Oyster Nut

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

oyster nut the common name for the seed of either of two tropical African gourds borne by large vines, Telfairia pedata and T. occidentalis. The gourds themselves are inedible and are cultivated only for their seeds, which are large, numerous, and nutritious. A T. pedata gourd typically weighs 11 kg (25 lb) and has about 100 seeds, but it may be several times that size. The seeds are roughly circular and flattish (hence the name ‘oyster nuts’), about 4 cm (1") in diameter and 1 cm (0.5") thick. T. occidentalis gourds, though not so large, have similar seeds. An E. African name for this species is krobonko. The seeds of both species are commonly called telfairia nuts. Other names for the plants are fluted pumpkin and Zanzibar oil vine.