Plant Brazilian Spinach for a Sub-Tropical Edible Groundcover

Reader Contribution by Taylor Goggin
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Brazilian spinach also goes by the names sissoo spinach, poor man’s spinach, or samba lettuce. This leafy green can be found in tropical and subtropical areas. The reason why Brazilian spinach does so well in these areas is because it thrives off humidity, full sun, and lots of water. This is the magic formula to an abundance of Brazilian spinach.

This leafy green can also be used as ground cover… and it’s edible too! Edible groundcover, whaaat? Yes, it will happily grow under your higher growing plants, trees and protect the soil from the heat. The round, crinkled leaves can be incorporated in various culinary ways in your diet:

  • Eaten raw in a salad
  • Sautéed
  • Used in stir-fries
  • Used as a base for pesto
  • Substitute as base for chimichurri
  • Thrown into scrambled eggs
  • Blended into a smoothie to get those extra greens in!

Sissoo Spinach Pesto Recipe


  • 1 cup of basil
  • 2 cups of freshly harvested sissoo spinach
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

In terms of growth, Brazilian spinach cultivates fast and can be aggressive. I purchased a small, propagated cutting and as you can see in the photo above it took over an entire garden bed. An unintentional mistake but I couldn’t be more pleased! You can never get enough greens in your diet. Therefore, it is perfect in garden beds as well as pots. Perfect for those of you who live in apartments and still want to grow spinach with limited space. Sissoo is perennial which means it produces all year round and regrows quickly after every harvest. To propagate soak cuttings in water for 3-4 days until roots appear, transplant, and pot it up.  

According to the online platform healthline, Brazilian spinach is jam packed with health benefits. Just to name drop a few of the many vitamins and minerals our leafy green contains:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C known as a powerful antioxidant that also promotes healthy skin and immune function
  • Vitamin K1 used for combating blood clotting problems
  • Folic acid great for pregnant women as it aids in cellular growth and function
  • Iron boosts immune system
  • Calcium essential for maintaining bone health

Food is medicine, incorporating this green in your diet could be a preventative powerhouse to any bodily malfunctions or illnesses. In a time when keeping our immune system in tip-top shape is of the utmost importance, sissoo spinach can be a lovely additive to your diet. Given its fast-growing pace and long list of health benefits this is truly the veggie that never stops giving! If you live in the subtropical/tropical region try throwing some seeds or a purchased sissoo sprout and watch it grow.

Taylor Gogginis tropical gardener in Florida who gained her skills in cooperative agriculture while work-trading with a World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program on the Hawaiian Islands. She now grows papaya, banana, avocado, fig, tomatoes, and medicinal herbs to make into inventive plant-based recipes. Connect with Taylor on Instagram, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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