Eriosema leucanthum Welw. ex Baker f.
Eriosema burkei is a short, erect herbaceous perennial plant, producing a single to a few branched stems 10 - 45cm long from a large woody rootstock. The rootstock usually survives bush fires, quickly producing new growth once the fire has passed.
The edible tubers are gathered from the wild for local use.
Tropical Africa - Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, S. Africa.
Seasonally burnt grassland or grassland with scattered trees, at elevations from 1,500 - 1,800 metres[
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This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Root - raw[
]. Starchy, with a strong smell, they are chewed like raw cassava[
A red dye is obtained from the roots[
Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have ripened and dried the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[
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