Citrullus naudinianus (Sond.) Hook.f.
Colocynthis naudinianus (Sond.) Kuntze
Cucumis naudinianus Sond.
Ripening fruit in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, SOUTH AFRICA
Photograph by: Bernard DUPONT
Acanthosicyos naudinianus is a perennial herbaceous plant producing annual stems up to 6 metres long from a tuberous rootstock that can be 1 metre long[
]. The stems scramble over the ground, often rooting at the nodes, and also climb into the surrounding vegetation, supporting themselves by means of tendrils[
The plant is an important local food in the arid areas in which it grows. In view of increasing demands for edible oil and protein in arid lands, it is a candidate for development as a high-yielding, dry country crop. It yields a crop quickly, harvesting the fruits is easy, it has a wide ecological adaptation, it is easily propagated and handled, and fruits store well. As such, it compares favourably with Acanthosicyos horridus as a candidate for domestication[
The tuberous roots are considered inedible or even poisonous and in Zambia they have been reportedly used for homicidal purposes[
The unripe fruits cause a burning sensation of the tongue and lips when eaten raw[
Southern Africa - Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, S. Africa.
Woodland, wooded grassland and grassland; growing in sandy soils at elevations from 900 - 1,350 metres[
A plant of the arid tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,350 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 30°c, but can tolerate 12 - 32°c[
]. It is intolerant of frost[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 150 - 500mm, but tolerates 100 - 700mm[
Requires a sunny position in a deep, sandy, well-drained soil[
]. Tolerates saline subsoils[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 6.5, tolerating 5.5 - 7[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. It can be boiled, roasted or made into pickles[
]. A sweet-sour taste[
]. The watery, soft, jelly-like pulp is eaten raw as a refreshing snack and an important thirst quencher[
]. The unripe fruits cause a burning sensation of the tongue and lips when eaten raw[
]. The ellipsoid or subglobose fruit is 6 - 12cm long and 4 - 8cm wide[
]. It is rather glaucous green, becoming pale yellow when mature[
The fresh fruit is used as a source of liquid for travellers in the desert[
The fruit can be used as a rennet for curdling milk[
Seed - cooked. It contains around 35% protein and can be roasted then ground into a flour or used in confectionery[
]. The fruit skin and the seeds are roasted and pounded to make a meal[
]. The seeds are 7·5 - 10mm long by 4 - 6mm wide and 2·5 - 3mm thick[
The sap of the tuber is regarded as a remedy to arrow poison[
]. The tuber is pounded and soaked in cold water - the soak water is drunk to induce vomiting and thuse get rid of the poison[
The long, firm stems are used by children as skipping ropes[
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