WaterLeaf: How to Grow and More Information

Waterleaf is an annual and perennial plant with edible green leaves. As the name suggests, its leaves mimic those of waterlogged trees, especially when they grow without planting. It is observed in most states of Nigeria, mainly in the south. Its botanical name is “Talinum fruticosum or Talinum triangulare”.

Although it has different local names in different parts of the world. In Nigeria, it is called “Gbure in Yoruba”, Mgbolodi in Igbo, Ebe-dondon in Edo  “Mmongmong Ikong” in Ibibio. and ''
alenyruwai'' in hausa. 

Waterleaf is native to tropical Africa and is widely cultivated in West Africa, Asia and South America. Waterleaf is scientifically classified as a weed, it grows abundantly during the rainy season and is easily propagated by seeds and cutting.
It grows quickly and has a short life cycle, making it a perishable vegetable. It has a large plant growing from 30 to 100 cm in height. It is often harvested in the wild for local consumption and cultivated in various tropical regions for its vegetables. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant or edging plant in gardens.

Waterleaf is also widely cultivated by farmers in some African countries, not only for personal consumption but also as a way of life because of the unique nature of its fruit and its benefits. Its maturity is short, between 2 and 4 weeks after planting.

Waterleaf for cooking
The leaves and shoots of this plant are used in cooking when cooking fibrous vegetable soups such as Afang (Gnetum africanum), Atama (Heinsia crinata) and Fluted Pumpkin - Edikan Ikong (Telferia occidentalis). It also serves as a food thickener, which is widely consumed in southern Nigeria.
Some people eat the leaves sometimes in a salad and sometimes use okra soup as a color. 

water bed


Nutritional composition of waterleaf

The vegetable is rich in vitamin C, protein, calcium, iron, pectin, vitamin A, and other important minerals.


Medicinal properties and uses of the waterleaf
This vegetable contains a lot of water and nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, crude fiber, lipids, crude protein and others that make them nutritious and medicinal in many ways including:

  • Waterleaf can delay the onset of heart disease and stroke.
  • Waterleaf exhibits many biological and medicinal activities such as anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
  • It improves cognitive ability, strong teeth and bones, digestion and weight loss.
  • It improves blood cells, blood clotting and heart health
  • It promotes eye and bone health and strengthens the immune system to fight disease.

How to grow waterleaf

  • Waterleaf leaves spread out from its base. It is not necessary for the nursery, plant the seed directly in the bed, putting the stem in the ground in a certain height but closely together.
  • Waterleaf require a close space, which helps them to stay strong and immune to disease and harsh weather conditions. 
  • Waterleaf is often planted in a mixture of other vegetables. Alternatively, it can be grown as a monoculture in a space of about 15cm × 15cm. Closing gaps also reduces weed competition and is possible because disease pressure is limited.
  • In fertile soil or with sufficient fertilization, the space can be increased to 25 cm × 25 cm. 
  • Germination takes place after about 5 days and grows faster if enough water is provided.
  • Animal manure such as rabbit or chicken manure can be added to promote rapid growth. 
  • The plants take 40 to 75 days to flower, and when they flower, they have 4 to 9 branches and 25 to 90 leaves.
  • The beginning of the flower does not affect the leaves or shoot production.
  • Waterleaf is recorded as a self-pollinator in the extremes of excess.
  • Fruiting takes 75 to 80 days after planting. Under natural conditions, the plant will live for 4-6 months.

Soil and Sun are required for Waterleaf

  • Waterleaf grows best in moist, compost-rich, or well-acidic soil, under partial shade. 
  • But can also grow in direct sun and in fully exposed locations, on porous sandy soils or at altitude.
  • Waterleaf can withstand scorching sun, excessive heat and drought. It can be easily propagated from seeds/cuttings and is ready to harvest in less than two months.
  • It spreads easily from seeds. It is very sensitive to cold and its roots rot when they are in wet soil.
  • The chosen place should not be flooded, which will damage the seed. Add compost and organic animal feed to the soil for faster growth.

Watering requirement for Waterleaf
After planting, water every day, then three times a week when the plant grows. It is important to water the leaves properly.
This will promote the growth and fruiting of the water leaf. 

Avoid watering too much, water in moderation.


Harvesting waterleraf

 It takes only 3 weeks from planting to first harvest. After that, the shoots will be harvested at intervals of one week to two weeks in two months.

Harvesting waterleaf

Leaf size decreases with the age of the plant and the number of harvests. The first 1 to 3 harvests give the best leaves.
On average, you can harvest 4 times before the growth starts to decline. 

The best way to harvest is to cut the plant off the ground. This allows for faster regeneration than harvesting only the tops and sides of the shoots. 

When the first harvest is delayed and the bottom part of the stem turn brown and lose their leaves.
It is still advisable to cut above the ground to get a better quality for the next harvest. 

Waterleaf is highly perishable and  shoot s may start withering only a few hours after being harvester
This is not a problem if you want to share the product, but it doesn't fail to be a good food. 

However, when stored in a cool, dry place at room temperature or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, it can last for a few days.

Pests and diseases

Waterleaf is one of the few vegetables that is less affected by pests or diseases. The most common diseases are white leaf spot (Pleospora spp.) and leaf mosaic caused by an unknown virus.
A so far unidentified blight causes dark green spots on the underside of leaves. 

With the above information about Waterleaf, you are well prepared to create your own water leaf and it can also be very useful. Since, it requires less money or investment of time until the harvest.


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