Amaranthus Dubius - Kalunay, Red Spinach or Spleen Amaranth
Amaranthus Dubius or Kalunay
Amaranthus dubius is known in different names and is known in the Philippines as kalunay. It grows wildly and finding them would make someone's day knowing they are edible. Well that is, in our case. One of the common names it is known for is red spinach. It is often considered a weed and it self sows.
From seeds one can successfully germinate it when the warm weather comes. But once planting was started, there's no need to plant red spinach every year as the plant self sows. That means amaranthus dubius, or kalunay seedlings sprouting in your garden every year, everywhere. And that is by experience. It's one of those plants that pops up in our container garden every Spring with their beautiful reddish young leaves. They appear on almost every pot we have even on my hanging baskets of flowering plants.
Kalunay and Kulitis
I've grown to know that the kalunay and kulitis are different, in a way that the kalunay has no thorns. Kulitis on the other hand has thorns. But reading recently that the two are the same, and that kulitis is the Tagalog word while kalunay is the Ilocano, it somehow questions the difference I've known since. Is kalunay and kulitis really refers to the same plant - thornless or not?
Other Names Amaranthus Dubius is Known for
Kalunay and kulitis as it is known in the Philippines, amaranthus dubius is known in other names such as red spinach, Chinese spinach and spleen amaranth. It is known in other names in different countries.
Consumption, Dishes and Photos
The leaves of the plant is consumed as leafy vegetables and is added to soups, stews and is sauteed with other vegetables. It goes along well with other usual leafy green vegetables in the Filipino soup dish tinola and is a perfect match with sauteed sardines as well. In the Ilocano dish pinakbet and dinengdeng, leaves of kalunay or speen amaranth is one of the favorite ingredients along with sweet potato tops, okra, beans, eggplant and bitter melon.
While the leaves of spleen amaranth is used in many Filipino soup based dishes, it is consumed as well in other countries simply being boiled or steamed and is served with lemon juice and olive oil. In India, it is used as dal ingredient called thota kura pappu. Some stir fries leaves of red spinach along with spices.
Lucky are those who treats spleen amaranth as a green leafy vegetable. Simply adding the leaves to dishes means having fiber the body needs. It also provides dietary minerals and protein. Spleen amaranth, red spinach or kalunay amongst many other names is a wonderful spinach substitute. In addition to that, it also provides A and C vitamins along with calcium, iron, magnesium, and folate.
Aside from consumption simply as a vegetable, consuming the leaves while dealing with a cough serves as an expectorant. Amaranthus dubius is used as a remedy for eczema as well while the roots are used as treatment for gonorrhea.
More on Spleen Amaranth or Kalunay, Growing and Photos
Growing as an annual herb, kalunay or spleen amaranth starts off as little red seedlings. As the seedlings grow, the reddish color slowly diminish and turns into green. The leaves are ovate in shape and becomes shorter distally. The fading reddish color totally diminished once the plant matures.
The plant branches out as it grows with both the branches and the stem green in color. Kalunay or red spinach bears green flowers that are clustered at the tips of the plant's inflorescence branches. It isn't uncommon for it to bend downwards because of the weigh.
Home grown, spleen amaranth could provide enough leaves for every time you're up for a recipe that calls for the leaves. That is again once planting was started, chances are seedlings of spleen amaranth will pop up their reddish little leaves underneath the soil every chance they get. And that means anywhere and everywhere. As to us, we just let our kalunay or red spinach grow wherever they've sprouted until they're ready for harvest or if we're in need of the leaves for a dish.
Some we let mature and pick leaves as needed. The plant will branch out again after over a week or so. Some we harvest while young, often about 3 inches tall with still visible reddish leaves and consume it with the roots after being washed thoroughly of course. Some have said the plant has more of the nutrients while still reddish and more of the nutrients in the roots as well.
Photo below is of a kalunay that is growing in a hanging basket where the peppermint is. The top of this spleen amaranth was pinched off for a dish calling for the nutritious green leaves. Notice though the new young branch growing where it was pinch off.
Did you know?
* Amarant means "unwithering" from its Greek word amarantos.
* A prepared warm poultice of kalunay leaves can be applied to treat hemorrhoids externally. Or it can be used to treat boils.
* Kalunay, (amaranthus dubius) is valued by people all over the world as a leafy vegetable.
* It is known in the Andes today as kichiwa and huautli to the Aztics.
* It is known in Thailand as phak khom.
* This usually grown leafy vegetable in Asia is a self-sowing plant and you'd be surprise how many young sprouts you will find the next year.
Kalunay (Wild Spinach) Seedlings (2014)
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