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Ludwigia erecta (L.) H.Hara

Family
Onagraceae
Chromosome number
2n = 16
Synonyms
Jussiaea erecta L. (1753).
Vernacular names
Yerba de jicotea (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ludwigia erecta is native to tropical America and has been introduced in Africa, where it is widespread at present, from Mauritania east to Ethiopia and Somalia, and south to Angola and Mozambique; also in Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius.
Uses
In Somalia the leaves are cooked to make a sauce for maize and porridge. In Tanzania the leaves are occasionally eaten as a cooked vegetable. In DR Congo Ludwigia erecta is sometimes used as a forage. In Kenya a bath made with boiled Ludwigia erecta plants is given to relieve fever caused by malaria.
Botany
Erect annual herb up to 3 m tall, sometimes woody at base, much-branched, glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole up to 1.5 cm long; blade lanceolate or elliptical, 2–13 cm × 0.5–4.5 cm, cuneate at base, acute to acuminate at apex, pale green or reddish, lateral veins 16–27 on each side of the midrib. Flowers solitary in upper leaf axils, bisexual, regular, 4 -merous; sepals lanceolate, 2–6 mm × 1–1.5 mm; petals elliptical to obovate, 3–5 mm × 2–2.5 mm, golden yellow; stamens 8, c. 1 mm long; disk not prominent, with 4 nectaries; ovary inferior, long-cylindrical, 4-celled, style short, stigma globose. Fruit an elongate, 4-angled capsule 1–2 cm × 2–4 mm, crowned by the persistent sepals, irregularly dehiscent, many-seeded. Seeds oblong -ellipsoid, c. 0.5 mm long, pale brown.
Ludwigia comprises about 75 species, most of them in tropical America, and a dozen in Africa. In Madagascar young shoots of Ludwigia adscendens (L.) H.Hara are eaten in salads, but on mainland Africa this species is more important as forage.
Ecology
Ludwigia erecta grows on river banks and other wet localities, as well as on moist wasteland, up to 1200 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Ludwigia erecta is widespread and a locally common weed, and thus not liable to genetic erosion.
Prospects
Ludwigia erecta will remain a vegetable of minor importance. 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.
• Ramamoorthy, T.P. & Zardini, E.M., 1987. The systematics and evolution of Ludwigia sect. Myrtocarpus sensu lato (Onagraceae). Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 19: 1–120.
• Thulin, M., 1993. Onagraceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 1. Pteridophyta; Gymnospermae; Angiospermae (Annonaceae-Fabaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. pp. 199–200.
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.
• 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.
• Raynal, A., 1966. Onagraceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 5. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 87–128.
• Taton, A., 1967. Onagraceae. In: Flore du Congo, du Ruanda et du Burundi. Spermatophytes. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium. 25 pp.
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 erecta (L.) H.Hara In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.