Potassium Application Enhanced Plant Growth, Mineral Composition, Proximate and Phytochemical Content in Trachyandra divaricata Kunth (Sandkool)

Plants (Basel). 2022 Nov 21;11(22):3183. doi: 10.3390/plants11223183.

Abstract

Wild leafy vegetables are commonly included in the diet of people in rural homesteads. Among various wild edible vegetables in South Africa, Trachyandra divaricata (Sandkool) is one of the most abundant but underutilized due to the dearth of literature on its cultivation and nutritional value. In the present study, the effect of potassium application and pruning on growth dynamics, mineral composition, and proximate and phytochemical content in T. divaricata were evaluated. Treatments consisted of three potassium concentrations (0.0072, 0.0144, and 0.0216 M) supplemented in the form of potassium sulphate (K2SO4) with four pruning levels (unpruned, 5, 10, and 15 cm) applied in each treatment. The potassium doses were added to the nutrient solution, while the control treatment was sustained and irrigated with nutrient solution only. The results revealed a significant increase in flower bud yield, height, total dry and wet weight of shoots and roots, as well as ash and neutral detergent fibre in plants irrigated with 0.0072 M of K2SO4 without pruning. Conversely, chlorophyll content and Ca were comparable among treatments, while the highest yield of Na, P, N, and Zn was recorded in treatment 100 mL of K2SO4 with 10 cm pruning. Likewise, the highest antioxidant value (Polyphenols, Flavonol and DPPH) was obtained from plants irrigated with 0.0072 M of K2SO4 with 10 cm pruning. Based on these findings, T. divaricata is a promising leafy vegetable as a minimum dose (0.0072 M) of K with moderate pruning optimised its productivity in terms of growth, biomass parameters, nutritional content, and antioxidant potential. Due to its rich nutritional value, the plant should be domesticated and studied further for its potential nutraceutical benefits.

Keywords: Asphodelaceae; functional food; inflorescent vegetables; nutraceuticals; potassium sulphate; underutilized vegetables.