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Okinawa spinach

This attractive perennial green leafy vegetable (Gynura bicolor) has half purple, half dark green leaves that make a delicious addition to salads. It can be cooked like spinach – but don’t overcook it as it can become unpleasantly slimy. Gently steamed or stir fried is best!

It propagates well from cuttings: you must take the cuttings before winter as the plant will not survive a freeze. As with most cuttings, remove all but the top few leaves of a cutting to reduce water loss until it grows new roots. Rooting is very slow in cold weather. Rooting the cutting in water first so that it forms good roots before planting in order to improve results.

Okinawa lettuce can be used in landscaping as a ground cover in full sun or it does well in partial shade. It only needs a little soil amending/fertilizing from time to time. It doesn’t need a lot of water but it does need some – especially if planted in full sun.

More information: http://hihort.blogspot.com/2013/04/okinawan-spinach-gynura-bicolor.html

There are some cooking tips in the comments below and also some recipes here.

More photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/search/?q=okinawa%20spinach

pdf – Okinawa spinach information sheet (to print out).

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9 comments to Okinawa spinach

  • Carol Mercer

    I tasted this for the first time while on a trip to Hawaii – It was thriving in a private yard, climbing a palm tree! Absolutely DELICIOUS!

  • The leaves are often battered and fried served as tempura here in Okinawa.

  • Shreela

    I have a shaded area in between my house and our large oak. Since it’s close to the house, it doesn’t flood as deeply as the front of the yard. I bet this would grow good there, since it gets morning and evening sun.

  • Herbert K Kay

    I would like to know how can i get the Okinawan Recipes on health and longevity and cancer fighting recipes

  • indira

    I had this tasty plant in Maui, and have had cravings for it nonstop since ‘ve left. Once the aina gets in you- it won’t leave

  • TropicBob

    This is my new favorite vegetable. I steam it with rice (last 7 minutes) and eat it with the rice- delicious. It grows great here in South Florida and is attractive.

  • Steph

    It grows well in my yard here in Central Florida. I add it to soup, curry, etc.

  • Marcy

    Is this something that MUST be grown from cuttings or can it be planted by seed? Thanks for replies!

  • Thank you for the information. I have been growing it for a few years now here in northern Florida, and it does great, even surviving the occasional freeze in the winter. I have only had it raw so far in salads, but I will try sautéing it, as well as the tempura. Keep the recipes coming, please!

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