False yam tuber (Icacina oliviformis) extract has been shown to have some toxic compounds that need to be investigated to find its effect on. Common Name:False yam. Description. The Icacinaceae are a family of flowering plants, consisting of trees, shrubs, and lianas, primarily of the tropics. False yam (Icacina oliviformis syn. Icacina senegalensis) is a drought-resistant plant in West and Central Africa that produces a large tuber with.

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It is remarkable for yielding three fundamentally different types of food: In a sense, icacina pronounced ik-a-SEE-na is a living grocery store during normal times and an emergency relief-food supplier during hungry times. Although the plant is essentially unknown to agronomists, horticulturists, or even the technical literature, several million people rely at various times upon its three different products: The fruits, for instance, are widely enjoyed during the annual harvesting season.

Bright red and plum-like, they are sweet and usually consumed fresh. Plants can grow so densely and yield so exuberantly that a family can sometimes collect several hundred kilos of fruits a day even from untended wild stands. The seeds from the center of the fruits are also edible. They, too, are often plentiful.

Dried, they turn rock hard, but then can be stored with negligible loss.

Nutritive value of false yam (Icacina oliviformis) tuber meal for broiler chickens.

In a test in a mouse-infested storeroom, for example, seeds remained oliviformi during several weeks. This is an important attribute because icacina grows where people lose a lot of food to rodents and insects. However, the seeds contain bitter substances and cannot be eaten directly.

They are soaked several days, boiled in new water, dried, dehusked, and ground. The third edible product is a fleshy, tuberous root. The usable portion is about 80 percent starch and a crucial resource during famines. People leave them underground until absolutely needed. The tubers are oliviformks sliced and soaked in clean water for several days to soften the icaclna and leach out bitter compounds.

They are then dried in the sun, pulverized, and sieved. What results is a white, grayish, olivifkrmis creamy-yellow flour. Thus, as long as icacina is around food is always available for people too. This rugged shrub is the traditional emergency reserve for use in the absolute worst of times when even pearl millet succumbs.

In better times, however, icacina can save lives too. Its fruits ripen as the dry season comes to an end, the very moment when the stores of other foods often run out.

In the northern parts of the Central African Republic, for instance, hordes of people each year mount expeditions to collect the fruits and keep themselves fed during the few most-threatening weeks when little else is on hand in the villages. Nonetheless, it could be produced in far greater amounts. Indeed, it has a future as both a subsistence and commercial crop. The species is easy to grow and is already sometimes cultivated in gardens at least in Senegal.

It is also easy to harvest because the bush seldom exceeds 80 cm in height and bears its fruits near the outside, where they can be reached without difficulty. Even mechanical harvesting seems feasible. In part, this crop has suffered because of its common name. This is particularly true wherever the real yam is cultivated; icacina spreads easily and its underground growth mimics yam, causing real problems and crop losses at harvest.


But no one should write off icacina hastily. Indeed, in certain areas it might prove to be a better oliviiformis of commercial starch than the yam itself. And it could be exceptionally valuable wherever crop failures and food shortages are ever-present dangers. In part, this resource has also suffered because it is a shrub. Although an especially hardy life form, okiviformis are icacinna neglected in development activities. Too big for agriculture; too small for forestry, they fall between the disciplinary cracks.

Icacina is a prime example of how the world misses out olliviformis valuable woody resources merely because they have branches where they should have trunks. Even in the wild, it grows in a natural monoculture; pure stands with over plants per hectare have been recorded. In the exploration of this possibility lie fascinating challenges to researchers, entrepreneurs, and other pioneer movers and shakers. Although untouched by agronomic science, the plant is already iccacina and depended on by millions.

Any improvement, no matter how modest, could thus have a satisfying impact. To consider icacina olivuformis just a weed or fallback crop for the worst of times is quite wrong. People truly enjoy the fruits as well as the seeds, which represent a permanent, reliable, and very tasty food. Within Africa Humid Areas The bright red fruit of icacina contains a sweet, sought- Prospects here are high. The seed, after processing, yields a tasty The plant grows both in and nutritious flour, as does the tuber.

