Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
n = 12
Origin and geographic distribution
Dinophora spenneroides occurs from Guinea to Angola, DR Congo and Rwanda.
In Gabon and DR Congo the leaves of Dinophora spenneroides are collected from the wild and eaten as a substitute for Hibiscus sabdariffa L. The taste is acidulous. The fruit contains some sweet pulp which is eaten by children in Gabon. A leaf decoction is recommended for stomach problems, dysentery and haemorrhoids. In Gabon heated leaves are applied to ulcers and sprains, and eaten to treat stomach-ache. A leaf infusion is used against cough, loss of voice and laryngitis, and powdered leaves are applied to sores and wounds.
Spreading shrub up to 4 m tall, with slender branches, quadrangular when young, later becoming terete, glabrescent. Leaves opposite, simple, those of the same pair usually unequal in size; stipules absent; petiole 1–10 cm long; blade ovate-oblong to lanceolate, 5–22 cm × 1.5–8 cm, base usually rounded-cordate, apex acuminate, margin serrate with mucronate teeth, densely short-pubescent above, glabrous below, with 5–7 prominent ascending veins and parallel transversal veinlets. Inflorescence a terminal, lax, hanging panicle up to 20 cm × 27 cm, consisting of cymes. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 0.5–1.5 cm long, gradually enlarging into an obconical hypanthium; calyx tubular, 4–5 mm long, fleshy, with small teeth; petals ovate, c. 1 cm long, fleshy, pink or white; stamens 10, arranged in 2 whorls, filaments curved, anthers with a 2-lobed appendix at base, opening by an apical pore; ovary inferior, connate with hypanthium, many-celled, style sigmoid, thickened above, c. 1 cm long, ending in a small circular stigma. Fruit an ellipsoid to globose false berry c. 1.5 cm long, whitish, many -seeded. Seeds shell-shaped, c. 1 mm long.
Dinophora comprises a single species.
Dinophora spenneroides occurs in forest undergrowth, preferring more open locations, e.g. along paths and on former cultivation sites, from sea-level up to 2000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Dinophora spenneroides is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Dinophora spenneroides will remain a minor leaf vegetable of only local importance. Its nutritional and medicinal properties deserve investigation.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Jacques-Félix, H., 1983. Mélastomatacées (Melastomataceae). Flore du Cameroun. Volume 24. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 192 pp.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1954. Melastomataceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 245–263.
• Troupin, G., 1982. Flore des plantes ligneuses du Rwanda. Publication No 21. Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Butare, République Rwandaise. 747 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Dinophora spenneroides Benth. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.