Local Names of Spices, Herbs, Seeds & Fruits, in Nigeria

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Today, we’d like to talk about all of the local names for fruits, seeds, herbs, and spices that are grown by local farmers in our native languages.

As time goes on, I will add more indigenous languages to this list. Some of them I am sure you are familiar with, but you may discover some that you were unaware of.

If you know of any other native spices that aren’t on this list, please let me know in the comments section below.

Spices and their Hausa names ~ Local Names of Spices

Local Names of Spices in Nigeria
Local Names of Spices in Nigeria
Bakin algaru in English

English name: Mustard Seeds

Scientific name: Brassica nigra.

Hausa name: Bakin Algaru

Kimba in English

English name: Grains of Selim, African black pepper

Scientific name: Xylopia aethiopica

Hausa name: Kimba

Kaninfari in English

English name: Cloves

Scientific name: Syzygium aromaticum.

Hausa name: Kanunfari, Kanumfari

Tafarnuwa in English

English Name: Garlic

Scientific name: Allium sativum

Hausa Name: Tafarnuwa

Citta in English

English Name: Ginger

Scientific name: zingiber officinale.

Hausa name: Citta

Daddoya in English

English name: African Basil

Scientific name: Ocimum gratissimum

Hausa Name: Daddoya

Kaajiji in English

English Name: Grains of paradise

Scientific name. Aframomum melegueta

Hausa Name: Kaajiji

Daddawa in English

English Name: African Locust Bean Seeds

Scientific Name:  Parkia biglobosa

Hausa Name: Daddawa

African nutmeg in Hausa

English Name: African Nutmeg, Calabash Nutmeg & Jamaican Nutmeg

Scientific Name: Monodora Myristica,

Hausa Name: Gudan Miya, Gyada Mai Kamshi.

Turmeric in Hausa

Englsih Name: Turmeric

Scientific name: Curcuma longa

Hausa name: Kurkum

Black pepper in Hausa

Englsih Name: Black Pepper

Scientific Name: Piper Nigrum

Hausa Name: Masoro

Borkono in english

English name: Birds eye chilli.

Scientific name: Capsicum annuum.

Hausa name: Barkono.

Common foreign spices

Though I am only concerned in this post with locally grown herbs and spices that are a part of our culture, there are some foreign spices that have been with us for a long time and have become a part of our spice corner.

Lemongrass, for example, is used more for health than for cooking.

Remember that because most of these spices are not indigenous to the United States, they are referred to by their English, Arabic, or other names. They are as follows:

Lemongrass in Hausa

English Name: Lemongrass

Scientific Name: Cymbopogon

Hausa Name: Lemongrass/ Ciyawar lemo

Kaikai koma kan mashekiya in english

English Name: Common Nettle, stinging nettle, nettle

Scientific Name: Urtica dioica

Hausa Name: Kai kai koma kan mashekiya

Cinnamon in Hausa

English Name: Cinnamon

Scientific Name: Cinnamomum verum

Hausa Name: Kirfa

Mint in Hausa

English name: Mint.

Scientific name: Mentha.

Hausa name: Na’a Na’a

Fenugreek in Hausa

English Name: Fenugreek

Scientific name: Trigonella foenum-graecum

Hausa Name: Hulba

Local Names of Spices, Herbs, Seeds & Fruits, in Nigeria

Shea butter                                                            ori

Pumpkin                                                                  ugu

Bushbuck                                                                utazi / arokeke

Bitter leaf                                                               ewuro / onugbu

Jute leaf                                                                   ewedu

African oil bean seed                                               ugba

Baobab                                                                     awin

Camwood / red sandalwood                                osun

Turmeric                                                               ata ile pupa

Ginger                                                                    ata ile

Hibiscus                                                                 zobo

Walnut                                                                  asala

Henna                                                                     laili

Coconut oil                                                           adin agbon

Palm kernel oil                                                      adin dudu

Basil                                                                        efirin

Black pepper                                                           iyere

Healing herbs and spices from your kitchen

Clove                                                                       konofuru

Negro pepper                                                          eeru/ sylopia acthipia/ uda /kimba

Calabash nut meg                                                   ariwo / ehu

neem                                                                        dongoyaro

Okro                                                                        ila

Tallow                                                                    ora-eran (cow fat)

Lard                                                                        pig fat

Scent leaf                                                               afirin

Mackerel                                                                titus fish

Tiger nut                                                                ofi ho

Almond                                                                 fruit / tropical almond

Kola – nut                                                             obi

Bitter kola                                                             orogbo

Yuca leaf                                                              ewe paki / cassava leaf

