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Halopegia azurea (K.Schum.) K.Schum.

Engl., Pflanzenr. IV, 48: 50 (1902).
Origin and geographic distribution
Halopegia azurea is distributed from Sierra Leone to DR Congo and Cabinda (Angola).
The leaves are widely used for thatching and food wrapping. In Nigeria they are also used as plates and for covering the bottom of baskets when carrying fruit. In Cameroon the leaves are used as cushion under sleeping mats, and to make a range of articles such as containers, plates, cups, pots, fans and parasols. The ash is sometimes used for making salt.
Production and international trade
Bunches of leaves to be used for food wrapping were sold at prices ranging from US$ 0.04 to US$ 0.66 in markets of various towns in DR Congo in 2006.
Tests for the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, quinones, tannins and terpenes gave negative results.
Perennial herb with rhizome; stems short, bearing an inflorescence and a single subtending leaf, other leaves arising directly from the rhizome. Leaves imbricate, up to 1.5(–2) m long; petiole sheathing in the lower half, calloused just below the blade, up to 1 m long or more, apical calloused part 3–5 cm long, sheathed part hairy; blade linear-oblong, up to 50 cm × 15 cm, base attenuate to rounded, apex acuminate, upper surface dull green, lower surface whitish, sometimes reddish, veins parallel and numerous. Inflorescence spike-like, simple or bifurcate, shorter than leaves, up to 25 cm long; axes with internodes 15–20 mm long and nodes with distichous, abaxial bracts 25–50 mm long, each subtending 2 cymules; cymules 2-flowered, subtended by an adaxial bract; peduncle of cymule c. 3 mm long. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic; 1 flower in each cymule sessile, the other with a winged pedicel 8 mm long, bracteole absent; sepals 2, unequal, 3 and 10 mm long respectively, white; corolla with a short tube at the base and 3 lobes, 20 mm long, blue; staminodes and stamen in 2 cycles, at the base forming a tube fused to the corolla tube, outer cycle consisting of petaloid, blue staminodes c. 25 mm long, inner cycle consisting of 2 smaller staminodes and 1 stamen; ovary inferior, silky, 3-locular. Fruit cylindrical, 11–12 mm × 3–4 mm, red, with persisting calyx, 1-seeded. Seeds elongated, c. 10 mm long, with an aril.
Halopegia comprises 3 species, of which 1 occurs in mainland Africa, 1 in Madagascar, and 1 in South-East Asia.
Halopegia azurea is autogamous. The fruits are probably dispersed by water. Natural reproduction is through seed and rhizomes.
Halopegia azurea occurs from sea level up to 900 m altitude in marshy places by streams in forest.
It is not known whether Halopegia azurea is sometimes planted or only collected from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
In view of its wide distribution, Halopegia azurea seems not in danger of genetic erosion.
The size of the leaves and the absence of active compounds make the leaves suitable for food wrapping. In addition, Halopegia azurea is a useful local source of material for thatching. The species may have potential for cultivation, and research on propagation and management practices seems worthwhile.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Hattori, S., 2006. Utilization of Marantaceae plants by the Baka hunter-gatherers in southeastern Cameroon. African Study Monographs, Supplement 33: 29–48.
• Hepper, F.N., 1968. Marantaceae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 3, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 79–89.
• Koechlin, J., 1965. Marantaceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 4. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 99–157.
• Ley, A.C., 2008. Evolutionary tendencies in African Marantaceae - evidence from floral morphology, ecology and phylogeny. PhD thesis, Johannes Gutenberg Universität, Mainz, Germany. 187 pp.
Other references
• Abbiw, D.K., 1990. Useful plants of Ghana: West African uses of wild and cultivated plants. Intermediate Technology Publications, London and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 337 pp.
• Borchsenius, F. & Suksathan, P., 2005. Nomenclatural synopsis of Marantaceae in Thailand. Taxon 54(8): 1083–1090.
• Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
• Hawthorne, W. & Jongkind, C., 2006. Woody plants of western African forests: a guide to the forest trees, shrubs and lianes from Senegal to Ghana. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 1023 pp.
• Letouzey, R., 1982. Manuel de botanique forestière - Afrique tropicale. Tome 2A: Familles (première partie). Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent sur Marne, France. 210 pp.
• Ley, A.C. & Claβen-Bockhoff, R., 2009. Pollination syndromes in African Marantaceae. Annals of Botany 104: 41–56.
• Lubini, A., 1994. Utilisation de plantes par les Yansi del’entre Kwilu-Kasai (Zaire). In: Seyani, J.H. & Chikuni, A.C. (Editors). Proceedings of the 13th plenary meeting of AETFAT, Zomba, Malawi. Volume 1. National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi. pp. 53–74.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Toirambe Bamoninga, B., 2007. Analyse de l’état des lieux du secteur des produits forestiers non ligneux et évaluation de leur contribution à la sécurité alimentaire en République Démocratique du Congo. Projet GCP/RAF/398/GER, Renforcement de la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique Centrale à travers la gestion et l’utilisation durable des Produits Forestiers Non Ligneux. 76 pp.
M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
E.G. Achigan Dako
PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya

Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2010. Halopegia azurea (K.Schum.) K.Schum. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild