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Famine Foods
Compiled by Robert Freedman


Commelina Benghalensis, L.; Forsk.; Wall. India (Deccan): leaves boiled in water and eaten mixed with salt and chile peppers. Also, the branches are threshed, yielding black seeds which are ground into flour for bread; (Rajasthan, western): leaves eaten; branches thrashed for seeds which are pounded and used for making bread; (Garhwal Himalayas): leaves fried in oil. Kenya (Mbeere division, Embu district): when new and fresh, leaves eaten as a relish; later, they are regarded as too acidic and bitter to use. The leaves are also eaten in Batavia (Java), and have been seen for sale in Chinese shops in Singapore, although it is not reported how the Chinese use them. Vernacular names - Nasik and Ahmednagar districts, Bombay Presidency: Kena. Panch Mahals district, Bombay Presidency: Bokna. Rajasthan (western): Bakna /Bokna, Kanchara. Kikuyu: mu -Kengeria. Ref. BROWN, BURKILL, GAMMIE, GUPTA; GUPTA & KANODIA, RILEY & BROKENSHA, SAXENA; SHANKARNARAYAN & SAXENA, WATT.

Commelina communis, L.; Englm. ex Kunth; F. von Muell.; L.; Roxb.; Wall.; Walt. China: shoots and leaves eaten. India (area unspecified): seeds eaten; (Madras Presidency): leaves and tender shoots used as greens. Vernacular names - Tamil: Kannang keeray. Telugu: Gangi gadda. English: Spider Wort, Day Flower. Ref. READ, SHORTT, WATT.

Commelina forskailii, Vahl; Hochst ex C.B.Clarke. India: (Rajasthan, western): leaves eaten. Branches threshed and seeds pounded for making bread. Soil type favored by plant: gravelly. Vernacular names: Kansura, Kanshura. Ref. GUPTA & KANODIA, SAXENA; SHANKARNARAYAN & SAXENA.

Commelina mediflora, L. India (Bombay Presidency): leaves boiled and mixed with salt and chili peppers. Vernacular name - Poona and Ahmednagar districts, Bombay Presidency: Kena. Ref. GAMMIE.

Commelina obliqua, Ham. India (Sangamner, Ahmednagar district; Pimpalner, Khandesh district, Bombay Presidency: leaves and seeds eaten. (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas, ): stems and leaves used as a vegetable. Vernacular names -Sangamner, Ahmednagar district, Bombay Presidency: Kena. Pimpalner, Khandesh district, Bombay Presidency: Keni. Walha Parincha Road, Poona district, Bombay Presidency: Gawati kena. Kumaon region, Western Himalayas: Kana, Kanjura. Ref. BHARGAVA, GAMMIE.

Cyanotis axilaris, Roem. & Sch.; D.Don. India (Bombay Presidency): plants are pulled from the ground and threshed to separate the husk from the seeds. The seeds are ground twice to obtain flour which is then made into bread. Boiled seeds (kanja), partially ground is sweet to taste whent mixed with jowari flour. The seed flour is also prepared into bhadku, a mixture of the flour and salt. It grows with grass at the commencement of the monsoon, and is ripe in the month of November; (Deccan): seeds eaten. Soil types favored by plant: light múrúm soil and on lands lying fallow for a considerable time. Vernacular names - Ahmednagar and Nasik districts, Bombay Presidency: Vichaka. Wagra, Broach district, Bombay Presidency: Narido. Ahmedabad district, Bombay Presidency: Damro. Western Rajasthan: Soltra. Ref. GAMMIE; GUPTA & KANODIA, WATT.

Last update Thursday, February 19, 1998 by aw