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Author Topic: Anredera cordifolia: Basell Potatoes, Binahong, Madeira Vine, Mignonette Vine  (Read 36 times)


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I read up on this plant a few months ago and decided to give it a shot; I'm waiting on my plant in the mail right now. Edible leaves and potato-like rhizomes, plus a prolific profusion of aerial bulbils that I was fascinated by (not unlike the bulbil-bearing yams; it seems like a great way to harvest roots without digging). The only drawback (and a big one at that) is its potential for invasiveness, so please... Handle with care. Responsible management is important.

The leaves are said to resemble those of its close relative, Malabar Spinach (the other Binahong, Basella alba), with a similar - possibly stronger - flavor and a mucilaginous quality. The rhizomes are also thoroughly (┐distastefully?) mucilaginous if eaten raw, like its other relative Ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus), but with a mild starchy flavor instead of the typical dirt beetroot flavor of Ulluco; they're said to resemble potato when baked. (As an interesting tangent, I've read that Ulluco greens are far superior to its relatives, and indeed superior to genuine Spinach, yet for some reason they barely receive recognition.)

As for the bulbils, this is the part where it gets mildly frustrating and confusing. In most of the sites I read through, they were barely acknowledged as anything other than propagation material. If recognized as anything else, it was usually as medicinal: they've been proven to have anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and hepatoprotective qualities, and they may also increase nitric oxide levels in the brain (a minor red flag for me, but I'll get back to that later). A few places went so far as to call them inedible without elaborating further, but that didn't make sense to me at all. The leaves, "roots" and even tender stems (shoots?) are all said to be edible, so why would a tender tuber-like bulbil not be as edible as the rest of the plant? Consider me biased, but I had to find a site that called them edible (or at the very least one that addressed the discrepancy). I found it, with this link stating that the bulbils can be roasted and eaten like chestnuts. So with that bit of info, I do intend to experiment with cooking the bulbils, as I will with the rhizomes.

Regarding the three medicinal traits (mentioned in passing here), I don't think they would detract from the edibility of the bulbils. Regarding the nitric oxide, I'm a bit more wary but also ignorant. Does cooking reduce or eliminate its precursor? (ancordin). Is nitric oxide a bad thing to have in the brain, or something neutral? The article in question (summarized in Green Deane's page here) seemed to imply that it wasn't a problem (something about low cytotoxicity?), but I may have misread that.

Whatever the case, I hope to have fun with this species. Perhaps I should call it Basell Yam... It's a tuberous vine even if it isn't a yam, and it's technically not a potato either.

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