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Samolus valerandi L.

Protologue
Sp. pl. 1: 171 (1753).
Family
Primulaceae (APG: Theophrastaceae)
Chromosome number
2n = 26
Vernacular names
Brookweed, water pimpernel (En). Mouron d’eau (Fr). Alface dos rios, coentro de tchincherrote (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Samolus valerandi is an almost cosmopolitan herb of humid localities in tropical to temperate regions, and occurs throughout tropical Africa.
Uses
The young leaves of Samolus valerandi are collected from the wild and eaten as a cooked vegetable or raw as a salad, but mostly only in times when other vegetables are scarce. In southern Africa the plant is used as a remedy for itch, ringworm and other skin rashes. The plant is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental in water borders; some types survive submersion for some months, but Samolus valerandi is not recommended as an aquarium plant.
Botany
Erect, glabrous, annual to short-lived perennial herb up to 50(–90) cm tall; stem simple or branched, arising from a basal rosette. Leaves alternate, simple, fleshy; rosette leaves with petiole up to 3 cm long, spatulate, 4.5–10 cm × 1.5–3.5 cm, stem leaves usually gradually becoming smaller and subsessile. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal, many-flowered raceme up to 25 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 1–2.5 cm long, usually abruptly bent near the middle where a bract is attached; calyx cup-shaped, tube c. 1.5 mm long and partly adnate to ovary, lobes triangular, about half as long as tube; corolla campanulate, c. 2 mm long, with spatulate lobes, white; stamens inserted at base of corolla tube, alternating with staminodes inserted between the corolla lobes; ovary half-inferior, globose, style 0.5 mm long, stigma rounded. Fruit a globose capsule c. 3 mm in diameter, dehiscing with 5, strongly reflexed valves, many-seeded. Seeds angular, c. 0.5 mm long, minutely granular, dark brown. Seedling with epigeal germination; hypocotyl 1–2 mm long, epicotyl absent; cotyledons leafy, oblong -elliptical, 1–1.5 mm long.
Samolus comprises about 9 species, with only Samolus valerandi being cosmopolitan, the others mostly found in the Southern Hemisphere. Dispersion of Samolus valerandi seeds is probably effected by birds and by wind.
Ecology
Samolus valerandi grows at water level on stream banks, in swamps, in drying riverbeds, along coasts and in dunes. It is tolerant of saline soils. Seed germinates only in light, does not survive long in salt water and seedlings die in sea water.
Genetic resources and breeding
Samolus valerandi is extremely widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Prospects
Samolus valerandi will remain a minor vegetable, particularly of importance in times of food scarcity. Its nutritional composition and medicinal properties need investigation.
Major references
• 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.
• Hegi, G., 1927. Illustrierte Flora von Mittel-europa. Band 5, Teil 3. Dicotyledones, Sympetalae. Verlag J.F. Lehmanns, München, Germany. pp. 1567–2250.
• Kupicha, F.K., 1983. Primulaceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 7, part 1. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 184–197.
Other references
• Boutique, R., 1971. Primulaceae. In: Bamps, P. ( Editor): Flore du Congo, du Ruanda et du Burundi. Spermatophytes. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium. 15 pp.
• Figueiredo, E., 1995. Primulaceae. In: Paiva, J., Martins, E.S., Diniz, M.A., Moreira, I., Gomes, I. & Gomes, S. (Editors). Flora de Cabo Verde: Plantas vasculares. No 40. Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, Lisbon, Portugal & Instituto Nacional de Investigação e Desenvolvimento Agrário, Praia, Cape Verde. 10 pp.
• Taylor, P., 1958. Primulaceae. In: Hubbard, O.B.E. & Milne-Redhead, E. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 20 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.
Author(s)
P.C.M. Jansen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
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. Samolus valerandi L. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.