Ugu is an African gourd plant cultivated in eastern parts of Nigeria. It grows on a vine that can cover a great distance.
The gourds can weigh up to 25 pounds (11 kg), and have about 100 oyster-shaped seeds in them.
The gourd itself is inedible, though food scientists are experimenting with making things such as marmalade from it. What's used, though, are the seeds.
The seeds can be eaten raw, boiled, toasted or roasted. Their flavour is a bit like Brazil nuts.
The seeds have an oil content of 60% and can be pressed for oil.
The leaves of the vine are used as a potherb in soups or stews. They are available frozen in North America and in Europe at some African food stores. In South Africa, the leaves can be bought at Woolworth's, which sells food there. The leaves are sometimes called "pumpkin leaves" in English.
Livestock such as goats and sheep also love the leaves.
The protein content of the seeds is about 27%.
The gourd is called "Fluted Pumpkin" or "Oysternut" in English. The seeds in English are sometimes called "Pumpkin Beans" or "Oyster Nuts". The allusion to oyster refers to the shape of the seeds.
Literature & Lore
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Ugwu; Telfairi occidentallis (Scientific Name)