Vegetables are plants or parts of plants that can be consumed by humans as well as herbivorous animals. Some vegetables have formed part of human nourishment from when our forebears were hunter-gatherers. They may be staple foods or act as accessory additives to meals to produce unique flavours and nutrients vital for health.
This is a list of vegetables in Nigeria:
Fluted pumpkin is a species of a vine known scientifically as Telfairia occidentalis, prevalent in the Southeastern region of Nigeria. The young shoots of leaves are used for cooking several local dishes, particularly in the Southern part of the country. This vegetable also possesses medicinal properties. Fluted pumpkin is known by several parlances, such as Ugu, Ikong-Ubong, and Efo, for Igbo, Ibibio/Efik, and Yoruba languages respectively.
Scientifically referred to as Talinum fruticosum, Water Leaf is a widely grown leafy vegetable that originally is found in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, and parts of South America. Water Leaf is used for preparing meals in Nigeria, and it is known to contain a high value of Vitamins A and Vitamin C, and also minerals such as calcium and iron.
Scent Leaf is a leafy vegetable native to Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and Madagascar. Scent Leaf is an important component of several indigenous meals peculiar to Nigeria as it is known to serve as a spice when cooking, producing unique flavour and vital minerals such as Vitamin A. The Efik/Ibibio people of South-South refer to this leafy perennial plant as Ntong, the Igbos as Nchuanwu, and the Yorubas as Efirin. The species is scientifically referred to as Cocimum gratissimum.
This is a biennial leafy vegetable grown in Nigeria that possesses analgesic and sedative attributes when ingested. Wild Lettuce is rich in nutritional value when introduced in meals, such as soups and sauces. It is described scientifically as Launaea taraxacifolia.
Spinach is a leafy vegetable that is found in Nigeria and used for cooking Nigerian dishes. It could be eaten fresh or stored for future use. Spinach supplies an ample amount of Vitamin A, C, and K, as well as minerals as manganese, magnesium, iron, and folates. It is an annual plant, recognized scientifically as Spinacia oleracea.
Thyme is a herbaceous plant that exists in Nigeria. The leaves of a thyme shrub are used in preparing several meals as it has great culinary value and distinctive flavour. It could be used either in fresh form or in dried form. Thyme keeps its flavour even after dried. Thyme vulgaris is the scientific name for this vegetable.
Curry leaves are found in Nigeria, growing in various parts of the country. It is mostly used in cooking as spice and seasoning due to the flavour and aroma it adds to the cuisines. Curry leaves can also be dried and packaged for future use.
Gnetum Africanum (Afang/Okazi)
This vegetable is native to tropical Africa. Originally occurring as pine and considered a wild vine and a wild vegetable, this perennial plant with papery-like leaves has been domesticated by the tribes in Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, and other Southeastern states. It is referred to as Afang and Okazi by the Efik/Ibibio and Igbo respectively. The afang soup has cultural value to the aforementioned ethnicities as it forms part of their identity. Consumption of the vegetable supplies protein, amino acids, glutamic acid and aspartic acid. Afang leaves are also employed for medicinal purposes.
Heinsia Crinita (Editan Leaf)
Editan leaf as it is commonly referred to in Nigeria, particularly by the Efik, Ibibio, and Annang ethnicities. The editan leaf is used for preparing meals such as soup and sauce. It is nutritionally rich in iron, boosts red blood cell production, and is suitable for diabetics as it helps in the regulation of blood sugar. The editan soup is a cultural identity of the people of Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.
Bitter leaf is an indigenous plant of the African continent that is found in most parts of Sub-Saharan regions including Nigeria. Scientifically recognized as Vernonia amygdalina, bitter leaf is used for cooking and medicinal purposes. As a diet, bitter leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals salts important for good health. Medicinally, bitter leaves are used in the treatment of several illnesses which may include, skin infections, fever, diarrhoea and common malaise. Bitter leaves also help in cleansing vital organs like the kidney and liver.
This is commonly identified in local parlances as Utazi or Arokeke by the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups respectively. This is a climbing shrub of immense benefits. It is used as a spice for preparations of delicacies such as african salad (abacha), white soup (afia-efere or ofe nsala), sauce, nkwobi, isi-ewu, and unripe plantain porridge as the bitter-sweet taste produces unique flavour to these dishes and also supply protein vital for bodybuilding. There are also medicinal applications of this plant as it is used as a time antidote for dysentery, catarrh, and congested chest.
This plant is native to West Africa, and it is known in Nigeria by several names such as gurguzu, isiapa, ashes by the Hausa, Yoruba and Tiv people respectively. The leaves are used for preparing local delicacies whereas the red variant of the capsule popularly known as sobo in Nigeria, is prepared by boiling and extracting the content which is best taken chilled.
Abelmoschus Esculentus (Okro)
Okro is classified as a fruit but it can also be regarded as a vegetable because of its utilization in dishes or on its own. Okro is a good source of minerals, fibre, antioxidants and vitamins.
- Amaranthus Hybridus
This is locally known as greens in Nigeria. The seeds and leaves of this vegetable are edible when cooked. They also perform medicinal functions such as relief for pulmonary problems and serve tapeworm expellants.
Though tomatoes are recognized as a berry, under the fruit subsector, they can also be categorized as a vegetable due to their culinary uses. As a part of a meal, tomatoes offer a savoury taste when cooked and are a moderate source of Vitamin C. It is scientifically known as Solanum lycopersicum.