Telfairia pedata

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Telfairia pedata female plant.jpg
T. pedata female flower
Telfairia pedata male flower.jpg
T. pedata male flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Telfairia
Species: T. pedata
Binomial name
Telfairia pedata
(Sm. ex Sims) Hook. [1]

Telfairia pedata, commonly known as oysternut[4] Cucurbitaceae family, (alternately spelled as 'oyster nut', etc.[5]), queen's nut,[4] Zanzibar oilvine[4] (alternately spelled as 'oil vine', etc.[5]), is a dioecious African liana which can grow up to 30 metres long, having purple-pink fringed flowers, and very large (30–90 cm × 15–25 cm), many-seeded, drooping, ellipsoid berries which can weigh up to 15 kg[5] (though one old source from 1882 claimed up to 60 lbs).[6] It is valuable for having edible fruit, seeds and oil.[5]


Propagation is by seed which are black to brown-red, recalcitrant and vary from 1g to 68g, with the smaller ones tending to have greater viability. They cannot survive desiccation and fungi are the main cause of seed loss.[7]


In its natural state, Telfairia pedata is found in high-precipitation tropical locales, in coastal and riverine forest lowlands, generally not elevated above 1,100 m.[5]

T. pedata fruit


Although it is also cultivated as a crop plant in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia, Telfairia pedata is native to only Tanzania (including the Zanzibar Archipelago) and northern Mozambique.[5]


Seeds of Telfairia pedata ('oysternuts') for sale on a market in the West Usambara Mountains of Tanzania (January 2014)

The fruits of Telfairia pedata are edible,[4] but the principal value is found in the seeds (or "nuts") and the seeds' oil. The flavourful seeds are prepared in various culinary ways (cooked, roasted, pickled, etc.), but can also be eaten raw, and are given to nursing mothers to facilitate milk production. The versatile, mildly sweet oil from the seeds (marketed as ‘oyster-nut oil’ or ‘koémé de Zanzibar’) is used in cooking, cosmetics, soap and candle-making, and as a gastric and anti-rheumatism medicine; it is believed, by Chaga people of Tanzania, to be beneficial to give a tonic made from the seeds to women who have just given birth. The left-over cake of seeds from oil pressing is rich in fat and protein, and used as livestock fodder.[5]

Fatty acids[edit]

The fatty acids which are found in the oil are here broken down by their average percentages:

List source :[5]


Historically, few pests seem to negatively affect Telfairia pedata very seriously; an exception is the pentatomid shield bug (Piezosternum calidum), which has been known to ruin crops growing in Uganda. Other, more equal-opportunity pests may include Heterodera spp. of root-eating cyst nematodes; and insects, such as grasshoppers and termites,[5] which can devour the entire above-ground portions of plants during a swarm.

Vines cultivated in Costa Rica have been attacked by borers in the main stem, which can be serious, and even kill the vines.[citation needed]


  1. ^  Under its treatment as Telfairia pedata (from its basionym, Fevillea pedata) this name was first published in Botanical Magazine 54: t. 2751–52. 1827. "Name - Telfairia pedata (Sm. ex Sims) Hook.". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Name - Telfairia pedata (Sm. ex Sims) Hook. synonyms". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  3. ^  Fevillea pedata, the basionym of T. pedata, was originally described and published in Botanical Magazine 53: t. 2681. 1826. "Name - Fevillea pedata Sm. ex Sims". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved November 5, 2011. Annotation: as "Feuillea" 
  4. ^ a b c d GRIN (December 3, 2010). "Telfairia pedata information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i B.E. Okoli. "Protabase Record display for Telfairia pedata". Protabase. Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
      N O T E : if link has expired, search for Telfairia pedata at
  6. ^ Eugene Woldemar Hilgard, Robert Wilkinson Furnas, and Thomas Clive Jones (1882). Report on the climate and agricultural features and the agricultural practice and needs of the arid regions of the Pacific slope, with notes on Arizona and New Mexico. United States. Dept. of Agriculture. p. 143. 
  7. ^ Plant resources of tropical Africa: Vegetables - pp. 524-527