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Growing Longevity Spinach (Gynura Procumbens)

A Medicinal Protein Vegetable for Longevity

We’re really enjoying growing and using longevity spinach, aka, Gynura procumbens! There are so many benefits and uses, that if you’re just becoming acquainted with this plant, then you’re in for a treat.

Longevity spinach is related to but not the same as “Okinawa spinach”, with the scientific name of Gynura procumbens, from the family Asteraceae. G. Procumbens is a  low-growing, semi-succulent leaf vegetable very popular in Southeast Asia, its home turf.

As vegetarians, we were delighted to discover that longevity spinach is high in quality protein, and so many other benefits.[1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21938418

No Nutritional info on Gynura Procumbens

While there are published papers on the health benefits and chemical constituents of Gynura, we’ve yet to find any information on the nutritional facts of longevity spinach beyond a measure of protein. If you’re aware of any, please let us know.

AUDIO ARTICLE – GROWING LONGEVITY SPINACH

Longevity spinach plants and seedlings. GardensAll.com

How to Grow Longevity Spinach

Longevity Spinach Grow Zones 9-11

  • Height: 6-12 inches
  • Growth: naturally vining; can be pruned for branching
  • Light: Full to part sun
  • Soil: Keep moist, but not soggy  
  • Zones: 9-11 – G. procumbens is a tropical plant, but can grow indoors in colder climates.
    SOURCE: Wellspring Gardens[2]https://wellspringgardens.com/products/longevity-spinach-gynura-procumbens
  • Difficulty: Longevity spinach is very easy to grow and propagate from clippings

Is Longevity Spinach a Perennial or Annual?

Gynura procumbens is grown as a perennial in warmer regions or as an annual where frost and freezing is a factor.

For those in the warmer US growing regions (zones 9 and above), the gynura plant will proliferate as a perennial through the warm season and hold its own over the “winter”.

This plant is not hardy to freezing temps, so if you have a freeze in zones 9-11, use a plant cover to protect it.

Longevity spinach plants, gynura procumbens plants.

Gynura Grows Best in Partial Shade

Our original G. procumbens plants arrived in good bare root condition but a bit early for our NC climate. So we bagged up in organic potting mix and kept them protected with straw and an occasional cloth cover.

The young Gynura plants struggled a bit until we modified the full sun exposure. They were getting scorched from too much sun, so we added a shade cloth for screening and from there on they’re thriving.

So, gynura—like spinach—grows best in partial shade. They did alright in their cozy 3 gallon grow bags. We ran one dripper per bag from our irrigation grid and packed in straw around the sides as insulation against cold in early season and to retain moisture in summer.

Can You Grow Longevity Spinach Indoors?

Yes, you can grow longevity spinach indoors in pots during winter.

We’ve propagated cuttings to pots in the garden, then brought them indoors before the first frost.

However you’ll need ample sunlight and/or grow lights. While Gynura needs protection from too much sun outdoors, it often doesn’t get quite enough with indoor lighting.

Grow Bags and Pots

The first year we used grow bags, which work great, though maybe not the prettiest presentation (my wife advised)😉. So the next season, we put all of the plants in nicer 16″ pots

The indoor Gynura plants over wintered in a corner tub with south and east windows. (The sacrifices gardeners make for their plants! 😃 To that we rigged up some LED grow lights on a tripod. Our starts from clippings were under grow lights in the indoor greenhouse set-up.

Moving on up!

So we went from two pots of gynura to a handful and from grow bags in our sunroom to 16″ pots in the tub. This year our gynura graduated to our cattle panel greenhouse. We’re planning on growing gynura for a long time to come. It’s an easy growing superfood, so an easy decision to make.

Gynura can grow indoors, but will need some additional care.

Longevity spinach grows year round outdoors in zones 9-11, and can grow indoors in colder climates with enough sun and/or grow lights.
~GardensAll.com

Growing longevity spinach indoors under LED Grow light set-up. Growing gynura procumbens in pots indoors.
Growing Longevity Spinach indoors with LED grow lights – Image by GardensAll.com

Why is the Gynura Plant Called Longevity Spinach?

Commonly called “Longevity Spinach”, Gynura procumbens, or G. procumbens, has been used for centuries in tropical Asian countries.

Why is it Called Longevity Spinach?

