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. 

Portulacaceae, Suriname spinach

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18 thoughts on “Portulacaceae, Talinum fruticosum (T. triangulare), suriname spinach, water leaf, Philippine spinach, lagos bologi

  1. i don’t know the name of the species but we have this plant at home since i was a child. It’s a great survivor plant, they can survive in any weather condition, and even if you don’t take care of them, they will bloom.
    but, months ago, i saw them on exhibit in a big mall in the city, so i went to my hometown, get some young plants and decided to take care of them now . i use them as ingredient to veggies soup and fish soup.

    1. I think your best bet would be to search online seed sources. It would probably do well in europe during the summer. During winter I doubt it would survive due to cold because its a tropical plant, unless you grew it in a greenhouse.

    2. I have a bunch of plants and seeds here. If you send me an envelope with stamps and send you the seeds. Would that work? I live in Northern California

      1. Hi Ahong: You could be a Godsend to me. Since I had this vegi in Indonesia, have been looking and asking around about this plant Talinum fruticosum for about 3 years now without any luck. I live in Seattle, Washington . I’ll be so grateful if you could send me some of its seeds. Please email me with your address, I’ll send you a stamped envelope right away. Will start planting in the pots and take them outdoor in Spring/Summer. I sure pray that this message will reach you. Thanks. Lisa.

        1. This variety can be found growing out of cracks in pavement and in vacant lots all over Panama City. It can be readily propagated from seeds or cuttings. Nobody knows its edible and it considered to be a common weed, but I recognized it as I was familiar with other edible Portulaca and Talinium species.


  2. I found a Portulacaceae it nearly looks like Suriname spinach – I stay in Parow Cape Town but the bok says Talinum Portulacifolium

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