Perennial herbaceous vine, creeping or climbing up to 10 m. Leaves green, oval, glossy and prominently veined. Stems and petioles beetroot-red to purple and succulent. Fruits are one-seeded indehiscent berries with persistent fleshy calyxes, ripening to purplish-black and containing purple juice, falling off readily from parent plant for self-seeding.
Despite common names, the foliar resemblance and similar usage in food. Related to and differentiated from Basella alba, which has darker green leaves, green stems and white flowers.Fast-growing and grown in economic or vegetable gardens for food and as ornamental. Prefers moist, well-drained, rich loamy soils of pH 4.5 – 7.0. Use high-nitrogen fertilizer to speed up growth. Stems can be allowed to sprawl across ground or supported with trellises to encourage climbing. Minimize fungal diseases in leaves by improving air circulation or increasing amount of light. Propagate by seeds or stem cuttings – use stems around 20 cm long and trim large leaves to reduce transpiration loss before planting. If grown from seed, a crop can be harvested within 70 days.