Plant Identification, Cultivation and History

Edible Katuk: Sauropus androgynous

Katuk: a delicious hot weather green vegetable. Originally from Borneo its natural habitat is as an understory shrub. It grows in the tropical rain forest, where 120” of rain a year was the average. It prefers a hot, humid climate.

Soil: Reported to tolerate acid soils, our soil is circum-neutral and they like it. We recommend lime just in case.

Water: Needs plenty, can tolerate brief flooding. Cannot tolerate dry.

Sun: Prefers shade, but can probably tolerate full sun if given plenty of water.

Cold: Will freeze in the winter, but should come back from the stump.

Pruning: Keep pruned to 3-6 feet tall.

Propagation: Easily propagated by cuttings of older wood stems. Strip the leaves and stick it in the ground in the shade. It probably needs cross pollination to produce seeds and all our plants are clones of one individual.

Pests: None known.

Other problems: Tends to grow tall and lanky and then fall over. Growth slows in the winter and the taste is poor until it resumes vigor with warm weather.


Harvesting and preparation: The leaves and flowers have a pea like flavor. In Borneo, it is often fertilized and irrigated under shade to produce fast growing tips that are very similar to asparagus. According to  it should probably be cooked, though it is also eaten raw.


Grows 6 – 7 ‘ tall, but will get spindly and fall over if allowed to get this tall. Best if kept pruned between 3 – 6 ‘ tall.

Can be grown as a hedge, and will produce well for you if pruned regularly. Prolific grower.

Prefers a pH of 7, but will tolerate acid soils..

Will die back in the winter in N. Central Florida, but will usually return in the Spring, unless confronted with a very cold winter.




The nutritional value of Katuk is impressive. The following compares its nutritional values with that of Spinach. Actual quantity per ½ cup serving of fresh leaves.

Spinach % Daily Value USDA, 2000 Calorie Diet

Protein: 4.9 g Katuk – 0.43 g: 9.8% Katuk / 0.9% Spinach

Calcium: 51 mg Katuk – 15 mg: 5.1% Katuk / 1.5% Spinach

Iron: 2.7 mg  Katuk – 0.4 mg: 15% Katuk / 2.3% Spinach

Vitamin A: 1122 IU - Katuk 1407 IU: 22% Katuk / 27.6% Spinach

Vitamin C: 83 mg  Katuk – 4.2 mg: 138% Katuk / 7% Spinach

Source: Edible Plant Project


It is known as tropical asparagus and can be eaten raw or cooked (like spinach). Its raw flavor is reminiscent of fresh peas or peanuts.

It’s among a few flora containing Vitamin K.

Said to increase breast milk in nursing mothers.

Plants are easy to propagate from cuttings. It is more difficult to propagate from seeds. It could take up to 6 months for seeds to germinate.

Source: Edible Plant Project

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