Gendola (Basella rubra) is one of Indonesian native species. Even though it used to be a vegetable plant, but today, Gendola become one of the forgotten vegetables in Indonesia. Nowadays, Gendola is only popular as a medicinal plant. In fact, it is very rare, people use it as a vegetable.

There are several Basella species that are common for vegetables. But only two species which common in Indonesia, Basella rubra and Basella alba The difference between these two species come from the stem color.  If Basella rubra has red stems, Basella alba has bright green stems. However, based on information from the Indische Groenten book, Basella rubra was more commonly popular as a vegetable in Indonesia during the 1930s.


Gendola is a member of the Basellaceae family. Peoples also call them spinach in some areas, it seems because the shape of the leaves, texture, and taste is similar to Amaranthaceae. Gendola is a perennial plant. They have red stems and green leaves. The leaves are short-stemmed, with the position spread spirally on the stem. Flowers appear in the axils of the leaves with white, red or pink colours depending on the variety. The fruit is small with red color. Their seeds are still viable in storage for several years before sowing.

forgotten vegetables in Indonesia

The young stems are crunchy. The leaves are broad, pointed, and rather thick. The parts that are often used as vegetables are the leaves, stems, and young shoots. However, when stir-fried, Basella rubra becomes a little slimy. Unfortunately, Basella rubra is currently one of the forgotten vegetables in Indonesia.

Other names

Gendola has several other names in Indonesia, such as Gendolok, Gandola, Gendolun, Kadorla, Kandola, Orange, Gender, Gelak, violet, Remayung, Uci-uci. And in English, it turns out that this plant has several names, such as Malabar spinach, Indian spinach, Ceylon spinach, climber spinach and vine spinach.

One of Indonesian Vegetable during the 1930s

In the Indische Groenten book, Gendola is one of the most common vegetable plants in Indonesia in the 1930s. Usually, people use Gendola as a substitute vegetable for Spinach (Amaranthus sp) and Purslane (Portulaca sp). However, this vegetable has a slimy texture when overcooked. In this book, there are suggestions not to consume Gendola often.  It is because there have negative effects on your health. Some side effects above, possibly the reason why Gendola become one of the forgotten vegetables in Indonesia.

The extract from Gendola fruit has a red color. It was popular as a food colouring, such as cakes and candied fruit during the 1930s. Usually sold in powder form in the grocery stores. And the powder is popular as gincu.

Side effect

Although Gendola has a high vitamin and mineral content, consumption of Gendola continuously increases the risk of kidney stones. High levels of oxalic acid in Gendola can cause stone disease in the urinary tract. The high content of oxalic acid can cause blockage in the bladder and will cause pain when urinating.

The nutritional content of Gendola

As a vegetable, the leaves of Gendola are a source of vitamins A, C, iron, and calcium. This plant is also rich in kaempferol which is useful to protect our body from cardiovascular disease and cancer. The antioxidant, anthocyanins are found in stems, leaves and flowers. The content of several chemical compounds Basella rubra also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects.

As a medicine, the roots are astringent, useful to relieve diarrhoea. Meanwhile, fresh leaf juice is used to help cure dysentery and is a diuretic. The leaves can also be ground. The paste of the leaves is then used to treat boils and sores. The flower of this plant is useful as an antidote to poison.


  • Deshmukh, S. A., Gaikwad, D. K., 2014. A review of the taxonomy, ethnobotany, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Basella alba (Basellaceae). Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, 4(1), 153-165.
  • Funda Eryilmaz Acikgoz and Sevinc Adiloglu .  2018.  A Review on a New Exotic Vegetable for Turkey: Malabar Spinach (Basella alba L. or Basella rubra L.).  Journal of Horticulture.  J Hortic 2018, 5:3
  • Kumar S, Prasad AK, Iyer SV, Vaidya SK, 2013. Systematic pharmacognostical, phytochemical and pharmacological review on an ethno medicinal plant, Basella alba L. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, 5(4), 53-58.
  • Tanase et. al.  2020.  New Genotypes of Basella rubra and Basella alba Acclimatized and Bred at Vegetable Research and Development Station Buzău.  Bulletin of University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca. Horticulture 77(2):145

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses


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