Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Tent. fl. abyss. 1: 320 (1848).
Alepidea longifolia Dummer (1913).
Origin and geographic distribution
Alepidea peduncularis occurs from DR Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia south to South Africa.
Young leaves of Alepidea peduncularis are collected from the wild and used as a cooked vegetable, particularly in southern Africa, where it is known as ‘ikhokwana’ by the Zulu people. In southern Africa a decoction of the roots is taken to treat cough and in eastern Africa as a cure for fever.
Perennial herb up to 120(–175) cm tall, glabrous, with clustered, thick, fleshy, fibrous roots; stem slender to rather stout, striate, strongly branched. Leaves alternate, simple, basal leaves in a rosette, petiole and indistinctly demarcated sheath 1–10 cm long, blade oblong to obovate, up to 25 cm × 6 cm, base attenuate, truncate or cordate, apex obtuse, margins with broad, acuminate, ciliate teeth; stem leaves sessile and clasping the stem, much smaller than the rosette leaves, with longer and darker cilia on the teeth, gradually decreasing in size with height of the stem, upper ones bract-like. Inflorescence a head-like umbel, relatively few together, with 8–11 bracts, alternately larger and smaller, forming a connate spreading involucre up to 1.5 cm long. Flowers bisexual, sessile, 5-merous; sepals deltoid-ovate, less than 1 mm long; petals obovate, c. 1.5 mm long, white to slightly pink or greenish; stamens free; ovary inferior, 2-celled, styles 2, divergent, straight. Fruit a schizocarp, c. 2 mm long, white -verruculose with rather sharp angles.
Alepidea is a complex genus of about 20 poorly defined species, distributed from Ethiopia to South Africa, with the majority in southern Africa. Alepidea peduncularis is part of a variable complex, in which delimitations between species are not sharp. In South Africa the leaves of Alepidea natalensis Wood & Evans are similarly used as a vegetable.
Alepidea peduncularis is predominantly a species of montane, often-burnt grassland. It also occurs in open localities in montane forest and Brachystegia woodland and on rocky hillsides, at 1000–3800 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Alepidea peduncularis is widespread and does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion. However, the demand for Alepidea roots for medicinal purposes may locally also threaten populations of Alepidea peduncularis.
Alepidea peduncularis most probably will remain a vegetable of only local importance. Its nutritional and medicinal properties need further investigation.
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• Burtt, B.L., 1991. Umbelliferae of southern Africa: an introduction and annotated check-list. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 48: 133–282.
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• De Castro, A. & van Wyk, B.E., 1994. Diagnostic characters and geographic distribution of Alepidea species used in traditional medicine. South African Journal of Botany 60(6): 345–350.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Alepidea peduncularis Steud. ex A.Rich. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.