Soko (Celosia Argentea)

Celosia is a small genus of edible and ornamental plants in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek word κηλος (kelos), meaning “burned,” and refers to the flame-like flower heads. Species are commonly known aswool flowers, or, if the flower heads are crested by fasciation, cockscombs. The plants are well known in East Africa’s highlands and are used under their Swahili name, mfungu.

It is used as a treatment for intestinal worms (particularly tapeworm), blood diseases, mouth sores, eye problems. The seeds treat chest complaints and the flowers treat diarrhea. The leaves are used as dressings for boils and sores, and the boiled vegetables are said to be slightly diuretic.

Celosia argentea var. argentea or Lagos spinach (a.k.a. quail grass, Soko, Celosia, feather cockscomb) is a broadleaf annual leaf vegetable. It grows widespread across Mexico, where it is known as “Velvet flower”, northern South America, tropical Africa, the West Indies, South, East and Southeast Asia where it is grown as a native or naturalized wildflower, and is cultivated as a nutritious leafy green vegetable. It is traditional fare in the countries of Central and West Africa, and is one of the leading leafy green vegetables in Nigeria, where it is known as ‘soko yokoto’, meaning “make husbands fat and happy”. In Spain it is known as “Rooster comb” because of its appearance.

As a grain, Cockscomb is a pseudo-cereal, not a true cereal.

These leaves are used—not to mention young stems and young inflorescences—soften up readily and are used for stew. The leaves also have a soft texture and has a mild spinach-like taste. They are also pepped up with such things as hot pepper, garlic, fresh lime, and red palm oil and eaten as a side dish.

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