Arachis africana Burm.f.
Glycine subterranea L.
Voandzeia subterranea (L.) DC.
Common Name: Bambara Groundnut
Three month old cultivated plants in Kelongwa Village, Kasempa District, Northwestern Province, Zambia.
Photograph by: Kkibumba
Vigna subterranea is a much-branched, prostrate annual plant with short, creeping, rooting stems that branch just above ground level[
The plant has been cultivated as a food crop in Africa since at least the 14th century AD. It lost much of its importance with the arrival of the peanut (Arachis hypogaea) but, because it can give superior yields to the peanut in poor soils, it is still sometimes cultivated in various regions of the tropics[
Tropical western Africa - Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic..
Sandy soils at elevations of 10 - 1,650 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Succeeds in lowland tropical areas and up to an elevation of around 1,500 metres[
]. Adapted to growing in areas with relatively high temperatures up to 30°c[
]. Prefers an evenly distributed annual precipitation in the range 600 - 1,000mm, though satisfactory yields can be obtained in areas with a pronounced dry season[
]. Plants are tolerant of periods of heavy rainfall, except when they are flowering[
Prefers a sunny position[
]. Prefers a sandy loam soil that is rich in organic matter, but can succeed in any well-drained soil[
]. Succeeds in a soil of medium or low fertility[
]. Dislikes calcareous soils[
]. Grows best in a pH of 5 - 6.5[
]. Established plants are relatively drought resistant[
Flowering usually commences about 30 - 55 days after sowing the seed[
A harvest can be obtained about 3 - 4 months after sowing the seed[
]. Yields of 300 - 600kg per hectare can be obtained[
Like the peanut (Arachis hypogaea) the seeds of this plant develop beneath the soil[
Most cultivars are adapted to short days[
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[
]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Seed - raw or cooked[
]. They can be boiled and eaten on their own or combined with foods such as maize or plantains. Ground to a meal, they can be added to biscuits, bread etc or used to prepare a porridge[
]. They can also be popped like sweet corn[
]. Sometimes the seeds are soaked in water then ground into a paste which is used to prepare fried or steamed dishes. Immature seeds are often boiled with salt and eaten as a snack[
]. Ripe seeds are very hard and usually have to be cooked longer than those of other legumes[
Young pods are eaten in stews[
The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[
Leaf preparations are applied as a poultice to abscesses and infected wounds[
]. The leaf sap is applied to the eyes to treat epilepsy[
The roots are sometimes taken as an aphrodisiac[
Pounded seeds, mixed with water, are used to treat cataracts[
The plant (part not specified) is used to treat venereal diseases[
Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and sow in situ. Seed germinates best at a temperature of 30 - 35°c, it does not germinate properly below 15°c or above 40°c[
]. The seed sprouts within 5 - 21 days[
If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.