Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
n = 24
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ludwigia abyssinica will remain a minor vegetable. Research on its nutritional and chemical composition is desirable.
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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.