Do you the African locust beans popularly known as Iru is a food spice that is recognized both locally and internationally for its amazing health benefits? In some African regions, it’s not just a medicinal food spice but also serves as a source of income.


African locust beans is a popular cooking ingredient in most homes, it’s called ‘Iru’ in Yoruba, ‘Dawadawa’ in Hausa, ‘Ugba’ in Edo, and ‘Ogiri’ in Igbo. In the olden days where we didn’t have stock cubes, locust beans served as the major ingredient in soups, stews, and sauces.  People do rely on it as a source of food, source of income, traditional medicine, and remedy for several ailments.


African locust beans botanical name is Parkia biglobosa, a deciduous perennial tree that grows around the savannah and tropical areas. It is made up of a pod that contains a yellow sweet pulp and valuable seeds. The seeds make a highly nutritious condiment that is traded across West Africa, mostly by women.  The seed is high in lipid (29%), carbohydrates (16%), and proteins (35%). The fruits, nuts, seeds, pods, and leaves of this plant are highly valuable. All parts of the tree have their benefits. It has a pungent smell that could get you irritated, nevertheless the deep savouriness it gives to dishes can be compared to none. Iru can be found in local soups like Egusi, Efo riro, Ogbono, Oha, Banaga, Ofada stew, etc.


Locust beans are attractive savanna trees that grow more than 20 meters tall. As a standing tree locust bean serves as a shade and may also have a positive effect on other crops. Iru as commonly known by the western region are usually soaked and allowed to ferment to give the pungent aroma that it gives.


Iru can be preserved in many ways; soak it in water, refrigerate it, or when it’s being salted.  Some people preserve it by wrapping it in Moi Moi leaves.


Locust beans are of three types

  1. Iru Wowo
  2. Iru Pete

The difference between the two is the addition of “Kuru”  an extract said to be derived from the Roselle (zobo) plant -Hibiscus sabdariffa.  The extract helps the Iru to soften and turn sappy.


Why should you eat Locust beans?

The African locust beans have been known to possess numerous health benefits. It boosts the immune system and can also be used in the treatment of hypertension.

It possesses healing properties.  The bark of the tree can be boiled and taken as herbal tea to treat and heal wounds. The decoction of the bark is also used as a bath for fever, to treat skin infections and as a mouth, wash to relieve toothache. It is an antioxidant that detoxifies the body.

Locust beans help to control blood pressure by reducing arterial blood flow.

You see African locust beans possess wonders.

Wonders that benefit us.


Don’t allow the pungent aroma to stop you from enjoying its wonders.


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