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Julia R. Ambrose
Scientific Officer
SEPASAL
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

*****

 

SEPASAL

 

SURVEY OF ECONOMIC PLANTS FOR ARID AND SEMI-ARID LANDS

 

Centre for Economic Botany, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond,

Surrey TW9 3AE, U.K.

 

Tel: +44- (0)181 332 5772/3

Fax: +44- (0)181 332 5768

E-mail:sepasal@rbgkew.org.uk

 

 

These data have been generated from the SEPASAL database using the

listed search parameters and data output fields.

 

 

Search Criteria: Acanthosicyos horridus

 

 

Data Fields provided in the output: All data fields.

 

 

Available output fields include: Family, Accepted Botanical Names,

Synonyms, Vernacular Names, Distribution, Descriptors, Uses, notes and

References.

 

 

 

 

c Copyright of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 13 October, 1997.

 

These data are provided for the purpose of research or private study.

It is permissible to cite database records within published books,

articles, periodicals etc., but it is not permissible to offer the

entire file, or selections, in whatever format (hard copy, electronic

or other media), for sale, exchange or gift without the written

permission of the Director, RBG, Kew. Use of the data in publications

and reports should include an acknowledgement to the Royal Botanic

Gardens, Kew as the source of the data. The SEPASAL team welcomes

comment on the value of SEPASAL data to research programmes.

Suggestions for improvement to the data are encouraged.

 

SEPASAL is funded by the Clothworkers' Foundation.

 

 

SEPASAL Database

13/10/1997

 

CUCURBITACEAE (75)

Acanthosicyos horridus Welw. ex Hook.f. [756]

 

SYNONYMS

 

Acanthosicyos horrida Welw.

 

VERNACULAR NAMES

 

English - naras [601], narras [1619]; English [seed oil] - narras

[1618]; German - Nara [1620]; Topnaar (Namibia) - !nara [896]; Topnaar

(Namibia) [seeds] - botterpitte [1620].

 

DISTRIBUTION

 

Native - Angola [756], Cape Province [756], Namibia [1185] [601],

Walvis Bay [756].

 

Introduced - Arizona [1619], California (S.) [1619].

 

DESCRIPTORS

 

DESCRIPTION

Primary Producer; Terrestrial; Shrub; Perennial; Erect; Dioecious

[896]. Thorny/Spiny - unspecified parts. Plant Height 0.5-1 m [756].

 

CLIMATE

Subtropical, Hot and Arid [1619].

 

SOILS

Saline; Dry.

 

HABITAT

Plains/Flats/Pans [2104], Active Dunes [601] [896] [1619] [756]

[1620].

 

CHEMICAL ANALYSES

Nutritional Analyses - infructescences [187], seeds [601] [1618] [187]

[896]; Antinutritional Factors - infructescences [1671] [1620],

'roots' [1671]; Vitamin B1 (thiamine) - infructescences [187], Vitamin

B2/Vitamin G (riboflavin) - infructescences [187], Vitamin B7/Vit. P-P

(nicotinamide, nicotinic acid) - infructescences [187], seeds [187];

Unspecified Carbohydrates - infructescences [187], seeds [187];

Unspecified Lipids - infructescences [187], seeds [896] [187] [601]

[1618]; Proteins - infructescences [187], seeds [187] [601] [896];

Triterpenoids (unspecified) - infructescences [2111].

 

USES

 

FOOD

- Leaves (green vegetables [1185])

- Infructescences (entire mature fruits, dessert fruits, raw [756]

[1620]; potable water [1171]; fruit pulp, beers [1620]; fruit pulp,

other preparations [187] [1620]; fruits, famine food [1672]; potable

water, famine food [1619]; fruits, staple food [187] [1619]; fruits

[2104]) - Seeds [187] [2104] (confectionery [601]; seed oil,

oils/fats [756] [1507]; nuts [756] [1620];

famine food [1672]; snack food [1672]; staple food [1619])

 

FOOD ADDITIVES

- Infructescences (fruits, rennet substitutes/milk curdlers [2101])

 

ANIMAL FOOD

- Aerial Parts (young leaves, forage [1672])

 

MATERIALS

- Lipids (seed oil [1507] [1618])

 

FUELS

- Fuelwood [1620]

 

ENVIRONMENTAL USES

- Erosion Control (dunes [756] [1613] [1620] [1672])

 

notes

 

NOMENCLATURE/TAXONOMY

Meeuse (1962) describes the taxon using the specific epithet horrida;

the gender rules of the 'Botanical Code' dictate that the correct

epithet is horridus [756]

 

