|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
syn: X. caffra Sonder
Bajun: mchunda-kula Borana: uda, odda, dabobes Chonyi: mtundukula Digo: mtundakula English: wild plum, tallow nut, false sandalwood Giriama: mtundukula Ilchamus: lamai, lama Kamba: mutula Kambe: mtundukula Kikuyu: mutura Luhya (Bukusu): kumutuli-kumubukusu, chinduli-chimbukusu (fruit) Luo: olemo (red fruit), olimbochok (yellow fruit) Maa: olamai, engamai (plural), ilama (plural) Malakote: huda-hudo Marakwet: kunyat (singular), kunyotwo (plural) Mbeere: mutuura Meru: muroroma, ndoroma (fruit) Orma: huda-hudo Pokot: kinyotwo, kinyat (plural), Sabaot: mutoywo, uluteywa Samburu: lamai Sanya: hudahuda Somali: murcud, mandurcet Swahili: mtundukula, mtundakula, mpingi Taita: mtundukula, ndundukula (fruit), tagashiko Teso: olimu, elamai Tharaka: muroroma Turkana: elamai
Description: Spreading or, less often, a scrambling spiny shrub or small tree up to 6 m, commonly less than 4 m. Branches normally arching down, often armed with straight spines. BARK: Fissured, scaly, greyish brown. LEAVES: Ovate or oblong, mainly borne in clusters on short shoots, occasionally softly hairy. FLOWERS: Small, greenish white, fragrant, normally borne on short shoots. FRUITS: Up to 3 cm long, oval, shiny, light green, turning yellow, orange or red-on ripening. Seed smooth, hard coated, yellowish brown to brown.
Ecology: Widespread in tropical Africa, Asia and America. Widely distributed in Kenya, e.g. at Madunguni (Kilifi), Kisamis (Kajiado), Nginyang (Baringo) and Kaputir (southern Turkana). A plant of diverse habitats, dry hilly areas, bushland, especially on hilly places, coastal bushland, 0-2,000 m. Soils: red clay, red sandy coastal soils, rocky areas. Zones III-V.
Uses: FOOD: The juicy fruit pulp is eaten raw (+++). The thin outer skin is removed and the fruit sucked until the seeds are clean. The pulp is sweet but tart. The seed is discarded. Dried root bark is used in tea for good health (Maasai).
MEDICINAL: The seeds contain up to 60% oil which is extracted and used to heal cracking feet (Pokot, Turkana). Seed oil is obtained by roasting the seeds in a pan and used for skin and tanning leather skirts and blankets (Pokot, Turkana). The roots are a component of a medicine used to treat syphilis and hookworm. Leaf decoction used to treat measles (Kitui). Unripe (and ripe) fruits used for tonsillitis (Kamba), mouth sores (Pokot, Nginyang). Root bark and leaf extract used as a treatment for a number of diseases (Kamba). Leaf infusion used for stomach-ache (Kamba). Roots mixed with those of ochol (Euclea divinorum), roko (Zanthoxylum chalybeum) (Somali: gora) and ochuoga (Carissa edulis) in a drink and also in a steam bath used for baha (a type of fever like that of malaria) (Luo). A concoction of the roots (together with those of Grewia villosa (muvu) and Croton dichogamus (muthinia)) is given to women after childbirth (Kamba). Pounded root extract is given to children with diarrhoea. Seed oil applied on lip sores in goats.
OTHER: The oil-rich seeds were once piled on sticks of Acalypha racemosa (mukulw'a) and burned as candles (Kitui). Bark and root a source of dye. Shade (+). Wood of good quality, very hard. Made into poles and rafters (Tharaka). Fuelwood (++). Charcoal (++). Seed oil smeared on wood and metal and the inside of honey drums as a preservative. Also used for tanning leather (Tharaka). Fodder (++) for livestock.
COMMERCIAL: At one time sold at some market centres in Machakos District. Sold in north Baringo (Nginyang) and West Pokot.
Season: Flowers in August in West Pokot. Fruits in February-March in Baringo and Kilifi, January and May in Kitui.
Remarks: The species is very variable. Plants in Machakos and Kajiado may attain tree size and the leaves are abnormally hairy. The Siaya, coast and southern Turkana forms have dark green leaves and tend to be more scrambly in habit. Two varieties are recognized in Kenya:
· var. caffra (Sender) Engl. is the commonest, found from 0 to 2,000 m.
· var. americana is found in the region of Kitale and Kapenguria at 1,700-1800 m.
There is, however, a need for further taxonomic work, especially on the Machakos, Kajiado and yellow-fruited forms in relation to the varieties described above.