Alepidea peduncularis (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

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Alepidea peduncularis A.Rich

Protologue: Tent. fl. abyss. 1: 320 (1848).
Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)


  • Alepidea longifolia Dummer (1913).

Origin and geographic distribution

Alepidea peduncularis occurs from DR Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia south to South Africa.


Young leaves of Alepidea peduncularis are collected from the wild and used as a cooked vegetable, particularly in southern Africa, where it is known as ‘ikhokwana’ by the Zulu people. In southern Africa a decoction of the roots is taken to treat cough and in eastern Africa as a cure for fever.


  • Perennial herb up to 120(–175) cm tall, glabrous, with clustered, thick, fleshy, fibrous roots; stem slender to rather stout, striate, strongly branched.
  • Leaves alternate, simple, basal leaves in a rosette, petiole and indistinctly demarcated sheath 1–10 cm long, blade oblong to obovate, up to 25 cm × 6 cm, base attenuate, truncate or cordate, apex obtuse, margins with broad, acuminate, ciliate teeth; stem leaves sessile and clasping the stem, much smaller than the rosette leaves, with longer and darker cilia on the teeth, gradually decreasing in size with height of the stem, upper ones bract-like.
  • Inflorescence a head-like umbel, relatively few together, with 8–11 bracts, alternately larger and smaller, forming a connate spreading involucre up to 1.5 cm long.
  • Flowers bisexual, sessile, 5-merous; sepals deltoid-ovate, less than 1 mm long; petals obovate, c. 1.5 mm long, white to slightly pink or greenish; stamens free; ovary inferior, 2-celled, styles 2, divergent, straight.
  • Fruit a schizocarp, c. 2 mm long, white-verruculose with rather sharp angles.

Alepidea is a complex genus of about 20 poorly defined species, distributed from Ethiopia to South Africa, with the majority in southern Africa. Alepidea peduncularis is part of a variable complex, in which delimitations between species are not sharp. In South Africa the leaves of Alepidea natalensis Wood & Evans are similarly used as a vegetable.


Alepidea peduncularis is predominantly a species of montane, often-burnt grassland. It also occurs in open localities in montane forest and Brachystegia woodland and on rocky hillsides, at 1000–3800 m altitude.

Genetic resources

Alepidea peduncularis is widespread and does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion. However, the demand for Alepidea roots for medicinal purposes may locally also threaten populations of Alepidea peduncularis.


Alepidea peduncularis most probably will remain a vegetable of only local importance. Its nutritional and medicinal properties need further investigation.

Major references

  • Hedberg, I. & Hedberg, O., 2003. Apiaceae. In: Hedberg, I., Edwards, S. & Sileshi Nemomissa (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 4, part 1. Apiaceae to Dipsacaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 1–45.
  • Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
  • Townsend, C.C., 1989. Umbelliferae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 128 pp.
  • van Wyk, B.E. & Gericke, N., 2000. People’s plants: a guide to useful plants of southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 351 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.

Other references

  • Burtt, B.L., 1982. Notes on some plants of southern Africa chiefly from Natal: 9. Notes Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 40(2): 247–298.
  • Burtt, B.L., 1991. Umbelliferae of southern Africa: an introduction and annotated check-list. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 48: 133–282.
  • Cannon, J.F.M., 1978. Umbelliferae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 4. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 555–621.
  • De Castro, A. & van Wyk, B.E., 1994. Diagnostic characters and geographic distribution of Alepidea species used in traditional medicine. South African Journal of Botany 60(6): 345–350.


  • P.C.M. Jansen, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Alepidea peduncularis Steud. ex A.Rich. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <>.

Accessed 14 April 2019.