ORIGIN/DOMESTICATION

Domestication:

Imported from Pretoria, South Africa (April-June 1922) for

establishment on the sand dunes of Arizona and southern California

[1619] Domestication: Very specific habitat requirements (see

SOILS/DRAINAGE) mean that A. horridus is not suitable for

domestication, but maximum utilisation in the wild is recommended

[187] Domestication: Wild and semi-cultivated forms are used by

indigenous peoples [1613] Origin: Endemic to the Namib desert [601]

 

RARITY/CONSERVATION

Action required to prevent population decline due to drying up [1620]

Namibia: Between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund in the 1970s, nara plants

were drying up and dying, probably due to groundwater extraction from

Rooibank. Herre (1975) proposed that many more plants would die

unless action was taken [1620] Namibia: Grows in an uninhabited area

reserved for possible future mining or as a tourist attraction [1673]

 

DESCRIPTION

Fruits:

Subglobose-ellipsoid, 15 cm long

Fruits:

Up to c. 20 cm in diameter [756]

Habit:

Xerophytic (reduced leaves, spines, leathery perianth, etc.), without

tendrils [756] Leaves: Has the appearance of being leafless, the

leaves being reduced to stiff scales [1672] Roots: Woody rootstock

[756] Seeds: 14-15 x 9-11 x 6-7 mm [756] Thorns: Many [1171]

 

FOOD - INFLORESCENCES

Fruits:

Eaten by Bushmen of Namibia [2104]

 

FOOD - INFRUCTESCENCES

Entire mature fruits, dessert fruits, raw:

Bitter and unpalatable when green [756]

Entire mature fruits, dessert fruits, raw:

Collected regularly by Topnaar Hottentots and left to ripen in storage

[1620] Fruit pulp, beers: The fruit are collected regularly by Topnaar

Hottentots and left to ripen in storage. They are cooked, sieved, the

kernels collected and the remainder used for beer brewing [1620] Fruit

pulp, other preparations: The flesh is preserved by boiling it to a

pulp [187] Fruit pulp, other preparations: The fruits are collected

regularly by Topnaar Hottentots and left to ripen in storage. Then

they are cooked, sieved, the kernels collected and the remainder used

for a variety of purposes [1620] Fruits, famine food: The Himba Herero

of the Kaokoveld consider the fruits to be an emergency food and not a

staple [1672] Fruits, staple food: For about four months of the year,

the Hottentots of Namibia survive with practically no other source of

food [1619] Fruits, staple food: Topnaar Hottentots live for much of

the year almost exclusively on this fruit [187] Potable water, famine

food: For about four months of the year, the Hottentots of Namibia

survive with practically no other source of water [1619]

 

FOOD - SEEDS

Confectionery:

Used in South African food industry [601]

Eaten by Bushmen of Namibia [2104]

Famine food:

The Himba Herero of the Kaokoveld consider the seeds to be an

emergency food and not a staple [1672] Nuts: Excellent substitute for

almonds [756] [1620] Staple food: For about four months of the year,

the Hottentots of Namibia survive with practically no other source of

food [1619] Very popular [187]

 

ANIMAL FOOD - AERIAL PARTS

Young leaves, forage:

Both wild and domestic herbivores eat the new growth. Older growth is

not heavily browsed, which would diminish the species' role in dune

stabilization [1672]

 

MATERIALS - LIPIDS

Seed oil:

High quality [1507]

 

FUELS

Fuelwood:

The fibrous wood is only held together by bark and is of little use

other than as firewood [1620]

 

ENVIRONMENTAL USES - EROSION CONTROL

Dunes:

As older growth is not heavily browsed, dense bushes develop. These

stabilise the small dunes which are themselves gradually built up

[1672] Dunes: Dense and large bushes develop which trap sand particles

and, as they emerge, build-up dunes [756]

 

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

Fruits:

g 100 g-1: moisture 84; ash 1.6; protein 1.4; fat 0.3; fibre 1;

carbohydrate 11.7; kJ 100 g-1: energy value 231 mg 100 g-1: Ca 21.4;

Mg 19; Fe 0.5; Na 14.1; K 654; Cu 0.3; Zn 0.6; P 22.4; thiamin 0.01;

riboflavin 0.02; nicotininc acid 0.75* * = value greater than 20 percent of

average daily requirement [187] Seed cake: Protein obtained from

oil-free seed cake by extraction with 10 percent NaCl resembled edestin in

being soluble only in buffers of relatively high salt concentration.

