Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Journ. Linn. Soc., Bot. 9: 524 (1867).
Asystasia schimperi T.Anderson (1864), Asystasia rostrata (Hochst. ex Nees) Solms (1867).
Origin and geographic distribution
Asystasia mysorensis occurs in central, eastern and southern Africa, from Ethiopia and Eritrea to Namibia and South Africa.
The leaves and young shoots of Asystasia mysorensis, usually collected from the wild at the beginning of the rainy season, are eaten as a vegetable in Tanzania; they are sometimes available on local markets. They are eaten boiled, alone or mixed with e.g. cowpeas, tomatoes, onions, coconut milk, pounded oyster nuts (Telfairia pedata (Sm. ex Sims) Hook.) or groundnuts, and served with a staple food. Asystasia mysorensis is also useful as a fodder and potentially as an ornamental.
Erect or scrambling annual herb up to 45 cm tall, shortly hairy. Leaves opposite, simple, petiolate; blade ovate to obovate, up to 6 cm × 2 cm, entire. Inflorescence a terminal spike up to 5 cm long; bracts enclosing the flowers, green, longer and wider than sepals. Flowers bisexual; sepals 5, linear; corolla tubular, c. 1.5 cm long, white with green spotted throat, 2-lobed, upper lobe again 2-lobed, lower one 3-lobed; stamens 4, anthers minutely mucronate at the base; ovary superior, 2-celled, hairy, style slender, stigmas 2. Fruit a stalked capsule c. 2 cm long, pubescent and bearing small glands, at maturity opening with 2 valves, 1–4-seeded. Seeds angular, supported by retinacula.
Asystasia comprises about 50 species, distributed in the Old World tropics, mostly in Africa. Asystasia mysorensis is related to the better known Asystasia gangetica (L.) T.Anderson, of which the leaves are also used as a vegetable and fodder, and which has numerous medicinal properties. Asystasia buettneri Lindau (synonyms: Asystasia calycina Benth., Asystasia dryadum S.Moore), distributed in West Africa from Guinea to Gabon, is used similarly as a vegetable in Gabon. A decoction of its leaves is used medicinally against headache and yaws and a poultice is applied against craw -craw sores (ulcers).
Asystasia mysorensis occurs at forest edges, in thickets and secondary regrowth, and as a weed in fields. It is found in many soil types at altitudes up to 2200 m, in Tanzania in areas with an annual rainfall of 1000–2100 mm.
Genetic resources and breeding
Asystasia mysorensis is common in its area of distribution and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Asystasia mysorensis will remain a minor vegetable of local importance.
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• Sri Endreswari, 2003. Asystasia Blume. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(3). Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 86–88.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Asystasia mysorensis (Roth) T.Anderson In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.