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)

Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench

Gramineae (Poaceae)

Borana: misinga Chonyi: muhama Embu: muvia English: sorghum. Guinea corn Giriama: muhama Kamba: muvya Kambe: mhama Keiyo: moosong', moosongik Kikuyu: muhia Kisii: amaemba Luhya (Isukha): mavele Luhya (Kisa): amabere Luhya (Marachi): mabere, mavere Luhya (Maragoli): mabere, mavere Luhya (Bukusu): liemba, kamaemba (plural) Luhya (Tachoni): amabele, kamaemba Luhya (Samia): amabele Luo: bel Marakwet: mosong (plural), mosiyon (singular) Meru: muya Nandi: mosongik Pokot: musyoon, musuu (plural) Sanya: misinga, msinga Somali: gidami Swahili: mtama Teso: imomwa Tharaka: munya Turkana: ng'imomwa

Description: A strong annual or perennial grass cultivated for its grain. Culms (stems) usually 1-2 m high, often with prop roots at the lowest nodes. LEAVES: Leaf-blade broader than in pearl millet. FLOWERS: Inflorescence a large terminal branched panicle which may be compact or loosely held. FRUITS: Grain of various colours ranging from white to red and dark brown. Many varieties are known, some only found and maintained locally by individual communities and deeply integrated into their culture. The Ng'ikebootok of southern Turkana, for example, keep up to 15 types, probably representing races, all with distinct vernacular names.

Ecology: Cultivated in most areas of Kenya, particularly in Nyanza and Western Provinces, usually between 0 and 2,400 m.

Uses: FOOD: A traditional grain crop of most communities in Kenya. The grain is ground into flour and used for making porridge and ugali. Used a great deal by the Luo, Turkana, Tharaka, Taveta, Tugen, Marakwet, Elgeyo, Teso, Luhya, Kisii, Kamba, Kikuyu, Embu and Mijikenda (Giriama, Digo, Duruma, Rabai, Ribe, Kambe, Jibana, Chonyi, Kauma) groups. Among the Luo, Teso and Luhya, the grain may be mixed with dried cassava and ground into flour. Flour may often be mixed with maize or finger-millet flour. The brown husks of sorghum, chung'bel, are used for making tea (Luo). The flour is used for making traditional beer (Teso, Luo). Fresh grain of some sweet cultivars is eaten. Bitter cultivars are preferred where bird attack is a problem. The stems of some cultivars are sweet and chewed like sugarcane. These are often sold in markets in southern Africa, especially in south-western Zimbabwe.

CULTURAL/BELIEFS: The Ng'ikebootok of southern Turkana believe sorghum came to their land by way of elephant dung.

COMMERCIAL: The grain and flour are sold all over the country.

Management: Propagated through seed. Takes 3-4 months to reach maturity. Quicker maturing varieties now available. In some cultivars, the crop may be left to give a second or even a third harvest by cutting off mature stems. The second crop may be as good as the first (Turkana) or better, but the third is always much less. Diseases are a limiting factor in later harvests.

Season: Mature crop in February-March in Machakos, Kitui, Embu, Mbeere, Tharaka, Meru, in June-July in Kitui, Mwingi, Tharaka (second harvest from same crop) and in July-September in Turkana (with up to three harvests).


Figure


Figure

Remarks: Sorghum is a crop that has been cultivated since ancient times and hence a great number of cultivars exist. Local people not only distinguish the various forms using morphological characters (like plant height, stem colour and thickness, size and shape of the ear, colour and shape of grain) but also others such as taste and hardness of the grain. Like many other traditional grain foods, sorghum has declined in importance compared to maize among many communities. It is, however, still a staple food among the Luo, Teso and agricultural Turkana.

Sorghum is believed to have originated in north-eastern Africa. Its diversity among the communities in southern Sudan and bordering communities in Kenya and Ethiopia is of great interest. Many varieties become extinct each year due to disuse or introduction of more competitive varieties. Sorghum's close wild relative, S. arundinaceum (Kamba: mukombi, imila, Turkana: etiriwae) is commonly seen in association with it. It is common in the Kibwezi area and in Laikipia. De Wet and Harlan (1971) combined all spontaneously occurring taxa into S. bicolor ssp. arundinaceum (Desv.) de Wet and Harlan and all cultivated taxa into S. bicolor ssp. bicolor. Harlan (1971) considered that sorghum was domesticated in the savannah somewhere between Chad and the Sudan where ssp. arundinaceum is abundant and still harvested as a cereal in times of scarcity.


Sorghum arundinaceum