Species Name
Corchorus olitorius (L.)


Local Name(s)
Oloqiloqota (Konsogna), Jute, Bush Okra, Jew's Mallow (Engl.)

General description
An erect woody herb, usually 0.5 to 1.2m high but may reach up to 2.5 m in cultivation. Leaves are to 15cm long, short stalked, ovate to elliptic, margin serrated. Leaf blade usually with basal protrusions. Flowers are yellow and the fruits are short-stalked, cylindrical capsule that splits into 5 parts. Seeds greyish black, angled.

Edible part(s), preparation methods and palatability
The leaves are edible. Women and children collect the plantís leaves, which are boiled in water like cabbage and eaten together with other foodstuff or on its own just with some additional salt. It is said to be a widely spread edible vegetable all over Africa. The plant is available during the rainy season and some time afterwards.
In Kenya this plant is widely used as vegetable and even marketed in Nairobi and many other market centres throughout the country.  

Nutritional value
Research in the Kingdom of Swaziland in the mid 1980s (Ogole and Grivetti; 1985) revealed that chorchorus species have high iron contents: Leaves have 42.7mg/100mg of fresh weight. Additionally, leaves are rich in vitamin A.

Grows in northern Australia north to China and west through India and Pakistan to the Middle East and in most of Africa. Also naturalized in tropical America. Grows in seasonally flooded areas, flood plains, at edges of lakes, dams and marshes and in bushland, wooded grassland and open grassland, especially in low hot country, sea level to 1,500m in alluvial soils and sandy loam.

Propagation Method(s) 
Propagates by seeds.

Sample location (s)
Jarso Kebele, Konso

Farmers in Konso reported medicinal value of the plant for treating diarrhea. This species is one of the ancient food crops of the Middle East. It is sown and used as a pot-herb by Jews (hence the name 'Jew's mallow) and in stews in Egypt where it is known as melokhia. It is reportedly used in soups in Central America and as a pot-herb in South-East Asia. Large quantities of this species are grown for the extraction of jute (used for making ropes and bags) in eastern India, Bangladesh and south China.


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Oloqiloqota.jpg (89651 bytes)
'Oloqiloqota' with fruits/seeds in a farmer's field in Konso

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C. olitorius in Buso Kebele, Konso growing in farm fields with ripe seeds and as a young shoot