Molecular weight of 343,000 measured at ionic strength (I)1.0 and pH

7.8 [601] Seeds: 48 percent fat in kernel; iodine value 116.6; saponification

value 181.4; refractive index 1.4768 [1618] Seeds: g 100 g-1: moisture

5.3; ash 3.4; protein 30.7*; fat 5.7; fibre 1.3; carbohydrate 2.3; kJ

100 g-1: energy value 2709* mg 100 g-1: Ca 100; Mg 363*; Fe 4*; Na 3;

K 400; Cu 3.9*; Zn 5.5*; P 8.11*; nicotininc acid 2.17* * = value

greater than 20 percent of average daily requirement [187] Seeds: Kernels

contain 35 percent protein and 53 percent fat [601] Seeds: Rich in protein,

magnesium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, nicotinic acids and energy, the

seeds are very popular [187] Seeds: The seeds make up approximately

one third of the volume of the fruit, and when fully ripe contain 20 percent

water. In terms of food value they are by far the richest component

of the fruit. They contain 25 percent protein, 29 percent fat, 38 percent fibre, 4 percent ash

and 4 percent undetermined sugars. Zinc, copper and manganese are present,

as are macro-elements such as calcium and iron (Borman, s.d. cited in

Sandelowsky, 1977) [896]

 

ANTINUTRITIONAL FACTORS

Fruits:

Bitter principles occur as aglycones in the fruit [1671]

Fruits:

Ripe fruits often contain oxalic acid, which burns the mouth [1620]

Roots: Bitter principles occur as glycocides in the roots [1671]

 

CHEMICAL ANALYSES - MISCELLANEOUS

Triterpenes:

The fruits contain cucurbitacins B and D and smaller amounts of G and

H [2111]

 

CLIMATE

Adapted to a hot, dry climate, with little or no rainfall [1619]

Arid

 

TOPOGRAPHY/SITES

Namibia, Walvis Bay:

When young the species colonises the outer half of the dunes. It

grows through wind-blown sand, and thus builds the dune further. It

needs sand in order to thrive and wastes away on level Earth [1620]

Namibia: Fringes of salt flats [2104] Southern Africa: Forms dense and

large bushes on small dunes which the plant builds up itself by

catching the sand and emerging every time it is covered [756]

 

DRAINAGE

Namibia, Walvis Bay:

Grows on dunes by exploiting subterranean water, even where this is at

great depth [1619] [1620]

 

SOILS

Namibia:

Loose dune sand [896]

 

VEGETATION

Forms thorny thickets on sand dunes [601]

 

POLLINATION

Insecta:

Pollen sticky, so pollination probably by insects. Male flowers

appear c. 4 weeks before female flowers: this could be a device to

attract pollinating insects so that they are already accustomed to the

flowers when the time for fertilisation arrives [1620]

 

FLOWERING/FRUITING/SEED SET

Flowering:

Male flowers appear about 4 weeks before female flowers [1620]

Fruiting:

>From December, for one month

 

GERMINATION

Can survive extremely dry conditions but requires a little rain for

germination [896] When the fruits are covered by sand, the flesh may

be eaten by white maggots, leaving the kernel unharmed. It is

uncertain whether the kernels are still able to germinate. Fruits

which ripen on the bush always have a hole in the seed and are empty

[1620]

 

PHOTOSYNTHESIS

Takes place directly through the stem and spines [1672]

 

ASSOCIATED INSECTS

Coleoptera:

One of two perennial plants on which the South-West Africa Namib

Desert beetle, Onymacris plana, depends. (The other plant is the

grass Stipagrostis sabulicola (Pilg.) De Winter.) The beetle is a

long-lived, wingless, day-time tenebrionid which frequents open sand

dunes. These two plants provide food and shelter. During extreme

drought the plants sometimes restrict their growth to such an extent

that they become unattractive to the beetle, which then migrates [881]

 

SEED WEIGHT

Weight of 1000 seeds:

256 g

 

PROPAGATION FROM SEED

Seeds germinate well in greenhouses but it is difficult to raise

seedlings under artificial conditions [1620]

 

TRADE

International:

Exported in large quantities to Cape Town from Namibia [756]

International:

Sold in Cape Town as an almond substitute [187]

International:

The kernels are dried and exchanged for goods in Walvis Bay where they

are shipped to Cape Town as an almond substitute [1620]

 

ESTABLISHED PLANTINGS

Imported from Pretoria, South Africa (April-June 1922) for

establishment on the sand dunes of Arizona and southern California

[1619]

 

SUMMARY EVALUATION/POTENTIAL

A plant of considerable interest, growing in areas where few other

plants survive [896] Food plant of considerable nutritional value

growing in areas where few others survive; worthy of further

investigation [1672] There are doubts about its domestication

potential [187]

