Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Linnaea 43: 307 (1882).
Artanema sesamoides (Vahl) Benth. (1835).
Origin and geographic distribution
Artanema longifolium is found in tropical Africa from Liberia to Cameroon, DR Congo, Uganda and Tanzania. It occurs also in India and throughout tropical South-East Asia.
In Nigeria and Tanzania the leaves of Artanema longifolium are collected from the wild and eaten as a vegetable.
An aqueous extract of Artanema longifolium is a component of Ayurvedic medicines used against inflammations of the skeleto-muscular system. It is also used against nausea.
Erect, often branched herb up to 90 cm tall with sharply quadrangular to almost 4 -winged, fleshy, hollow stem. Leaves opposite, simple, subsessile; blade lanceolate, 3.5–25 cm × 1–9 cm, margin entire to slightly serrate, glabrous but rough above because of small bristles. Inflorescence a terminal, erect, many-flowered, peduncled raceme up to 40 cm long. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic; pedicel up to 1 cm long; calyx 5-lobed almost to the base, lobes ovate -oblong, 3–10 mm long, overlapping at anthesis, persistent in fruit; corolla deep red-purple, glandular hairy, with wide tube and 2 lips 1–3 cm long, upper lip erect, broadly rounded, emarginate, lower lip patent, rounded, 3-fid; stamens 4, didynamous, filaments with a disk-like appendage; ovary superior, 2-celled, style filiform, stigma 2-lobed. Fruit a subglobose capsule up to 1 cm in diameter, many-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid-globose, yellow-brown, tuberculate. Seedling with epigeal germination; hypocotyl 3–7 mm long, epicotyl very short; cotyledons rhomboid, 4–5 mm long, leafy.
Artanema is poorly known; it comprises about 4 species and is distributed in tropical Africa and Asia. It has been classified in tribe Gratioleae, which is highly diverse and split up in recent molecular-systematic studies. Artanema was not included in these studies.
Artanema longifolium occurs in forest and scrub vegetation, in humid and swampy localities, and is common along rice fields and watercourses, and in soggy grassland, up to 400 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Artanema longifolium is widespread in tropical Africa and Asia and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Artanema longifolium will remain a minor leaf vegetable. Its nutritional composition needs investigation. With its deep red-purple flowers it is decorative and seems to have potential as an attractive garden ornamental.
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Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Artanema longifolium (L.) Vatke In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.