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Hablitzia tamnoides – Caucasian spinach plant


A perennial alternative to annual spinach, a long lived, hardy herbaceous perennial climber, that produces an early harvest of edible shoots, followed by delicious heart shaped spinach like leaves on vines. Needs semi shade and damp soil. Please note, these plants are herbaceous perennials, the vines are dormant from autumn to early spring.  This plant will give you a head start and can be planted out upon receipt.

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Hablitzia tamnoides – Caucasian spinach – a long lived, hardy herbaceous perennial climber, that produces an early harvest of edible shoots, followed by delicious heart shaped spinach like leaves on vines. Grows well in a semi shady spot and needs climbing support. An absolute essential plant for the perennial vegetable garden and an excellent hungry gap crop. As the plants mature, the crown of shoots gets bigger each year and vines become more numerous and vigorous. Price is for a plant in 1L pot ready to plant out. These were sown in autumn 2020, and as herbaceous perennials, they are coming out of dormancy and just starting to show their first shoots. They will begin to produce leaves and vines in early spring. Please follow the planting advice in the main description.


Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach) is the sole species in the genus Hablitzia, is a long-lived herbaceous perennial climber native to the Caucasus region. Grown traditionally as an ornamental, it has become well known over recent years thanks to Stephen Barstow and his book ‘Around the World in 80 Plants’. It is a remarkable plant that produces heart shaped tender spinach like leaves on a vine.  Hablitzia is now being grown commercially in Maine, USA particularly valuable due to the early spring harvest.

How to grow

Hablitzia prefers a semi-shaded spot to thrive and its roots like to be kept moist. Climbing support of some kind will help the vines grow more vigorously, a trellis or netting will work well. They prefer a good, rich, loamy soil and seem to have a preference for neutral or alkaline soil conditions. Although they can take about three years to establish, Hablitzia plants can go on to produce for decades. They grow rapidly from a crown of shoots emerging early in the year to more than 3m by summer. Around July, they produce very attractive small star shaped flowers which eventually turn into a mass of shiny black seeds. The foliage dies back and leaves a crown of baby shoots that produce the next years growth. The plants are hardy down to about -20c or more.

Harvesting and eating

Young leaves can be eaten raw as a salad crop and larger more mature leaves can be cooked and wilted. The early shoots have a beautiful magenta colour and can be harvested like an asparagus spear. Vine tips and emerging flowers can also be eaten raw or cooked giving many options over the growing season. The main harvest period is from around February to June, followed by flowering and then dormancy in autumn. Hablitzia is now being grown commercially in Maine, USA particularly valuable due to the early spring harvest.

Once established you can eat the late winter/ early spring shoots, snipping off some to eat and leaving the rest to grow. Once the plants starts climbing you can pick an abundance of leaves and use in salads or as a replacement for standard spinach in any dish.

“Thanks for everything, the info sheet was great. I planted the cuttings the day they arrived and have just multi sown the 9 star in seed trays. All very exciting, we’re now planning our perennial area.”

“You are right, perennial kale is fantastic! Thanks so much for the cuttings. I am a convert to having a corner of perpetual kale in the patch!”

“As the evening sun back lit the plants at Incredible Vegetables, I felt I was standing in one of the most important gardens of our time. Wildflowers working alongside an abundance of edimentals and perennial vegetables. A ‘food glade’ to rival the aesthetic of our greatest plant designers.”

– Jon Davies, garden designer, London Glades –

“I love your website and the work you’re doing. What you’re doing is exiting, useful, and one day will help to replace and enhance what human kind has damaged.With that our natural friends will return and we’ll be better for it.”

“Mandy, thank you. I am delighted with this plant – it is so strong and healthy and exceptionally well packaged – all done with loving care obviously. I shall look forward to having more plants from you.”

“Plants all arrived lovely and are growing well. I just wanted to say i was very impressed with the quality of the cuttings.. and its been a pleasure dealing with you. And I look forward to any purchases in the future.”

“The kale cuttings you sent survived the winter and are thriving. Thank you Mandy Barber you are the super hero of edibles, loving your work!!”

“I bought some Skirret seed’s off you last year. Well they grew and yesterday some got cooked and this message is just to say, they were delicious. Looking forward to a lot more next year. Thank you.”

“The Taunton Dean cuttings arrived a short while ago and never have I seen healthier looking cuttings! They are now firmly ensconced in some nice compost and are having a good drink. I even loved the packaging, which will be composted.”

“Hi I just wanted to let you know that I sowed half of my Caucasian spinach seeds and every single one grew, absolutely amazed, thanks for the seeds and keep up the good work.”

“Just to let you know that the lovely healthy looking plants arrived. Your plants are simply outstanding, every single tuber and plant are growing amazingly.”

“The plants arrived safely, I did not expect such magnificent specimens! I didn’t think I would be successful at stratification etc but I now have a whole bunch of Hablitzia seedlings sprouting after following your excellent advice.”

“Just to say, the Daubentons Kale is in the ground and looking well – thanks to the lovely damp compost encasing its roots…you do a good job at your end, I can tell by the way you package. Will be back for more of your wonderful perennials.”

“Thank you so much for all the vegetables, they really are incredible. I’m sure I’ve never before seen a healthier rootball than the one that arrived with our happy looking daubentons kale, and seeds and tubers are thriving thanks to all the useful information provided.”

“Thank you so much for sending such wonderful, healthy and very large plants. They are beautiful !! You packaged them so well and they arrived so quickly – I couldn’t get to the post office till the following day but they were absolutely fine. They’re now potted up and sitting in my ‘cold’ greenhouse while they adjust.”

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