 

RESEARCH NEEDS

Ethnobotany:

A closer study is certain to provide significant ethnobotanical

information [896] Merits research as potential source of high quality

oil seeds [1507] Merits trials as sand-binder [1507]

 

 

REFERENCES

 

[187] Arnold, T.H., Wells, M.J. and Wehmeyer, A.S. 1985. Khoisan food

plants: taxa with potential for future economic exploitation. In

Wickens, G.E., Goodin, J.R. and Field, D.V., eds. $$Plants for arid

lands.$$ London, U.K.: Unwin Hyman. Pp. 69-86. En. Proceedings of

the Kew International Conference on Economic Plants for Arid Lands,

23-27 July 1984, held in the Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic

Gardens, Kew, England. [601] Joubert, F.J. and Cooper, D.R. 1953.

Naras seed protein (Acanthosicyos horrida.). $$Nature$$ 172(4391):

1190. En. [756] Meeuse, A.D.J. 1962. The Cucurbitaceae of Southern

Africa. $$Bothalia$$ 8: 1-111. En. [881] Roer, H. 1975. The life

cycle of the Namib Desert beetle Onymacris plana Peringuey

(Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae, Adesmiini) with special regard to its

migratory behaviour. $$Bonn. Zool. Beitr.$$ 26(1-3): 239-256. Ge.

Cited in Biol. Abstr. 60(10): 53658. [896] Sandelowsky, B.H. 1977.

Mirabib: an archaeological study in the Namib. $$Madoqua$$ 10(4):

221-284. En. Cited in Biol. Abstr. 67(3): 17697, 1979. [1171] Fox,

F.W. and Norwood Young, M.E. 1982. $$Food from the veld. Edible wild

plants of Southern Africa.$$ Johannesburg and Cape Town: Delta.

399p. En. [1185] Goodin, J.R. and Northington, D.K., eds. 1985.

$$Plant resources of arid and semi-arid lands - a global

perspective.$$ Orlando: Academic Press Inc. xiii, 338p. En. [1507]

Jeffrey, C. 1979. The economic potential of some Cucurbitaceae and

Compositae of tropical Africa. In Kunkel G., ed. $$Taxonomic aspects

of African economic botany. Proceedings of the 9th Plenary Meeting of

AETFAT, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 18-23 March 1978.$$ Islas

Canarias, Spain: Excmo-Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Pp. 35-38. En. [1613] Jeffrey, C. 1982. $$Pers. comm.$$ En. [1618]

Eckey, E.W. 1954. $$Vegetable fats and oils.$$ New York, U.S.A.:

Reinhold Publishing Corporation. 836p. En. [1619] U.S. Department of

Agriculture 1922. $$Acanthosicyos horrida Welw., 55486. USDA

Inventory Seeds and Plants Imported 1922. No. 71.$$ Washington,

D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 49p. En. [1620] Herre, H.

1975. Die Narapflanze. $$Namib Meer$$ 5-6: 27-31. Ge (En). [1671]

Enslin, P.R. and Rehm, S. 1958. The distribution and biogenesis of

the cucurbitacins in relation to the taxonomy of the Cucurbitaceae.

$$Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond.$$ 169(3): 230-238. En. [1672] Sandelowsky,

B.H. 1990. Acanthosicyos horridus, a multipurpose plant of the Namib

Desert in southwestern Africa. In Bates, D.M., Robinson, R.W. and

Jeffrey, C., eds. $$Biology and utilization of the Cucurbitaceae.$$

Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Pp. 349-355. En. [1673]

Sandelowsky, B.H. and Camby, R.G. 1985. $$Namibia yesterday today and

tomorrow. A seful cucurbit throughout the ages.$$ 7p. En.

Unpublished typescript prepared for the conference Arid Lands Today

and Tomorrow. [2101] Marloth, R. 1913-1932. $$The flora of South

Africa: with synoptical tables of the genera of the higher plants.

Volumes 1-4.$$ Capetown: Darter Bros.; London: W. Wesley. En. [2104]

Hardy, D.S. and De Winter, B. Date unknown. $$Herbarium specimen:

Hardy and De Winter 1489.$$ Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. En. [2111]

Hylands, P.J. and Magot, M.S. 1986. Cucurbitacins from Acanthosicyos

horridus. $$Phytochemistry$$ 25(7): 1681-1684. En.

 

Julia R. Ambrose

Scientific Officer - SEPASAL

Centre for Economic Botany

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AE

 

tel. (direct) (0181) 332 5773

fax. (direct) (0181) 332 5738

www: http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ceb/sepasal.html

 

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