Botanical name: Corchorus olitorius L.
Common Names: Jew’s Mallow, jute leaf.
Local names: ewedu( Yoruba), rama( Hausa).
Corchorus olitorious L. is an annual much branched herb belonging to the family Malvaceae; it grows in grass land and fallow or abandoned fields. It is called jute mallow, bush okra, tossa jute or Jew’s mallow. Stems are glabrous, leaves are 6-10 cm long, 3.5-5 cm broad, elliptic-lanceolate. Flowers are pale yellow, bracts lanceolate, pedicles are 1-3 and very short. Seeds are trigonous and black (Kirtikar and Basu, 1975). Root scraping of C. olitorous are used for the treatment of toothache, and root decoction as tonic (Schippers, 2000). The leaves are used for the treatment of gonorrhea and as purgative and febrifuge (Burkill, 2000).The plant has also been reported to have phytoremediation ability in petroleum-contaminated soils (Kelechi et al., 2012)
Jute leaves are consumed in various parts of the world. It is a popular vegetable in West Africa. The Yoruba of Nigeria call it “ewedu”. The Hausa people of Nigeria and their Fulbe neighbours call it “rama.” They use it to produce soup (“taushe”) or boil the leaves and mix it with “Kuli-kuli” or groundnut cake and consume the mixture which they call “kwado” in Hausa. The Hausa peasant farmers cultivate it beside their corn-stalk constructed homesteads or among their main crops in their farms. There are commercial jute farmers in Northern and South Western Nigeria. They (jute commercial farmers)have a strong National Association registered by the authorities. In Northern Sudan it’s called “Khudra” meaning green in Sudanese Arabic. The Hausa and Fulbe peoples also use jute leaves to treat some diseases. And the Songhay of Mali call it “fakohoy” whereas Tunisians call it mulukhiyah. It is made into a common mucilaginous (somewhat “slimy”) soup or sauce in some West African cooking traditions, as well as in Egypt, where it is called mulukhiyya, Cypriots call it molocha – and that refers to food – in terms of fibre this would be unknown – and it is sometimes eaten as boiled vegetable with lemon and olive oil. It is also a popular dish in the northern provinces of the Philippines, where it is known as saluyot. Jute leaves are also consumed among the Luyhia people of Western Kenya, where it is commonly known as ‘mrenda’ or ‘murere’. It is eaten with ‘ugali’, which is also a staple for most communities in Kenya. The leaves are rich in betacarotene, iron, calcium, and Vitamin C.
The plant has an antioxidant activity with a significant α-tocopherol equivalent Vitamin E (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jute).
Japan has been importing dry jute leaf from Africa and they are using it as the substitute of coffee and tea. In Europe, jute leaves are being used as soup. Through induced mutation, different types of mutant and varieties of C. capsularis L. had been developed.
Saluyot can be prepared into dishes like dinengdeng of the Ilocano, bulanglang, or sauteed with bamboo shoots or dried beans. It can be steamed and pureed, mixed with chicken, or prepared into soup like how the Japanese prepare it as molohiya.
Like spinach and other leafy greens, jute leaves can be cooked whole as a major component of a dish, or they can be loosely chopped so that they blend better with other ingredients. Some cooks like to salt their jute leaves and rest them before cooking, to draw out some of the slime which can make them troubling to the palate. The longer jute leaves cook, the more slimy and dense they get, so it is important to pay attention to cooking times in recipes which call for jute leaves.
Uses & Folk Medicine
While perhaps better known as a fiber crop, jute is also a medicinal “vegetable”, eaten commonly in the western part of Nigeria. They are used in soup. In India the leaves and tender shoots are eaten. The dried material is there known as “nalita.” Injections of olitoriside markedly improve cardiac insufficiencies and have no cumulative attributes; hence, it can serve as a substitute for strophanthin.
Reported to be demulcent, deobstruent, diuretic, lactagogue, purgative, and tonic, jute is a folk remedy for aches and pains, dysentery, enteritis, fever, dysentery, pectoral pains, and tumors (Duke and Wain, 1981; List and Horhammer, 1969-1979). Ayurvedics use the leaves for ascites, pain, piles, and tumors. Elsewhere the leaves are used for cystitis, dysuria, fever, and gonorrhea. The cold infusion is said to restore the appetite and strength (Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops).