Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Myrianthemum mirabile Gilg (1897).
Origin and geographic distribution
Medinilla mirabilis is found in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon.
In Gabon the young leaves of Medinilla mirabilis are collected from the wild and eaten as a cooked vegetable, often with fish or meat, giving it an acidulous taste. Heated leaves are applied to cicatrize wounds. The leaves mixed with melegueta pepper (Aframomum melegueta K.Schum.) serve as a cough medicine.
Climbing shrub or liana, with rounded, glabrous, often purplish stem up to 10 m long. Leaves usually arranged in whorls of 4, simple, slightly leathery, young leaves wine red; petiole up to 2 cm long; blade obovate-elliptical, 15–30 cm × 5–15 cm, base rounded, apex rounded or acuminate, margin entire or sparsely and obscurely toothed, 3–5-veined, with transverse veinlets. Inflorescence a cyme arranged in dense clusters at the nodes of woody stem near ground level. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4-merous; pedicel slender, 3–5 cm long; hypanthium globular-ellipsoid, c. 4.5 mm long; calyx campanulate, with short lobes or teeth; petals free, ovate to orbicular, c. 7 mm × 3 mm, slightly fleshy, pink to purplish; stamens 8, arranged in 2 whorls of 4, unequal, anthers with 2–3-lobed appendix at base, opening by an apical pore; ovary inferior, completely connate with hypanthium, many-celled, style slightly curved, c. 7 mm long, stigma flattened. Fruit an urceolate false berry up to 1.5 cm long, dark purple, many-seeded. Seeds wedge-shaped, c. 1 mm long.
Medinilla comprises about 400 species, the majority of which are found in tropical Asia. In mainland Africa only 3 species occur, but in Madagascar about 70.
Medinilla mirabilis is restricted to rainforest. It is fairly common in Cameroon and Gabon, less common in Nigeria, from sea-level up to 700 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Medinilla mirabilis is not widespread and liable to genetic erosion with progressive deforestation.
Medinilla mirabilis will remain a minor wild vegetable. Research is needed on its nutritional and medicinal properties for a reliable evaluation. Medinilla mirabilis is a peculiar, beautiful liana with potential for use as an ornamental.
• 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.
• Jacques-Félix, H., 1983. Mélastomatacées (Melastomataceae). Flore du Cameroun. Volume 24. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 192 pp.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1954. Melastomataceae. 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. 245–263.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Medinilla mirabilis (Gilg) Jacq.-Fél. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.