Compiled by Adeniyi Olayanju
Vegetables are well known for their dietary and medicinal importance. Besides, their socio-economic values could not be overemphasized. However, one of the major constraints to their sustainable production is soil fertility, particularly under tropical soil condition,
Celosia argentea is an annual herbaceous vegetable of the family Amaranthaceae. It is an important leaf vegetable in South-Western Nigeria. Celosia argentea is a small genus of edible and ornamental plants in the amaranth family Amaranthaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek word (kelos\ meaning “burned,” and refers to the flame-like flower heads. In Nigeria, six species of the genus Celosia had been described.
Celosia is commonly known as wool flowers, or, if the flower heads are crested by fascinations, cockscombs. Celosia argentea var. Argentea or Lagos spinach (a.k.a. quail grass, Soko, Celosia, feather cockscomb) is a broadleaf annual leaf vegetable. It grows extensively 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 it is cultivated as a nutritious leaf vegetable. It is a traditional fare in the countries of Central and West Africa, and it is one of the leading leafy green vegetables in Nigeria, where it is known as ‘sokoyokoto’, meaning “make husbands fat and happy”. In Spain celosia is known as “Rooster comb” because of its appearance. It is well known for its succulent leaves rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Leave: Celosia is primarily used as a leafy vegetable. The leaves and tender stems are cooked into soups, sauces or stews with various ingredients including other vegetables such as onions, hot pepper and tomato, and with meat or fish and palm oil. Celosia leaves are tender and break down easily when cooked only briefly. The soup is consumed with the staple food maize, rice, cassava, yam etc. The whole plant is used as an antidote for snakebites and the roots to treat colic, gonorrhea and eczema. In Ethiopia and DR Congo, the seeds are used as medicine for diarrhea, and in Ethiopia the flowers to treat dysentery and muscle troubles. In China, the leaves are used as medicine in the treatment of infected sores, wounds and skin eruptions, and in China and Japan seed extracts have traditionally been used as a therapeutic drug for eye and hepatic diseases. In India, the leaves mixed with honey are applied to swollen areas or abscesses.
Inflorescence: The young inflorescences are also eaten as a potherb. In Kenya, the Masai uses the liquid extract from the leaves and flowers as a body wash for convalescents. In South-East Asia, the flowers are used as medicine for dysentery, hemoptysis and menstruation problems. Celosia can also be used as a livestock feed. Forms with fascinating, yellow to red inflorescences and are widely grown as bedding plant in gardens and also used as cut flowers.
Medicinal: Celosia had been discovered to have a lot of medicinal values apart from the nutritive values the plant is generally known for. It was reported that the Ethanolic extract yielded flavonoids, saponins, glycosides and tannins (kindayohan/celosia).Here are some of the listed medicinal portions made from Celosia argentea stems and leaves of celosia, bruised and applied as poultice, useful for treating infected sores, wounds and skin eruptions. Poultice of leaves, smeared with honey, used as cooling application to inflamed areas and painful ailment such as buboes and abscesses.
Seed: Seeds are used to relieve gastrointestinal disorders and are antipyretic, improve vision, and relieve fever associated with liver ailments. Seeds when in decoction or finely powdered, are considered anti-diarrhea and aphrodisiac. The juice of the seeds forced into the nostrils is a cure for epilepsy. Decoction of the seeds with sugar is prescribed against dysentery. Flowers and seeds used for bloody stools, haemorrhoids, bleeding, leucorrhoea and diarrhea. In Indian folk medicine, used for diabetes. Seeds traditionally used for treatments of jaundice, gonorrhea, wounds and fever. In Sri Lanka, leaves used for inflammations, fever and itching. Seeds used for fever and mouth sores. In China, flowers and seeds are used in the treatments of gastroenteritis and leucorrhoea. The seed of Celosia argentea contains a fatty oil known as ‘celosia oil’ in India. Celosia argentea seeds reduced blood glucose in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Aqueous seed extracts showed ant metastatic and immune-modulating properties in tests with mice. Include celosia and other vegetables in your diet, it makes you healthier, and the seeds are widely used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.
Nutritional Composition of Celosia
Energy: The composition of Celosia argentea per 100 g edible portion is: water 83.8 g, energy 185 kJ (44 kcal), protein 4.7 g, fat 0.7 g, carbohydrate 7.3 g, fibre 1.8 g, Ca 260 mg, P 43 mg, Fe 7.8 mg. It is a dark green leafy vegetable with a high content of micro-nutrients comparable with Amaranthus cruentus, Young leaves harvested 5-7 weeks after sowing have the best nutritional value and are especially rich in Fe, vitamin A and vitamin C. The leaves contain phytic acid (120mg/l00g) and oxalic acid (20 mg/l00g). The high oxalic acid content makes the leaves less suitable for fresh consumption. The composition is strongly influenced by environmental factors, e.g. soil fertility, fertilizer application and age of plant at harvest. The acidic polysaccharide celosia isolated from the seeds was found to be a potent antihepatotoxic agent for chemical and immunological liver injury models in animals. The antimitotic bicyclic peptides celogentins A-C and moroidin have been isolated from the seeds, and an antiviral protein has been isolated from the leaves. Celosia argentea contains red betacyanins and yellow betaxanthins which are being tested as food colorants. Several glycopyranosyls have been isolated from celosia, including citrusin C which has skin depigmentation properties.