|Authors: ||E. Van den Heever, S.L. Venter|
|Keywords: ||Cleome gynandra, nutrients, medicinal property|
Cleome belongs to the Capparaceae family and is indigenous to South Africa.
Throughout Africa, the tender leaves or young shoots, and often the flowers, are boiled and consumed as a potherb, tasty relish, stew or side dish.
Fresh leaves are used as ingredients in other mashed foods, and dried leaves are ground and incorporated in weaning foods.
The leaves are rather bitter, and for this reason are cooked with other leafy vegetables such as cowpea (Vigna spp.), amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) and blackjack (Solanum nigrum L.). The vegetable is a rich source of nutrients, especially vitamins (A and C) and minerals (Calcium and Iron). Boiling the leaves may reduce vitamin C content by up to 81%, while drying reduces the vitamin content by 95%. In several African countries, the vegetable is an important food in rural areas (where more than 80% of the total population of most of these countries occurs). In some countries, only this leafy vegetable is available during the relish-gap period, and, therefore, plays a significant role in household food security during drought.
Leaves may be crushed to make a concoction that is drunk to cure diseases such as scurvy.
In other communities, leaves are boiled and marinated in sour milk for 2-3 days and eaten as a nutritious meal, which is believed to improve eyesight, provide energy and cure marasmus.
It is a highly recommended meal for pregnant and lactating women.
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