Sesamum triphyllum (PROTA)

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Sesamum triphyllum Welw. ex Asch.


Protologue: Verh. Bot. Vereins Prov. Brandenburg 30: 185 (1888).
Family: Pedaliaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = c. 26

Synonyms

  • Sesamum gibbosum Bremek. & Oberm. (1935),
  • Sesamum grandiflorum Schinz (1896).

Vernacular names

  • Wild sesame, thunderbolt flower, three-leaved sesame (En).

Origin and geographic distribution

Sesamum triphyllum is distributed in southern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland.

Uses

Although the stems appear rather weak when fresh, they are quite strong when dry. They are used as construction material, for instance for making doors for traditional huts and kraals and for making fish-traps. Dry stems are also used as tinder when using fire-sticks. The seeds are rich in oil and are said to be eaten. When the leaves are crushed, they release a mucilage which can be used as a soap substitute.

Sesamum triphyllum has several uses in traditional medicine. The burnt root mixed with vaseline is applied to snake-bites. A root decoction is said to be effective against chest pains. Women treat menstruation pains with a root decoction or by chewing the roots. Pregnant women suffering abdominal pains and afraid of losing an unborn baby take a root decoction. The leaves mixed with milk are taken as an aphrodisiac. In Namibia inhaling the vapour given off by leaves in boiling water is a treatment of malaria. Among Sotho people in South Africa a mixture of plants, including Sesamum triphyllum, is used in the treatment of epilepsy.

Production and international trade

Sesamum triphyllum is only used and possibly traded locally.

Properties

While Sesamum triphyllum is one of the components of ‘sehlare sa seebana’, a Sotho medicine against epilepsy, extracts of it tested negative in a test designed to identify compounds with potential activity against epilepsy, while some other species tested positively.

Description

Annual, erect herb up to 2 m tall, bushy or with unbranched stem, glabrous except for the mucilage glands. Leaves heteromorphic; lower leaves 3(–7)-foliate or 3(–7)-partite, central leaflet or lobe longest, 2–10 cm long, and all leaflets or segments up to 2 cm wide; upper leaves simple. Flowers solitary in leaf axils, bisexual, up to 5 cm long; pedicel short; basal nectaries single or in groups of 3–5; calyx 5-partite, deciduous; corolla more or less funnel-shaped, 2.5–5.5 cm long, mauve, bluish or red, limb sub-bilabiate, lower lobe longer; stamens 4; disk annular, regular; ovary superior, subcylindrical, 2-locular. Fruit an oblong capsule c. 40 mm × 5–7 mm, with paper-thin walls, abaxially gibbous at the base, sometimes with inconspicuous ribs, beak 6–8 mm long and distinctly bent outwards, many-seeded. Seeds c. 2.5 mm × 1.5 mm, with 2 conspicuous wings at the base and an apical wing; seedcoat pitted.

Other botanical information

In Botswana Sesamum triphyllum flowers in January–April(–June), in the Highveld of South Africa in spring and summer. Both self-pollination and cross-pollination by insects occur.

Sesamum comprises c. 20 species, most of which indigenous to tropical Africa. Sesamum alatum Thonn., Sesamum capense Burm.f. and Sesamum triphyllum share several morphological characteristics: a capsule with tapering pointed beak and paper-thin walls, and winged seeds, and they are placed in a separate section Sesamopteris.

Ecology

Sesamum triphyllum occurs at 150–1700 m altitude in grassland and woodland, along roadsides and on stable sand-dunes. It grows on limestone gravel and calcareous soils.

Management

Sesamum triphyllum only occurs wild.

Genetic resources

Sesamum triphyllum is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.

Prospects

Sesamum triphyllum is likely to remain of limited use only. Its relation with other species in section Sesamopteris and its intraspecific classification need clarification.

Major references

  • Hyde, M.A. & Wursten, B., 2011. Pedaliaceae. [Internet ] Flora of Zimbabwe: Family page. http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/ speciesdata/ family.php?family_id=168. September 2011.
  • Ihlenfeldt, H.-D., 1988. Pedaliaceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 8, part 3. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 86–113.
  • Merxmüller, H. & Schreiber, A., 1968. Pedaliaceae. Prodromus einer Flora von Südwestafrika. No 131. J. Cramer, Germany. 13 pp.
  • Roodt, V., 1998. Common wild flowers of the Okavango Delta. Shell Oil Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana. 174 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.

Other references

  • Bedigian, D., 2003. Evolution of sesame revisited: domestication, diversity and prospects. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 50: 779–787.
  • Jäger, A.K., Mohoto, S.P., van Heerden, F.R. & Viljoen, A.M., 2005. Activity of a traditional South African epilepsy remedy in the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor assay. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (3): 603–606.
  • Kanyomeka, L., 2003. Survey of weeds and frequency of weeding in pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) in North-Central Namibia. Agricultura Tropica et Subtropica 36: 60–64.
  • SEPASAL, 2011. Sesamum triphyllum. [Internet] Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) database. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. http://www.kew.org/ ceb/sepasal/. August 2011.
  • Zietsman, P.C., 1994. Autogamy in Sesamum triphyllum var. triphyllum (Pedaliaceae). Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum (Bloemfontein) 10(15): 633–646.

Author(s)

  • L.P.A. Oyen, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Oyen, L.P.A., 2011. Sesamum triphyllum Welw. ex Asch. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.

Accessed 4 March 2020.