Cover Image
close this bookTraditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)
close this folderSpecies accounts
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcacia drepanolobium Sjöstedt
View the documentAcacia hockii De Wild.
View the documentAcacia nilotica (L.) Del.
View the documentAcacia senegal (L.) Willd.
View the documentAcacia seyal Del.
View the documentAcacia tortilis (Forssk.) Hayne
View the documentAcokanthera schimperi (A. DC.) Schweinf.
View the documentAdansonia digitata L.
View the documentAerva lanata (L.) Schultes
View the documentAlbizia amara (Roxb.) Boivin
View the documentAmaranthus blitum L.*
View the documentAmaranthus dubius Mart. ex Thell.*
View the documentAmaranthus graecizans L.
View the documentAmaranthus hybridus L.*
View the documentAmaranthus sparganiocephalus Thell.
View the documentAmaranthus spinosus L.*
View the documentAnnona senegalensis Pers. ssp. senegalensis
View the documentAntidesma venosum Tul.
View the documentAsystasia gangetica (L.) T. Anders.
View the documentAsystasia mysorensis (Roth) T. Anders.
View the documentAzanza garckeana (F. Hoffm.) Exell & Hillcoat
View the documentBalanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del.
View the documentBalanites pedicellaris Mildbr. & Schlecht.
View the documentBalanites rotundifolia (Van Tiegh.) Blatter
View the documentBasella alba L.
View the documentBerchemia discolor (Klotzsch) Hemsley
View the documentBorassus aethiopum Mart.
View the documentBoscia coriacea Pax
View the documentBoswellia neglecta S. Moore
View the documentBrassica carinata A. Br.
View the documentBridelia taitensis Vatke & Pax
View the documentCajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.
View the documentCanthium glaucum Hiern
View the documentCanthium lactescens Hiern
View the documentCarissa edulis (Forssk.) Vahl
View the documentCatha edulis Forssk.
View the documentCitrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf.
View the documentCleome gynandra L.
View the documentCoccinia grandis (L.) Voigt
View the documentCoffea arabica L.
View the documentCommelina africana L.
View the documentCommelina benghalensis L.
View the documentCommelina forskaolii Vahl
View the documentCommiphora africana (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentCommiphora rostrata Engl.
View the documentCommiphora schimperi (O. Berg) Engl.
View the documentCorchorus olitorius L.
View the documentCorchorus trilocularis L.
View the documentCordia monoica Roxb.
View the documentCordia sinensis Lam.
View the documentCrotalaria brevidens Benth.
View the documentCrotalaria ochroleuca G. Don
View the documentCucumis dipsaceus Spach
View the documentCyperus blysmoides C. B. Cl.
View the documentCyphia glandulifera A. Rich.
View the documentDactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) Willd.
View the documentDactyloctenium giganteum Fischer & Schweick.
View the documentDialium holtzii Harms
View the documentDialium orientale Bak. f.
View the documentDigera muricata (L.) Mart.
View the documentDioscorea bulbifera L.
View the documentDioscorea dumetorum (Kunth) Pax
View the documentDioscorea minutiflora Engl.
View the documentDiospyros mespiliformis A. DC.
View the documentDobera glabra (Forssk.) Poir.
View the documentDovyalis abyssinica (A. Rich.) Warb.
View the documentDovyalis macrocalyx (Oliver) Warb.
View the documentEleusine coracana Gaertn.
View the documentEragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter
View the documentEriosema shirense Bak. f.
View the documentErucastrum arabicum Fisch. & Meyer
View the documentEuclea divinorum Hiern
View the documentFicus sycomorus L.
View the documentFicus thonningii Bl.
View the documentFlacourtia indica (Burm. f.) Merr.
View the documentFlueggea virosa (Willd.) J. Voigt
View the documentGarcinia livingstonei T. Anderson
View the documentGrewia bicolor Juss.
View the documentGrewia tembensis Fres.
View the documentGrewia tenax (Forssk.) Fiori
View the documentGrewia villosa Willd.
View the documentHoslundia opposita Vahl
View the documentHydnora abyssinica Schweinf.
View the documentHyphaene compressa H. Wendl.
View the documentHyphaene coriacea Gaertner
View the documentIpomoea aquatica Forssk.
View the documentIpomoea lapathifolia Hall. f.
View the documentIpomoea longituba Hall. f.
