Spinach in name, member of beans family; meet ‘Agathi Cheera’
‘Agathi Cheera’ or vegetable humming bird is a plant that resembles spinach in its name but is actually a shrub that belongs to beans family. Its scientific name is Sesbania grandiflora. It has two different varieties, one with white flower and another with red flower.
Saplings can be produced by sowing seed. After one month, the sapling can be replanted to any part of the garden where sunlight is available aplenty. Fertilisers like cow dung, compost and ash will boost growth.
Leaves, flowers, seed pods and seeds are edible. Leaves can be used for making delicious food items. As it has high fibre content, it is good for constipation. Its leaves can be dried and powdered to use as green tea.
Agathi Cheera leaves contain Vitamin A and C. As Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant, it helps reduce blood pressure and maintain heart health. Seed pods of the plant also is edible. It can be used to make side dishes. Though both flowers and leaves are edible, Keralites mainly use its flowers.
Thiruvananthapuram Navayikkulam Krishi Bhavan used to distribute saplings of red-flowered Agathi Cheera saplings. Seeds are available with Malappuram native M. Abdul Razak.