pseudolablab1(Harms) J. B. Gillet
pseudolablab Harms, Vatovea biloba Chiov. (Synonym)
deciduous climbing leguminous plant often found covering shrubs in dry country.
The stems are greenish purple. The roots are long, some horizontal, swollen in
some parts, juicy and fibrous. The leaves have three leaflets and the flowers
are purple to blue and green in colour. The fruits are a softly hairy, slightly curved
pod with up to 6 seeds that are usually greyish black when dry. The
plant has been semi-domesticated by Konso-farmers who keep them in their fields
intercropped with other edible food plants.
preparation methods and palatability
are edible and seem to be similar to cassava. The tubers can either be consumed
raw or boiled in water after having removed the skin. Tubers have a pleasant
taste even when eaten raw. Also the seeds can be consumed either raw or cooked.
Immature pods, flowers and leaves can be cooked and consumed like a vegetable.
Out of the roots flour can be produced by peeling the tuber, chopping them up,
dying and grinding them. This flour is then normally mixed with sorghum flour
and used to prepare stiff porridge. It is normally stored and used in lean
periods. Farmers grow and consume the plant in normal years but during food
shortage periods more people rely on them for their daily diet intake.
is found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, and Somalia. The species
commonly grows along dry watercourses in dry bushland in loose red soil or sandy
clay in lowlands and midlands (450 - 1,400m).
Jarso Kebele, Konso
fibres can be used to make ropes or for making hats and fly whisks.
R R Schippers (2000) argues that "in the opinion of people who know these
plants, the potential available in this species is eminently worthy of
exploitation. To do so a start need to be made by collecting and evaluating
germplasm. Preliminary selections could then be tested for their performance and
promising material should be multiplied further; this should not be too
difficult, assuming that it is basically a self-pollinated crop."
species is found wild in the dry parts of Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda,
Sudan, Somali, Yemen and Oman. People commonly collect the species from the wild
but it is barely cultivated. It is now becoming rare in the Arabian Peninsula
and becoming scarcer in East Africa because it is a favourite of people and
livestock alike. If no action is taken, the genetic pool of this valuable
species is likely to shrink fast (Schippers, 2000: p. 99).
1 Parts of the
following description have been taken from Maundu et al., 1999: p. 233;
Schippers, 2000: p. 99.