By S. Olanrewaju Disu
The African Walnut is an annual agricultural product. It is widely cultivated in the South-West zone of Nigeria i.e. the Yoruba speaking areas. It is a popular farm product among peasant farmers, who inherit wlanut farms from their parents and pass them over to their own children.
The African walnut is locally called "asala" or "awusa". The fruit is capsular in shape and contains sub-globular seeds. The African has a thin, brown shell that resembles that of the temperate walnut.
The botanical name of the African walnut is "Tetracarpidium conophorum, family Euphorbiaceae". It is also known botanically as "plukenetia conophora'
The African Walnut's seed kernel is edible. It is cooked by steaming in water, the way eggs are boiled hard before eating. If eaten raw, the seed kernel has a bitter flavour and is considered to be tonic. The kernels are oil bearing. Locally, the oil has medicinal value in massages. The cake left after expression of the oil contains protein, which has local uses for food. The kernel is also a good source of vitamins.
Because of the above, people eagerly await the annual arrival of African Wlanuts in our lagos Markets. Interestingly, the harvesting period coincides with the full fledged arrival of maize and the rains. Middle men usually purchase the fruits from the hintherland farms and transport them into "Mile 12" wholesale market. Retailers then purchase them and bring them into urban markets. frequently, street hawkers sell them in cooked form to the populace
(A) The African Walnut
(B) Freshly cooked walnuts on sale at the Oshodi Market, a very boisterous section of lagos Metropolis