Edible Plants and Flowers in Africa

Edible Plants and Flowers in AfricaEdible plants and flowers can be found throughout Africa. Some plants grow wild, and others are cultivated by people. The edible plants and flowers of Africa range from small fruits such as the grewia to large trees such as the oil palm, which is used for food, oil and wine.

Oil Palm (pictured above)

Originally from West Africa, the oil palm tree has spread into tropical African regions. It grows best in the sun and in disturbed habitats. The oil palm looks like a cross between a cactus and a palm tree. When fruiting, it has large clusters of walnut-shaped fruit. The fruit has a fibrous pulp rich in oil. A husk surrounds a hard-shelled seed that contains an edible kernel. Palm wine is made from the sap of the oil palm. This edible plant of Africa grows wild but is also cultivated in some areas.

Wild Horned Cucumbers

Going by many names, the wild horned cucumber is one of the most traditional foods found in Africa. It is also called the horned melon, kiwano, hedged gourd, melano, melon and jelly melon. The names come from the shape of the fruit, which is a cross between a melon and a cucumber. It is small, round and spiky with a hard outer shell, fleshy inside with numerous seeds. This food is edible at any stage of development, but the seeds can be toxic. Wild horned cucumbers grow wildly on vines on the ground and are often seen in the savanna region.

Grewia (Many Species)

A wild shrub found in South Africa called the grewia provides fruit for hunter-gatherer societies. The grewia is a shrub with small flowers that bloom with small, orange fruits that look like berries. These fruits are edible and often are harvested by hunter-gatherers in the bushlands, where it grows best. Many species of grewia can be found in the semi-arid and arid areas of Africa.

Kram Kram (Traveler's Thorn)

Kram Kram's Latin name is cenchrus biflorus and is among the most edible plants and flowers in Africa. Although considered to be a "thorn in the side" among travelers in Africa, this spiny plant is considered a famine food in areas such as Chad and the Sudan. The seeds of a kram kram are protected by clusters of sharp spines. When the kram kram seeds reach maturity, they fall to the sand and are picked up by tumbleweeds as they blow across the sand. The kram kram plant is placed in a wooden mortar and pounded until the spines fall away, revealing the edible seeds.

Article Written By Linda St.Cyr

Linda St.Cyr is a published author and freelance Web writer. Samples of her work can be found at Demand Media, Examiner, Associated Content and Helium. Her short stories will be appearing in anthology collections including Elements of Time, Relationships: Good, Bad and Funny, and a Halloween anthology collection.

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