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Ipomoea eriocarpa R.Br.

Prodr.: 484 (1810).
Chromosome number
2n = 30
Ipomoea hispida (Vahl) Roem. & Schult. (1819) non Zuccagni, Ipomoea sessiliflora Roth ex Roem. & Schult. (1819).
Vernacular names
Lagaço cozinho, legação cabecinho (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ipomoea eriocarpa is widespread in tropical Africa including Madagascar, extending to South Africa and Egypt, and occurs also in tropical Asia and northern Australia. In northern Nigeria it is occasionally cultivated; in India it is cultivated on a larger scale for fodder.
The leaves of Ipomoea eriocarpa are eaten in Africa and India as a cooked vegetable, in soups or mixed with other food. In Uganda a root decoction is used to speed up fermentation in the preparation of a local drink called ‘kwete’; the roots can be found on local markets. In India the seeds are eaten. The plant is a good fodder and in India it is cultivated for this purpose. It is also an effective soil binder and cover plant, which smothers weeds. In Uganda a root decoction is drunk by women to relieve menstrual pain. In India an oil extract of the plant is used externally against headache, rheumatism, leprosy, epilepsy, ulcers and fever. In veterinary medicine the oil extract is used to cure wounds of cattle.
At the flowering stage, fodder of Ipomoea eriocarpa in India contains per 100 g: water 16 g, protein 16 g, carbohydrate 35 g and fibre 21g. The fodder is said to be as valuable as sunnhemp (Crotalaria juncea L.). The seeds contain per 100 g: protein 22 g, fat 10 g, carbohydrate 44 g, but an irritant purgative resin is also present.
Annual herb with twining or prostrate stems, pubescent or hispid with long and short hairs. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole 1–6 cm long; blade ovate-cordate to linear-oblong, 2–10 cm × 1–7 cm, base usually slightly hastate with rounded lobes, apex acuminate to obtuse, margin entire and pilose-strigose. Inflorescence an axillary (1–)3–many -flowered cyme, bracteate; peduncle up to 1.5 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel c. 0.5 cm long; sepals ovate, up to 9 mm × 4 mm, hispid-pilose, spreading in fruit; corolla tubular to funnel-shaped, up to 1 cm long, slightly lobed, purple, pink or white with a purple centre, with 5 hairy bands outside; stamens inserted near base of corolla tube; ovary superior, long-hairy, 2-celled, style filiform, c. 4 mm long, stigma with 2 globular lobes. Fruit a globose to ovoid capsule c. 6 mm long, hairy, apiculate, opening with 4 valves, up to 4-seeded. Seeds ovoid, c. 5 mm × 3.5 mm, black, finely punctate, glabrous.
Ipomoea comprises about 500 species and mainly occurs in the tropics.
Ipomoea eriocarpa occurs in savanna woodland, grassland, and as a weed on cultivated ground, from sea-level up to 1800 m altitude. In Uganda it occurs in areas with an annual rainfall of 1000–1500 mm, but it is said to be hardy and drought resistant. It can be found on alluvial and sandy soils. In Benin it is a common weed in cotton and sorghum, but absent in yam fields.
In Africa Ipomoea eriocarpa leaves and roots are collected from the wild whenever needed. Dried leaves can also be stored. Propagation is possible by seed and cuttings.
Genetic resources and breeding
Ipomoea eriocarpa is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Ipomoea eriocarpa will remain a minor vegetable, with interesting properties as fodder and a medicinal plant, meriting more research in Africa.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Gonçalves, M.L., 1987. Convolvulaceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 8, part 1. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 9–129.
• Katende, A.B., Ssegawa, P. & Birnie, A., 1999. Wild food plants and mushrooms of Uganda. Technical Handbook No 19. Regional Land Management Unit/SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 490 pp.
• Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.
• Williamson, J., 1955. Useful plants of Nyasaland. The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland. 168 pp. (Reprint: Williamson, J., 1975. Useful plants of Malawi. University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi).
Other references
• Deroin, T., 2001. Convolvulaceae. Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, familles 133 bis et 171. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 11–287.
• Verdcourt, B., 1963. Convolvulaceae. In: Hubbard, C.E. & Milne-Redhead, E. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 161 pp.
P.C.M. Jansen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

G.J.H. Grubben
Prins Hendriklaan 24, 1401 AT Bussum, Netherlands
O.A. Denton
National Horticultural Research Institute, P.M.B. 5432, Idi-Ishin, Ibadan, Nigeria
Associate Editors
C.-M. Messiaen
Bat. B 3, Résidence La Guirlande, 75, rue de Fontcarrade, 34070 Montpellier, France
R.R. Schippers
De Boeier 7, 3742 GD Baarn, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Ipomoea eriocarpa R.Br. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.