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)

Tamarindus indica L.

Caesalpiniaceae (Fabaceae)

Bajun: ukwaju Boni: mukai Borana: roka, roqa Digo: mkwaju Embu: muthithi English: tamarind Kamba: kithumula, kikwasu (south-eastern Makueni), nthumula (fruit), nzumula (fruit), ngwasu (fruit) Luhya (Bukusu): kumukhuwa, kumukhubwe Luo: ochwa, chwaa (Ugenya), ochwaa (Alego) Maa: oloisijoi Malakote: morhoqa Marakwet: aron, oron Mbeere: muthithi Meru: muthithi Orma: roqa Pokot: oron, aron Samburu: rogei Sanya: roka Somali: hamar, rahkai (Tana River), roge Swahili: mkwaju, msisi, ukwaju (fruit) Teso: epeduru Tharaka: muthithi Turkana: epeduru

Description: An evergreen tree with a low spreading crown often attaining a huge size. BARK: Dark brown, coarsely fissured longitudinally. LEAVES: Buds and young leaves red. FLOWERS: Orange-yellow. FRUIT: A sausage-shaped pod to 10 cm or more. Young fruits greenish brown turning rusty brown at maturity. Dry fruit coat brittle. Pulp reddish brown. Seeds dark red.

Ecology: Widespread in the tropics in South East Asia, India and Africa. Found in most low parts of Kenya, 0-1,600 m; usually 0-1,300 m. Very common in the drier parts of Coast Province and along rivers and streams in the dry northern and southern parts of the country. In the more humid semi-arid areas, the plant is not restricted to riverine environments. Commonly seen in light clay (especially red), loam, sandy and alluvial soils as well as rocky areas. Rainfall: 250-1,200 mm. Zones IV-VII.

Uses: FOOD: The fruit pulp, which is eaten raw, has a strong acid taste. The pulp is dissolved in water and the resulting solution used for preparing porridge. The solution may also be added to stews (mboga), as a flavouring for various foods such as tea (Digo) and rice (Coast) or with dried termites (Turkana); young leaves are chewed like Catha edulis (khat, miraa, Maasai, Luo-Migori) or cooked as a vegetable (Boni). Seeds are fried and eaten. Fruit pulp is used in beer preparation (Turkana). The tree bears large quantities of fruit which, after the coats are removed, are tied in bundles and stored in sacks for up to 2 years. In some countries the pulp is used in the preparation of jams, juice and sweets.

MEDICINAL: Leaves are pounded in a mortar or boiled, then sieved and the solution drunk or applied to the body for measles or chickenpox (Kamba). Leaves and fruits are widely used as a laxative. Infusion made from dried pounded leaves is taken for stomach-ache (Siaya); boiled bark (and roots from other plants) is used for the treatment of gonorrhoea (Tharaka). Leaf extract is applied to inflamed eyes (Giriama).

OTHER: Fuelwood, charcoal (+++). In Kenya's arid north the plant is fodder for camels and goats (++). The tree is ideal for shade in hot areas. The wood is hard, used in building, in construction of dhows and making furniture, yokes and tool handles. It is made into stools or headrests, ekichelong (Turkana), pestles, mortars (Somali-Mandera), and boats at the coast. Branches and smaller roots are flexible and are made into walking sticks (Mbeere, coastal people), or branches woven into seats (Kitui). The bark of young stems is a source of fibre. The leaves make good mulch. Soil under the tree is said to be very fertile and is often used as "forest soil" in tree nurseries. Among coastal communities the acid pulp was used to clean copper. Branches said to be excellent for water purification (Tana River).



CULTURAL/BELIEFS: The tree is never planted as it is believed the person may die as soon as it starts bearing fruit (Luo, Siaya). It is believed that a person will die without eating its fruit (Kamba, Mbiuni) if he attempts to grow it (probably because it is such a slow-growing tree). Sprouting of young leaves is an indication of the approach of the rainy season (Kitui).

COMMERCIAL: One of the most commonly sold indigenous fruits. Fruits sold in Siaya, Lodwar, West Pokot, Baringo, Kitui and coastal towns. Tamarind pulp is sold in large shops in Nairobi and in coastal towns.

Season: Fruits in July-August in Kitui.

Management: Germinates easily from seeds without any pre-treatment. This species is light-demanding and should be planted in an open area. Seeds germinate after 2-3 weeks. Growth rate is quite high at first. If not well stored (especially with the pulp intact), seeds may be damaged by weevils which bore through the fruit wall and the pulp. Coppices well.

Status: May be locally common.

Remarks: Besides being a good shade tree, this species may also be grown as an ornamental.