Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Bonplandia 5(8): 127 (1857).
2n = 26
Lasimorpha afzelii Schott (1858), Cyrtosperma senegalense (Schott) Engl. (1879).
Swamp arum (En). Grand arum du Sénégal, taro des marais, maïs des esprits (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Lasimorpha senegalensis occurs from Senegal to Chad, Central African Republic, DR Congo and Angola. It is not known from East Africa.
The young leaves of Lasimorpha senegalensis are eaten as a vegetable in Gabon; they are collected from the wild. In Sierra Leone the young leaf is eaten as a famine food, and as an ingredient of palaver sauce.
In Congo the leaves are given to women during childbirth to accelerate delivery. In Côte d’Ivoire the leaf sap has been taken orally against hiccups. In Gabon the rhizomes are used to treat ulcers. A decoction is analgesic and sedative. In Congo it is taken as cough cure (one teaspoon), and in larger doses to treat nervousness and agitation. In southern Nigeria the fruits are an ingredient of remedies for gonorrhoea and dysentery. In Sierra Leone and Gabon salt is extracted from the ashes of burnt plants. In some parts of Gabon the leaves are used to wrap dumplings of cassava flour.
Large herb with a short and thick rhizome, vigorously stoloniferous. Leaves in a tuft, simple; petiole erect, spiny, 0.5–1(–2) m long; blade sagittate, 20–50(–100) cm × 15–30(–40) cm, basal lobes acuminate. Inflorescence a cylindrical, purplish spadix up to 12 cm long, enclosed by a spathe up to 45 cm long, spathe greenish outside, whitish with purple streaks inside; peduncle 1–1.5(–2.5) m tall, spiny, solitary, emerging from the leaves. Flowers bisexual, sessile and tightly packed on the spadix, 4(–5)-merous; tepals free; stamens free or connate; ovary superior, 1 -celled. Fruit an irregularly globose berry c. 1.5 cm long, red, 1–4-seeded. Seeds strongly curved, brown, warty.
Lasimorpha comprises a single species and is the only African representative of subfamily Lasioideae consisting of 10 genera. It seems most closely related to Cyrtosperma from Asia.
Lasimorpha senegalensis occurs in swamp forest, along streams, in ditches and ponds, often very abundant.
Genetic resources and breeding
Lasimorpha senegalensis is quite common in swampy areas, where it forms large populations due to its strong development of underground suckers. No collections of genetic resources are known. The species is not in danger of genetic erosion.
Lasimorpha senegalensis does not seem to have great potential as a vegetable. The possibilities for its use as an indoor pot plant in temperate climates or as garden pond ornamental in warmer climates seem promising.
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Correct citation of this article:
van der Burg, W.J., 2004. Lasimorpha senegalensis Schott In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.