Egusi seed still remains a popular food plant consumed especially by our African folks to complement starchy food such as fufu, eba, akpu, pounded yam etc. Interestingly, several researchers have pointed out that egusi is healthful and beneficial for the healthy functioning of our bodies.
Egusi seed is botanically known as Citrullus colocynthis (Curcurbita citrullus L. or Citrullus lanatus Thumb.) and belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is known by various names such as bitter cucumber, pumpkin seeds, egusi melon, vine of Sodom plant, wild gourd, bitter apple, colocynth or desert gourd.
Dioecious egusi plant is distinguished by its climbing tendrils that have a similar appearance with vine plant. It is originally from Africa, Mediterranean region and Asia and the spherical fruit is greenish in colour when young but changes to slight yellow once ripe. Although the egusi melon fruit has a similar physical appearance with watermelon, yet they are both different from each other. While watermelon pulp is sweet, edible and reddish in colour, the egusi melon pulp is bitter, non-edible and slightly whitish in colour. Each plant bears between fifteen to thirty melon fruits.