|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
syn: A. angustifolius Lam., A. silvestris Vill., A. parvulus Peter
Digo: chiswenya Embu: rwoga English: amaranth, prostrate amaranth Giriama: logatsi Ilchamus: raprapa, lokuronit, lokuroniti Kamba: w'oa, woa, telele (Kitui), terere (north Kitui) Kikuyu: terere, terere wa gikuyu Kipsigis: kelichot Luhya (Bukusu): edodo, litoto Luhya (Tachoni): lidodo Luo: ombok-alikra, omboga Maa: nanyi, nyanyi, nyani, embeneyoi Marakwet: kipkanding'wa, kipiriak (plural) Mbeere: muterere, muruoga Meru: rwoga ra kicuka Pokot: ptanya Samburu: mir, nyoni, nterere, ntererei Somali: dargu Swahili: mchicha, mchicha mwitu Taita: kizenya (Mbale), kichanya Tharaka: rwoga Turkana: ekiliton, lokiliton, louyeing'orok, adye
Description: An erect, decumbent or prostrate herb usually branched from the base and often less than 40 cm high. LEAVES: On long petioles and with small lamina (about 4 cm). FLOWERS: Green and borne in axillary clusters. FRUIT: Seeds tiny, smooth, shiny black.
Ecology: Found throughout most of Africa, warmer parts of Europe, tropical and subtropical Asia. The commonest amaranth species in the semi-arid and arid regions of Kenya but also grows in wetter regions on waste ground and as a weed of cultivation. Common on sand deposits along rivers, at roadsides and forest edges. It is most abundant where surface run-off collects in semi-arid lands. It can grow in partially shaded areas under trees. Soils varied, mainly sand and sandy alluvium. Zones II-VII.
Uses: FOOD: The leaves and young tender shoots are used as a vegetable (+++). Later as the seeds mature it is advised to pick individual leaves as stray seeds in food feel like sand in the mouth. The vegetable is normally cooked and eaten with ugali or it may be cooked together with flour to a stuff known as ngunzakutu (Kamba) or atap (Turkana). Leaves may also be mashed with a mixture of maize and a pulse (Kikuyu, Kamba). A major drawback is that leaves of this species are small and collecting enough for a meal can take some time.
OTHER: Fodder (++) for all livestock.
Management: Seeds can be obtained from mature plants by rubbing the flower heads to release them. Passing a light current of air through cleans them of other particles. The seeds may be broadcast soon after the onset of the rains. It can be intercropped with trees as it is shade-tolerant. In the wild, this amaranth sprouts easily soon after the onset of rains, grows fast, seeds and dries as fast, and hence its ability to survive in the arid lands. At maturity the plant sheds the small, black, shiny seeds.
Status: Common, especially in dry areas.
Remarks: Three subspecies have been recognized:
· ssp. graecizans (syn. A. angustifolius Lam.) with a narrow leaf blade and common in seasonally flooded areas,
· ssp. silvestris (syn. A. silvestris Vill.) with a broader leaf blade and more common than the former, and
· ssp. thellungianus (Nevski) Gusev., a rare type, only occurring in Central Province.