Monday, 23 May 2011

Anredera cordifolia - 落葵薯

Anredera cordifolia, commonly known as the Madeira vine, or 田七菜, 藤三七 (落葵) , is a South American vine species of the family Basellaceae.   Basellaceae is parked under order Carophyllales according to the APG System.  There are some 2 dozens species in Basellaceae family, divided by 4 genera : Anredera, Basella, Boussingaultia, and Ullucus.

A. cordifolia is an evergreen climber that grow easily from its fleshy rhizomes.  It has bright green, heart-shaped, fleshy shiny leaves, about 5cm long.  It produces aerial tubers on their stems.  Flowers are small and white in colour, produced in spikes. 

It has been introduced to Africa, Australasia-Pacific, Europe, North America, Asia as ornamental plant and leafy vegetable.  However, due to the plant spread easily via the tubers, and its vigorous growth, the plant is considered an invasive species in many countries.  It is listed on the New Zealand National Pest Plant Accord which limits its cultivation and sale.  The fleshy leaves and thick aerial tubers makes it a very heavy vine, easily break branches and bring down entire trees.

The fleshy leaves and tubers are edible.  The leaves, after cooked, are somehow slimy and smooth.  Tubers are often used in cooking soups.

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