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Acanthosicyos horridus - Welw. ex Benth. & Hook.f.

Common Name Naras. Butterpips
Family Cucurbitaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Sandy dunes of mostly dry river beds where subsurface water is available.[63 , 299 ].
Range Tropical Africa - Namib Desert from southern Angola to S. Africa.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Acanthosicyos horridus Naras. Butterpips


PolluxTS
Acanthosicyos horridus Naras. Butterpips
Valéry Fassiaux

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Acanthosicyos horridus is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 2 m (6ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Synonyms

No synonyms are recorded for this name.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw, cooked or preserved[46 , 301 ]. Juicy, with a pleasant, sweet-acid flavour[299 , 301 ]. The fruit is up to 7cm long[200 ] and weighs up to 900g[299 ]. Ripe fruits are collected and either buried in the soil or left in the sun for softening, after which they are peeled and then boiled until the seeds become loose[299 ]. The pulp is allowed to thicken and turns into a dark orange colour. After separating the seeds, the thick remaining pulp is poured out and allowed to dry in the sun. It solidifies in a few days, forming flat leathery cakes, which are then cut into strips or rolled up for storage[299 ]. These fruity rolls have good keeping quality and can be chewed or added to porridge for the remainder of the year[299 ]. Seed - raw or cooked[299 , 301 , 418 ]. Eaten roasted or boiled, they can also be stored for later use[301 ]. They can be ground into flour for cooking with other dishes[299 ]. They are a good substitute for almonds, and have been exported to bakeries in Cape Town for use in confectionery[299 ]. The kernel has a soft consistency like butter[301 ]. The seeds contain about 45% oil[63 ]. The seed is up to 15mm long[200 ]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[301 ].

Medicinal Uses

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The bitter roots have medicinal value. Either chewed or made into a decoction, they are used to treat nausea, stomach-ache, venereal diseases, kidney problems, arteriosclerosis and chest pains[299 ]. The fresh fruit is said to relieve stomach pains[418 ]. The crushed root mixed with fat is used to heal wounds[299 ]. Oil from the raw or boiled seeds is used as a skin moisturizer and to protect the skin from sunburn[299 , 418 ].

Other Uses

Plants can be grown in shifting sand dunes[418 ]. Other Uses None known

Cultivation details

Management: Standard;  Staple Crop: Protein-oil;  Wild Staple Crop.

A plant of lowland areas in the very arid tropical deserts of southern Africa, where it is able to survive even in years when there is no rain[299 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 30c, but can tolerate 10 - 40c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 125 - 250mm, but tolerates 75 - 450mm[418 ]. Plants require a well-drained sandy soil on the poor side and a position in full sun[200 , 418 ]. They can succeed in dry, saline soils, often growing where underground water is available[418]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 7.5[418 ]. The leaves have been modified into thorns, which acts to give protection against grazing animals and also to minimize water-loss, making the plant very drought tolerant[418 ]. A deep-rooting plant, the roots can go down 40 metres into the soil in search of water[418 ]. A dioecious species, male and female plants must be grown if fruits and seed are required[299 ].

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Propagation

Seed

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Inara, Mnara, Naia, Nara, Naras, Narram, Narra melon.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Angola, Central Africa, Namibia, South Africa, Southern Africa, USA.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants

 

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Expert comment

Author

Welw. ex Benth. & Hook.f.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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