Arodendron engleri Werth
Typhonodorum madagascariense Engl.
Plants growing in Tsimbazaza Zoological Parc
Photograph by: scott.zona
Typhonodorum lindleyanum is a perennial plant producing a stout, banana-like, pseudostem up to 30cm in diameter topped with a rosette of leaves from a short horizontal rhizome. The plant is usually 1.5 to 2.5 metres tall, but can be up to 4 metres[
The plant is harvested from the wild and used locally, providing a food of very dubious value plus medicines and a good quality fibre. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
All parts of the plant give off an irritating juice which causes itching[
All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals. This substance is toxic fresh and, if eaten, makes the mouth, tongue and throat feel as if hundreds of small needles are digging in to them. However, calcium oxalate is easily broken down either by thoroughly cooking the plant or by fully drying it and, in either of these states, it is safe to eat the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet[
East tropical Africa - Tanzania to Madagascar and Mauritius.
Near the banks of muddy streams or in marshes[
]. Usually found in pure stands in fresh water swamps near the sea[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Prefers a sunny position. Plants grow in wet to marshy soils and also in shallow water.
Rhizome - must be thoroughly cooked[
]. An edible starch is obtained from this rhizome by drying the grated base of the plant over a slow fire. In spite of the action of the fire, however, this starch causes an itching in the mouth and even in the oesophagus[
]. It is more common, when rendering the roots of plants in this family edible, to bake them for some time at high temperatures, often pounding them into a powder and then baking them again. This is a more effective way of destroying the toxins, though even then it is not unheard of for people to experience itching of the mouth[
The tuber can be peeled then cut into small slices which are boiled and washed several times in order to remove some of the toxic matter. Coconut milk is then added and the whole is eaten[
]. Alternatively, the slices can be soaked in water for two days and then dried in the sun. The dried slices are pounded into a flour which is cooked into ugali[
The root is mainly viewed as a famine food, eaten when there is nothing better available[
Fruit - cooked[
]. It needs to be boiled for a long time[
]. The same comments apply to the fruit as they do to the rhizome (see above)[
The starch from the rhizome is considered an excellent remedy against the bites of venomous animals[
The leaves are used as a mulch[
A fibre is obtained from the leaf sheaths[
]. It is used for making heavy fish lines[
]. It is a very easy matter to gently draw out the threads after abruptly breaking the sheath, provided they are pulled out parallel to the axis. Thus obtained, the threads are at first a deep yellow, becoming much lighter with washing[
A variety of the plant which has reddish and blackish sheaths gives better fibres than the variety which has white sheaths[
The leaves are used for thatching[
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