Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Tent. fl. abyss. 1: 18 (1847).
2n = 32
Hairy bittercress (En). Cressonnette (Fr). Kisegeju (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Cardamine trichocarpa is found in mountainous areas of central and eastern Africa, from Cameroon and Angola to Ethiopia and Tanzania. It is also found in Madagascar and India.
In Uganda, eastern DR Congo and Tanzania, the leaves of Cardamine trichocarpa are collected from the wild, wilted, chopped, boiled and eaten as a vegetable, alone with a staple food or in a mixture with beans or peas. They are also used as fodder for goats and rabbits. In Uganda this vegetable is considered useful to treat kwashiorkor. The crushed leaves are used as a dressing on wounds for 2–3 days to improve healing, and they also make a good herbal bath for babies.
Erect or ascending, annual herb up to 50 cm tall; stem unbranched or profusely branched from the base. Leaves alternate, in outline oblong, up to 15 cm long, imparipinnate with 3–11 leaflets, bearing rather stiff hairs; leaflets ovate, up to 5 cm long with stalks up to 1 cm long, lowest pairs smallest, apex acute, margin serrate to crenate. Inflorescence usually a terminal, densely flowered, stalked raceme up to 20 cm long in fruit. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4-merous, small, greenish, often cleistogamous; pedicel in fruit up to 7 mm long; sepals oblong, up to 2 mm long, with scattered hairs; petals white, shorter than sepals or absent; stamens 4; ovary superior, 2-celled, cylindrical, stigma sessile. Fruit a linear silique up to 2.5 cm × 1.5 mm, with scattered hairs. Seeds broadly oblong in outline, c. 1.5 mm × 1 mm, red-brown, minutely rugose.
Cardamine comprises about 130 species in subarctic, temperate and montane tropical areas all over the world, most abundantly in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in moist localities. In Africa 4 species occur. The leaves of Cardamine hirsuta L. (smaller than Cardamine trichocarpa with petals longer than sepals and glabrous fruits, originating from Europe but occurring in Africa in the same areas as Cardamine trichocarpa) are used as a vegetable in Europe and possibly also in Africa. In Cameroon they are boiled in soup and said to have stomachic properties.
Cardamine trichocarpa occurs in open, somewhat moist localities and along roadsides, in mountainous areas at 700–3100 m altitude. It is increasingly spreading as a weed, also at lower altitudes, and is particularly noxious in rice fields. In Uganda and Tanzania average annual rainfall in areas where it grows is 1200–1800 mm.
Genetic resources and breeding
Cardamine trichocarpa is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Although several wild Cardamine species are locally popular leafy vegetables in Europe, it is expected that in Africa Cardamine trichocarpa will remain a minor vegetable only of some local importance in mountainous areas.
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Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Cardamine trichocarpa Hochst. ex A.Rich. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.