Prota 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins
Journ. Jap. Bot. 28: 292 (1953).
n = 24
Jussiaea leptocarpa Nutt. (1818), Jussiaea pilosa Kunth (1823), Jussiaea seminuda H.Perrier (1947).
Anglestem primrose willow, hairy primrose willow (En). Jussie (Fr). Cruz de malta (Po). Mniza, mng’iza (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ludwigia leptocarpa originates most probably from the New World, where it occurs from the United States and the West Indies south to Peru and Argentina. In the Old World it is found all over tropical Africa and Madagascar.
The leaves of Ludwigia leptocarpa are collected from the wild and yield a black dye used in East Africa (Pemba, Tanzania) to blacken mats, baskets and bags made of palm leaves. In the Central African Republic the whole plant is burnt to produce a vegetable salt. In traditional medicine in Nigeria an infusion is part of a mixture to treat rheumatism. A leaf infusion has laxative, vermifugal and anti-dysenteric properties. In Nigeria its invasive habit as a colonizer of dried-up stream beds and similar damp locations has been found useful in erosion control.
No research on the components responsible for the black colouring properties of Ludwigia leptocarpa has been published, but the presence of the glycoflavones vitexin, isovitexin, orientin and isoorientin has been reported.
Erect, robust, hairy, annual herb up to 3 m tall, sometimes somewhat woody below, much branched, often submerged and then with erect flowering branches and floating pneumatophores arising from the roots. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; stipules absent or reduced; petiole 0–2 cm long; blade lanceolate, sometimes elliptical, 3–15 cm × 1–4 cm, base cuneate, apex acute to acuminate. Flowers solitary, bisexual, regular, (4–)5(–7)-merous; pedicel c. 2 mm long (in fruit up to 2 cm); sepals triangular, up to 10 mm × 3 mm; petals obovate, up to 11 mm × 8 mm, yellow; stamens usually 10, filaments up to 4 mm long; ovary inferior, 4– 5-celled, style up to 4.5 mm long, stigma head-like, up to 2.5 mm in diameter. Fruit a capsule, cylindrical in lower part, usually 5-angled in upper part, 1.5–5 cm × 2.5–4 mm, long-hairy, slowly dehiscent, brown-purple, many-seeded. Seeds ovoid, c. 1 mm long, pale brown, surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped piece of powdery endocarp which is easily detached and with a narrow white raphe. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Formerly a distinction was made between Jussiaea (stamens twice as numerous as the sepals) and Ludwigia (stamens as many as the sepals), but now Jussiaea is considered synonymous with Ludwigia, comprising about 75 species with 8 species endemic in Africa.
Ludwigia leptocarpa grows in swamps and along rivers, lakes and ponds, from sea-level up to 1900 m altitude. In irrigated rice fields it can become a troublesome weed.
Genetic resources and breeding
Ludwigia leptocarpa is very widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion. In South America its population behaviour and genetics are being studied.
Ludwigia leptocarpa as source of a dye is only locally of some importance. For a better understanding, its dye and medicinal properties need further research.
• 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.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Williams, R.O., 1949. The useful and ornamental plants in Zanzibar and Pemba. Zanzibar, Tanzania. 497 pp.
• Averett, J.E, Zardini, E.M. & Hoch, P.C., 1990. Flavonoid systematics of ten sections of Ludwigia (Onagraceae). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 18(7–8): 529–532.
• Brenan, J.P.M., 1953. Onagraceae. In: Turrill, W.B. & Milne-Redhead, E. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 23 pp.
• Brenan, J.P.M., 1954. Onagraceae. 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. 166–170.
• Isa Ipor, 2001. Ludwigia L. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 355–359.
• Ormond, W.T., Pinheiro, M.C.B., de Castells, A.R.C. & Correia, M.C.R., 1978. Contribuição ao estudo biossistemático e ecológico de Ludwigia leptocarpa (Nutt.) Hara. Rodriguésia 30(45): 345–363.
• Raven, P.H., 1963. The old world species of Ludwigia (including Jussiaea), with a synopsis of the genus (Onagraceae). Reinwardtia 6(4): 327–427.
• 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.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2005. Ludwigia leptocarpa (Nutt.) H.Hara In: Jansen, P.C.M. & Cardon, D. (Editors). PROTA 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.