.
Sun: Prefers shade, but can probably tolerate full sun if given plenty of water.
Cold: Will freeze in the winter, but should come back from the stump.
Pruning: Keep pruned to 3-6 feet tall.
Propagation: Easily propagated by cuttings of older wood stems. Strip the leaves and stick it in the ground in the shade. It probably needs cross pollination to produce seeds and all our plants are clones of one individual.
Pests: None known.
Other problems: Tends to grow tall and lanky and then fall over. Growth slows in the winter and the taste is poor until it resumes vigor with warm weather.
Harvesting and preparation: The leaves and flowers have a pea like flavor. In Borneo, it is often fertilized and irrigated under shade to produce fast growing tips that are very similar to asparagus. According to it should probably be cooked, though it is also eaten raw.
“It has a pleasant peanut-like taste when eaten raw and the cooked leaves taste excellent as spinach. The plant is sold everywhere in Malaysia and nearby countries, where it is grown as an edible hedge. Malaysian scientists have developed a technique for forcing the shoot tips to grow extra long and tender by applying plenty of manure, water and (sometimes) shade. The 5-inch shoot tips (locally called “sayor manis”) are sold to upscale restaurants and also exported to Japan, and possibly elsewhere, as “tropical asparagus.” I ate these in a hotel in Malaysia and they were outstanding. The chef stir-fried them for one minute.”
Cecilia’s Notes … October 9th 2011
- Originally from Borneo its natural habitat is as an understory shrub. It grows in the tropical rain forest, where 120” of rain a year was the average. It prefers a hot, humid climate.
- Prefers partial shade, with ample irrigation. Able to withstand some temporary flooding.
- Grows 6 – 7 ‘ tall, but will get spindly and fall over if allowed to get this tall. Best if kept pruned between 3 – 6 ‘ tall.
- Can be grown as a hedge, and will produce well for you if pruned regularly. Prolific grower.
- Prefers a pH of 7, but will tolerate acid soils..
- Will die back in the winter in N. Central Florida, but will usually return in the Spring, unless confronted with a very cold winter.
- It is known as tropical asparagus and can be eaten raw or cooked (like spinach). Its raw flavor is reminiscent of fresh peas or peanuts.
- It’s among a few flora containing Vitamin K.
- Said to increase breast milk in nursing mothers.
- Plants are easy to propagate from cuttings. It is more difficult to propagate from seeds. It could take up to 6 months for seeds to germinate.
- The nutritional value of Katuk is impressive. The following compares its nutritional values with that of Spinach. Actual quantity per ½ cup serving of fresh leaves.
Protein: 4.9 g Katuk – 0.43 g: 9.8% Katuk / 0.9% Spinach
Calcium: 51 mg Katuk – 15 mg: 5.1% Katuk / 1.5% Spinach
Iron: 2.7 mg Katuk – 0.4 mg: 15% Katuk / 2.3% Spinach
Vitamin A: 1122 IU - Katuk 1407 IU: 22% Katuk / 27.6% Spinach
Vitamin C: 83 mg Katuk – 4.2 mg: 138% Katuk / 7% Spinach
pdf – Katuk information sheet to print out.