Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Hook., Niger Fl.: 518 (1849).
Pouzolzia abyssinica (A.Rich.) Blume (1856), Pouzolzia dewevrei De Wild. ex Th.Dur. (1900), Pouzolzia golungensis Hiern (1900).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pouzolzia guineensis is distributed from Senegal south to Angola and east to Ethiopia and Tanzania.
In DR Congo the leaves are eaten as a cooked vegetable. Medicinal use of the leaves in DR Congo comprises wound healing and curing stomach-ache. In Côte d’Ivoire asthma is treated with a mixture of leaves kneaded with kaolin, leaf sap is taken to treat diarrhoea and dysentery, and a leaf decoction is given by draught against vomiting during pregnancy. A decoction of the whole plant is taken as an aphrodisiac.
A trace of alkaloid has been reported in the leaf, but otherwise no phytochemical information is available on Pouzolzia guineensis or other species of the genus.
Annual or short-lived perennial herb 1(–2) m tall, branched. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules free, up to 7 mm × 1 mm; petiole up to 3(–5) cm long; blade lanceolate to ovate, 1.5–9.5 cm × 0.5–3.5 cm, base cuneate, truncate or rounded, apex acuminate, margin entire, with 4–5 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary glomerule consisting of 1–2(–3) female flowers and a variable number of male flowers. Flowers unisexual, regular, small; male flowers on c. 0.5 mm long pedicel, 4(–5)-merous, perianth globular, c. 1 mm in diameter; female flowers sessile, ovary superior, ovoid, enclosed in the perianth, stigma protruding. Fruit a compressed achene c. 2 mm long, surrounded by the persistent perianth.
Pouzolzia comprises about 50 species in the Old World tropics; it is in need of a thorough revision. Pouzolzia guineensis is variable and 2 different forms are recognized throughout its range. As transitional specimens exist, formal taxonomic recognition is not justified.
Pouzolzia guineensis is found in moist wooded grassland, often in the shade of trees, in riverine forest and disturbed areas, e.g. roadsides, fallow and cultivated fields, at 600–1300 m altitude. It is a considered a weed of especially tree crops (e.g. cacao, cola) and is a host of the cotton stainer, Dysdercus superstitiosus, a pest of cotton, rice and peanuts.
Genetic resources and breeding
In view of its wide distribution Pouzolzia guineensis is not in danger of genetic erosion.
As a vegetable Pouzolzia guineensis will remain popular locally. The lack of interest in Pouzolzia guineensis and other representatives of the genus from pharmacologists is surprising, as medicinal use is common both in Africa and Asia. A taxonomic revision of the genus might help as a basis for sound pharmacological work in the future.
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Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Pouzolzia guineensis Benth. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.