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Euphorbiaceae, Sauropus androgynous, katuk

March 3, 2008

Katuk, Sauropus androgynus, a somewhat peculiar latin name. Common in Asia, Katuk is rarely found in the wild, occurring from India to Malaysia. A delicious hot weather green vegetable, widely considered to be one of the most prolific, nutritious and appetizing of all green-leaved vegetables. It has been proven to out yield all other edible leafy greens, and thus merits further attention.

Katuk is one of the staple vegetables in Borneo, fabled to have been a traditional accompaniment to human flesh amongst cannibals in the area. The superb and unique flavor of these leaves is most similar to peanuts, also similar to snow peas. Then tender tips, the leaves, the flowers and the young berries are all used for food. Older leaves can be eaten raw but are commonly cooked. The young leaves and tips are eaten raw in salads. When cooked all parts of the plant have a distinct agreeable odor and flavor and the leaves and stems retain their dark green color. The leaves have about 6-10% protein content. The roots and leaves are sometimes used as medicine.

According to a post on the website, and I quote, “heard from a Jul mommy abt a plant called katuk. Can get at wet mkts and Giant supermarket. Just boil the leaves and drink the water. Apparently, her milk supply went up so much after taking it, it can shoot across the room if squeeze her breast. This plant is apparently widely used in Indonesia & Vietnam to increase milk supply.”

Personally, I almost always eat Katuk raw, I find that both new and mature leaves have an excellent flavor.

Katuk is disease and pest resistant, tolerates most soils, grows in sun or shade, produces abundantly year round, and is easily propagated from seed or soft and/or hard cuttings. The best quality leaves and shoots are produced when grow in in partial shade with plenty of water and nutrients, especially nitrogen. Long, tender shoots can also be achieved by training larger plants to grow laterally, then watering and feeding them. The vertical growth that next emerges is ideal for raw consumption.

Due to its tall, thin stature Katuk can easilly be grown in between, or even up, most trees. When growing under a tree katuk acts almost like a vine, becoming quit long. When growin in the full sun the plant stands tall, is long lived and very wind tolerant. The plant can also be heavily harvested and managed as shrub or hedge row.

I am growing large quantities of Katuk in Casco Viejo. Does very well in virtually any location as long as it gets ample water.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Muthu Karthick, N permalink
    January 31, 2009 10:08:22 am

    We are also growing this Sauropus androgynus in garden. The article is nice to read. Greetings from India

  2. hasanah permalink
    March 21, 2009 10:08:37 am

    Please give me the information, where can I get the book about the katuk leaves (sauropus androgynus) ?
    Where can I get STS in Indonesia? Because I need it urgently.

  3. SC Liew permalink
    May 11, 2010 10:08:25 am

    I once was a plant of this S.A. Is a wonderful vegetable. But one thing I wish all who love this vege to find out, is it poisonous when eaten raw? There was incidence happen in Taiwan years back that some ladies blended SA leaves and stems and drink of the juice for weight loss and died, hence the Taiwan government banded the import of this.
    Info from some books, that it contain Akloid when raw and Akloid breaks down when cooked, as well as Tapioca which also comes from the Euphorbiaceae.

    • May 11, 2010 10:08:20 am

      Thanks for the comment. I heard about this incident. I have a feeling that it was an issue of eating exclusively the plant and in concentrated, excessive quantities. I have eaten large quantities of the raw leaf in salads for many years. It is probably best to cut Katuk with other salad greens instead of eating pure katuk salads, but as long as its consumed in moderation it shouldn’t pose a problem. It’s excellent lightly cooked as well.

  4. David permalink
    May 21, 2010 10:08:08 am

    Anyone know where to buy this plant in Southern California ?

  5. September 27, 2010 10:08:37 pm

    At our farm we plant about a meter apart. Once they are growing well we bend the plant s over and tie them to the plant beside. This causes the plants to send many shoots skyward, increasing our harvest and also creating a visual/wind barrier in our farm.

    • September 27, 2010 10:08:39 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I noticed that Katuk is grown in a similar fashion in domestic gardens in Vietnam. They seem to eat it mostly in soups along with a number of other popular edible greens.

  6. Muks permalink
    November 13, 2010 10:08:32 pm

    I managed to grow this in London from seeds I bought from a seller in Belize on eBay. I am however, keeping them indoors on the window sill as I think they won’t survive the English winter. I sowed them in February 2010 and they germinated around May 2010 and are now about 20cm tall.

    They are doing okay at the moment, but do you know if they will survive being grown in containers?

    • November 13, 2010 10:08:27 pm

      Very interesting. Yes, they should do fine in containers, as long as the container is big enough to accommodate the roots. I gave a friend cuttings from Panama which he took to upstate New York and grew them for a few years, putting them outside in the warm months and inside near a window during the winter. If they get too tall and lanky you can easily multiply it with cuttings. Might also be worth finding someone with a glasshouse/greenhouse nearby and growing some there.


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