Hedysarum

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Hedysarum
Hedysarum coronarium - Martyn.jpg
Hedysarum coronarium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Hedysareae
Genus: Hedysarum
L.
Species

Hedysarum alpinum - Indian Potato
Hedysarum boreale - Utah Sweetvetch
Hedysarum hedysaroides - Indian Potato

Synonyms

Corethrodendron Fisch. & Basiner
Stracheya Benth.
Sulla Medik.
Taverniera DC.[1]

Hedysarum (Sweetvetch) is a genus of the botanical family Fabaceae, consisting of about 309 species of annual or perennial herbs in Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America.

Description[edit]

Hedysarum leaves are odd-pinnate, with entire leaflets (no notches or indentations). The stipules are free or connate, and stipels (secondary stipules) are absent. The inflorescences are peduncled racemes or heads. Bracts are small, with bracteoles below the calyx, and calyx teeth subequal. The petals are pink, purplish, yellow, or whitish. Vexillum is longer than the wings, with an obtuse keel longer or rarely shorter than the wings. Stamens are diadelphous, 9+1, and anthers uniform. Ovary is 2-8-ovuled. Fruit is a lomentum, with segments that are glabrous, pubescent, bristly, or spiny.

Uses[edit]

Hedysarum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (moth and butterfly) species including Coleophora accordella. Some species, such as Hedysarum alpinum also known as Alpine Sweetvetch, were eaten by the Inuit to help ward off the effects of scurvy due to it being rich in vitamin C, containing about 21 mg/100g.[2] Charles Darwin also called the telegraph plant a Hedysarum.

In his book Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer incorrectly speculates that Christopher McCandless died from eating seeds of H. alpinum, which Krakauer further speculates to contain swainsonine. This theory was later debunked by experts in the field of botany (http://lib-ojs3.lib.sfu.ca:8114/index.php/era/article/viewFile/180/153). Krakauer subsequently postulated that these seeds were stored wet in a plastic bag, which may have created a toxic by-product, but again there is no evidence to support this claim.

Krakauer was later validated, to a certain extent. Krakauer explains that he recently came across the research of a writer, Ronald Hamilton, who had concluded that a neurotoxin, known as ODAP, in the potato seed was responsible for a degenerative disease known as lathyrism. In August 2013 Krakauer sent a modest sample of the seeds for testing, discovering that they contained ".394 per cent beta-ODAP by weight, a concentration well within the levels known to cause lathyrism in humans." Krakauer concludes that "Had McCandless’s guidebook to edible plants warned that Hedysarum alpinum seeds contain a neurotoxin that can cause paralysis, he probably would have walked out of the wild in late August with no more difficulty than when he walked into the wild in April, and would still be alive today."[3]

Wildlife[edit]

The roots are a major food for grizzly bears. [4]

Selected species[edit]

  • Hedysarum abyssinicum
  • Hedysarum acayucense
  • Hedysarum aculeolatum
  • Hedysarum acuminatum
  • Hedysarum acutifolium
  • Hedysarum adhaerens
  • Hedysarum adscendens
  • Hedysarum aequidentatum
  • Hedysarum ahilum
  • Hedysarum aikini
  • Hedysarum aikinianum
  • Hedysarum alabukense
  • Hedysarum alaicum
  • Hedysarum alamani
  • Hedysarum alaschanicum
  • Hedysarum alatum
  • Hedysarum albiflorum
  • Hedysarum album
  • Hedysarum algeriense
  • Hedysarum algidum
  • Hedysarum alhagi
  • Hedysarum alopecuroides
  • Hedysarum alpinum
  • Hedysarum altaicum
  • Hedysarum amankutanicum
  • Hedysarum americanum
  • Hedysarum ammoxylon
  • Hedysarum ancistrocarpum
  • Hedysarum ancyrense
  • Hedysarum angrenicum
  • Hedysarum angustifolium
  • Hedysarum annuum
  • Hedysarum anomalum
  • Hedysarum antitauricum
  • Hedysarum aparines
  • Hedysarum aquaticum
  • Hedysarum arborescens
  • Hedysarum arboreum
  • Hedysarum arbuscula
  • Hedysarum arcticum
  • Hedysarum arenarium
  • Hedysarum argentatum
  • Hedysarum argenteum
  • Hedysarum argyreum
  • Hedysarum argyrophyllum
  • Hedysarum armenium
  • Hedysarum armenum
  • Hedysarum articulatum
  • Hedysarum ascendens
  • Hedysarum asperum
  • Hedysarum astragaloides
  • Hedysarum atlanticum
  • Hedysarum atomarium
  • Hedysarum atropatanum
  • Hedysarum aucheri
  • Hedysarum aureum
  • Hedysarum auriculatum
  • Hedysarum australe
  • Hedysarum austrokurilense
  • Hedysarum austrosibiricum
  • Hedysarum axillare
  • Hedysarum coronarium
  • Hedysarum sulphurescens

References[edit]

  1. ^ NOTE: This may actually be a valid genus.
  2. ^ Vitamin C in the Diet of Inuit Hunters From Holman, Northwest Territories
  3. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/09/how-chris-mccandless-died.html
  4. ^ Grizzly Bear Food and Habitat in the Front Ranges of Banff National Park, Alberta. David Hamer and Stephen Herrero. Bears: Their Biology and Management , Vol. 7, A Selection of Papers from the Seventh International Conference on Bear Research and Management, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA, and Plitvice Lakes, Yugoslavia, February and March 1986 (1987), pp. 199-213.