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Alugbati is a succulent, branched, smooth, twining herbaceous vine, several meters in length. Stems are purplish or green.

Leaves are somewhat fleshy, ovate or heart-shaped, 5 to 12 centimeters long, stalked, tapering to a pointed tip with a cordate base. Spikes are axillary, solitary, 5 to 29 centimeters long. Flowers are pink, about 4 millimeters long. Fruit is fleshy, stalkless, ovoid or nearly spherical, 5 to 6 millimeters long, and purple when mature. Distribution - Found in settled areas, in hedges, old cultivated areas, etc., throughout the Philippines. - Often cultivated. - Prehistoric introduction. - Also occurs in tropical Asia, Africa, and Malaya. Constituents Phytochemical screening of various extracts yielded cardiac glycosides, saponins, tannins, flavonoids, terpenoids, carbohydrates, and reducing sugars. Study isolated Basellasaponins A, B, C, and D, oleanane-type triterpenes oligoglycosides, together with betavulgaroside 1, spinacoside C, and momordins IIb and IIc, from fresh aerial parts. Leaves yield saponin, vitamin A and B. Fruit yields mucilage and iron. Study of wild Basella rubra showed it to be abundant in carotene, middle in vitamin C, and low in nitrate. Nitrate in planted B. rubra is about twice that of the wild variety.

Kangkong is a smooth, widely spreading vine, with the stems trailing on mud or floating on water. Leaves are oblong-ovate, 7 to 14 centimeters long, with a pointed tip and heart-shaped or arrow-shaped base, long petioled, the margins entire or angular, and sublobed. Peduncles are erect, 2.5 to 5 centimeters long, with 1 or 2 flowers, borne in the axils of the leaves. Sepals are green, oblong, about 8 millimeters long. Corolla is narrowly bell-shaped, about 5 centimeters long, and purplish; limb nearly white or pale pink purple, about 5 centimeters in diameter, the tube deeper purple inside. Capsules are smooth and ovoid, about 1 centimeter long. Distribution

- Throughout the Philippines in stagnant streams, fresh-water swamps, and pools. - Probably introduced. - Found throughout the tropics of the Old World. - Extensively cultivated in southern China. Constituents - Plant contains protein 1.6 %, fat 0.2%, and vitamins C3 and B2. Properties - Considered purgative, diuretic, antiepileptic, CNS depressant, antiinflammatory, hypolipidemic, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, antidiabetic. Parts used Young leaves and stems Uses

Edibility / Nutritional

- Young leaves and shoots eaten raw in salads, or steam and boiled like spinach. - Young stems popular as achara (native pickles) ingredient. - Good sources of iron, calcium, vitamins B and C and amino acids.