Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Kew Bull. 15: 354 (1962).
Kedrostis hirtella (Naudin) Cogn. (1881).
Origin and geographic distribution
Kedrostis leloja occurs throughout tropical Africa, from Senegal east to Ethiopia and Somalia, and south to South Africa; it is also found in Yemen.
In Tanzania the leaves of Kedrostis leloja are eaten as a vegetable. They are chopped and cooked, and coconut milk or pounded groundnuts are added. The ripe fleshy fruits are eaten raw, especially by children. The plant is used for fodder.
Perennial, monoecious scandent herb, with tuberous rootstock; stem up to 2 m long, with bristly hairs; tendrils simple, sometimes bifid. Leaves alternate, simple; petiole 2–11 cm long; blade broadly ovate in outline, up to 10.5 cm × 13 cm, usually palmately 3–5-lobed, cordate at base, lobes obovate to triangular or elliptical. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous; male flowers in pedunculate racemes, up to 30-flowered, pedicel up to 11 mm long, receptacle c. 3 mm long, sepals lanceolate, up to 5 mm long, petals 3.5–5 mm long, yellowish or greenish, stamens 5; female flowers solitary, shortly pedicellate, ovary inferior, shortly hairy. Fruit a conical to fusiform capsule 5–7.5 cm × 2 cm, more or less truncate at base, orange to scarlet when mature, dehiscing longitudinally. Seeds subglobose, up to 5 mm long, smooth.
Kedrostis is placed in the tribe Melothrieae and is related to Corallocarpus. The name Kedrostis leloja has been frequently misapplied to Kedrostis abdallai A.Zimm., a closely related species known from Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. It is very possible that the uses recorded refer to the latter or both species. Kedrostis abdallai differs in its sparsely hairy stems, fruits tapered towards the base and shorter (1.5–3 mm) petals in male flowers.
Kedrostis leloja occurs in deciduous woodland and bushland, up to 1650 m altitude.
Leaves and fruits of Kedrostis leloja are exclusively collected from the wild, but it can be easily propagated by seed. It is locally considered a weed of arable land.
Genetic resources and breeding
Kedrostis leloja is widely distributed and not in danger of genetic erosion.
The use of Kedrostis leloja is very localized and is likely to continue to be restricted. Research on its phytochemistry and nutritional value are desirable.
• Berhaut, J., 1975. Flore illustrée du Sénégal. Dicotylédones. Volume 3. Connaracées à Euphorbiacées. Gouvernement du Sénégal, Ministère du Développement Rural et de l’Hydraulique, Direction des Eaux et Forêts, Dakar, Senegal. 634 pp.
• Jeffrey, C., 1995. Cucurbitaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 2. Canellaceae to Euphorbiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 17–59.
• Jeffrey, C. & Thulin, M., 1993. Cucurbitaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 1. Pteridophyta; Gymnospermae; Angiospermae (Annonaceae-Fabaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. pp. 216–240.
• 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.
• Jeffrey, C., 1967. Cucurbitaceae. In: Milne-Redhead, E. & Polhill, R.M. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 157 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Kedrostis leloja (Forssk. ex J.F.Gmel.) C.Jeffrey In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.