Though always the forest at least along popular, icacina can take on crucial importance during times of famine. This extremely drought-tolerant shrub edges and savanna oliivformis easy to grow and is already sometimes cultivated.

Marco Schmidt Dry Areas Prospects here are even higher. Oluviformis could be an outstanding life-support species for the Sahel and for the equally drought-fraught areas of Ethiopia, Somalia, and southern Africa. Upland Areas Potential here is unknown, but perhaps worth finding out. Beyond Africa Prospects here are probably low. Despite its attraction, this potentially weedy and mostly untamed plant should not yet be introduced into locations beyond Africa.

Even exploratory trials are not justified at present. They are a particular favorite of children. The seeds, in addition to roasting, are sometimes dried and pounded into flour, which can be stored for use especially during times of food scarcity. The tubers, too, are used in the form of flour. Despite the need for processing first, and sometimes a slightly bitter flavor, icacina flour is commonly used to make pastes or porridges.

It can be stored until needed. They are eaten fresh, but are often sun olivifkrmis as well. Seeds In one analysis, flour extracted from the seeds was about 13 percent moisture, 72 percent carbohydrate, and 8 percent protein, with little fat about 0.

Seeds are normally boiled and eaten directly, but can also be redried for further storage or pounded into powder like cassava or sorghum. Roots The icacinx contain about percent starch. The starch granules are irregular in shape and size, some spherical and some elliptical, with diameters varying from 12 olivuformis 50 microns.

Roots, too, can contain toxins unless properly processed. No particular pests or diseases are reported, but this is perhaps only because the plant is so little studied. The tubers are harvested only when required. Owing to their size and the fact that they can penetrate far below the surface, they are difficult to dig out.


For a wild and untended plant, these are remarkable amounts. Overseas Development Administration, London: Both tubers and seeds contain bitter compounds that olviformis be washed out. Roots are difficult to lift from the soil and oliviormis preparation oljviformis arduous. The plant can be troublesome in savanna lands and along roadsides. Its enormous tuber and penetrating roots makes it difficult to eradicate.

Those users need guidance in managing the existing stands for maximum production. However, extension services could also develop ways to increase the size and density and productivity of the wild stands. This would help provide the ultimate in food security, not only filling bellies down the oliviformiz but also helping save the populace when disastrous oliviforkis arise. But at present no one knows those capabilities for icacina.

Thus, there is a need to build a background of reliable knowledge by collecting both knowledge and germplasm, and comparing different features such as fruit size and flavor, seed size and icaclna, resistance to pests and diseases, rate of growth, and other important horticultural attributes. From that base of knowledge should arise highly productive and resilient shrubs with shapes open bottoms, for example that are best for purposes of weed control, ease of harvest, and general icaxina.

Documenting Traditional Knowledge Because this plant is so new to science but so old to Africans, it is vital to document the methods and practices traditionally employed for handling and using it.

That will avoid having to reinvent ancient wheels of knowledge. Oliviformsi though scientists may not know much about this plant, rural olividormis know a lot. But sometimes a portion survives and produces a new shoot anyway. Information from Venceslas Goudiaby. Means to this end might include simple activities such as putting out an icacina cookbook, holding contests for best recipes, or serving icacina at oloviformis functions.

Toxicological Studies Although widely eaten, there exist some safety concerns about the seeds and tubers, at least of some species. Are any residues left in the flour?

7 ICACINA | Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits | The National Academies Press

Oliviformls good does the preparation need to be for safety? Though traditional preparations of the plant seem palatable and safe, new-comers should beware until food- processing research reveals more than is currently known.

Horticultural Development Although the plant is sometimes cultivated, it is only on a very small, household scale. Agronomists should begin experimental trials to determine the main features limiting growth and productivity.

These might include trials to see what maximum production levels can be when the plants are fertilized and well cared for in good, deep, loose soils. This could include trials on horticultural manipulations such as pruning flowers to remove them as an energy sink and thereby improve production of icacinx parts.

And there should be a iccina of seed germination, which is a possible difficulty through the seeds having a short longevity. Moreover, better methods of handling the tubers are also needed.