The relevance of the vegetative and the pod characteristics to the taxonomy of three Nigerian species of sesame was investigated. The plant materials used are Sesame alatum, Sesame radiatum and Sesame indicum. After growing the plants for two years in the same environment, the seeds of each species were harvested and broadcast in a separate perforated 5 L plastic bucket filled with sandy loam soil. The buckets were kept at the nursery and watering carried out until seedlings were fully established. Two seedlings of each species were then transplanted to a 5 L plastic bucket filled with sandy loam soil and each bucket was replicated 20 times. The experimental design used was the completely randomized design (CRD). Each plant stand was thinned to one seedling two weeks after transplanting. Ten vegetative and five pod characteristics were investigated at flowering and harvest respectively. Mean values for each species were calculated and recorded from five plants randomly selected. Data were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) and means separated using the least significant difference (LSD). Results revealed that the majority of the vegetative, pod and quantitative characteristics investigated show significant differences among the three species. These characteristics were used to construct a taxonomic key that facilitates the identification of the three sesame species.
Key words: Sesame, Nigeria, characteristics, taxonomy, sandy loam soil.
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