|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
syn: P. mobola Oliver
English: mobola plum Kisii: omoraa Kuria: mutaburu Luo: ongoro Maa: ol'matakuroi Mbeere: muura, maura (fruits)
Description: An evergreen tree to 15 m high, usually much smaller. Crown normally rounded. Bark dark grey, rough and longitudinally fissured. Young branches covered with lenticels. LEAVES: Alternate with short petiole hardly 3 mm long, usually elliptic with a rounded tip, base cuneate or slightly cordate, blade leathery, light green above, silvery grey and softly hairy underneath. Veins conspicuous and parallel. FLOWERS: Small, lightly scented, borne on hairy terminal or axillary inflorescences, calyx grey and hairy, corolla mauve, pink or purple. FRUIT: Ellipsoid nearly spherical, to 5 cm long, yellow to orange and soft when ripe, turning dark brown as it dries. Fruit covered with numerous white or brown specks of cork. Pulp yellow, enclosing a single hard seed.
Ecology: Senegal east to Sudan and south to north-eastern South Africa and north-eastern Namibia. In Kenya, e.g. at Siakago (Embu), Keumbu, Wanjare (Kisii), Suna, Lolgorien, Maasai Mara, Homa Bay, Kuria, Kwale, in bushland, wooded grassland, forest edges, &-2.100 m. Common on sandy and light clay soils and rocky hill slopes. Rainfall: 700-1500 mm. Zones I-V.
Uses: Food: Ripe fruit pulp is edible (+++). Sweet, with a strong pineapple smell. An important fruit tree, usually preserved by farmers. In southern Africa it is made into alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
OTHER: Fuelwood. Source of timber (++). Wood red, hard, heavy and durable (++).
COMMERCIAL: Reportedly sold in Tanzania.
Season: Rowers in March in Embu, December in Kisii, July in Narok, September in Kwale. Fruits in May-June in Embu.
Management: Propagated by seed which may need pre- treatment with hot water to speed up germination. Produces suckers.
Status: Generally uncommon.
Remarks: Seeds have a high oil content. Two subspecies are recognized:
· ssp. curatellifolia with leaves which have silvery grey hairs on the lower surface and in Kenya found inland in Embu, Kisii, Narok, Kuria, Homa Bay and Migori. It is commonest from Tanzania north-west to Senegal.
· ssp. mobola (Oliv.) R. Grah. (syn. P. mobola Oliv.) with brown hairy underside of leaves and, on average, longer flowers. It is common in coastal areas and is the commonest in southern Africa. The presence of intermediate characters such as pubescence and flower size, however, make it hard to differentiate the two subspecies.
P. goetzeniana Engl., an evergreen forest tree with edible black fruits, has been reported in the Usambara Mountains in north-eastern Tanzania. P. capensis, on the other hand, is a small shrub found in southern Africa, south of the Zambezi River.
The other member in this family in Kenya is Hirtella zanzibarica Oliv., an evergreen tree with a buttressed base and smooth dark bark. Flowers in axillary or terminal panicles. The ripe reddish fruits, which may be up to 25 mm long, are edible. Distribution: Southern Kenyan coast, especially the Shimba Hills (Digo: mwawa). All these species were earlier placed in the family Rosaceae. P. curatellifolia is valued almost as much as Sclerocarya birrea. Their fruits resemble each other and are used in a similar manner; hence the local names are sometimes the same or share a common root.