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Ludwigia abyssinica A.Rich.

Family
Onagraceae
Chromosome number
n = 24
Synonyms
Jussiaea abyssinica (A.Rich.) Dandy & Brenan (1950).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ludwigia abyssinica is widespread in Africa, occurring from Guinea east to Ethiopia, and south to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa (Natal); also in Madagascar.
Uses
In DR Congo and Malawi the leaves are collected from the wild and eaten as a cooked vegetable. In Sudan and DR Congo the plant is used for the production of vegetable salt. The leaves are used in DR Congo for dressing wounds and eaten to treat abdominal pains. In East Africa a root decoction is used to treat liver diseases and intestinal worm infestations in children. The leaf sap is taken orally to prevent abortion. Cooked leaves and stems provide a black liquid that is used for dyeing straw and fibres.
Botany
Stout, slightly succulent, erect or straggling herb up to 3 m tall, sometimes woody at base, much-branched, almost glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole up to 2 cm long; blade lanceolate or broadly elliptical, 1.5–19 cm × 0.5–4(–6) cm, cuneate at base, acute at apex, pale green above, reddish below, lateral veins 12–22 on each side of the midrib. Inflorescence a short axillary raceme, 2–17-flowered, subtended by reduced leaves. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4-merous; sepals triangular, 1.5–3 mm × 0.5–1 mm; petals nearly circular, 1–3.5 mm × 1–2.5 mm, pale yellow; stamens 4, c. 1 mm long; disk prominent, with 4 nectaries; ovary inferior, long-cylindrical, 4-celled, style short, stigma head-like. Fruit an elongate, terete capsule 1–2 cm × 1–2 mm, crowned by the persistent sepals, irregularly dehiscent, many-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid, 0.5–1 mm long, brown, each embedded in an easily detached horseshoe-shaped piece of endocarp.
Ludwigia comprises about 75 species, most of them in tropical America, and a dozen in Africa.
Ecology
Ludwigia abyssinica grows in swampy localities along lake shores and on river banks, up to 2300 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Ludwigia abyssinica is quite common in its large area of distribution and is not in danger of genetic erosion.
Prospects
Ludwigia abyssinica will remain a minor vegetable. Research on its nutritional and chemical composition is desirable.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Raven, P.H., 1978. Onagraceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 4. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 329–346.
• Taton, A., 1967. Onagraceae. In: Flore du Congo, du Ruanda et du Burundi. Spermatophytes. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium. 25 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
• Bizzarri, M.P., 2000. Onagraceae. 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. 411–419.
• Haerdi, F., 1964. Die Eingeborenen-Heilpflanzen des Ulanga-Distriktes Tanganjikas (Ostafrika). In: Haerdi, F., Kerharo, J. & Adam, J.G. (Editors). Afrikanische Heilpflanzen / Plantes médicinales africaines. Acta Tropica Supplementum 8: 1–278.
• Raynal, A., 1966. Onagraceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 5. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 87–128.
Author(s)
W.J. van der Burg
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
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:
van der Burg, W.J., 2004. Ludwigia abyssinica A.Rich. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.