  1. LONG LIVED PLANT: The gynura procumbens plant is a long-lived perennial in warm climates and easy to grow.
  2. FIGHTS DISEASE: Gynura has been used medicinally for centuries in Asian countries – thwarting disease, elongates live.
  3. IMPROVES HEALTH: Some studies have corroborated some of G. procumbens’ extraordinary healing properties, including anti-aging benefits.
    SOURCE: Study published 2015[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791373/
We're really enjoying our longevity spinach! Related to but not the same as "Okinawa spinach", longevity spinach (scientific name gynura procumbens, from the family Asteraceae), is a low-growing, semi-succulent leaf vegetable very popular in Southeast Asia, its home turf.

Ways to Eat Longevity Spinach

Our favorite ways to enjoy Gynura procumbens:

  • Mixed in with other salad greens
  • Green juice and smoothies
  • Added to soups (we prefer to add them, then turn off the heat so that the nutrients remain intact)
  • Dried and made into tea
  • Dried and powdered

How Does Longevity Spinach Taste?

Gynura leaves are very slightly fuzzy textured and taste somewhat similar to malabar spinach. Both have a strongly greens taste, and when cooked, the longevity has a bit of a viscous quality reminiscent of okra, so good for thickening soups and sauces.

For some, it may take a bit of getting acquainted with the flavor and texture. We’ve enjoyed it sparsely mixed in with our leafy salads, green juices, and in soups.

During winter, we’re growing the gynura indoors and eat a leaf or two or three a day as a vitamin. Several times a day we pluck a leave as we pass by a longevity plant and plucking a leaf… vitamins on a stem.

A nibble of a longevity spinach leaf is satisfyingly vibrant and fresh and gives the sense of consuming health with every bite.
~Gardensall.com

Gynura leaves are very slightly fuzzy textured and taste somewhat similar to malabar spinach. #LongevitySpinach #Spinach #VegetableGarden #NaturalRemedies #MedicinalPlantsAndHerbs #NaturalGardenPestControl #Indoor #HowToGrow

Pests on Longevity Gynura

The general assessment is that the plant is mostly pest-free. We did have a few bug issues and occasional slug munch, but in general, there were no serious pests.

However, they didn’t thrive indoors over the winter, and ended up with some green aphids on the leaves that were hard to control.

Aphids Control

We’ve found that we needed to spray Gynura for aphids soon after bringing them inside. Growing outdoors, there’s natural pest control plus more sunlight, so aphids have only been a problem indoors.

We tried many different sprays, but it didn’t really take care of the problem. However, soon after moving the plants outside in spring, the aphids disappeared. We figured there were natural conditions outside that prevailed. 

Then this year, shortly after moving them indoors, the aphids appeared again. The ones in our indoor greenhouse faired better because lots of tiny spiders set up shop there. But the plants in our bathtub needed help. 

So I made up a batch of natural aphid control that worked really well.

Homemade Organic Aphid Spray

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 oz Dr. Bronners peppermint soap
  • 1 oz Neem oil
  • 1 Gal water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Spray thoroughly over top and under leaves once/week for a few couple weeks.
  2. Check periodically; repeat as necessary.

I wanted to really zap these, so I used a handy one gallon spray pump once a week for several weeks and that did the trick. If you have a lot of plants or areas to spray, we written about our use of a battery powered sprayer here, to make quick work of it.

Longevity Versus Regular Spinach

If the taste is okay and the texture slightly slippery, why not just grow regular spinach with all its iron and healthy antioxidants?

We think of our food as medicine first and foremost. Indeed, all garden veggies are healthy, however, longevity spinach  is especially nutrient dense. So we grow what we love, and then we decide on what to grow by what our body’s need most for nutrients.

The Chinese have been using the gynura plant as a medicinal for centuries. Some refer to it as “cholesterol spinach” due to its reputed cholesterol-reducing effects.

Gynura procumbens — longevity spinach — is beneficial in lowering cholesterol.
~GardensAll.com

Gynura procumbens-lowers cholesterol-GardensAll.com
Longevity spinach, Gynura procumbens plants – image by GardensAll.com

In our interview with Dr. Tom Cowan, he extolled the virtues of Longevity spinach as a superfood. Quoting his blog:

Gynura gains its super-food status because of its ability to counteract diabetes and reduce elevated blood sugar.  Shown to be as effective as the front-line diabetic drug metformin (with none of the side effects), gynura also lowers blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
~Dr. Tom Cowan, DrCowansGarden.com[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791373/

Gynura Procumbens Benefits

While Asian countries have used longevity spinach medicinally for centuries, extensive western research studies have definitively proven some of gynura’s legendary benefits.

