Edible and poisonous species of cucurbitaceae in the central highlands of Kenya

  • Grace Njeri Njoroge Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, PO Box 62000 Nairobi, Kenya
  • Leonard E Newton Kenyatta University, PO Box 43844, Nairobi, Kenya


The family Cucurbitaceae includes species cultivated for vegetables and fruits. Some wild species are used locally as vegetables; others are given to domestic animals as fodder. Some wild species are poisonous, and cases of poisoning both of people and domestic animals, arise from misidentification of the wild species. Twenty three species were collected and identified. Their poison content, consisting of cucurbitacins, was investigated. Fifteen species were found to contain the dangerous chemicals. An identification key that can be used by people without botanical training is presented. An appendix with short descriptions of the species is included to aid identification.

Journal of East African Natural History Vol. 83 (2) 1994: pp. 101-115

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1026-1613
print ISSN: 0012-8317