Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Ann. Mus. Congo, Bot., sér. 4: 112 (1903).
Ipomoea owariensis P.Beauv. (1816), Lepistemon africanum Oliv. (1878).
Origin and geographic distribution
Lepistemon owariense is widely distributed in tropical Africa, where it occurs in all regions.
In south-eastern Ghana the leaves of Lepistemon owariense are collected from the wild and eaten as a cooked vegetable.
Climbing perennial herb with stem up to 3 m long, covered with appressed yellow-brown bristly hairs. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole up to 15 cm long, hairy; blade cordate-ovate, up to 16 cm × 16 cm, base deeply cordate, apex acute to emarginate, margin entire, shallowly lobed or coarsely dentate, pilose on both surfaces. Inflorescence an axillary, dense, sessile or shortly peduncled, many-flowered cyme. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel up to 2.5 cm long; sepals ovate to elliptical, c. 6 mm × 3.5 mm, usually hairy; corolla urceolate, up to 1.8 cm long, white, constricted at apex of tube, limb shortly lobed, up to 3 cm in diameter; stamens inserted at base of corolla tube, with basal part of filaments dilated into large concave scales arching over the ovary; ovary superior, glabrous to hairy, 2-celled, style very short, stigma 2-lobed. Fruit an ovoid-globose, leathery capsule c. 1.5 cm × 1.2 cm, covered with long yellow bristle-like hairs, indehiscent or bursting irregularly, 4-seeded. Seeds subglobose, c. 5 mm in diameter, grey-black, glabrous, shallowly pitted.
Lepistemon comprises about 10 species and is confined to the Old World tropics, with 2 species in Africa.
Lepistemon owariense occurs in lowland rainforest, riverine forest, thickets, savanna woodland, wasteland and as a weed in cultivated fields, from sea-level up to 1400 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Lepistemon owariense is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Lepistemon owariense will remain a minor vegetable of local use only. Its nutritional composition needs investigation.
• 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.
• 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.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Lepistemon owariense (P.Beauv.) Hallier f. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.