A host of health attributes have been assigned to this simple and prolific plant, and proven it to be beneficial for numerous diseases.

Longevity Spinach Benefits – Research Continue, but Some Studies Are Included Below

  • Atherosclerosis1
  • Antimicrobial 
  • Antioxidant[5]https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2019/7246756/
  • Anti-inflammatory / steroidal properties[6]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12602932/
  • Blood Pressure – lowers systolic BP[7]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791373/
  • Cancer – fights many different cancers
  • Decrease in heart rate (using gynura extract)
  • Diabetes – lowers blood sugar in diabetic subjects[8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10783673/
  • Health tonic – overall health benefits2
  • Heart disease
  • Organ and tissue protectant
  • Proactive support of the immune system
  • Sexual reproduction and libido
  • Wound healant – faster healing with less scarring, (see the tissue/cell images and also lab rat healing images here)[9]https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/06ba/fa9ee0e3f957f5babb9472d77d6ae1aa2f11.pdf
longevity spinach, gynura procumbens. A host of health attributes have been assigned to this simple and prolific plant, and proven it to be beneficial for numerous diseases.#LongevitySpinach #Spinach #VegetableGarden #NaturalRemedies #MedicinalPlantsAndHerbs #NaturalGardenPestControl #Indoor #HowToGrow
Image from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Plants Over Pills Whenever Possible

Our family’s “supplemental healthcare” is growing our own organic foods and herbs and maintaining a healthy diet. Longevity spinach is one of the essentials in our holistic healthy food lifestyle.

We use longevity spinach for food and nutrients, eating a few leaves a day as vitamins. We choose plants over pills whenever possible. “Pop a leaf”! 🌱😀
~GardensAll.com

The way our family chooses to "self-insure" our health is by growing our own organic medicinals and vitality supportive foods. We consider "longevity spinach" to be one of the essentials in our holistic healthy food lifestyle. #LongevitySpinach #Spinach #VegetableGarden #NaturalRemedies #MedicinalPlantsAndHerbs #NaturalGardenPestControl #Indoor #HowToGrow
Gynura procumbens, longevity spinach seedlings – image by GardensAll.com

Longevity Spinach Nutrition

Dried gynura contains approximately 4.51 grams of protein per 3.4 ounces. Use as tea or powder for adding “hidden” nutrients to smoothies, salad dressings, soups, casserole and green juices
~GardensAll.com

Gynura extract is a good source of vegetable protein and may have positive effects on free radical scavenging and iron chelating.[10]https://www.scialert.net/abstract/?doi=ajps.2010.146.151

Beyond that, there’s very little to be found with a breakdown of the nutrients in longevity spinach in the layman’s terms we’re all familiar with. Most of the information on gynura nutrients to date relates to medicinal values for tinctures and supplements.

If you know of better nutrition resources, please send us a link and we’ll add it here.

We suspect that longevity spinach leaves contains similar nutrients to Malabar Spinach. While that’s a guess, here’s what science knows:

The diverse pharmacological effects and biological properties of Longevity Spinach, (Gynura procumbens) are mainly attributed to its flavonoid content.
~Study article: PMC4791373

Longevity Spinach (Gynura procumbens) plant in pot. Image by Debra Yvonne Mathis, growing Gynura in Texas.

Longevity Spinach is a fantastic addition to your garden for both food, tea and medicinal benefits!
~GardensAll.com

Longevity Spinach (Gynura procumbens) plant in pot after being exposed to some colder fall temps in Texas before being brought in to winter inside. Image by Debra Yvonne Mathis

Where to Buy Longevity Spinach

We originally purchased just two little plants that grew to maturity in the first year along with two others from clippings of the first set. Now, in our third summer, we currently have 28 new rooted plants in small pots. We could easily take more cuttings and continue expanding the brood, but we’re running out of space. 

Buy from Amazon

There are a number of Gynura sellers on Amazon. Just check the reviews as usual.

Buy from Baker’s Creek – Rare Seeds

We got our first two plants from Baker’s Creek Rare Seeds, (but last check they were out of stock).

Buy from Wellspring Gardens – this is the Best Price

Wellspring Gardens’ pricing is at wholesale price, so this is your most economical option.

