|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
English: toothbrush bush, mustard tree Swahili: mswaki Borana: huda Chonyi: mswaki, mueza-moyo Daasanach: nyedhe, nyaa (plural) Gabra: aadde Giriama: mswaki, mjungumoto, mueza-moyo Kamba: mukayau Kambe: mswaki, mueza-moyo Maa: oremit, iremito (plural), olremit Malakote: muswaki Orma: adhe Pokot: asiokon, ashokonyon, chokow'o, asiokonion Rendille: hayay, akhai (fruit) Samburu: sokotu, sokotei Sanya: adhe Somali: ade, adhei (Tana River), cadei, adde Tugen: sogotaiwa, barsute Turkana: esokon, esekon
Description: An evergreen bush to 4 m, a climbing shrub or an insubstantial tree to about 8 m. Trunk usually convoluted or prostrate, bark rough in older trees. Branches often hanging down. BARK: Greyish white. LEAVES: Slightly succulent or appearing so. FLOWERS: Small, greenish white, borne in large axillary or terminal panicles. FRUITS: Small and dark purple when ripe.
Ecology: Found in Arabia, Somalia, the Sudan, south to Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Angola and in West Africa, North Africa, the Middle East to north-west India and Sri Lanka. Grows in most low-altitude areas of Kenya, especially arid, semi-arid and coastal regions in riverine vegetation on sandy, sandy-loam and alluvial soils or on rocky ground, 0-1,500 m. Occasionally in bushland, especially in red soils. Zones V-VI.
Uses: FOOD: The ripe purple fruits are eaten whole (+). Also may be chewed or sucked. Fruit, especially seeds, have a slightly hot taste. Occasionally large quantities are gathered and brought home (Pokot, Turkana). Among some communities in northern Kenya fruits may be dried and stored for future use. Ripe fruits pounded and made into a sugary ball eaten as a snack (Turkana).
MEDICINAL: Roots mixed with Acacia oerfota (syn: A. nubica) bark in soup are used for dizziness, tuberculosis and fever (Pokot, Somali). Roots used as a toothbrush or chewed when one has bad teeth (Pokot). Plant used to cure worms (Kamba, Maasai). A decoction of the root used to cure gonorrhoea; also added to child's milk as a tonic (Maasai Kajiado); roots used for stomach-ache (Samburu). Dried root bark is boiled with tea and taken as a health drink, a spice when one has a cold or to freshen the mouth (Maasai, Kajiado). Roots boiled and mixed with soup as a tonic and for stronger bones (Pokot, Maasai), this mixture is said to cure fever and colds; boiled root infusion given to breast-feeding mothers to increase milk (Maasai, Magadi).
OTHER: Leaves and fruit are fodder for camels (+++) and goats (++). Branches used as toothbrushes (+++). COMMERCIAL: Toothbrush sticks sold throughout the country.
Season: Fruits in June-July in Lodwar.
Management: Propagated by seeds and root suckers. Trees for shade should be planted near other trees such as Acacia tortilis for support.
Remarks: S. persica is an evergreen tree and often the only green plant seen during the dry season in areas where it grows. It provides excellent shade. In riverine vegetation, the bushy plant is good for erosion control. Said to be the mustard of the Bible. Three varieties found in Kenya:
· var. persica with slightly succulent, narrow, usually pointed leaves is widely distributed and by far the commonest.
· var. cyclophylla (Chiov.) Cut, distinguished by its broad leaves. Kenya coast and Somalia on coral.
· var. pubescens Brenan with hairy leaves. Maasai land in Kenya, also in Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola.