Skip to Content

Gemsbok cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus)

Find, identify and discuss the plants of all the SANParks

Gemsbok cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus)

Unread post by Jumbo » Fri Jul 01, 2005 2:48 pm

On our resent Kgalagadi trip we saw a lot of Gemsbok Cucumbers, especially in the area near Gharagab, suppose that is also why we had the privilege to see the porcupine in this area.

Found the following on 50/50 website. It was as a response to a photo that was sent in:

Plants somewhat resembling asparagus, sprouted in the red sand dunes of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park during August last year. Gavin Jansen of Bothasig wants to know if they are specific to dunes, and do game feed on them?
No, it's not a relative of the asparagus, but of the cucumber. It is the Gemsbok cucumber.
The photo shows the white rootstock of the plant that sometimes protrude above ground. The rootstock is extremely bitter and grow up to one meter and longer. During times of drought Gemsbok feed on it as a source of both water and food.
However, its fruit is just as sought after by man and beast alike. It is a good source of moisture and very nutritional. Gemsbok, springbok, red hartebeest, eland, steenbok, porcupines and smaller animals seek it out. The San eat the pulp fresh or cooked.

Also found this:

In the arid regions of Africa (such as the Kalahari desert) lions often consume the fruits of the tsama melon (Citrullus lanatus) and the gemsbok cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus); both plants contain substantial quantities of water in their fruits

Firstly, have any of you ever tried eating the fruit of the Gemsbok cucumber?
Secondly, has anybody witnessed a lion eating this fruit?

User avatar
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 492
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 12:00 pm
Location: At work longing for the outdoors!

Unread post by Jakkalsbessie » Wed Mar 08, 2006 2:37 pm

Some more info:

The Gemsbok cucumber occurs in the southern parts of Africa, namely South Africa, Namibia, Zambia Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Unripe fruit contains cucurbitacins that cause a burning sensation in the mouth.

The fruit is a major source of food but it is eaten mainly to allay thirst.

Epicarp: Roasted and pounded for meal.
Fruit pulp, potable water: Fruit flesh is 90% water.
Fruit pulp: Green, translucent, jelly-like flesh (a has a distinctive slightly rank flavour) eaten raw but is nearly always roasted by placing fruit in hot ashes near a fire, leaving it there for several hours and turning it over once or twice.
Cooked flesh delicious with a refreshing sweet-sour taste.

Fruits, potable water: Used by the indigenous peoples of south-western Africa
Seed cake, starch based preparations: Kalahari Bushmen roast the seeds and pound them to make an edible meal.
Tubers: Nutritionally, the species compares favourably with other cucurbits (example Cucumis kalahariensis A.Meeuse, which compare with the carrot, potato and turnip).

Fruit juice, humans, gonorrhoea, enemas: Claims that extracted juice could be used in enemas for gonorrhoea, by inducing a strong purgative action and heavy urination.

Fruits: Compared with the cucumber it has either similar or notably higher values for fibre, magnesium, potassium, nicotinic acid and vitamin C and energy.
Seeds: Contain c. 35% protein.
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
Please help save Mapungubwe NP - Facebook page

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2006 9:36 pm
Location: Port Elizabeth

Unread post by luislang » Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:08 pm

We visited some family on Namibia's side of the Kalahari and were intrduced to the wild cucumber (Gemsbok komkommer) wich we had as a cucumber salad. But it does not look like the pictures above . I will try and get a photo of it. It is approx. 75mm long and 25mm wide with two different coloured stripes running lengthwise and also covered with the same "thorny" protrusions as in the picture above.
The golden rule of life - Do unto others as you want done unto yourself

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1364
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2004 12:06 am
Location: the Netherlands

Re: Gemsbok cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus)

Unread post by Jose » Sat Apr 01, 2006 10:37 pm

Jannie wrote:Acanthosicyos naudinianus

Gemsbok Cucumber / Gemsbokkomkommer
Cucumis africanus L.f.
Family : Cucurbitaceae (pumpkin family)
Common names : wild cucumber, wild gherkin ( Eng. ); wilde agurkie, doringkomkommertjie (Afr.); monyaku (Pedi); mthangazana (Xhosa); isende-lenja, uselwa-lwemamba (Zulu) <...>

Jannie, now I'm confused :? I thought the image was of a gemsbokkomkommer and not the wilde augurkie (Cucumis africanus) and that they are two different species?
This is what I've been able to find:

Acanthosicyos naudinianus
Family: Cucurbitaceae (= Cucumber family, Cucurbit family, Gourd family)
Genus: Acanthosicyos
Common names:
Afrikaans: gemsbokkomkommer
English: gemsbok cucumber, Herero cucumber, wild melon

Cucumis africanus
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucumis
Common names:
Afrikaans: doringkomkommertjie, wilde agurkie, wilde komkommertjie, springbokkomkommer
English: (small) wild cucumber, wild gherkin

Care to shed some light on this? :D

Return to “Plants”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Webcam Highlights

Submitted by Trrp-trrrrrrrr at 06:29:14
Submitted by Trrp-trrrrrrrr at 06:06:53
Submitted by Trrp-trrrrrrrr at 06:29:42
Submitted by Trrp-trrrrrrrr at 06:29:56