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close this bookTraditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)
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View the documentAcacia drepanolobium Sjöstedt
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View the documentPennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.
View the documentPhoenix reclinata Jacq.
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View the documentTermitomyces-mushrooms (edible fungi)

Phoenix reclinata Jacq.

Palmae (Aracaceae)

Boni: gonyooriya Borana: meti Digo: mchindu, makindu English: wild date palm, Senegal date Giriama: mkindu, mkindwi, kindwi (fruit) Kamba: mukindu Kikuyu: mukindu, muthuthi Kipsigis: sosiyot Luhya (Marachi): lushindu Luo: othith Maa: oltukai Malakote: gedo Orma: konchor Samburu: lekawai Sanya: itkindu, gonyora Somali: alol (Tana River), maydho Swahili: mkindu Taita: kigangachi Taveta: mhongana Teso: emusogot Tharaka: mukiindu Turkana: nakadoki

Description: A tree palm 4-6 m high, rarely to 10m, solitary or in tufts. LEAVES: Pinnate, pinnate sharply pointed. FLOWERS: Cream, in much-branched panicles. FRUITS: Oval, to 2.5 cm long, yellow to orange, ripening almost to dark red.

Ecology: Widely distributed in Kenya and southern Africa. Found in Kenya, e.g. in Loita forest (Narok), Nandi Hills (Nandi) and cultivated in towns as an ornamental.

Naturally growing in hillside gulleys, at forest edges and along watercourses, 0-2,600 m. Zones II-IV.

Uses: FOOD: Ripe fruits edible (+). A type of palm wine (muyence) may be tapped from the palm, though not a common practice nowadays (Tharaka).

OTHER: Leaves are used in making baskets, mats, hats, brooms and in thatching; a skirt (manyugi) is made from leaves for use during circumcision ceremonies (Tharaka); leaf rachis used to clean the inside of milk gourds (Maasai (Narok), Kipsigis). Charcoal is used as the scouring agent; roots a source of brown dye (Kikuyu).

CULTURAL/BELIEFS: Leaves are weaved and used for adorning women during the irua ceremony (Tharaka).

Management: Seeds or offshoots from the base of the palm can be used for propagation. If not thinned, the palms form a thick clump.

Status: May be locally common.

Remarks: This is related to the cultivated date palm of North Africa, P. dactylifera L. (Borana: tende, Luo: tembe, Meru: ntende, Kama: ndende, Somali: limits, Swahili: tende, Teso: epapai). Grown near water in arid areas for its dates. A spiny, unbranched palm which may grow extremely tall. The date has a very high sugar and carbohydrate content and is an important food for desert communities of Arabia and North Africa. It is cultivated along the Turkwel River near Lodwar. Also grown as an ornamental plant in dry areas (Tseikuru-Mwingi). It is presumed to be native to west Asia from where it spread to North Africa and the Nile Valley several millennia ago and to the rest of the dry tropics where it may be cultivated on a commercial scale.


Phoenix dactylifera


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