Dioscorea dumetorum – Famine Foods

Dioscorea dumetorum


Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. In the Gold Coast (Ghana), the tuber contains a water soluble toxicant, dioscorine, which is leached out. The tissue containing it is destroyed and the tuber is boiled, peeled, sliced, pounded, and steeped in running (preferably salt) water. This process requires about three days. Sometimes the leaching is accomplished by steeping in hot water; other times, the tubers are buried in black cotton soil [sic], known as Bardob, for three days, before being ground into flour and made into Kisra. The steeping is occasionally done in a mixture of water and cotton soil for three days. Sometimes, tamarind pods (Tamarindus indica, L. [Caesalpiniaceae]), and desert dates (Balanites aegyptiaca, Delile.; Betu. [Balanitaceae]) are used as detoxicans. The flour made from the processed tubers is prepared into a porridge, sometimes eaten with sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum L. [Pedaliaceae]) or, into unleavened bread. The tubers may also be eaten whole. The seeds of this plant are also used for food and contain ca. 40% oil, but may also contain toxic components, since it is reported that they are sometimes steeped for three to four days, especially by the Doggosh people of the Shari and Chad area in north-central Africa, for whom the seeds form a principal part of the diet. The seeds are spread on roofs to dry before being eaten. Nigeria (Kano State, northern): tuber eaten. It requires prolonged washing to remove toxicity. Mozambique (Macossa district): tubers scraped and cut into thin slices which are dried on rocks; when completely dried, the slices are detoxified, by placing them in large, clay pots which are filled with water. Salt may be added to the water to facilitate detoxification The slices are cleaned [sic and the water changed every day for about ten days. After this time, a few slices are taken from the pot and boiled. If, when boiled, the slices produce a popping sound, this means they are not ready [for further processing] and they are soaked and cleaned, for a few more days. When the slices are completely detoxified, they are again sun-dried, after which they are pounded into a powder, that is used to prepare a porridge.

Additional Information

Name Authority:
(Kunth.) Pax.
Gold Coast (Bedik): Ma -nyeny, E -dyeny. Nigeria (Hausa): Rogon biri. English: Cluster Yam. Desert dae (Arabic): Betu.
Chemical composition (raw tube) - Protein = 3.2g/100g. Fat = 0.1g/100g. Carbohydrate = 28.3g/100g. Calcium = 28mg/100g. Phosphorus = 52mg/100g. Iron = 1.6,mg/100g. Vitamin A = 10mcg/100g. Vitamin C = 12mg/100g. Note - some elaborate community interdictions associated with D. dumetorum gathering are also described.

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