Katuk, Sauropus androgynous, sweet leaf or tropical asparagus, is another delicious tropical perennial. Katuk is actually my favorite leafy green; its peanut/pea-like flavor really draws me in! The leaves, shoots, flowers and fruits are all edible! The plant grows as a lanky shrub gaining heights of 12 feet, but is usually pruned to 4-6 feet for easy harvest.
Grown from seed or from cuttings.
Add seeds to potting medium as you would any plant. Seeds germinate rapidly seedlings grow quickly.
For cuttings, take semi-woody stems, at least a foot long, and stick them into the ground.
Since the plants grow tall, they tend to fall over; so regular pruning makes them manageable as well as gives you plenty of shoots and young leaves to eat. Growing plants close together (4 inches or 10 cm) could create a nice edible hedge.
Young leaves and shoots may be eaten raw or cooked. The shoots are nicknamed ‘tropical asparagus’. Older leaves should be cooked, steamed is my preferred method, but sautéed or boiled is good too. And I cook the flowers the same as the leaves, I do not really enjoy the taste of the fruits so I typically don’t eat them, however they are edible too.
Where to obtain planting materials
Ask anyone you know growing katuk for a cutting or seeds.
I’ve been growing Katuk for a while now, but I’ve only recently started propagating it more readily. I’ve just started cutting off stems and sticking it in the ground wherever to add some diversity into the food forest. Here are some of the plantings:
10 thoughts on “Katuk (Sauropus androgynous)”
I just found you and so glad I did! thus far you are spot on with so much of your creation. I have been growing organically for almost 40 years, but we have been living in Costa Rica for the past 6+, a whole ‘nuther critter! but there are so many permaculture specialists in our area, and specialty farmers that there is a wealth of information that we have obtained. there is a very good possibility that we may be living in the Puna District by fall…another new paradigm and Journey for us. would love to see your place, if we make it. in the meantime, good to hear you speak of Katuk! one of my favorites, as is casava – but my experience here would not support it as successful in a crowded space, the more space for the roots to get big and tender, the better. also, they are only good for up to the first two seasons, so replenishing the crop is important. they grow well around bananas…very well. I found you on the forum, nice to be able to keep connected via wordpress, as well. aloha and mahalo! ~e
wow gardening for 40 years. you probably have a ton of knowledge stored up! when you are around puna let me know and you could stop by and check out my garden. im still trying to play around with cassava and give it the right root space. sometimes i just stick them into the rocky soil, but they arent old enough to check for roots. but the ones i grew in a nice cinder-soil bed gave me some tasty roots, but they were pretty hard to dig out. im gonna make a few new beds and try to get some more soil for them and see how that goes
yep, rocky soil isn’t the greatest for the best casava, like carrots – the better and more loose the soil, the better the roots. a tough call in lava land, I have much to learn in this only too-new growing situation, but then hey – why not? we’ll be in touch when we get there…looks like September is the magic month. aloha ~e
I live onthwBig Island of Hawaii. Do you know where I can find some seed or cuttings?
i could give you some cuttings. ill send you a message
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Aloha looking for plants. Mahalo.
where are you located?
I live in Kapoho, near Papaya Farm Rd.
We have the Koa’e Trading Post every Saturday from 3-6. Look for the sign across from the mailboxes.
I’ve got plenty of Katuk for propagation, in Kapoho