Cacalia pauciflora Kuntze
Centrapalus galamensis Cass.
Conyza pauciflora Willd.
Vernonia afromontana R.E.Fr.
Vernonia coelestina Schrad. ex DC.
Vernonia filisquama M.G.Gilbert
Vernonia galamensis (Cass.) Less.
Vernonia pauciflora (Willd.) Less.
Vernonia petitiana A.Rich.
Vernonia senegalensis Desf.
Vernonia zernyi Gilli
Centrapalus pauciflorus is a mainly unbranched, usually annual plant that can grow 3 - 5 metres tall, but is usualy much smaller, sometimes only 20cm tall. It sometimes forms branches near the top[
The plant was noted as a potential source of vernolic acid in the 1950's, but efforts to domesticate it failed. Specimens collected from semi-arid areas of eastern Ethiopia in 1964 combined a high vernolic acid content with a promising seed yield and good seed retention. These collections have been used to develop a potential industrial oil crop in several parts of the world[
]. Due to the high oil and vernolic acid content, and its relatively low shattering nature, subsp. Galamensis var. ethiopica M.G.Gilbert has been the focus of research aiming at domestication and commercialization[
Tropical Africa - Cape Verde, Senegal, east to Somalia, south through eastern Africa to Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Dry bushland, but more often in ruderal places and as a weed of cultivation, at elevations up to 2,000 metres, occasionally to 2,500 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Centrapalus pauciflorus is a plant of the semi-arid tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres, occasionally to 2,500 metres. It is found in areas where the mean annual rainfall may be as low as 250 - 500mm for some types, but as high as 1,850mm for others[
]. In cultivation, it requires a rainy season that provides sufficient moisture to permit the main flowerheads to develop; a longer rainy season that permits secondary flowerheads to develop will result in poor uniformity of maturation and a risk of seed shattering[
Plants tolerate substantial shading, which may make cultivation in agroforestry systems possible[
]. On poorly drained soils, growth of the main stem stops before flowering; branches develop from the base of the plant, but they also wither and die. A well-drained soil with a pH in the range 5.0 - 8.5 is preferred[
The plant is viewed traditionally as a weed[
In an experiment with selections of var. ethiopica at different locations in Ethiopia, flowering started 87 - 117 days after sowing, and seeds matured after 161 - 261 days[
When growing conditions permit, branching starts after formation of the main inflorescence and occurs only at the higher nodes; these branches may also form flowerheads[
Topping of young plants may reduce the risk of lodging and enhance uniform maturation. In a trial in Zimbabwe, plants of var. ethiopica topped at a height of 15cm led to the development of 18 - 20 main branches per plant, each with 3 - 5 flowerheads. At harvesting, plant heights were less, lodging was significantly reduced and seed maturity more uniform[
Shattering of mature fruiting heads occurs in most types, but types with limited shattering have been identified[
The best yields recorded in Ethiopia from local selections are 4,000 kilos of seed per hectare, equivalent to 1,625 kilos of oil[
The plant is self-fertile, but rates of outcrossing of up to 16% have been found[
The leaves are cooked in porridge, or drunk as a tea, in order to treat chest pain[
The plant is used to treat stomach pain[
The seed contains a high content of an oil that is rich in vernolic acid. Known as 'vernonia oil', it can be used in the chemica industry for making commodities such as glue, paint and plastics; it is also used in the pharmaceutical and agro-industrial industries. In the paint industry it is being tested as a component of low volatile-organic-solvent paints. As a component of heat-baked films and coatings, vernonia oil provides outstanding adhesion, flexibility and chipping resistance, and good resistance to alkaline, acid and non-polar solvents. In plastics it can be used as a plasticizer of PVC and as a structural component of polymers[
The leaves have been smoked as a substitute for tobacco[
Seed - it may show some dormancy for a few months after maturation; thereafter germination takes about 10 days[
]. Seed is usually sown in situ in rows, seedling growth is slow and weeding of the crop is essential[
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