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Acanthosicyos horridus

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Ecocrop code31703



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DESCRIPTION: It is a dioecious thorny/spiny, shrub, up to 10 m or more in diameter and about 0.5-1 m in height, with an erect growth form. The leaves are modified into thorns to minimize water loss. USE: The seeds are edible and the leaves are eaten as a vegetable. The fruit are bitter (due to presence of aglycones) and unpalatable when green, but are nonetheless eaten as a survival food. A decoction of the bitter roots is believed to cure many ailments. Fresh fruit is said to relieve stomach pains, and oil from the seeds moisturizes the skin and protects it from sunburn. GROWING PERIOD: Perennial. COMMON NAMES: Butterpips, !nara, Nara melon, Botterpitte, Nara, naras, Narras. FURTHER INF: It is adapted to uninhabitable conditions of dune fields with high temperatures, violent sandstorms and rainless climate. It grows where underground water is available, colonizing shifting sand dunes. It can grow on saline, dry soils in hot and arid subtropical climates. Found on active dunes, in pans and flat plains. It survives the extreme conditions of the desert due to its taproots that are able to grow up to 40 m long in search of the water table.
Sources
Grassland Index
Reynolds and Staberg, 2005