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The egusi plant looks so much like a watermelon plant that most botanists think it is one. The fruit looks so much like a small, round, watermelon that the two are also easily confused.1 However on the inside the egusi fruit is neither red, nor luscious, nor sweet. Indeed, it is white and dry and bitter enough to be repulsive. This is one fruit not even monkeys bother with. But for all that egusi is a food crop…and far from a small one at that.

Egusi2 is grown for its seeds, which resemble large, white, melon seeds. In West Africa, a region where soups are integral to life, they are a major soup ingredient and a common component of daily meals. Coarsely ground up, they thicken stews and contribute to widely enjoyed steamed dumplings. Some are soaked, fermented, boiled, and wrapped in leaves to form a favorite food seasoning.3 They are also roasted and ground into a spread like peanut butter. Some are roasted together with peanuts and pepper and ground into an oily paste4 that is used when eating kola nuts, eggplant, and fruits. Egusi-seed meal is compacted into patties that serve as a meat substitute. It is even said that the dry seeds placed on a hot skillet pop like popcorn and come out looking like puffed rice.

--- Lost Crops of Africa



  1. Egusi melon is a fast-spreading creeping vine. The taxonomy is not clear but the ECHO seed comes from what is probably a variety or sub-species of watermelon. The white, bitter fruits are inedible; instead it is grown for the seeds which contain 50% oil and 30% protein and can be ground into a...
  2. Abstract,Asian Journal of Science and Technology, 2014 March Egusi melon is an annual herbaceous, monoecous plant which is grown mostly in tropical regions. It is up to 28% protein and 35% fats, with about 72% by weight unsaturated fatty acids, and 57.4% of it being polyunsaturated fatty acids...
  3. The egusi plant looks so much like a watermelon plant that most botanists think it is one. The fruit looks so much like a small, round, watermelon that the two are also easily confused.1However on the inside the egusi fruit is neither red, nor luscious, nor sweet. Indeed, it is white and dry and...
  4. Abstract,ARPN Journal of Agricultural and Biological Science, 2012 A study was undertaken at the Teaching and Research Farm of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria in the wet and dry seasons of 2005 and 2007 to monitor the effects of season and fruit size on the seed quality of ‘egusi’...
  5. Abstract,American Journal of Agricultural Research, 2016 Melon crop plays important roles in the farming system and in the nutritional diet and economic well-being of West African rural dwellers. However, there has been continuous decline in the melon yield in last two decades. Also, cultivation...
  6. Abstract,The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness, 2007 Proximate, amino acid and mineral composition of Citrullus lanatus (egusi melon) flour were determined using standard analytical procedures. The proximate composition analysis of egusi melon showed that the seed contained (% dry...
  7. Abstract,Int. J. Curr. Res. Biosci. Plant Biol. 2015 The recent trend of moving away from synthetic or chemical-based treatments, towards more nature-based remedies has not at all been condemned, with efficacy, safety, relative availability and affordability taking sides with the later. The seed...
  8. Abstract, African Journal of Biotechnology, 2017 October This study investigated fungi and total aflatoxins quality ofogiri[fermented melon seed (Citrullus vulgaris] and fermented African oil bean seed (Pentaclethra macrophylla) consumed as soup condiment in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Nigeria. The...
  9. Abstract, Toxicology Reports, 2017 TheEgusi Okrasoup is a traditional African meal that is considered of high nutritional value and protective against weight loss. We introduce the concept of “kitchen toxicology” to analyse the recipe of theEgusi Okrasoup and highlight possible mitigation...

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