Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Composition and nutritional properties of seeds from Pachira aquatica Aubl, Sterculia striata St Hil et Naud and Terminalia catappa Linn.

Abstract

The seeds of three wild plants (Pachira aquatica, Sterculia striata and Terminalia catappa) were analysed to establish their chemical composition and nutritional properties in order to investigate the possibility of using them for human and/or animal consumption. Proximate analyses showed high amounts of protein and oil. However, they were deficient in various essential amino acids but P. aquatica seeds had higher tryptophan, threonine and phenylalanine+tyrosine contents than human milk, chicken egg and cow's milk. Haemagglutinating and trypsin inhibitor activities were present in the seeds of P. aquatica and T. catappa but absent in S. striata. Rats fed on S. striata gained slightly in weight and presented alterations in the key internal organs which were less drastic throughout the 10-day test period. Rats fed on T. catappa diet maintained their body weight but suffered from stomach, small intestine and pancreas hypertrophy and spleen atrophy. Five out of six rats fed on P. aquatica diet died within 6-8 days. The remaining rat experienced enlargement of the stomach, liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart and lungs and had spleen atrophy compared with the same organs of rats fed on an egg-white diet. Hypertrophy of the pancreas and kidneys was very marked and these organs nearly doubled in dry weight in comparison with those of the egg-white control group, demonstrating that the raw seeds of P. aquatica are highly toxic when fed to rats even at a meal protein concentration half that of S. striata or T. catappa, which were better tolerated by the experimental animals.