A comparative study on the consumption preference, mineral contents and proximate composition of five ecotypes of the edible vegetable, Gnetum africanum Welw. was carried out. The five ecotypes were Umuahia ecotype, Calabar ecotype, Ikom ecotype, Eket ecotype (Nigeria) and Limbe ecotype (Cameroun). These five ecotypes were chosen because they represent a wide consumption range of the vegetable. The minerals investigated were nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, sodium, calcium and magnesium. The results showed that there was significant (P<0.01) difference in the mineral contents of Gnetum across the different ecotypes. Results of the questionnaires administered agreed with the laboratory investigations. The consumption preferences were: Umuahia (24%), Limbe (18%), Eket (31.5%), Calabar (11.5%) and Ikom (15%). Proximate analyses of the percentage crude protein, ether extract (crude fat), crude fibre, ash and nitrogen free extract (NFE - carbohydrate) content of the leafy vegetable were also investigated. From the results, G. africanum is rich in NFE, with the Calabar sample scoring the highest value of 49.44% dry weight. Umuahia and Eket ecotypes had the highest protein contents. The proximate compositions were not significantly different (P>0.01) except between Umuahia (Abia State) and Ikom (Cross River State) ecotypes (P<0.01). This investigation showed that the consumption preference, mineral contents and proximate composition of five ecotypes of the edible vegetable, G. africanum were affected differently in the ecotypes studied. Future efforts to domesticate this nutritiously rich African vegetable should be guided by the results of this investigation.
Key words: Ecological impact, consumption preference, mineral contents, proximate composition, ecotypes, Gnetum africanum.
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