Once you get your first few plants though, it’s really easy to propagate those into many more.

If you’re like us, you’ll want to grow and propagate for yourself and others. G. procumbens is easy to grow from clippings and makes great host gifts for fellow gardeners and plant lovers interested in edible medicinal plants.

Longevity spinach… a great host gift for health and longevity!

Longevity spinach is very easy to grow from cuttings. Buy one plant and you can quickly root more.
~GardensAll.com

Uses for Longevity Spinach 

Fresh

  • Sautéed solo or with other ingredients
  • Edible garnish, similar to parsley
  • Add to:
    • salads
    • soups
    • Sandwiches
    • smoothies (raw or as dried leaves or powder)
    • green juice (raw or as dried leaves or powder)

Dried

  • Tea – dried Gynura leaves make pleasant, soothing and medicinal teas
  • Powder – dried leaves can be ground into powder for supplements or additives

There are many wonderful attributes to longevity spinach. We’ve touched on just a few here. It’s very easy to grow and propagate. For gardeners in colder zones, the plants can be brought inside and continue to yield healthful nutrition. We definitely plan to keep growing and enjoying longevity spinach as a dietary and medicinal staple.

If you’ve had experience growing Gynura procumbens (alias longevity spinach), please let us know. We’d be glad to add your experience and photos to this article.

Image of longevity spinach - Gynura procumbens plants by GardensAll.com.
Gynura procumbens plants – GardensAll.com image

Growing Longevity Spinach

Spring Update, 2021

The Gynura procumbens plants we’ve cultivated over the past couple years are flourishing. The first couple winters they stayed indoors in our south facing sunroom and bathtub, where they were supplemented with grow lights.

These past two winters they’ve thrived just fine in our cattle panel greenhouse, where they fared with fewer aphid issues than growing indoors. In summer, the use of shade fabric has made a huge difference in the growth and maintenance of our longevity spinach plants. While G. procumbens is a tropical plant that can’t tolerate freezing temperatures, this longevity spinach also can’t take too much heat. Temps 65-85 are the best for Gynura.

This longevity plant is so prolific that we’re harvesting many shoots to use for tea and powder.

Have a look at our short video to see the bounty propagated from cuttings of two original plants we purchased in 2017. We must be on our fourth or fifth generation at this point.

Once you’ve got longevity spinach, with a little care, you’ve got them forever.

Growing and Harvesting Longevity Spinach

Drying Longevity Spinach

The drying process has begun. Leaves are selectively stripped from the stems and placed on a home engineered hammock set above a sunny roof. We could dry them in our oven or dehydrator, but why ignore the natural summer sun?

You can dry longevity spinach leaves in hot sun in just one day.

We engineered a hammock of sorts using landscape fabric stretched over a coil of wire fencing secured by wooden clothespins.

HOW TO DRY GYNURA LEAVES

  • Sun
  • Oven
  • Dehydrator

You can dry longevity spinach leaves on a hot surface in the sun in just one day. We engineered a drying hammock of sorts using landscape fabric stretched over a half coil of old wire fencing.

Another even easier way is if you have an extra window screen and lay it across a couple bricks (or stacked on a second screen) to suspend it for air flow. For outdoor drying whenever wind or insects could be an issue, stack another screen over whatever you’re drying to keep them from blowing away or attracting insects.

Leaf get light and airy as they dry and could blow away in a gust of wind. Drying Gynura shouldn’t attract insects, but if you’re drying other foods or fruit it might, so that’s when the extra screen stacked on top comes in handy.

To secure a second screen over your garden goodies, you can use something like chip clips or other clamps, such as large office binder clips or hardware clamps.

Drying longevity spinach leaves outdoors. A peak under our homemade “drying hammock” – image by GardensAll.com
DIY homemade drying rack for drying longevity spinach - Gynura procumben - leaves for tea and powder.
DIY drying longevity spinach leaves outdoors. Our homemade “drying hammock” – image by GardensAll.com

Longevity Spinach – Gynura Procumbens – Flowers

Longevity Spinach (Gynura procumbens) Flowers – Image by GardensAll.com
Longevity Spinach (Gynura procumbens) flowers & potted Gynura – Image by GardensAll.com

Wishing you a long and healthy life with great gardens and healthy harvests!

  1. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2019/7246756/ []
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791373/ []
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