Avocado                                                                pear

Cassava                                                                 paki

Cassava flakes                                                     garri

Banana & plantain                                              ogede

Yam flour                                                            elubo

Plantain flour                                                      elubo ogbede

Beans                                                                    ewa

Yam                                                                       isu

Sweet potatoes                                                     odun kun

Snail                                                                      igbin

Red palm-oil                                                        epo- pupa

Eggplant                                                              obogil

Immune boosting herbs

Lemon / lime                                                        osan wewe

Paw-paw                                                               ibepe

Bell pepper                                                           tatase

Honey                                                                    oyin

Cayenne                                                                 bawa

Chilli                                                                      shombo

Garlic                                                                      ayu

Okra                                                                        ila

Dates bar                                                                dabinu (in hausa)

Peanut / groundnut                                                 epa

Borreria verticillata                                                irawo ile

Nicotiana tabacum                                           ewe taba

Thorny pigweed / prickly amaranth                 tete eleegun in yoruba

Tabasco pepper                                                  ata-wewe

Lettuce                                                                 yanrin

Enantia chloranta                                                awopa

Jatropha curcas                                                   botuje, lapalapa

Cotton-leaf physicnut                                         botuje pupa

Tigernut                                                                ofio

Mistletoe                                                              afomo  (in yoruba)

Potash cocoa/ plantain  pod-ash                           aro

Snail                                                                      igbin

Palm kernel oil (pko)                                           adin dudu

Cocoa butter                                                        ora cocoa

Orange                                                                  osan

Mackerel                                                               titus

Horse mackerel                                                     kote

Guinea corn                                                         oka-baba

Habanero                                                              ata rodo

Make your own cooking herbs and spices at home

Agbalumo  african star

Bearfruit   jackfruit

Egusi     melon

Orogbo   bitter kola

Efirin    scent leaf

African red pepper or bird’s pepper

Yoruba – ata eiye

Igbo – ose oyibo

Hausa – barkono

Esan – usira

Benin – isie

Leaves of mormodica charantia

Yoruba – ejirin

English – balsam pear

Lime citrus aurantifolia

Yoruba – osan wewe

Igbo – epe nkirisi

Hausa – lemu

Basil ocinum

English – scent leaves

Yoruba – efirin

Igbo – nchanwu

Avocado pear  persea americana

Yoruba – pia

Igbo – ubebekee/ ube oyibo

Bini – orumwu

Efic – eban mbakara

African marigold  aspilia africana

Yoruba – yun yun

Igbo – uranjila

Hausa – kalan kuwa

Urhobo – isahrasa

Efik – edemeron

Pigeon peas cajanus cajans

Yoruba – otili/ feregede

Bini – orela

Esan – olele

Igbo – fiofio

Baobab tree

Bark of adansonia digitata

Yoruba – ose

Hausa – kuka

Bini – usi

Ageratum conyzoides

English – goat weed

Igbo – akwukwo nwa osi n’aka or ahenhea

Yoruba – imi-eshu

Bini eb – ghedore

Urhobo – ikpamaku

Efik – otiti

Morinda Lucida

English – brimstone tree

Yoruba – oruwo, eruwo

Igbo – eze-ogu, njisi

Alstonia bone

English – stool wood

Igbo – egbu

Yoruba – ahun, awun

Esan – ojegbuhkun


Talinum triangulare

Yoruba – gbure

Hausa – alenyruwa

Igbo – nte-oka

Bitter leaf

Igbo – onugbu

Yoruba – ewuro

Capsicum frutenscens

English – birds pepper, African red pepper

Igbo – ose, ose oyibo

Yoruba – ata eiye

Hausa – barkono

Benin – isie

Newbouldia laevis

English – fertility plant

Igbo – ogirishi

Yoruba – akoko

Esan – uhkimi

Jartropha curcas

English – pig nut

Igbo – olulu-idu

Hausa – da zugu

Yoruba – botuje, lapalapa.

Talinum triangulare

English – water leaf

Igbo – ntu oka, ofe bekee

Yoruba – ibure

Xylopia aethiopica

Yoruba – erunje

Igbo – uda

Hausa – kimba

Esan – usira

Spondias mombin

English – hog plum

Igbo – ijikara

Yoruba – akika, iyeye

Hausa – tsadar masar

Conclusion on the Local Names of Spices

Alright. We are finally done. I hope you didn’t have to wait too long. These are the regional spices that we should be more aware of and challenge ourselves to explore and incorporate into our diets.

By doing so, we will give our food a different flavor than the traditional curry and thyme spices. Let us not forget that all of these spices have medicinal properties that will benefit our health in a variety of ways.

If I missed a spice that you’d like to learn more about, please let me know in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to respond. Subscribe to this blog if you want to be notified when articles like these are published.

Have a wonderful day

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