Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Bothalia 8: 41(1962).
Corallocarpus sphaerocarpus Cogn. (1888).
Origin and geographic distribution
Corallocarpus bainesii is a native of Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Records for Madagascar and the Comores are erroneous and relate to Corallocarpus poissonii Cogn.
The leaves and stems are eaten as a salad and as a palatable but stringy cooked vegetable by bushmen and other tribes in South Africa. The raw fruits are sweet and edible when ripe.
There are no records on the leaf composition, but likely it is comparable to other dark green leaf vegetables. The roots are bitter and not eaten although those of closely related species are edible. The roots contain considerable amounts of cucurbitacin B, smaller amounts of cucurbitacin D and traces of cucurbitacin G and H. Cucurbitacins, which are known from many Cucurbitaceae and various other plant species, exhibit cytotoxicity (including antitumour activity) and anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities.
Monoecious, perennial prostrate or scandent herb; older stems with smooth, brown, ridged bark; tendrils simple. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole 1.7–5.4 cm long; blade ovate, deeply palmately 5-lobed, deeply cordate at base, lobes broadly ovate to narrowly elliptical. Inflorescence a congested cluster, shortly racemose in male inflorescence, many-flowered. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous, with 1 mm long receptacle, sepals lanceolate, 1 mm long, petals c. 1.5 mm long; male flowers with pedicels 1.5–4.5 mm long, stamens 5; female flowers sessile, with inferior, 1-celled ovary, smooth, glabrous. Fruit a sessile, shortly ellipsoid capsule 8–9 mm × 6–6.5 mm, in a cluster, bright red, c. 6-seeded. Seeds ovoid or pyriform, up to 4.5 mm × 3 mm × 2.5 mm, smooth or verruculose.
Corallocarpus comprises about 10 species and is placed in the tribe Melothrieae. The genera Corallocarpus and Kedrostis are closely related. Corallocarpus welwitschii (Naud.) Hook.f. ex Welw. closely resembles Corallocarpus bainesii but the former has stalked fruits with an acute apex, and its roots are edible. They are further separated by their distinct ecological requirements.
Corallocarpus bainesii occurs in deciduous woodland and bushland at altitudes of 350–1550 m. In Namibia and Botswana it is restricted to arid sandy areas and is replaced in the remainder of these countries by Corallocarpus welwitschii.
Corallocarpus bainesii is exclusively collected from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although fairly limited in distribution, no major threats of Corallocarpus bainesii have been identified.
Corallocarpus bainesii will remain of local importance only.
• Jeffrey, C., 1978. Cucurbitaceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 4. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 414–499.
• Meeuse, A.D.J., 1962. The Cucurbitaceae of southern Africa. Bothalia 8(1): 1–112.
• SEPASAL, 2003. Corallocarpus bainesii (Hook.f.) A.Meeuse [Internet] Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) database. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ceb/sepasal/internet/. Accessed 4 March 2003.
• Story, R., 1958. Some plants used by the bushmen in obtaining food and water. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No. 30. 113 pp.
• Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd Edition. E. and S. Livingstone, London, United Kingdom. 1457 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Corallocarpus bainesii (Hook.f.) A.Meeuse In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.