Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
2n = 16
Jussiaea erecta L. (1753).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ludwigia erecta will remain a vegetable of minor importance. 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 erecta (L.) H.Hara In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.