Weekly Series
Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

31 July 2016 | Sweet Leaf Bush | Sauropus androgynus |

The Sweet Leaf Bush (Sauropus androgynus) is one of the most popular leaf vegetables in Southeast Asia. On top of that, it is an easy to grow plant. All you need to do is to stick its leafless stem into the soil. It can grow in semi-shade environment.

I had been growing the plant in pots for more than 3 year now. It started from 6 seeds planted in a mid-size pot. After the decease of my few treelets along the corridor area in March 2015, I transplanted a few of them to these bigger vacant pots. Since then, they had been thriving very well. They grew fast and I had to trim them quite often. I only started to consume them this May. Below showed the pictures of 2 harvests; one from yesterday and one in May.

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The plant seemed to attract very few insect pests. When I scanned through the harvested leaves yesterday, only 2 leaflets showed signs of insect attack. From the damage done on these 2 leaflets, I was quite certain that the culprit was a Sarab Beetle (Family: Scarabaeidae) because I had caught them red handed on 2 August last year. Three months later, one flew into my home. The beetle had a small patch of fur-like structure on the side of the body between the thorax and abdomen region. In ancient Egypt, scarab beetle was a well-known religious symbol.

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Apparently, this vegetable was used as a slimming agent in the past in Taiwan where excessive consumption eventually led to outbreaks of lung injuries. A summary of the potential toxic effect of this vegetable to the lung is available in a 2015 report published by Hindawi. According to the post-outbreak investigation, one of the likely causes might be the frequent consumption of fresh juices made from the plant. No such outbreak was reported in the Southeast Asia region where the plant is commonly consumed probably affirmed that the cooked vegetable is safe for consumption.

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