Triumfetta pentandra (PROTA)

From PlantUse English
Jump to: navigation, search
Prota logo orange.gif
Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

General importance Fairytale bookmark gold.svgFairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Geographic coverage Africa Fairytale bookmark gold.svgFairytale bookmark gold.svgFairytale bookmark gold.svgFairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svg
Geographic coverage World Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Vegetable Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Medicinal Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Forage / feed Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Fibre Fairytale bookmark gold.svgFairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Food security Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg

Triumfetta pentandra A.Rich.

Protologue: Fl. Seneg. tent.: 93, t. 19 (1831).
Family: Tiliaceae (APG: Malvaceae)
Chromosome number:

Vernacular names

  • Fivestamen burbark (En).

Origin and geographic distribution

Triumfetta pentandra is pantropically distributed. It is widespread throughout the drier parts of tropical Africa, from Cape Verde, Mauritania and Senegal eastward to Eritrea and Ethiopia, and southward to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius.


The bark is a source of fibre used for making string and fishing line. The bark of green shoots is a source of mucilage used for making sticky soups and sauces. The leaf is eaten as a cooked vegetable. The plant yields fodder of mediocre quality. In Congo fresh root scrapings are applied on sores and small wounds. The crushed leaf is applied in dressings for treatment of goitre and deformities. In veterinary medicine in Burundi leaf sap is given for treatment of theileriosis.


Reports on the quality of the fibre are not consistent. The fibre has been recorded to be of average quality only, but in India it is recorded to be soft, spinnable and nearer to jute in quality than Triumfetta rhomboidea Jacq.


Erect, annual herb up to 2 m tall; stem often woody at the base, succulent, reddish or green, stellate-scabrid to hairy. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules narrowly triangular, up to 7 mm long, dark brown, hairy; petiole up to 10 cm long, hairy; blade elliptical to rhombic-orbicular, sometimes wider than long, 1–12 cm × 0.5–9 cm, unlobed or shallowly 3-lobed to 1/5 of the base, with lateral lobes sometimes slightly diverging, base rounded to cuneate, apex acute to acuminate, margin 1(–2)-toothed, membranous, upper surface softly hairy to subscabrid to glabrous, lower surface softly stellate hairy to subscabrid, with crater-like elliptical glands. Inflorescence terminal, many-branched, up to 45 cm long, lower nodes with slightly reduced leaves, becoming more linear and reduced towards the top, nodes 1.5–4 cm apart, each with 1–5 cymes, cymes 1(–3)-flowered; peduncle up to 3 mm long, hairy as stem; bracts narrowly triangular, 1.5–2 mm long. Flowers bisexual, regular; pedicel up to 3 mm long; sepals 5, free, elliptical-linear, 2–4 mm long, sparsely stellate-hairy outside, with apical spine 0.5 mm long; petals 5, free, spoon-shaped, 3–3.5 mm × 0.5–1 mm, yellow or green, with basal claw, lower 0.5 mm of the claw sparingly hairy at the margin; stamens 5(–13); ovary superior, 2-celled, sparsely hairy. Fruit an indehiscent, ovoid capsule 4–10 mm × 3–6 mm (including spines), with 65–90 forward pointing dark brown spines, each usually glabrous apart from a line of glistening white hairs and each with a translucent, forward directed recurved hair at the tip, 2–4-seeded. Seeds 1.5–2.5 mm long.

In Benin Triumfetta pentandra flowers in September and bears fruits in October.

Triumfetta is a pantropical genus of about 100 species. The classification within Triumfetta is mainly based on fruit characteristics. Triumfetta pentandra is closely related to Triumfetta rhomboidea Jacq., and the two species are difficult to distinguish in the vegetative stage, although Triumfetta rhomboidea often has a more deeply 3-lobed leaf blade with a more thickly tomentose lower surface. In the generative stage Triumfetta pentandra is easily distinguished by its flower usually having only 5 stamens and its fruit being ovoid and usually glabrous. However, Triumfetta pentandra var. homoiotrichia Chiov., only known from Somalia, has flowers with 13 stamens and fruits with spines hairy all over.


