Kukumakranka ( Gethyllis)

Garrickza(South Africa)August 6, 2004

Not many postings to the forum lately. Some thing to stir a bit of interest. Heard of a Kukumakranka?

This plant (Gethyllis afra or G.spiralis or G. namaquensis plus a few other ) is a bulbous plant , which becomes completely deciduous in summer( some dissapear entirely). It then sends out a snake-like stem from the ground which has linear leaves. A month or two later sweet smelling white-mauve flowers appear , followed by fragrant edible fruit , which look like thin lime green- yellow cucumbers. The fruit was used to make Kukumakranka brandy which was also a remedy for colic and indigestion. The fruit was also used to perfume rooms or linen. The plant grows in the the dry semi desert conditions of the Cape interior such as the Richtersveld. The quaint sounding name comes the Koina language , an extinct Khoi tongue. I found this little reference to the plant on the net:

"You can`t be so certain of your seasons nowadays, and there are other unnatural obstacles to dining indigenous, like provincial by-laws, local regulations and the possible displeasure of management. Before we stretch out a hand towards our fellow homeowner`s koekemakranka , therefore, we must first know that it is permitted.Therefore, let us escape all red tape by pretending that we are back in the old days, when shops were few, people few, fences low and friendly farmers still smiled on schoolboys"

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modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

Hi Garrick, seeing that this post is still sitting here at the top, I would add that it is usually spelled koekemakranka or koekmakranka, according to the "Handboek vir Afrikaanse Taal" The description states that it is grown in the winter rainfall areas, and that the fruit is partially underground, and fragrant. I never had a chance to taste it while I lived in SA, have you had the opportunity yourself?
I seem to recall that the Koi and San people used koekemakrankas as a source of hydration in the absence of water ... or am I confusing it with another plant?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2004 at 5:36PM
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faeden(z9 CA)

I only have a couple of these SA bulbs. What is the mature size of the bulbs and the fruit? I'm under the impression that the bulbs are very small, so even if the fruit is large in comparison it seems that it would take a LOT of fruit to make any kind of product. Wouldn't this be to the detriment of the population? Please enlighten a neophyte!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2004 at 12:45AM
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I'm busy with a project in Kimberley at an archeological site. Our idea is to make a garden with all the plants descibed and used in the recipe book "Koekemakranka". Where can I get a list of these plants and where can I buy them. It is urgent as we want to start the planting in a week from now. It will be thw 21st February 2011. Can you perhaps give me details?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Hi Iam very interested in the medicinal value of this plant. Could you please advise me where I might purchase a bulb or two.
Thanks Rose

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 10:40AM
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rredbbeard(SE CT USA/zone 6)

Resurrecting this thread/has gethyllis proved to be a challenge as a greenhouse plant? I'm considering buying a bulb of g.spiralis, wondering if I'm throwing away my money?

What has your personal experience been?


--Rick in CT

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 4:57PM
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