Dolichos capensis auct.
Dolichos gibbosus Thunb.
Dolichos lignosus L.
Verdcourtia lignosa (L.) R.Wilczek
Dipogon lignosus is a climbing, perennial plant with twining stems that become more or less woody, especially near the base. The stems can be up to 4 metres long, scrambling over the ground and twining into the surrounding vegetation for support[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. An ornamental plant, it is grown in gardens for its attractive flowers and dense foliage, and is also sometimes used as a green manure and cover crop[
Often cultivated as an ornamental, especially in S. Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Dipogon lignosus has escaped from gardens, especially in coastal areas, and become invasive in bushland, heathland and dunes. The plant vigorously seeds and its growth is relentless. In a short time period this species can smother indigenous vegetation. It climbs over shrubs and trees weighing them down and eventually causing them to break. It will also spread horizontally over the ground, smothering native groundcover plants. As a nitrogen fixer, it can increase soil fertility, paving the way for other weeds to invade. It is a locally controlled weed in parts of eastern Australia[
Southern Africa - South Africa (Cape Province).
Scrub forest, along the perimeters of high forests and in waste ground and gardens
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Dipogon is not very cold tolerant, able to only withstand occasional mild frosts. Plants grow best at temperatures between 28 - 30°c though they tolerate mean temperatures as low as 9°c[
Easily grown in an ordinary garden soil so long as the temperature is sufficient[
]. Succeeds in relatively poor soils so long as they are well-drained[
]. Prefers a rich moist soil in a warm sheltered position[
]. Prefers a well-drained soil with a high organic matter content and a pH between 5.5 and 6[
The seed is explosively ejected from the mature seedpods and can travel distances of over several metres[
Plants are susceptible to fire, only being able to survive light burns. So long as it did not burn too hot, the seed is stimulated into germination by the fire[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Immature seedpods - cooked[
]. Rather like snap beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)[
]. Mature seedpods are 25 - 50mm long and 5 - 10mm wide[
The plant is used as a green manure and cover crop[