Riedlea corchorifolia (L.) DC.
Visenia corchorifolia (L.) Spreng.
Common Name: Chocolate Weed
Chocolate weed is an erect to spreading perennial plant growing up to 2 metres tall. Sometimes a woody shrub, it can also produce herbaceous stems from a woody rootstock.
The plant is harvested from the wild for its edible leaves and medicinal uses. It also provides a good fibre and an insecticide[
Eastern and southern Africa through Eastern and southern Asia to Australia and the Solomon Islands.
Mostly found in sunny or slightly shaded, humid localities such as river banks, lake shores and alluvial plains. It is a common and important weed, notably in rice (both upland and lowland), soybean, cotton and cassava[
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The plant is a weed of cultivated land and has spread outside of its native range.
A highly polymorphic species, several varieties have been described[
Leaves - cooked and eaten as a potherb[
]. The cooked leaves provide a popular, slimy side-dish in Malawi[
The plant is commonly used in traditional medicine to treat a range of conditions[
Phytochemical analysis of the leaves has revealed the presence of triterpenes (friedelin, friedelinol and β-amyrin), flavonol glycosides (hibifolin, triflin and melocorin), aliphatic compounds, flavonoids (vitexin and robunin), β-D-sitosterol and its stearate, β-D-glucoside and alkaloids.[
] A pyridine alkaloid, 6-methoxy-3-propenyl-2-pyridine carboxylic acid, may be important as related pyridine derivatives are physiologically active[
A leaf decoction is prescribed in a compound mixture of herbs against urinary disorders[
The leaves are used for poulticing sores and swellings of the abdomen, and the sap is applied as an antidote to wounds caused by arrows poisoned with Antiaris toxicaria[
A decoction of the leaves and roots is used internally to treat dysentery, and a decoction of the leaves to stop vomiting[
Leaves and roots are used for poulticing in cases of smallpox[
A decoction of the plant is applied in folk medicine in India as a cure for abdominal swelling, dysentery and snake bites[
A fibre extracted from the bark is fine and strong[
]. A beautifully silvery-white, fine and strong fibre, but obtained in too small a quantity to be important[
The stems are used for tying bundles and are used in the construction of conical roofs for local houses[
An aqueous solution of leaves has insecticidal properties[
]. Pulses stored in gunny bags treated with the solution have shown a reduction in the number of eggs laid and in damage done by the storage pest Callosobruchus[
Seed - germination rates are improved by scarifying the seed prior to sowing[
]. Scarified seed germinates best at temperatures of 35 - 40°c[
]. Seed buried to a depth of 1 - 5cm gave a germination rate of 80 - 90% after 7 days; when planted at the soil surface or deeper than 8 cm the seed did not germinate[
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