Gbognome Nightshade Greens
Improvement status: Cultivar
Seeds per packet: ~25
Germination tested 12/2019: 99%
Life cycle: Annual
EFN EXCLUSIVE. Featured in Dr. William Woys Weaver's book 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From, this fascinating plant has rarely been offered for sale or even trade in this country. Originally from Togo, though the species itself is believed to originate in India, Gbognome (pronounced bog-NO-may) produces beautiful green fruits ripening to yellow, which are supposedly edible (if very bitter) when picked and cooked in their green stage, but these are not the prime attraction. Gbognome is grown for its tasty and nutritious young leaves. Dr. Weaver, from whom we got our seeds, advises cooking the leaves (which develop thorns on the spine once too mature) in water like spinach and reserving the cooking stock as a base for soup. His wonderful book contains a few great recipes for this plant.
NOTE: This species is known to contain potentially harmful glycoalkaloids, though levels are presumed to be minimal in the young leaves. Potatoes and tomatoes also contain these chemicals, some of which may actually have anticarcinogenic effects, but nevertheless, we recommend growers only consume the fruit of this plant in moderation. We believe the cooked leaves are safe, as their traditional use in Africa indicates.
GROWING TIPS: Start seeds indoors in March or early April. Plant out in field after danger of last frost. Space plants 16-24 inches apart.
Photo credit: Owen Taylor