View the documentIpomoea mombassana Vatke
View the documentIpomoea oenotherae (Vatke) Hall. f.
View the documentKedrostis pseudogijef (Gilg) C. Jeffrey
View the documentKigelia pinnata (Jacq.) DC.
View the documentLablab purpureus (L.) Sweet
View the documentLagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standley
View the documentLandolphia buchananii Stapf
View the documentLandolphia kirkii Dyer
View the documentLannea alata (Engl.) Engl.
View the documentLannea edulis (Sond.) Engl.
View the documentLannea rivae (Chiov.) Sacleux
View the documentLannea schimperi (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentLannea triphylla (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentLantana trifolia L.
View the documentLaunaea cornuta (Oliv. & Hiern) Jeffr.
View the documentLeptadenia hastata (Pers.) Decne.
View the documentLippia carviodora Meikle
View the documentLippia kituiensis Vatke
View the documentMaerua decumbens (Brongn.) De Wolf
View the documentManilkara mochisia (Baker) Dubard
View the documentManilkara sansibarensis (Engl.) Dubard
View the documentManilkara sulcata (Engl.) Dubard
View the documentMeyna tetraphylla (Hiern) Robyns
View the documentMimusops fruticosa Bojer
View the documentMimusops kummel A. DC.
View the documentMomordica rostrata A. Zimm.
View the documentMondia whitei (Hook. f.) Skeels
View the documentMoringa oleifera Lam.
View the documentMyrianthus holstii Engl.
View the documentNymphaea nouchali Burm. f. var. caerulea (Savigny) Verdc.
View the documentOxygonum sinuatum (Meisn.) Dammer
View the documentPachystigma schumannianum (Robyns) Bridson & Verdc.
View the documentPappea capensis Eckl. & Zeyh.
View the documentParinari curatellifolia Planch. ex Benth.
View the documentPennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.
View the documentPhoenix reclinata Jacq.
View the documentPiliostigma thonningii (Schum.) Milne-Redh.
View the documentPortulaca oleracea L.
View the documentRhus natalensis Krauss
View the documentRhus tenuinervis Engl.
View the documentRhus vulgaris Meikle
View the documentRubus apetalus Poir.
View the documentRubus pinnatus Willd.
View the documentRubus volkensii Engl.
View the documentRumex usambarensis (Damm.) Damm.
View the documentSaba comorensis (Bojer) Pichon
View the documentSalacia madagascariensis (Lam.) DC.
View the documentSalvadora persica L.
View the documentSclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst.
View the documentScutia myrtina (Burm. f.) Kurz
View the documentSesamum calycinum Welw.
View the documentSesamum orientale L.
View the documentSolanum nigrum L.
View the documentSorghum bicolor (L.) Moench
View the documentSorindeia madagascariensis DC.
View the documentStathmostelma propinquum (N. E. Br) Schltr.
View the documentStrychnos henningsii Gilg
View the documentStrychnos madagascariensis Poir.
View the documentStrychnos spinosa Lam.
View the documentSyzygium cordatum Krauss
View the documentSyzygium guineense (Willd.) DC.
View the documentTamarindus indica L.
View the documentThylachium thomasii Gilg
View the documentTylosema fassoglense (Schweinf.) Torre and Hillc.
View the documentUrtica massaica Mildbr.
View the documentUvaria acuminata Oliv.
View the documentUvaria scheffleri Diels.
View the documentVangueria apiculata K. Schum.
View the documentVangueria infausta Burch. ssp. rotundata (Robyns) Verdc.
View the documentVangueria madagascariensis Gmel.
View the documentVangueria volkensii K. Schum. var. volkensii
View the documentVatovaea pseudolablab (Harms) J. B. Gillett
View the documentVernonia cinerea Less.
View the documentVigna friesiorum Harms var. angustifolia Verdc.
View the documentVigna membranacea A. Rich.
View the documentVigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.
View the documentVigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.
View the documentVitex doniana Sweet
View the documentVitex ferruginea Schum. & Thonn.
View the documentVitex mombassae Vatke
View the documentVitex payos (Lour.) Merr.
View the documentXimenia americana L
View the documentZanthoxylum chalybeum Engl. var. chalybeum
View the documentZiziphus abyssinica A. Rich.
View the documentZiziphus mauritiana Lam.
View the documentZiziphus mucronata Willd.
View the documentTermitomyces-mushrooms (edible fungi)

Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst.


syn: S. caffra Sond.

Borana: didisa, Chonyi: fula (fruit), mfula Digo: mngongo, mng'ongo English: cider tree, morula Giriama: mfula, mufula, tulafula (fruit), fula Ilchamus: lmang'wai, lmang'wa Kamba: muuw'a, mauw'a (fruit) Luo: ong'ong'o (Gwasi), ng'ong'o (Kanyamwa), olemo, mang'u (Kadem) Maa: olmang'uai, ilmang'ua (plural) Marakwet: arol, oroluo (singular) Mbeere: mukomothi Pokot: oroluo, oroluwo, Sabaot: kotelalam Swahili: mng'ongo, mongo, mungango Teso: ekajikai Tugen: tololokwo Turkana: ekajiket

Description: A deciduous shrub or medium-sized tree to about 15 m, usually with a rather dense rounded crown. BARK: Grey, finely fissured, scaling. LEAVES: Pinnate, borne at tips of branchlets that end bluntly. Leaflet margins entire or undulate. FLOWERS: Dioecious. Female flowers reddish, borne on long stalks at the tips of branches. FRUIT: Light green, oval or nearly globose, 3-4 cm long, turning yellow on ripening. Fruit skin tough, leathery, enclosing a juicy white pulp and a single large hard nut.

Ecology: A widely distributed species in the dry zones. Ssp. birrea: Found from Senegal to Ethiopia and widespread in Kenya, e.g. in Lambwe Valley (Ruma National Park), Moyale, Ortum (West Pokot) and Baringo. Wooded grassland and rocky hillsides. Commonest on sandy and loam soils as well as dry rocky riverbeds. Ssp. caffra: Found in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) south to South Africa and Madagascar. A very common plant in Botswana. In Kenya, in coastal and adjoining areas. Open bushland, especially on sandy loam soils and rocky hillsides. Altitude: ssp. birrea, 500-1,600 m; ssp. caffra, 0-1,200 m. Zones IV-V.

Uses: FOOD: Ripe fruit eaten raw, fruit cover removed (often after squeezing the fruit several times) and the cream fruit pulp sucked. Pleasantly acid (+++) and strongly scented. Fruits can make a refreshing drink and are exceptionally high in vitamin C. The oil-rich seeds are edible. The stone is cracked and the contents eaten raw (Pokot, Kamba). Children are advised against swallowing the seed as it can easily cause choking. In southern Africa, the fruits are used for making a kind of alcoholic drink.

FOOD/MEDICINAL: Root or bark decoction added to milk as child's health drink (Pokot, Maasai). The bark is added to boiling Balanites pedicellaris cotyledons in the last hour of the 10 hours of cooking to improve taste and colour (Pokot).

MEDICINAL: Bark used for the treatment of dysentery (Pokot). Bark decoction used for diarrhoea, for adults with enlarged spleen as well as for liver diseases (Pokot). Medicine for toothache (Swahili).



OTHER: Wood used for making bowls (Pokot), wood carving, mortars, stools, beehives (Kamba). Bark is used for cleaning gourds used in beer brewing. It is left for 3-4 days then washed out (Pokot). The bark also yields a dye as well as fibre. Trees can serve as shade trees but are deciduous. The plant is also a source of soft fuelwood (takes rime to dry). Fruit eaten by elephants and goats; the seeds are regurgitated by the latter and are still of value to humans (Pokot).

COMMERCIAL: Fruits sold (Pokot). Wine made from the fruits.

Season: Fruits in April-May in Kerio Valley, Baringo, Makueni and Sultan Hamud, in July in Homa Bay and Lambwe Valley.

Management: This species does not readily propagate itself by seed. Due to the hard coat, seeds require pre-treatment by nicking or applying concentrated sulphuric acid to enhance germination. The species does not respond well to coppicing.

Status: May be locally uncommon.

Remarks: A quite variable species, especially in leaf shape, fruit size and taste. The two subspecies may be distinguished by the shape of the leaflets:

· ssp. birrea: Leaflets are usually shorter with obtuse or acute tips, and
· ssp. caffra (Sond.) Kokwaro (syn: S. caffra Sond.):

Leaflets have narrower and more elongate tips. This is the marula fruit which is much valued in southern Africa, especially in Botswana. Ripe fruits fall from the tree to the ground where they ferment naturally and can be quite intoxicating to humans, goats and wild game. In Botswana, varieties with exceptionally large fruit have been bred. Fruiting has been achieved in about 3 years in grafted plants.