Triumfetta pentandra occurs from sea-level up to 1700 m altitude, in gallery forest, woodland, grassland, marshy locations, old cultivations and disturbed locations, often in partial shade. It is a weed in cultivated land. In northern Cameroon its presence is sometimes an indicator of degraded soils.


In northern Burkina Faso Triumfetta pentandra is locally grown as an intercrop of pearl millet. When Triumfetta species are cultivated for the mucilage, cuttings of 15–20 cm long are taken from the top end of the harvested stems. Since the crop does not perform well under direct sunlight, the cuttings are usually planted in the shade of a tree. They are planted in a circle with a spacing of 10–15 cm. If the cutting is not planted straight upward, adventitious roots may develop, causing a reduced capacity to produce slime. Therefore, some farmers tie the cuttings to a taller plant, e.g. plantain, to ensure that they grow upright. Further management of Triumfetta plants cultivated for mucilage is restricted to weeding and some irrigation during periods of drought. Stems for mucilage are harvested by cutting them just above ground level when they are 75–100 cm long. They are prepared by removing all leaves and the terminal part where the stem has a diameter of less than 1 cm. The resulting sticks are either taken to the homestead or tied into bundles and brought to the market.

Genetic resources

In view of its wide distribution and broad range of habitats, Triumfetta pentandra is not threatened by genetic erosion.


Triumfetta pentandra is a local source of fibre, mucilage, fodder and medicine. Consistent and detailed information on the fibre properties is lacking, making it difficult assess the prospects of this species as a fibre plant.

Major references

  • Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
  • Schippers, R.R., 2000. African indigenous vegetables. An overview of the cultivated species. Natural Resources Institute/ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, Chatham, United Kingdom. 214 pp.
  • Vergiat, A.M., 1970. Plantes magiques et médicinales des féticheurs de l’Oubangui (Région de Bangui). Journal d’Agriculture Tropicale et de Botanique Appliquée 17: 295–339.
  • Vollesen, K. & Demissew Sebsebe, 1995. Tiliaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 2. Canellaceae to Euphorbiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 145–164.
  • Whitehouse, C., Cheek, M., Andrews, S. & Verdcourt, B., 2001. Tiliaceae & Muntingiaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 120 pp.

Other references

  • Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
  • Bigendako-Polygenis, M.J. & Lejoly, J., 1990. La pharmacopée traditionelle au Burundi. In: Ansay M. & Thill, G. (Editors). Pesticides et médicaments en santé animale. pp. 425–442.
  • Bosser, J., 1987. Tiliacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 51–62. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Office de la Recherche Scientifique Outre-Mer, Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 14 pp.
  • CSIR, 1976. The wealth of India. A dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. Raw materials. Volume 10: Sp–W. Publications and Information Directorate, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, India. 591 pp.
  • Leenders, J.K., 2006. Wind erosion control with scattered vegetation in the Sahelian zone of Burkina Faso. Tropical Resource Management Papers No 73. Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, Netherlands. 170 pp.
  • M’Biandoun, M., Guibert, H. & Olina, J.-P., 2006. Caractérisation de la fertilité du sol en fonction des mauvaises herbes présentes. Tropicultura 24(4): 247–252.
  • Sebsebe Demissew, 1999. Tiliaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 2. Angiospermae (Tiliaceae-Apiaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 5–21.
  • Westphal, E., 1981. L’agriculture autochtone au Cameroun: les techniques culturales, les séquences de culture, les plantes alimentaires et leur consommation. Miscellaneous papers No 20. Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen, Netherlands. 175 pp.
  • Wilczek, R., 1963. Tiliaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 10. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 1–91.
  • Wild, H., 1984. Tiliaceae. In: Leistner, O.A. (Editor). Flora of southern Africa. Volume 21, part 1. Botanical Research Institute, Department of Agriculture, Pretoria, South Africa. 44 pp.


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

Correct citation of this article

Brink, M., 2010. Triumfetta pentandra A.Rich. [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. <>.

Accessed 13 November 2020.