Cucumis africanus acutilobus Cogn.
Cucumis africanus myriocarpus (Naudin) Burtt Davy
Cucumis dissectifolius Naudin
Cucumis leptodermis Schweick.
Cucumis merxmuelleri Seuss.
Cucumis myriocarpus is an annual, climbing plant with stems up to 2 metres long. The stems scramble over the ground or climb into the surrounding vegetation where they support themselves by means of tendrils[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine.
The fruit is reported to be used medicinally, however overdosing and/or the inclusion of the seeds in the pulp have been blamed for fatal cases of poisoning[
The plant is suspected of causing photosensitization in sheep and blindness in cattle. However, reports on medicinal use and toxicity of this plant are suspected of wrong identification, and may refer to other species[
Eastern and southern Africa - Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, S. Africa and Lesotho.
Open localities in grassland and wooded grassland, especially on sandy soils at elevations from 350 - 2,000 metres. It is frequently found as a weed of cultivated land and irrigation furrows[
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The plant has escaped from cultivation and become naturalized in southern Europe, California and Australia. Locally it is considered a weed; in California it has been declared noxious[
]. In southern Africa it is an important weed in maize fields and the poisoning of cattle grazing the stubble of weedy fields is a serious risk. However, as a weed it can easily be controlled mechanically[
This species can hybridize with several other members of the genus - those that are most closely related to the gherkin, Cucumis anguria[
Leaves - cooked and eaten as a vegetable[
The fruit pulp is used as an emetic and purgative[
]. Some caution is advised - see notes above on toxicity.
The fresh fruits contain cucurbitacins A and D. Cucurbitacins, which are also known from many other species in the family Cucurbitaceae as well as various other plant species. These cucurbitacins exhibit cytotoxicity (including antitumor activity), anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities[
The plant is a promising source of disease and pest resistance for economically important Cucumis species[
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