Cucumis aculeatus is a perennial plant producing annual stems 2- 3 metres long from a thickened fleshy perennial rootstock. The stems trail along the ground or climb into other plants, attaching themselves by means of tendrils[
]. The stems are armed with yellow-green, recurved prickles of varying degrees of stoutness, some fine and hair-like, some thorn-like[
The plant is harvested from the wild as a local source of food.
East tropical Africa - Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, eastern DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania.
Bushland, wooded grassland, grassland; edge of gallery forest with Euphorbia, savannah; disturbed Juniperus forest; at elevations from 1,000 - 2,400 metres[
Fruit - raw or cooked. Young fruits are sometimes eaten raw[
]. The fully ripe fruit has a bitter flavour, but is sometimes boiled and eaten[
]. Mature fruits can be cut into small slices, dried and then cooked as a vegetable after adding a paste of pounded groundnuts[
]. The yellow, obovoid-ellipsoid fruit is 50 - 71mm long and 34 - 50mm wide[
]. The tender leaves are cooked and served with a staple[
]. They are also dried in the sun, pounded and used as a vegetable paste with pounded groundnuts[
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