Some Leafy Vegetables and Herbs Found in Nigeria and Their Uses

  1. English Name : Fluted Pumpkin Leaves
    Local Name : Ugu (Igbo)
    Botanical Name : Telfairia Occidentalis
    Ugu is a leafy vegetable which is used in Nigeria for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and folic acid which makes it highly nutritious. It is also a good source Of vitamins A, C, K and lots of minerals. Researchers also found out that eating meals rich in fluted pumpkin leaves and seeds helps prevent cancer, improves blood count, beats diabetes, reduces blood glucose & cholesterol levels. It is used for soups like efo riro.

  2. English Name : Jute leaves, saluyot leaves
    Local Name : Ewedu (Yoruba), Ayoyo (Hausa/Fulbe)
    Botanical Name : Corchorus
    In the western part of Nigeria, it is used in the preparation of Ewedu soup. Once grinded, it’s got a slimy consistency just like okra. It’s a good source of fibre, low in calories but high in vitamins. In herbal medicine, it is used to control or prevent dysentery, worm infestation and constipation. Ayurveda (ancient Hindu system of healing) use the leaves for ascites, pain, piles, and tumors. Elsewhere, the leaves are used for cystitis, dysuria, fever, and gonorrhoea. The cold infusion is said to restore the appetite and strength.

  3. English Name : Bitter Leaf
    Local Name : Onugbu (Igbo), Efo Ewuro (Yoruba), Shuwaka (Hausa), Etidot (Cross River State of Nigeria)
    Botanical Name : Vernonia Amygdalina
    As the name implies, the plant is actually bitter and is used in preparing the popular Nigerian bitter leaf soup. Most times, it is sold already pre-washed in the Nigerian market. There are several species of bitter leaf - some large, leafy and deep green leaves, while some have comparatively smaller broader leaves. The bitterness is usually removed by boiling before the leaves are cooked as soups or added to soups made with other vegetables or eaten as spinach. It is rich in vitamins and minerals.
    In traditional Nigerian medicine, it is used to treat fever, malaria, hepatitis, diarrhea, dysentery, and cough. The leaves are also used as medicine for stomach ache, head ache, scabies and gastrointestinal disorders. Bitter leaf also reduces the sugar level of the body drastically and repairs the pancreas and kidneys which makes it great for diabetic patients.

  4. English Name : Eru “wild spinach” or African Jointfir
    Local Name : Afang leaves (Ibibio), okazi/Ukazi (Igbo)
    Botanical Name : Gnetum Africanum
    Okazi is a climbing plant like Ugu and Uziza. It’s got a tough (hard) papery glossy texture and is somehow tasteless without any distinctive smell. It is used in the preparation of Afang soup and okazi soup. Some people also add it to egusi soup. Locally, it’s used as a remedy for sore throats, nausea, reduction of pain during childbirth or as a dressing for warts. It’s a rich source of protein and is strong in essential and non-essential amino acids. it also has anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties. It contains iron and iodine.

  5. English Name : False cubeb leaves (The seeds from the plant is known as mkpuru uziza (uziza seeds))
    Local Name : Uziza leaves/ Ashanti pepper leaves/ Benin pepper leaves/ Guinea cubeb leaves
    Botanical Name : Piper guineense
    In the local Nigerian market, it is known as hot leaves. It’s peppery and is usually used in small quantity to add flavor and a very nice aroma to soups like ofe nsala, vegetable soups and sometimes egusi soup. It is rich in anti-oxidants and has preservative properties.

  6. English Name : Bush buck
    Local Name : Utazi (Igbo), ‘arokeke’(Yoruba)
    Botanical Name : Gongronema latifolium

    Utazi leaves is very sharp-bitter and sweet and is used in small quantity in preparing soups like nsala, ugba sauce, Yam and also in garnishing dishes like abacha ncha, isi ewu, nkwobi e.t.c. It is also used locally in the treatment of cough, intestinal worms, dysentery, dyspepsia and malaria. It is also taken as a tonic to treat loss of appetite and also In the treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure.

  7. English Name : Clove Basil
    Local Name : Nchuawun(Igbo), Efirin(Yoruba), Daidoya (Hausa), Ntong(Efik), Aramogbo (Edo), Scent Leaves
    Botanical Name : Ocimum gratissimum
    Scent leaves is used in the preparation of foods such as pepper soup, ofe akwu, yam porridge, vegetable soups e.t.c and as the name implies, it gives a wonderful aroma to the meals it’s prepared with. In traditional medicine, it is used to lower blood pressure as well as reduce blood sugar level. It is used in the treatment of piles. It is said to be useful in the medication for people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome virus (AIDS). In Congo, scent leaf decoction is used for diarrhoea, gonorrhoea infection, vaginal douches for vaginitis and used in treatment of mental illness. In Nigeria it is used as a strong mosquito repellent as well as for other insects.

  8. English Name : Curry leaf “sweet neem leaves”
    Local Name : Efirin Oso(Yoruba), Marugbo sanyan(Yoruba)
    Botanical Name : Murraya koenigii
    In Nigerian meal preparation, it is added to stews, meats, fish to add flavor to the dishes. It’s got small pinnate leaves which are highly aromatic. Other uses include it being used as a good remedy for nausea and indigestion. The leaves are chewed to lose weight, it is known to improve eyesight and also prevent cataract, it is used to improve hair color.

