BIOGEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION, NODULATION AND NUTRITIONAL ATTRIBUTES OF UNDERUTILIZED INDIGENOUS AFRICAN LEGUMES
In Africa, Vigna unguiculata L. Walp. and Vigna subterranean L. Vedc. are the only cultivated indigenous food legumes, yet there are 14 Vigna species currently used as food security crops in the continent. The tubers of V. lobatifolia, V. reticulata, V. fischeri, V. vexillata, V. ambacensis, V. marina and V. stenophylla are harvested as food, as well as the grain of V. reticuleata, V. vexillata, V. juncea, V. gracilis, V. membranacea and V. radiata. Tylosema esculentum (an unimproved legume native to southern Africa) produces grain with 30-39% protein and 43% oil compared to the highly improved soybean with 38-40% protein and groundnut with 48% oil. Nutritionally, the tubers of Sphenostylis stenocarpa, V. lobatifolia and V. vexillata also contain up to 15% protein, a level six times that of cassava and three times that of Irish potato or sweet potato. Except for T. esculentum, these underutilized legumes all nodulate freely with soil bacteria and fix N2. Vigna subterranean and Macrotyloma geocarpum, for example, can obtain 51-67% of their N nutrition from symbiotic fixation. As a result, these underutilized legumes serve as high-protein forage/fodder for livestock and wildlife. This review summarizes the potential of under-exploited African legumes as food/medicinal crops, forage and covercrops.
Dakora, F.D. (2013). BIOGEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION, NODULATION AND NUTRITIONAL ATTRIBUTES OF UNDERUTILIZED INDIGENOUS AFRICAN LEGUMES. Acta Hortic. 979, 53-64
food security, grain legume, nitrogen fixation, root nodules, tuberous legume, Vigna spp.