|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
Borana: kate Kamba: muvisavisi; musyavisi, mbisavisi (fruit), nzavisi (fruit) Kikuyu: mukenia Kipsigis: bek ap tarit Luhya: biembaemba, lumenenambuli Luhya (Marachi): obengele Luo: magwagwa, magwaga, nyabend-winy, teg-tagwari, obengle Maa: enkurma-onkayiok, lukurman-oonkayiok, olmagirigiriani Mbeere: mukenia Nandi: pipterit, petiapteriet Samburu: seketeti Swahili: mvepe Taita: mwemberi Tharaka: mukenia Tugen: sekechewo
Description: Small much-branched shrub usually 1.0-1.5 m high, occasionally to 3 m. Stems ridged. LEAVES: Aromatic, in threes, opposite, margin serrated, coarse above. FLOWERS: Purplish pink, borne in clusters. Corolla over 3 mm across at apex. FRUITS: Small (2-3 mm), green, shiny, turning reddish purple when ripe, numerous on one head, each one-seeded.
Ecology: Widespread in Africa and throughout the tropics in forest and at bush edges, disturbed forests and roadsides. Common in the Kenya highlands on fertile sandy and light clay soils, 900-2,500 m. Zones II-V.
Uses: FOOD: The sweet fruits are eaten whole, mainly by children (+); fruit used for dyeing paper and fingers by children.
OTHER: Branches used as a broom. Leaves were used as perfume by old ladies (Mbeere). Branches used for constructing grain stores (Kikuyu) and as torches while harvesting honey (Mbeere). Important goat fodder (++) and bird food.
CULTURAL/BELIEFS: A ritual plant (Mbeere).
Season: Fruits in May-July and January-February.
Remarks: A potential hedge plant and ornamental. Virtually all Lantana species in Kenya have edible fruit. These include:
· L. ukambensis (Vatke) Verdc. (syn. L. rhodesiensis Mold.) (Kamba: muvisavisi) a small plant to 1.5 m high, often multi-stemmed with ovate leaves which are paired or in whorls of threes. Corolla reddish purple, often with a white centre, generally shorter (less than 2 mm at apex). Found in Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Murang'a, most of Africa.
· L. viburnoides (Forssk.) Vahl, has opposite leaves and usually white (rarely pink) flowers (Somali: geedxamar). It is an important fodder and is used in the preparation of male and female aphrodisiacs (Tharaka). Distribution: Egypt south to Angola, Mozambique.
· L. camara L. (Chonyi: mshomoro, Digo: shomoro mjesasa, English: curse of India, tick-berry, Giriama: mushomoro, Kamba: mukiti, musomolo, Kikuyu: mukigi, kagiri, rutana, nyatana, mushomoro, mucimoro, Luo: obengle, onyalobiro (both Homa Bay), tek-taguari, nyamridhi (both Siaya), Mbeere: musamburu, mucimoro, Meru: mucimoro (in Mwimbi), Sanya: mushomoro, Somali: dumod, Swahili: mshomoro, Taita: mvudi, mwemberi) is of American origin and now widely distributed in the tropics and subtropics. It has prickly stems and larger (5-8 mm) blue-black fruits. It has been spread by running water and birds, which feed on it, to become a major weed in all agricultural zones. It is common in mid-altitudes forming dense thickets. In Nyanza Province these have provided an ideal habitat for tsetse flies and hence the persistent problem of trypanosomiasis in the region. The fruits are edible and are also used as a dye for baskets (Kitui).