By S.Olanrewaju Disu
The "Efirin" (scent leaf) is an important vegetable sold in large markets in Lagos Area because of its manifold medicinal usages. The "efirin" is a very peculiar plant in the tropics. It is a shrub that grows up to 1-2m in height. Since ancient times, this plant has been connected with the traditional treatment of fever in our clime, hence its acronyms such as "fever plant","fever leaf","mosquito plant" as well as "scent leaf"It is commonly grown around houses as a mosquito repellant.
The botanical name of "efinrin", the scent leaf is "Ocimum grattissimum, Family Labiatae". The many uses to which the plant is subjected to locally are incredible. To mention some of the uses, the leaf serves as a decongestant for head colds, bronchitis and sinusitis. The pulped foilage is belived to have antiseptic properties. The leaf is also chewed traditionally for all tooth and gum disorders.
Some ethnic peoples livings in Lagos State e.g the Ijaws from the south-southern part of Nigeria eat the leaves in sauces and soups with meat and condiments to embrace the taste; while others put the leaves into salads.
Finally, it is good to report that the plant has magical attributes too!In rural tropical West Africa, it is fetish for exorcising spirits and demons. The Yoruba's traditionally use the plant in an "Odu" incantation to imprecatewitches already in a house to departand to fumigate a house as protection against witches entering.
Photos: The "efirin" vegetable on sale at the "Wey Street" Weekly Farmers' Market