Origin: West Africa
Improvement status: Landrace
Seeds per packet: ~50
Germination tested 11/2022: 78%
Life cycle: Annual
EFN INTRODUCTION. NEW. Most commonly known in English as "garden huckleberry," njama njama is the name used in Cameroon and other West African countries, as well as among many Africans in the diaspora, for this special plant in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). But while these plants are laden with berries, most African people actually grow them for their delicious and nutritious leaves. Indeed, for many people njama njama (which is more-or-less pronounced "jahma-jahma") is a staple food. It has a long history of medicinal use as well, and can also be used as a dye plant.
We are thrilled to be offering a very special population of njama njama collected and grown by Ergibe Boyd, an Eritrean-American immigrant farmer based in southern Maryland. Ergibe had a long and interesting career, including many years in the US diplomatic service, before deciding in her retirement to become a full-time farmer and entrepreneur. She focuses on providing African vegetables to people who have no other source for their culturally important foods, so she grows crops like bitterleaf, celosia, and njama njama, which she harvests for the leaves (though she also likes to put a few of the antioxidant-rich berries in her smoothies). She gathered a diversity of stock seed for njama njama, primarily from sources tracing to West Africa, and consequently produces a beautiful array of interesting looking plants. Some make more leaves than others, and some leaves are bigger than others. Most have dark purple to black berries, while a handful of them have pale purple berries, and we found one plant in her field that produced berries that ripen green (we saved some of that plant separately and hope to isolate it in the future). As the photos here demonstrate, there is truly a staggering level of diversity to this population. We have no doubt that there is much breeding potential in this landrace, and we're excited to learn about what all of you find from these extraordinary seeds.
GROWING TIPS: Grow as you would tomatoes, starting indoors a few weeks before last frost date, then planting out once the soil warms up. Leave plenty of space, because these can become sprawling plants four or five feet wide.
NOTE: While this plant is commonly grown and consumed as a vegetable in Africa, members of this genus are known to contain potentially harmful alkaloids, so care should be taken when eating it for the first time. Like any new food, it's worth being aware of the potential for allergic or other adverse reactions. That said, millions of people enjoy this plant every day.