Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Peters, Naturw. Reise Mossambique Vol. 6, Botanik 2: 398, 406 (1864).
Nidorella resedifolia DC. subsp. microcephala (Steetz) Wild (1969).
Origin and geographic distribution
Nidorella microcephala is found in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.
In Malawi the leaves are locally eaten as a vegetable. Availability extends well into the dry season.
Erect, annual herb up to 150 cm tall; stem solitary, rarely branched from the base. Leaves alternate, simple, sessile; blade obovate or spatulate, 2–14 cm × 1–6 cm, gradually narrowed and auriculate at base, apex rounded, sometimes mucronate, margins crenate-dentate in wider part of blade. Inflorescence a head 1.5–2 mm long, arranged in a lax leafy corymb consisting of subglobose cymes of many heads. Flowers bright yellow, ray flowers 35–45, disk flowers 4–9. Fruit an ellipsoid, slightly flattened achene c. 0.5 mm long; pappus up to 1 mm long.
Nidorella comprises about 15 species and is restricted to eastern and southern Africa. Some species have medicinal uses. Nidorella resedifolia DC. is very similar to Nidorella microcephala, but has larger heads and flowers, and is found at higher altitudes. Mtonia glandulifera Beentje superficially resembles Nidorella microcephala and occurs in similar habitats; the lack of pappus and the larger number of disk flowers distinguish it.
Nidorella microcephala is found in riverine habitats on sand or clay, as well as in roadside ditches and as a weed in gardens, at 300–1800 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
As Nidorella microcephala is widespread, obviously not uncommon and not much sought after, no threat of genetic erosion is envisaged.
Little is known about Nidorella microcephala and its use as a vegetable will probably remain unimportant.
• Beentje, H.J., 2002. Compositae (part 2). In: Beentje, H.J. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. pp. 315–546.
• Williamson, J., 1955. Useful plants of Nyasaland. The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland. 168 pp. (Reprint: Williamson, J., 1975. Useful plants of Malawi. University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi).
• Beentje, H.J., 1999. A new genus and some new species of Compositae from East tropical Africa. Kew Bulletin 54(1): 97–102.
• Wild, H., 1969. The genus Nidorella Cass. Boletim Sociedade Broteriana Série 2, 43: 109–246.
Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Nidorella microcephala Steetz In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.