Maerua crassifolia

Maerua crassifolia is a species of plant in the Capparaceae family. It is native to Africa, tropical Arabia, and Israel, but is disappearing from Egypt. Foliage from this plant is used as fodder for animals, especially camels, during the dry season in parts of Africa.

Maerua crassifolia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Capparaceae
Genus: Maerua
M. crassifolia
Binomial name
Maerua crassifolia

The plant grows commonly in Yemen, where it is called Meru. In the 18th century the plant's Arabic name Meru was used as the source for the genus name Maerua. The 18th-century taxonomist was Peter Forsskål, who visited Yemen in the 1760s.[1]

It is used as a common nutrition source in central Africa, where it is called jiga and made into soups and other dishes. It was part of the daily diet of the Kel Ewey tribe of the tuaregs in the Aïr Mountains as late as in the 1980s, who would mix the cooked leaves with goat milk.[2] Maerua crassifolia was considered sacred to the ancient Egyptians.


Maerua crassifolia has been found growing along the Tsauchab river in Namibia at the following geo coordinates: 24°38'42.6"S 15°39'06.9"E.[3]


  1. Maerua crassifolia in Flora of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra, Volume 1, year 1996, page 366, by A.G. Miller and T.A. Cope. Also Maerua in Flora Aegyptiaco-Arabica, by Peter Forskal, year 1775, page 104 (in Latin).
  2. Spittler, G. 1983. Les Touaregs face aux sécheresses et aux famines : Les Kelewey de l'Aïr, Niger (1900-1985). Karthala, Paris.
  3. "Maerua crassifolia blooms at the bank of the Tsauchab river". Independent Travellers. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  • Cook, J.A. et al. (1998). Nutrient content of two indigenous plant foods of the Western Sahel: Balanites aegyptiaca and Maerua crassifolia. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 11:3 221–30.

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