Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Öst. Bot. Zeitschr. 25: 231 (1875).
Hedyotis pentandra Schumach. & Thonn. (1827), Oldenlandia macrophylla DC. (1830), Oldenlandia pentandra (Schumach. & Thonn.) DC. (1830).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pentodon pentandrus is widespread all over tropical Africa and has been introduced in the southern United States, Cuba, Nicaragua and Brazil. In the United States it has become a weed known as Hale’s pentodon.
The leaves and young shoots of Pentodon pentandrus are reportedly eaten as a vegetable in Ghana and Kenya. The plant is grazed by domestic stock. A decoction of the plant is used internally and externally to promote lactation of nursing mothers. In Sierra Leone ground -up leaves mixed with oil are rubbed onto the body against fever, in Ghana against rheumatism and in Nigeria against headache. Leaf sap is instilled in the eyes to cure conjunctivitis. In East Africa an infusion of the roots is drunk to alleviate the pain of a swollen spleen.
Annual or short-lived perennial herb with slender rootstock and decumbent to erect stem up to 90 cm long. Leaves opposite, simple, sessile; stipules with short sheath, fringed; blade elliptical to linear-lanceolate, 1.5–8 cm × 0.5–2.5 cm. Inflorescence apparently axillary and verticillate with widely spaced nodes each bearing 1–4 flowers, up to 9 cm long; peduncle up to 6.5 cm long. Flowers bisexual, small, regular, 5-merous, heterostylous; pedicel up to 1.5 cm long, spreading; calyx tubular with triangular lobes c. 1 mm long; corolla tubular with hairy throat and ovate-triangular lobes 1–3 mm long, white, pink, blue or mauve; stamens inserted at throat or base of corolla tube; ovary inferior, 2-celled, style slender, c. 1 mm or 2–3.5 mm long, stigma 2 -lobed. Fruit a capsule 2–4 mm long, crowned by the persistent calyx lobes, many-seeded. Seeds angular, small, black.
Pentodon pentandrus grows in swamps, lake and river shores and on seasonally wet grounds, from sea-level up to 2250 m altitude.
Pentodon pentandrus is only collected from the wild and is not cultivated.
Genetic resources and breeding
Pentodon pentandrus is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Pentodon pentandrus will remain a minor vegetable, always nearby in wetter locations. Its nutritional and medicinal value merit research.
• 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.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Verdcourt, B., 1976. Rubiaceae (part 1). In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 414 pp.
• Verdcourt, B., 1989. Rubiaceae (Rubioideae). In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 5, part 1. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. 210 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Pentodon pentandrus (Schumach. & Thonn.) Vatke In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.