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Talinum paniculatum (Jacq.) Gaertn.

Fruct. sem. pl. 2: 219 (1791).
Chromosome number
2n = 24
Talinum patens (L.) Willd. (1799).
Vernacular names
Flameflower, jewels of Opar (En). Herbe onze heures, gros pourpier (Fr). Lingua de vaca, beldroega miúda, maria gombi (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Talinum paniculatum is native to tropical America, but is now a pantropical weed. It occurs scattered throughout tropical Africa, and is locally cultivated as a vegetable in Ghana and Nigeria.
The shoots and leaves of Talinum paniculatum are added to stews and soups, e.g. in Ghana, Nigeria and DR Congo. They are also eaten as a vegetable in tropical America. Talinum paniculatum is cultivated as a garden ornamental and potplant.
There is no information on the nutritional composition of Talinum paniculatum leaves, but it is probably comparable to that of Talinum triangulare (Jacq.) Willd.
Adulterations and substitutes
Leaves of Talinum paniculatum may be replaced by those of Talinum triangulare, which have a similar but slightly less sharp taste.
Erect, glabrous perennial herb up to 100(–120) cm tall, not branched or sparsely branched at base; roots swollen and fleshy; stem succulent, slightly woody at base, dark purple to brownish black. Leaves alternate, simple, almost sessile, succulent; stipules absent; blade elliptical to obovate, 3–12 cm × 1.5–5 cm, base cuneate, apex acute, entire, venation pinnate, indistinct. Inflorescence a large, many-flowered terminal panicle up to 40(–60) cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, c. 1 cm in diameter; pedicel c. 1 cm long, slender; sepals 2, rounded, 1–2 mm long; petals 5, free, obovate to orbicular, pink; stamens 15–20; ovary superior, 1-celled, style slender, with 3-branched stigma. Fruit a globose capsule 3–5 mm long, 3-valved, elastically dehiscent, many-seeded. Seeds lenticular to reniform, c. 1 mm long, smooth or tuberculate, shining black.
Talinum comprises about 40 species, most of them found in Mexico and southern United States, and 7 species in tropical Africa.
In tropical Africa Talinum paniculatum occurs locally naturalized, usually in cultivated land and roadsides, sometimes in forest edges, up to 2200 m altitude. In cultivation it prefers well-drained, moist soil rich in organic matter, and full sun. It is drought and shade tolerant.
Talinum paniculatum is mainly collected from the wild, but is cultivated in Ghana and southern Nigeria. It is propagated by seed or cuttings. There are about 5000 seeds per g. Seeds are sown in the field under light shade or in a nursery. Seedlings appear after 1 week and should be transplanted within 5 weeks. Cuttings are taken from slightly woody stems, from which tops and leaves are removed. They require ample watering. Cuttings are planted at a density of about 5 per m2. The crop responds well to fertilizer.
A first harvest can be taken about 6 weeks after planting cuttings, or 8–9 weeks after sowing. Young shoots are picked when the plants are 30 cm tall and leaves are fully developed. Inflorescences should be removed regularly. Although plants remain productive longer, they should be removed after one year as they become woody.
Genetic resources and breeding
Talinum paniculatum is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion. A few accessions are held at the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, United States.
In tropical Africa Talinum paniculatum is currently mainly collected from the wild. It is poorly known, but deserves more attention as it is easy to grow and productive.
Major references
• Bola, M. & Szafranski, F., 1991. Plantes spontanées à feuilles-légumes de Kisangani et environs (Zaïre). Belgian Journal of Botany 124(2): 222–234.
• Mosango, M. & Isosi, W., 1998. Edible plant species used by the human population around Kisangani (Democratic Republic of Congo). Fragmenta floristica et geobotanica 43(1): 109–115.
• Phillips, S.M., 2002. Portulacaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 40 pp.
• Steyn, E.M.A. & Smith, G.F., 2001. Portulacaceae - Talinum paniculatum, a naturalized weed in South Africa. Bothalia 31: 195–197.
• van Epenhuijsen, C.W., 1974. Growing native vegetables in Nigeria. FAO, Rome, Italy. 113 pp.
Other 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.
• Mosango, M., Maganyi, W. & Namaganda, M., 1999. A phytosociological study of Talinum paniculatum plant community in Kampala (Uganda). In: Proceedings of the 16th International Botanical Congress, St. Louis, United States, August 1-7, 1999. Abstract 1484. p. 540.
• Mosango, M., Maganyi, W. & Namaganda, M., 2001. Talinetum paniculati, a new synanthropic association of tropical Africa. Polish Botanical Journal 46(1): 99–107.
• Schippers, R.R., 2002. African indigenous vegetables, an overview of the cultivated species 2002. Revised edition on CD-ROM. National Resources International Limited, Aylesford, United Kingdom.
• Shimoda, H., Nishida, N., Ninomiya, K., Matsuda, H. & Yoshikawa, M., 2001. Javaberine A, new TNF-alpha and nitric oxide production inhibitor, from the roots of Talinum paniculatum. Heterocycles 55(11): 2043–2050.
M. Mosango
Department of Botany, Makerere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda

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
Photo Editor
E. Boer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Mosango, M., 2004. Talinum paniculatum (Jacq.) Gaertn. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
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