Cladosicyos edulis Hook.f.
Cucumeropsis edulis (Hook.f.) Cogn.
Momordica procera A.Chev.
Common Name: Egusi
Egusi is a herbaceous, perennial climbing plant producing stems usually up to 5 metres long, but occasionally to 10 metres. These stems scramble into the surrounding vegetation, supporting themselves by means of tendrils[
Egusi used to be a very important seed vegetable in West Africa and parts of Central Africa at a time when there was plenty of forest to practise shifting cultivation. It is commonly collected from wild stands, which are often retained when clearing fields and is also cultivated. Nowadays, although still often cultivated on farms and in gardens throughout its area of distribution, its use is in strong decline being replaced as a seed crop by Citrullus lanatus[
]. The seeds are a common article of trade in local markets[
In E Cameroon the root has been recorded as being poisonous[
Tropical Africa - mainly in moister areas from Guinea Bissau to southern Sudan and Uganda, south to northern Angola and southern DR Congo.
Swamp, gallery and rain-forest; moister areas of the savannah often together with Pennisetum spp; fallow land and clearings; at elevations up to 1,150 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Semi-cultivated, Wild
Growing best in dappled shade, the plant does not do well in the open or on flat land[
]. Grows best in a soil rich in manure or partially decomposed organic matter[
The seed is usually sown at the start of the rainy season and a crop of seeds can be harvested 6 - 8 months later[
Under extensive management, where planted around remaining trunks of trees, seed yield can be about 300 kilos per hectare[
]. In more intensive cropping systems, where land has been cleared and burnt before cultivation, it may reach 900 kilos[
]. A plant usually produces 2 - 5 fruits; each fruit weighs 0.8 - 1.8 kilos and contains 90 - 400 seeds (up to 100g)[
Fruit - raw. Although the flesh of the fruit is edible, as an item of diet it appears to be less important than the oily seeds for which the plant is mainly grown[
]. The green to pale yellow or creamy white, mottled fruit is an ellipsoid to obovoid berry 17 - 25cm long and 8 - 18cm wide, containing many seeds in a white flesh[
Seeds - raw or cooked[
]. Rich in oil[
].The seeds are removed from the flesh usually by stacking the fruit to allow decomposition to take place. The seeds are washed out after 10 - 15 days, and are then dried and can be stored. They are prepared for consumption by parching and pounding to free the seed-coat from the kernel - this kernel can be eaten either raw or cooked, most commonly being utilized when ground to a powder and added to soups and stews[
]. The seeds (including the seedcoat) are also roasted and served as a snack[
]. In flavour they resemble groundnuts - they are rich in oil and contain more protein than the latter[
]. The obovate, flattened, white seeds are 10 - 20mm long and 5 - 10mm wide[
An oil obtained from the seeds is used in cooking and can readily be refined into a superior product for table use[
]. Ivorean material is reported to consist of: linolenic acid, 64.9%; linoleic acid, 12.4%; stearic acid, 11.8%; and palmitic acid, 10.9%[
Tender young leaves - cooked and eaten as a vegetable[
Juice from the fruit mixed with other ingredients is applied to the navel of a new-born baby for five days until the cord-relic drops off[
The leaves are used to make a macerate for purging a suckling baby either by administration direct to the baby or by putting some on the mother’s breasts before she nurses it[
A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seeds[
]. It is a good substitute for cotton-seed oil and is suitable for soap-manufacture and for illumination[
The dried fruit shell of a form with small elongated fruit is pierced and used as a warning horn by cattle boys[
Seed - usually sown in situ, placing 3 - 4 seeds in each planting hole. Germination usually takes place in 6 - 8 days[
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