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Coccinia adoensis (A.Rich.) Cogn.

Protologue
A.DC., Monogr. phan. 3: 538 (1881).
Family
Cucurbitaceae
Chromosome number
n = 12
Vernacular names
Wild spinach (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Coccinia adoensis is distributed from Ghana eastward up to Ethiopia and southwards to South Africa.
Uses
The boiled leaves of Coccinia adoensis are eaten in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi. In Malawi the leaves are mixed with other green vegetables (Bidens pilosa L. and pumpkin leaves), tomatoes and groundnuts. The fruits are eaten in Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. Availability of leaves and fruits is seasonal in Malawi, from August–December and December–January respectively. In Sudan and Malawi the roots are eaten but they are considered a famine food in the latter country. They are poisonous unless well cooked. In Kenya the leaves are crushed, mixed with water and drunk as a cure for puff-adder bites. A root decoction with leaf sap is used as a mouthwash to treat tooth abscesses in Tanzania.
Properties
No data are known on the leaf composition, but this is likely comparable to other medium green leaf vegetables. The roots contain per 100 g: water 81 g, energy 289 kJ (68 kcal), protein 1 g, fat 0.1 g, carbohydrate 16 g, fibre 1 g, Ca 44 mg, Mg 30 mg, P 39 mg, Fe 0.4 mg, thiamin 0.02 mg, riboflavin 0.11 mg, niacin 0.34 mg and ascorbic acid 81 mg.
The fruits contain per 100 g: water 92 g, energy 112 kJ (27 kcal), protein 2 g, fat 2 g, carbohydrate 3 g, Ca 28 mg, Mg 28 mg, P 4 mg, Fe 0.6 mg, ascorbic acid 19 mg (Arnold, T.H., Wells, M.J. & Wehmeyer, A.S., 1985).
The unripe fruits contain cucurbitacin B and traces of cucurbitacin D. Cucurbitacins, which are known from many Cucurbitaceae and various other plant species, exhibit cytotoxicity (including antitumour activity), and anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities.
Botany
Perennial, dioecious climber or trailer, strigose pubescent on all parts, with simple tendrils; woody rootstock with tubers; stem annual, perhaps rarely perennial, ribbed. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole 0.5–5 cm long; blade variable, ovate in outline, unlobed to shortly or deeply 3–5(–7)-lobed, 3.5–13.5 cm × 2.5–13.5 cm. Male flowers in up to 22-flowered, axillary racemes, peduncle up to 7.5 cm long, with long-pedicellate solitary flower at base of raceme, receptacle obconic, 3.5–7 mm long, corolla pale yellow, pink or orange, with lobes 1–3 cm × 0.5–1.5 cm, united to above the middle; female flowers solitary, receptacle 1.5–3.5 mm long, sepals 1–4.5 mm long, corolla as in male flowers but narrower, ovary inferior. Fruit an ovoid-ellipsoid to ellipsoid-cylindrical berry 3–8 cm × 1–3 cm, smooth, bright red when mature, many-seeded. Seeds broadly ovoid, 6 mm × 3.5 mm × 2.5 mm.
Coccinia is placed in the tribe Benincaseae and comprises about 30 species. The genus is confined to tropical Africa, with the exception of Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt (ivy gourd), which extends throughout the paleotropics.
The name Coccinia quinqueloba (Sond.) Cogn., belonging to a species restricted to South Africa, has been occasionally misapplied to what appears to be Coccinia adoensis.
Ecology
Coccinia adoensis prefers semi-arid conditions and is absent from the wetter areas of eastern Africa. It occurs in woodland, wooded grassland, grassland and gallery forest up to 2200 m altitude.
Management
Leaves, fruits and roots of Coccinia adoensis are exclusively collected from wild plants.
Genetic resources and breeding
Coccinia adoensis is fairly widespread and common throughout its range and therefore not likely to be threatened in the near future. Little is known of the genetic variation within the species. A single accession in a genebank in the United States is documented.
Prospects
Coccinia adoensis will remain one of the traditional vegetables for people depending on food collection from the wild. Transfer of genes from Coccinia adoensis to the economically more important Coccinia grandis for breeding is possible.
Major references
• Arnold, T.H., Wells, M.J. & Wehmeyer, A.S., 1985. Khoisan food plants: taxa with potential for future economic exploitation. In: Wickens, G.E., Goodin, J.R. & Field, D.V. (Editors). Plants for arid lands. Proceedings of the Kew International Conference on Economic Plants for Arid Lands. Allen & Unwin, London, United Kingdom. pp. 69–86.
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Jeffrey, C., 1978. Cucurbitaceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 4. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 414–499.
• Jeffrey, C., 1995. Cucurbitaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 2. Canellaceae to Euphorbiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 17–59.
• Williamson, J., 1955. Useful plants of Nyasaland. The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland. 168 pp. (Reprint: Williamson, J., 1975. Useful plants of Malawi. University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi).
• Zemede Asfaw & Mesfin Tadesse, 2001. Prospects for sustainable use and development of wild food plants in Ethiopia. Economic Botany 55(1): 47–55.
Other references
• Jeffrey, C., 1995. Cucurbitaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 2. Canellaceae to Euphorbiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 17–59.
• Keraudren-Aymonin, M., 1975. Cucurbitaceae. In: Bamps, P. (Editor). Flore d’Afrique centrale. Spermatophytes. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium. 152 pp.
• Meeuse, A.D.J., 1962. The Cucurbitaceae of southern Africa. Bothalia 8(1): 1–112.
• Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.
• Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd Edition. E. and S. Livingstone, London, United Kingdom. 1457 pp.
Author(s)
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
G.J.H. Grubben
Prins Hendriklaan 24, 1401 AT Bussum, Netherlands
O.A. Denton
National Horticultural Research Institute, P.M.B. 5432, Idi-Ishin, Ibadan, Nigeria
Associate Editors
C.-M. Messiaen
Bat. B 3, Résidence La Guirlande, 75, rue de Fontcarrade, 34070 Montpellier, France
R.R. Schippers
De Boeier 7, 3742 GD Baarn, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Coccinia adoensis (A.Rich.) Cogn. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.