  9. English Name : Water leaf
    Local Name : Gbure (Yoruba)
    Botanical Name : Talinum Triangulare
    Water leaves are used in the preparation of soups such as Efo riro, Edikaikong, e.t.c. It’s mostly abundant during the rainy season and once added to soups, it tends to increase the volume of water/liquid in it, hence the name “water leaves”. According to scientific studies, it is said to be rich in mineral salts and amino-acids as well as having anti-scorbutic properties i.e prevention against the scurvy disease.

  10. English Name : Lagos Spinach, plumed cockscomb, quail grass, silver cock’s comb French : célosie, célosie argentée, crête de coq, borlón, cresta de gallo
    Local Name : Shoko (Yoruba)
    Botanical Name : Celosia Argentia
    Shoko is a leafy vegetable mainly popular in the western part of Nigeria. It is also the main leaf used in the preparation of efo riro, a popular vegetable soup. Sometimes, the leaves are crested with Purplish/Red discolorations in the middle. It is rich in beta carotene, folic acid, ascorbic acid, calcium, iron and protein.

  11. English Name : African spinach, “Green”
    Local Name : Inine (Igbo), Efo Tete (Yoruba), Tete Elegun(Yoruba),
    Botanical Name : Amaranthus Hybridus
    Known as “Green” in the local market due to its colour, this leafy vegetable is the second most popular leafy vegetable after Ugu. It’s used in the preparation of various Nigerian dishes.

  12. English Name : African eggplant leaf (Garden egg leaf), Gboma
    Local Name : Efo Igba (Yoruba)
    Botanical Name : Solanium marcrocarpon
    Garden Egg leaves are used in the preparation of vegetable stews and yam dishes. The leaves have a very bitter taste.
    Update : Aside from the fruit, every other part of S. macrocarpon has been reported to cause heart failure, digestive problems, and lethargy in dogs. Because S. macrocarpon is part of the Solanaceae family, it contains alkaloids, giving the plant and fruit its bitter taste. Consuming the plant in large frequencies may potentially be poisonous. S. macrocarpon contains glycoalkaloids and the levels found in the fruit were 5-10 times higher than what is considered safe, and may not be safe for humans to eat.

  13. English Name : Moringa leaves
    Local Name : Odudu oyibo,Okwe oyibo, Okwe olu, Uhe, Oku-ghara-ite (Igbo) Igi iyanu, Malero, Ewele, Ewé ilé, Ewe igbálé, Idagbo monoyé (Yoruba) Hausa: Zogale
    Botanical name : Moringa olefera
    Moringa leaf:

• Is rich in Vitamin A. It contains four times more Vitamin A or beta-carotene than carrots. Hence, it is a weapon against blindness.
• Is a rich source of Vitamin C. It contains seven times more Vitamin C than oranges.
• Is a rich source of Calcium. It contains four times more calcium than milk.
• Is a rich source of Protein. The moringa leaves are said to contain twice the protein present in milk.
• Is a rich source of Potassium. It contains seven times more potassium than bananas.
• Is a rich source of Iron. it contains thrice more iron than spinach.
The leaves of Moringa oleifera are rich sources of dietary fibers, starch, beta-carotene, minerals (zinc, magnesium, and selenium), iodine, lutein, zeatin, etc.

  1. English Name : ?
    Local Name : Oha / Ora leaves
    Botanical name : ?
    Oha leaf is really popular in the Eastern part of Nigeria. It is the major ingredient in the preparation of the famous Oha/Ora soup. It is an uncommon leafy vegetable which is not a climbing plant like ugu. It is a kind of leafy tree. The tree can grow from 1 to up to 100 years and from a few feet to tower up to 200 feet or more. It bears no fruits or seeds compared with other leafy vegetables. All the young shoots of the leaves are edible. It starts to yield or produce edible leaves from one year. As it grows and towers in height, people employ climbers to climb and pluck the leaves for sale and for home consumption.

  2. English Name : Mint leaves
    Local Name : Na’a Naa (Arabic)
    Botanical name : Mentha
    Mint leaf is an aromatic herb which is mostly used to make things like breath fresheners. It is NOT the same as scent leaf (Efinrin/nchuawun). In the local market especially with the hausa vendors, mint is known as " Na’a naa ".

  3. English Name : Spring onions
    Local Name : Alubosa elewe (Yoruba)
    Botanical name : Scallion
    A scallion is one of various allium species, all of which have hollow green leaves (like the common onion), but which lack a fully developed root bulb. It has a relatively mild onion flavour, and is used as a vegetable, either raw or cooked. Many other names are used, including green onion, spring onion, salad onion, table onion, green shallot, onion stick, long onion, baby onion, precious onion, yard onion, gibbon, syboe or scally onion.

17: English Name : ?
Local Name : Atama leaves
Botanical name : ?

This is an annual Herb cultivated in the delta areas. It smells and taste like tarragon; usually used fresh or dried in the preparation of Banga soup.