The name Cape Gooseberry may not be familiar to many of us, but the fruit is certainly one that many will remember from their childhood.
Speakers of the Luo language know it as Nyamtonglo, while Kikuyus know it as Nathi. The Kisii call the fruit Chinsobosobo, the Kamba Ngondu and the Kipsigis, Chelolo.
Scientifially known as Physalis peruviana, the fruit, also known as the Peruvian Groundcherry, is in Kenya vastly seen as wild and self-propagating-commonly found in farms after harvesting maize.
But the unknown benefits the fruit portends might provoke farmers to consider it a great addition to their farms.
The Cape Gooseberry takes the form of a small orange berry, when ripe, which varies in taste from sour to sweet, based on the soils they grow in.
It is originally from Chile, where it sprung up as a wild fruit, but farmers in Europe and South Africa have recently cultivated it commercially after it gained popularity as an interesting component for salads and a tasty garnish for cocktails. The berries are also delicious when stewed with other fruit, like apples and they make for an interesting mix with meat and seafood.
But it is the medicinal values of the fruit that the world finds exciting.
Recent Research by scholars from the Sun Yat-Sen University, in China, showed that the fruit has high quality and quantity of nutrients and that it contains bioactive ingredients, which could help in the treatment of asthma, eye and nerve problems, throat affections, and elimination of intestinal parasites, amoebas as well as albumin from kidneys.
The scholars also found the fruit to have anti-inflammatory, and which could help in the management of Cancer, leukemia, hepatitis and other diseases.
Cultivating the fruit is easy; all one needs are seeds, which take 14-16 weeks from planting to maturity.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), unfortunately, do not have its seeds, neither do they raise seedlings, but interested farmers can get sprouts from a number of florists along Ngong Road, Nairobi. Independent farmers with seedlings include Henry M’tiiri, who can be contacted through: 0723992728.