Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Article 63: African Cucumber/Balsan Pear




By S. Olnarewaju Disu

The above-named plant, which is prominet during the rains, is a climber or trailer, having annual stems that grow to about five meters in lenght. Here in Lagos State, it is called "Ejinrin nla" or "Ejinrin weeri". Historically, the " African Cucumber" is widespraed throughout the tropics, especailly in lowland rain-forests as well as wooded areas.

Botanically, the "African Cucumber" is known as the "Mormordica chanrantia, Family Cucurbitaceae"; in other words, it is a plant of the gourd family. The name "African Cucumber" is derived from the fruit of this vine.

The principal uses of the plant are as a laxative, for stomach-ache and to treat fevers. Here in Nigeria, the leaves are steeped in water for taking internally against diarrhea and dysentery. The plant is also used as an aphrodisiac and administered in lager doses for gonorrhea.

Traditionally, the leaves and indeed the whole plant are used for treatment of diverse ailments: tooth-ache in children, boils, ulcers, septic swellings and infected feet.

The "African Cucumber" plant is often available for sale on weekly market-days in large markets in Lagos area, e.g the "Oyingbo" market, the "Mushin" market and the "Agege" market. Indeed, most farmers bring down the plants on special request from traditional herbal sellers at dawn on market days.

Photo's:

(A) The "African Cucumber"- or "Ejinrin" on sale at the "Agege" market.

(B) The leaf of the "African Cucumber".

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