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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 26 Mar 2008
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Question Desert fruit, what is it?

The orange sized, and shaped, and coloured 'fruit' that grow in patches on the ground around the Sahara. They're all dried out, and if you shake them you can hear the pips (?) rattling about. Does anyone have the correct name for it?

Thanks, Sam.
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  #2  
Old 26 Mar 2008
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No.. but we saw heaps in Egypt and Sudan,
and as we (my children) were listening to the BFG by Roald Dahl we named them
"Snozcumbers"

Graham
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  #3  
Old 26 Mar 2008
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Desert Melon?

do you mean these:



That are desert melons. They're not edible :-(
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  #4  
Old 26 Mar 2008
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Smile thanks, got em..

Citrullus colocynthis

yes, yes, I know... now our lives are complete...
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  #5  
Old 26 Mar 2008
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Wink oh, and they are edible

...they're absolutely delicious. You just have to take a really big mouthful with your first bite.

...let me know how it goes...
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Old 26 Mar 2008
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Thumbs up now we're getting somewhere

The colocynth, also known as bitter apple, bitter cucumber, egusi, or vine of Sodom, is a viny plant native to the Mediterranean Basin and Asia, especially Turkey (especially in regions such as İzmir), Nubia, and Trieste. It originally bore the scientific name Colocynthis citrullus, but is now classified as Citrullus colocynthis.

Its fruit, which is lemon-sized, yellowish, green-mottled, spongy, and extremely bitter, is a powerful hepatic stimulant and hydragogue cathartic. It is used as a strong laxative. In overdoses, the fruit can cause violent, sharp pains in the bowels, with dangerous inflammation. Given that the colocynth grows wild in Israel, these symptoms would be consistent with the "wild gourd" mentioned in II Kings 4:39-40. It is seldom used alone, but in combination with other cathartics has been a standard remedy. It has been used alone in obstinate edema, amenorrhea, and in cerebral derangements. A normal dose of fluid extracted from the fruit pulp is 2 to 5 minims, and for the powdered extract, 1 to 2 grains.[1]

Its seed, which is edible but similarly bitter, nutty-flavored, and rich in fat and protein, is eaten whole or used as an oilseed. The oil content of the seeds is 17-19% (w/w), consisting of 67-73% linoleic acid, 10-16% oleic acid, 5-8% stearic acid, and 9-12% palmitic acid. It is estimated that the oil yield is approximately 400 L/hectare.[2]

The characteristic small seed of the colocynth have been found in several early archeological sites in northern Africa and the Near East, specifically at Neolithic Armant, Nagada (dated 3650-2850 BC), and Hierakonopolis (3500-3300 BC) in Egypt; at sites dating from 3800 BC to Roman times in Libya; and the pre-pottery Neolithic levels of the Nahal Hemar Caves in Israel.[3] Zohary and Hopf speculate that "these finds indicate that the wild colocynth was very probably used by humans prior to its domestication."[4]

Desert Bedouins are said to make a type of bread from the ground seeds. There is some confusion between this species and the closely-related watermelon, whose seeds may be used in much the same way. In particular the name "egusi" may refer to either or both plants (or more generically to other cucurbits) in their capacity as seed crops, or to a soup made from these seeds and popular in West Africa.


Pre-modern medical uses
In pre-modern medicine it was an ingredient in the electuary called confectio hamech, or diacatholicon, and most other laxative pills; and in such cases as required purging, it was very successful. It is one of the most violent purgative drugs known; insomuch that it excoriates the passages to such a degree as to sometimes draw blood, and induce a so-called "superpurgation". Sometimes, it was taken boiled in water, or , in obstruction of the menses, which was considered successful in strong constitutions. Some women used it in the same manner, in the beginning of pregnancy, to cause an abortion, which often occurred due to the violence of its operation.[5] Its usage for this purpose is documented in ancient times; for example, the following recipe was found in the Ebers medical papyrus in Egypt, dated to about 1550 BCE:[6]

“ To cause a woman to stop [terminate] pregnancy in the first, second or third period [trimester]: unripe fruit of acacia; colocynth; dates; triturate with 6/7th pint of honey. Moisten a pessary of plant fiber [with the mixture] and place in the vagina.”

— Ebers papyrus, c. 1550 BCE; translation from Eve's Herbs, by John M. Riddle[6]
The powder of colocynth was sometimes used externally, with aloes, etc, in unguents, plasters, etc, with remarkable success against parasitic worms; and some, for the same purpose, recommended that the pulp be used as an enema. In iliac passion, enemas of colocynth were used effectively where most other pre-modern medicines had failed.[5]

Troches, or lozenges, made of colocynth were called "troches of alhandal". They were prepared by cutting the colocynth to a small size, and reducing it to a fine powder in a mortar, rubbed with oil of sweet almonds; adding gum tragacanth, and mastic afterwards.[5]

Remedies for counteracting colocynth have included emetics, such as zinc sulfate, and apomorphine, if caught early; later, demulcents and opiates, with stimulants to combat collapse.[1]
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Old 27 Mar 2008
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Hi,

And what are these, spotted by the track between Nara and Macina in Mali? They are the size of a football; I saw plenty of them in the Sahel region.
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  #8  
Old 27 Mar 2008
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Nope

These, whose name escapes me (sorry!) are used to make bowls.
The inside is fed to cattle - They grow huge!
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  #9  
Old 27 Mar 2008
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Calabash

It is another member of the Cucurbitaceae family: commonly called the Calabash.
Calabash - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 27 Mar 2008
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Calabash Tree

here's a Calabash tree in Sierra Leone - don't know about Calabashes growing on the ground - those ground-vine ones look more like gourds of some sort

The Calabash tree grows these things (about 16 inches diameter) from the trunk and branches, not from the normal places fruit grow. The fruit are beige colour and are dried out, halved and scraped out, and then used for carrying/storing everything. Also given as gifts because they represent plenty (I guess because you put lots of things in them).

...well, since this seems to be turning into a botanical comparisons thread I might as well chuck in my bit!

Tony
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  #11  
Old 28 Mar 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Rutherford View Post
The colocynth, also known as bitter apple, bitter cucumber, egusi, or vine of Sodom,
The Afgans brought them over here too - though they'd be good food for their camels. We call them 'paddy mellons' ... just to add to the names list.

Thanks for looking them up Sam. Never knew there medical uses.. !!!
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  #12  
Old 28 Mar 2008
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Originally Posted by Frank Warner View Post
The Afghans brought them over here too - though they'd be good food for their camels. We call them 'paddy mellons' ... just to add to the names list.
Now Frank, I always understod a paddy melon to be a dwarf kangaroo.

Garry from Oz.
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