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Oxygonum atriplicifolium (Meisn.) Martelli

Fl. bogos.: 69 (1886).
Ceratogonum atriplicifolium Meisn. (1832), Oxygonum somalense Chiov. (1916), Oxygonum fagopyroides Peter (1932).
Origin and geographic distribution
Oxygonum atriplicifolium occurs in eastern Africa from Egypt and Ethiopia to Mozambique, and in Madagascar.
In Malawi the leaves of Oxygonum atriplicifolium are cooked with potashes, resulting in a slimy vegetable. In eastern Africa macerated leaves are used as a dressing for abscesses and wounds and leaf juice is swallowed as a cure for cough.
Slender, much branched, straggling and trailing herb with weak stems up to over 1 m long. Leaves alternate, simple; ocrea cylindrical, 1 cm long, pale brown, membranous, bearing a terminal fringe of long hairs; petiole 1–1.5 cm long; blade deltoid to lanceolate, 2–3 cm × 1.5–2 cm, base truncate to cuneate, apex very acute and sometimes aristate, margin entire or slightly uneven but not deeply lobed. Inflorescence a spike-like, slender raceme up to 30 cm long. Flowers bisexual or male, white or greenish, strongly heterostylous; pedicel filiform, longest in bisexual flowers; bisexual flowers with 6 linear to ovate tepals 1.5 mm long, inner 3 ones petaloid, styles 3, 2 mm long and connate in lower part; male flowers with 5 narrowly oblong tepals. Fruit a fusiform nut 5–7 mm long, pendulous, glabrous or pubescent, bearing 3 spreading prickles 1 mm long at the centre or slightly below.
Oxygonum comprises about 30 species and is confined to tropical Africa, South Africa and Madagascar.
Oxygonum atriplicifolium grows under hedges, in cultivated and waste places, from sea-level up to 2000 m altitude.
Oxygonum atriplicifolium is collected from the wild and is not cultivated.
Genetic resources and breeding
Oxygonum atriplicifolium is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Oxygonum atriplicifolium will remain a minor vegetable and medicinal plant, only locally of some importance.
Major references
• Graham, R.A., 1957. A revision of Oxygonum (Polygonaceae – Polygoneae). Kew Bulletin 12: 145–172.
• Graham, R.A., 1958. Polygonaceae. In: Turrill, W.B. & Milne-Redhead, E. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 40 pp.
• Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd Edition. E. and S. Livingstone, London, United Kingdom. 1457 pp.
• 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).
Other references
• Hedberg, O., 2000. Polygonaceae. 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. 336–347.
• Jansen, P.C.M., 1981. Spices, condiments and medicinal plants in Ethiopia, their taxonomy and agricultural significance. Agricultural Research Reports 906. Centre for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation, Wageningen, Netherlands. 327 pp.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Thulin, M., 1993. Polygonaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 1. Pteridophyta; Gymnospermae; Angiospermae (Annonaceae-Fabaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. pp. 175–179.
P.C.M. Jansen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

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:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Oxygonum atriplicifolium (Meisn.) Martelli In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.