Sunday 12 February 2023


Yorùbá is a heavily tonal language. A little change in tone of words could bring a drastic change in meaning. This I think makes it important to state the difference between three plants that seemingly share the same name in Yorùbá language. 

The first is ìrókò tree. Note the diacritic. It is called Milicia excelsa scientifically although ìrókò has been adopted by Oxford dictionary. It is sometimes called ìrókò olúwéré, the latter being esoteric appellation of the tree. Only elders can tell us what olúwéré means o. Abeg no ask me o.

The second is ilá ìròkò. Also, note the diacritics. The botanical name is Abelmoschus esculentus. It is a specie of okro plant with its fruit slender and tender. It hardly becomes hard to the extent you will not be able to cut it with knife unlike the main ilá that sometimes kó. That is, the Fibre in the fruit matures beyond what knife can cut easily, thus becoming unsuitable for food.

The third is ewé ìròkó. Also, note the tonal sign. This plant's botanical name is Telfairia occidentalis. It's shortened to ewéròkó. In Yorùbá land, it is hardly cooked as the main ẹ̀fọ́. Rather, you cook it with ẹ̀gúsí olókiṣi. You can also mix it with other ẹ̀fọ́.

It also has some medicinal benefits which is not esoteric/spiritistic but of phytochemistry. However be careful, the root is said to be poisonous. 


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