Cyrtosperma afzelii (Schott) Engl.
Cyrtosperma senegalense (Schott) Engl.
Lasimorpha afzelii Schott
Flowering plant in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Photograph by: Daderot
Lasimorpha senegalensis is a herbaceous, perennial plant producing a clump of leaves from a short, thick rhizome that is vigorously stoloniferous. The leaves each comprise an erect, spiny petiole up to 100cm long (exceptionally to 200cm), topped with an arrow-shaped leaf blade up to 50cm long (exceptionally to 100cm) and 30cm wide (exceptionally 40cm). The inflorescence is a cylindrical, purplish spadix up to 12cm long, enclosed by a spathe up to 45cm long, on a spiny, solitary peduncle up to 150cm (exceptionally 250cm) long, emerging from the leaves[
]. The plant usually forms large populations due to its strong development of underground suckers[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. The possibilities for its use as an indoor pot plant in temperate climates or as garden pond ornamental in warmer climates seem promising[
This species has an abundant population and wide distribution. It faces no major widespread threats and populations are stable. It is, however, potentially impacted by agricultural development, invasion by other species (Cyperus papyrus for example), and water pollution. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a family where most of the members 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[
West tropical Africa - Senegal to Cameroon, Central African Republic and Chad, south to Angola and DR Congo.
Edges of swamp forest, along slow-flowing streams, in ditches and ponds, often very abundant[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
This rhizomatous herb grows in freshwater or weakly brackish water, stagnant or slow running shallow water[
Young leaves - cooked and eaten as a vegetable[
]. Used as an ingredient of palaver sauce[
]. In some areas the young leaf are seen as famine food, only eaten when better foods are not available[
The leaves are used to wrap dumplings of cassava flour[
Salt is extracted from the ashes of burnt plants[
The leaves are given to women during childbirth to accelerate delivery[
]. The leaf sap has been taken orally against hiccups[
The rhizomes are used to treat ulcers. A decoction is analgesic and sedative. It is taken as a cough cure (one teaspoon), and in larger doses to treat nervousness and agitation[
The fruits are an ingredient of remedies for gonorrhoea and dysentery[
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