Dumasia villosa var. villosa
Dumasia villosa DC. var. villosa
Common names: black bean (Eng.); ukhalimele (isiZulu)
The beautiful blue seeds of dumasia are what caught my eyes and immediately I thought people should know about this beautiful plant. Also, its linear, constricted fruits which are either glabrous or hairy, make this species look stunning.
Dumasia villosa var. villosa is a climbing, perennial herb, 1.5–3.0 m tall. Stems are slender and covered with pale yellow to brown, spreading hairs.
Leaflets are thin, ovate-oblong, 13–60 mm long, 7–50 mm wide, slightly emarginated or rounded and mucronulate at the apex, subcordate to cuneate at the base, sparsely pilose above or glabrous.
Racemes are 20–40(–120) mm long. Flowers are yellow or purplish. Peduncles are 20–60 mm long; pedicels 2 mm long; bracts 2 mm long; bracteoles linear, 1–2 mm long. Pods are linear, 20–40 mm long, 8 mm wide, velvety with yellow-brown pubescence or sometimes glabrescent. Seeds are subglobose or ellipsoidal, blue-black or black, adhering to the placenta after the pod dehisces.
Flowering and fruiting: August–December.
According to the Red List of South African plants, Dumasia villosa var. villosa is listed as LC (Least Concern).
Distribution and habitat
Dumasia villosa var. villosa is widespread and occurs in 6 Provinces of South Africa: Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western and Eastern Cape. It also occurs in Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, India, Himalaya (Nepal to Bhutan), Ceylon, Burma, Thailand and Madagascar. It grows at the edges and clearings of evergreen montane and riverine forests, in altitudes of 55–1 830 m. Vegetation is humid forests, inselbergs and plateau grassland-wooded mosaics.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Dumasia is named after the French scientist Jean-Baptiste-André Dumas, who lived between 1800 and 1884. The specific epithet, villosa, means villous or hairy, and refers to the brown hairs found on the plant. It belongs to tribe Phaseoleae subtribe Glycininae. In South Africa and Asia, Dumasia has only D. villosa var. villosa, whereas in China, there are nine species, five of them are endemic (www.flora.huh.harvard.edu).
Whole plant decoctions are used three times daily to wash and heal wounds. In India tubers of Dumasia villosa are boiled in oil of Pongamia pinnata together with roots of Bauhinia purpurea and Datura metel, and then rubbed over the body as stimulant. Leaf extracts are used to treat broken bones.
It appears that in South Africa Dumasia villosa is used medicinally as Cunninghamin 1988 mentions in his publication that there has also been a marked reduction in the number of this Afro-montane forest climber. It is sold in large quantities in herbal medicine shops as the seeds contain vital oils (www.efloras.org).
Growing Dumasia villosa var. villosa
According to the website http://www.sunshine-seeds.de/product, to propagate Dumasia villosa var. villosa, use seeds or cuttings. Pour boiling water over the seeds and soak for about 12–24 hrs. Sow the seeds all year round as deep as about 1–2 cm. Use coir or sowing mix, plus sand or perlite. Grow at about 25–28⁰C. The location needs to be sunny; also keep constantly moist, not wet. Germination time is 3–12 weeks. Pests are spider mites.
- Cunningham, A.B. 1988. An investigation of the herbal medicine trade in Natal/KwaZulu. Investigational Report No.29, Institute of Natural Resources, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
- Gillett, J.B., Polhill, R.M. & Verdcourt, B. 1971. Leguminosae, subfamily Papilionoideae. Flora of Tropical East Africa 4: 511–1079. http:// www.efloras.org.
- Leistner, O.A. (ed.). 2000. Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera. Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
- Leistner, O.A. 2005. Dumasia. Seed plants of southern tropical Africa: families and genera. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 26: 191. Sabonet, Pretoria.
- Mackinder, B., Pasquet, R., Polhill, R. & Verdcourt, B. 2001. Phaseoleae. Flora zambesiaca 3(5): 6–241.
- Nkonki, T. 2003. Dumasia. In G. Germishuizen & N.L. Meyer, Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 508.
- Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers Kwazulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
- Ayyanar M. & Ignacimuthu, S. 2009. Herbal medicines for wound healing among tribal people in southern India: ethnobotanical and scientific evidences. International Journal of Applied Research in Natural Products Vol. 2(3): 29–42.
- Umberti Quattrocchi, F.L.S. 2012: 1497. CRC World dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology.
National Herbarium, Pretoria
Plant Type: Climber
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy, Clay, Loam
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer
PH: Acid, Neutral
Flower colour: Cream, Yellow, Mauve/Lilac
Aspect: Full Sun, Morning Sun (Semi Shade)
Gardening skill: Average