Prota 1: Cereals and pulses/Céréales et légumes secs
Journ. As. Soc. Beng. 16: 1163 (1847).
n = 9
Limeum indicum Stocks ex T.Anderson (1861).
Origin and geographic distribution
Limeum obovatum is distributed in the desert regions of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Eritrea and through northern Africa and Arabia to Pakistan.
In Tibesti (northern Chad) the seeds of Limeum obovatum are collected as food. They are a famine food for the Touareg in the Hoggar Mountains in southern Algeria. In Kordofan (Sudan) the plant in all growth stages is reportedly grazed by livestock, especially sheep. In Chad the plant is used for the treatment of burns.
Annual or short-lived perennial, glandular-pubescent herb; stems prostrate, up to 40 cm long, pale brown, strongly branched. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole up to 5 mm long; blade orbicular to obovate or elliptical, up to 12 mm × 10 mm, cuneate at base, rounded at apex. Inflorescence an apparently axillary cyme up to 5 mm across. Flowers bisexual, regular, small, green; sepals 5, ovate, c. 2.5 mm long, acuminate; petals absent; stamens 7, inserted on a disk; ovary superior, 2-celled, styles 2. Fruit splitting into 2 mericarps; mericarp indehiscent, hemispherical, smooth, pale brown, 1-seeded.
Limeum comprises about 20 species and is distributed in the Old World tropics, with the centre of distribution in south-western Africa. Limeum is sometimes included in the family Aizoaceae and occasionally in Phytolaccaceae.
Limeum obovatum occurs on dry sandy soils, often in dry riverbeds. In Eritrea it is found in sandy locations on coastal plains.
Genetic resources and breeding
It is unlikely that Limeum obovatum is threatened by genetic erosion in the light of its wide occurrence and habitat conditions.
Limeum obovatum seems to be a useful wild source of food and fodder in desert regions. However, research on the nutritional and chemical properties of the seeds is needed.
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• Gast, M., 2000. Moissons du désert: utilisation des ressources naturelles en période de famine au Sahara central. Ibi Press, Paris, France. 160 pp.
• Gilbert, M.G., 2000. Molluginaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse, Demissew Sebsebe & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 1. Magnoliaceae to Flacourtiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 229–237.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1954. Molluginaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 133–135.
• Ozenda, P., 1977. Flore du Sahara. Deuxième édition. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France. 622 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2006. Limeum obovatum Vicary In: Brink, M. & Belay, G. (Editors). PROTA 1: Cereals and pulses/Céréales et légumes secs. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.