African cucumis

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African cucumis Information

Family: Cucurbitaceae

 

African cucumis

Common names

  • Wilde agurkie
  • Wild cucumber
  • Wild gherkin
  • Monyaku
  • Mthangazana
  • Isende-lenja
  • Uselwa-lwemamba

Description

The fruits of the African cucumis look like small, prickly and striped cucumbers. The fruit’s taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and zucchini or a combination of banana, cucumber and lemon. It is also said to taste like an unripe, watered-down banana.

Ripe fruit has yellow-orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh with a tart taste, and texture similar to a cucumber.

Distribution

African cucumis is indigenous to Africa and occurs from Angola and Zimbabwe to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. In South Africa it is found in Limpopo, North-West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern, Western and Eastern Cape.

Cultural value

In South African traditional medicine the fruit, leaf or root of African cucumis is used as an laxative or enema for various ailments.

The African cucumis is used for skin complaints, cancers, gonorrhoea, inflammations, malaria, pain, parasites, viral hepatitis and worms. Its anti parasitical properties are legendary. Cucurbitacins relieve liver damage and promotes body immunity. The boiled leaf is used as a poultice. The plant has also been used as an animal medicine.

Growing African cucumis

African cucumis flowers and fruits from about September to May, but mostly in March. It can withstand high soil temperatures but thrives in partial shade where the leaves will be larger and less hairy.

African cucumis is an unlikely subject for the suburban garden; it should be treated as a climber rather than as a plant with long runners.