Portulacaceae, Talinum fruticosum (T. triangulare), suriname spinach, water leaf, Philippine spinach, lagos bologi
This is a slightly succulent herb introduced from South America, now accepted and widely cultivated throughout the tropics. The leaves and stems are used chopped in salads, they have a slightly sour taste, and a bitter, lingering aftertaste. The leaves also have a relatively high content of oxalic acid (1-2 percent) suggesting that they shouldn’t be eaten in excess. Upon cooking lightly any bitterness is absent.
The plant is easily propagated from seeds or cuttings. Left in the right environment the plant will spread itself, although I have never seen it reach “invasive” proportions. If you know what you’re looking for this is a plant you will find growing out walls, cracks, potholes, vacant lots, throughout the city, along with purslane, a close relative.
The edible leaves are rich in Vitamins A and C as well as iron and calcium. This species is grown in west Africa, south and south east Asia, warmer areas of north america and throughout central and south America. It is reported to be one of the most important leafy vegetables in Nigeria.
The Talinum genus consists of about fifty species one of which i was familiar with before finding T. triangulare. I do not know what the species name is, but it is a very similar looking plant, more sprawling than upright, with superior quality leaves which are excellent as a spinach substitute, less bitter, less mucilaginous than T. triangulare. I’ll upload photos to see if anyone can verify the species.