|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
Digo: chiswenya English: amaranth Giriama: kiswenya, kiswenya-kithithe (small form) Ilchamus: raprapa, i-okuronit, i-okuroniti Kamba: w'oa, telele (Kitui), terere (Mwingi) Kikuyu: terere Kipsigis: kelichot Kisii: emboga Luhya (Bukusu): emboka, litoto Luhya: lidodo Luhya (Tachoni): lidodo Luo: ododo, omboga Maa: nanyi, nyanyi Marakwet: kipkanding'wa Mbeere: muterere Pokot: ptanya Samburu: nyoni, nterere, ntererei, mir Swahili: mchicha Taita: kichanya, kizenya Tharaka: terere
Description: An erect branched herb up to 1 m or more, resembling the spiny amaranth, A. spinosus, but without spines. Stems ridged. LEAVES: Simple, long petiolate, alternate, usually with an ovate lamina to 8 cm long, veins conspicuous underneath. FLOWERS: Borne in clusters, in the axils and in terminal branched heads or spikes. FRUIT: Covered by bracts and bracteoles which are the more visible structures of the flowering part. Seeds black, shiny.
Ecology: Grows in most tropical parts of the world and usually found in most sub-humid parts of Kenya below 2,000 m. A common herb in most towns in Kenya and commonly found on cultivated land, roadsides and flood plains. Cultivated a great deal in kitchen gardens in western Kenya and among the Mijikenda of Coast Province. Zones I-V.
Uses: FOOD: Leaves and tender shoots are used as a vegetable (+++), sometimes cooked with more bitter vegetables such as Cleome gynandra (Luo, Siaya), black nightshade and Launaea cornuta (coast). This avoids the process of pouring out the water used for boiling the vegetables. A. dubius is a popular choice for improving the taste of many traditional leafy vegetables.
Season: Two weeks after the onset of the rainy seasons, April-September, November-January (coast).
Management: The mature inflorescence is squeezed between the palms to release the seeds which may be broadcast at the required site. Occasionally, weedy seedlings may be uprooted and planted at the required place (coast).
COMMERCIAL: Grown on a commercial scale along the Sabaki flood plains, in Kaloleni near Mombasa and in Wangige near Nairobi. Sold in Nairobi, Malindi, Mombasa, Siaya, Kisumu.
Remarks: Amaranthus dubius is believed to be of American origin. A more recently introduced large-leaved giant amaranth is believed to be a form of this species (Giriama: kiswenya kibomu). It grows much larger, the stems are thicker, leaves are larger and usually blotched purple. The inflorescence is large but seeds are smaller. This form is becoming more popular with farmers. Amaranths are among the most commonly used leafy vegetables in Kenya and most of Africa. Of the 60 or so species of Amaranthus in the world, at least 13 occur wild in Kenya. Many of these (probably with the exception of A. thunbergii, A. sparganiocephalus and A. graecizans) have been introduced from other parts of the world, especially the Americas and Asia. Because of their close resemblance and the fact that many are only newcomers, they are often known by the same local names and used in the same manner. They are among the most nutritious leafy vegetables.