Rhynchosia heterophylla is an erect perennial plant producing a cluster of more or less woody stems around 60cm tall growing from a stout, woody rootstock. The stems have dark red glands and are sticky; they can be stout or slender[
The plant is harvested from the wild for its root, which is one of several species used locally to make a very popular alcoholic beverage known as 'munkoyo beer'.
Tropical Africa - southern Tanzania, southern DR Congo, Zambia, northern Zimbabwe
Brachystegia, Diplorhynchus secondary woodland; Brachystegia, Isoberlinia woodland; plateau woodland on laterite; rocky hills; wooded savannah; at elevations from 900 - 1,300 metres[
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The roots are used as a sweetening agent when making a very popular, traditional, mildly alcoholic drink known as 'munkoyo beer'[
We have seen no specific entry for this species, but all members of this genus have at least some merit for use as a ground cover and in local soil conservation projects[
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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