Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew: 271 (1935).
Sterculiaceae (APG: Malvaceae)
Wine-cup, Zambesi wine-cup tree (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Triplochiton zambesiacus is endemic to the Zambesi valley and the lower reaches of its tributaries.
Cooked leaves are eaten in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The wood is hard and has been used for yokes for oxen. The fine shade caused by the dense foliage and the handsome flowers make it a desirable ornamental.
No data on chemical composition of Triplochiton zambesiacus are available, but data on the composition of leaves of the related Triplochiton scleroxylon K.Schum. are available from Côte d’Ivoire. Fresh leaves had a moisture content of 74.7%, and they contained per 100 g dry matter: energy 668 kJ (160 kcal), protein 29.2 g, fat 2.2 g, starch 3.0 g, sugar 2.3 g, fibre 51.0 g, Ca 1114 mg, Mg 551 mg, Fe 9.2 mg, β-carotene 16.5 mg, riboflavin 0.78 mg and ascorbic acid 165 mg (Herzog, F., Farah, Z. & Amado, R., 1993). The mucilage content of the leaves per 100 g was 4.2 g as compared to 9.1 g in the fruits of Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench.
Medium-sized tree up to 18 m tall, with a straight trunk, frequently multi-stemmed; bark smooth, flaking, pale grey; crown rounded with dense foliage; branchlets slender, glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules c. 7 mm long, caducous; petiole 5–7 cm long; blade palmately 5–9-lobed, up to 12 cm × 14 cm, base cordate, apex of the lobes shortly acuminate. Inflorescence a 1–4-flowered, axillary or terminal cyme. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; calyx bell -shaped, c. 2 cm long; petals c. 3.5 cm × 2.5 cm, white or yellow, deep red towards the base; androgynophore 9 mm long, c. 3 mm in diameter; style 2 mm long. Fruit consisting of 5 tomentose, 1-seeded carpels with a pubescent wing of 7 cm × 3 cm.
Triplochiton comprises only 2 species. Triplochiton scleroxylon is an important timber tree with a West and Central African distribution; the leaves of this species are eaten as well.
Flowering of Triplochiton zambesiacus takes place in the rainy season, from December till April, and flowers are open in the morning only. Fruits are persistent and may remain on the tree into the next flowering season. The seeds are dispersed by wind.
Triplochiton zambesiacus occurs along river banks and on alluvial floodplains. It is often associated with termitaria.
Propagation can be done by seed. When seed availability is a problem multiplication by stem cuttings, as is practised for Triplochiton scleroxylon, would be feasible.
Genetic resources and breeding
The limited distribution and the specific habitat of Triplochiton zambesiacus make it vulnerable, although there are no indications of immediate threats of extinction or genetic erosion.
Research on nutritive value and phytochemistry is desirable to evaluate the use of Triplochiton zambesiacus as a vegetable. The possibility to extend the use of Triplochiton zambesiacus as an ornamental to other tropical and subtropical areas is obvious. If transfer of genes to Triplochiton scleroxylon proves to be possible, there might be interesting opportunities for breeding of this timber tree.
• Coates Palgrave, K., 1983. Trees of southern Africa. 2nd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa. 959 pp.
• Milne-Redhead, E., 1936. Tropical african plants: 13. Kew Bulletin 1936: 271–285.
• Pardy, A.A., 1956. Notes on indigenous trees and shrubs of southern Rhodesia. Rhodesia Agricultural Journal 53(4): 507–524.
• Wild, H., 1961. Sterculiaceae. In: Exell, A.W. & Wild, H. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 1, part 2. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 517–564.
• Herzog, F., Farah, Z. & Amado, R., 1993. Nutritive value of four wild vegetables in Côte d'Ivoire. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 63(3): 234–238.
• Huxley, A. (Editor), 1992. The new Royal Horticultural Society dictionary of gardening. Volume 4. MacMillan Press, London, United Kingdom. 888 pp.
• Nketiah, T., Newton, A.C. & Leakey, R.B.B., 1998. Vegetative propagation of Triplochiton scleroxylon K.Schum. in Ghana. Forest Ecology and Management 105(1–3): 99–105.
Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Triplochiton zambesiacus Milne-Redh. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.