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Rorippa madagascariensis (DC.) Hara

Journ. Jap. Bot. 30: 197 (1955).
Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
Nasturtium humifusum Guill. & Perr. (1831), Rorippa humifusa (Guill. & Perr.) Hiern (1896).
Vernacular names
Watercress, African cress, Nigerian watercress (En). Cresson, cresson sauvage, cresson du Sénégal (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Rorippa madagascariensis occurs widespread but scattered in tropical Africa, particularly along the west coast from Senegal to northern Namibia, but also in Central (Central African Republic, DR Congo, Burundi), East (Uganda, Tanzania) and southern Africa (Zambia), and in Madagascar.
Rorippa madagascariensis is collected from the wild and eaten raw as a salad in many countries, comparable with the cultivated watercress (Nasturtium officinale R.Br.). It imparts a peppery flavour. It can also be consumed cooked or in soups. It is a good forage for livestock. In Nigeria the leaves are considered to purify the blood.
Annual herb with fine taproot, more or less glabrous, with very short stems. Leaves in a rosette, pinnatipartite, 3–11 cm × 2 cm, petiolate; segments in 4–6 pairs, orbicular to ovate, up to 1.5 cm long, margin crenate to dentate, sometimes lobed, terminal leaflet usually largest; stem leaves absent or few, similar to but smaller than basal leaves. Inflorescence an axillary, densely-flowered raceme, in fruit lax and ascending and up to 9 cm long, usually not reaching above the leaves. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4-merous, small; pedicel 1–3 mm long; sepals elliptical, c. 1 mm long, green to violet; petals very narrow, c. 1 mm long, white; stamens 6, filaments linear; ovary superior, ellipsoid, 2-celled, style very short, stigma flat. Fruit a cylindrical silique 7–15 mm × 1–1.5 mm, dehiscing with 2 valves, many seeded. Seeds orbicular, c. 0.5 mm in diameter, red-brown, finely reticulate.
Rorippa comprises about 75 species and is distributed worldwide. From tropical Africa (Madagascar included) about 8 species are known.
Rorippa madagascariensis can be found in humid localities such as open river banks and edges of pools, sometimes along forest paths. It is mostly confined to the lowland, but may occur up to 1200 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Rorippa madagascariensis is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Rorippa madagascariensis will remain a minor wild vegetable of local importance in times when other vegetables are scarce.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1994. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Families E–I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 636 pp.
• Jonsell, B., 1974. The genus Rorippa (Cruciferae) in tropical Africa and Madagascar. Svensk Botanisk Tidskrift 68: 377–396.
• Jonsell, B., 1980. Cruciferae (Brassicaceae). Flore du Cameroun. Volume 21. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 3–24.
• Jonsell, B., 1982. Cruciferae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. pp. 15–17.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
Other references
• Exell, A.W., 1960. Cruciferae. In: Exell, A.W. & Wild, H. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 1, part 1. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 182–194.
• Jonsell, B., 1982. Cruciferae. Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, familles 84–87. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 3–32.
• Marais, W., 1970. Cruciferae. In: Codd, L.E., de Winter, B., Killick, D.J.B. & Rycroft, H.B. (Editors). Flora of southern Africa. Volume 13. Botanical Research Institute, Department of Agricultural Technical Services, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa. pp. 1–118.
• Robyns, W. & Boutique, R., 1951. Cruciferae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 2. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 522–544.
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. Rorippa madagascariensis (DC.) Hara In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.