|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
syn: B. integrifolia (Wes.) Rupr.
English: Ethiopian cabbage, Ethiopian mustard Kisii: chinkongonyira Luhya (Maragoli): likabichi lya manyonyi Luo: kandhira Mijikenda: kanzira-sukuma (Mariakani)
Description: An erect annual herb, often branched, to 1.2 m or more. LEAVES: Pinnately lobed, smaller compared to those of other brassicas. FLOWERS: Yellow, borne in a long terminal inflorescence. FRUIT: A long capsule. Seeds small.
Ecology: Grown in many parts of the world with several cultivars. In Kenya mainly grown in Nyanza and Western Provinces, especially by the Luo and Luhya communities. Introduced at the coast. Occasionally grown in large cities such as Nairobi by the same communities. Also found as an escape in the same areas, 0-1,600 m (in Kenya). A weed of cultivation also grown as a vegetable. Prefers fertile places such as abandoned cattle enclosures. Rainfall: 600-1,600 mm. Zones II - III.
Uses: FOOD: Leaves are used as a vegetable (Kisii, Luo, Luhya, Mijikenda, Suba) (+++). A popular vegetable among the Luo. Leaves mixed with those of akeyo (Cleome gynandra) are boiled, made into lumps, dried in the sun and stored in a clay pot (agulu) as a dry-season food (Luo). This may be eaten with apoth (Asystasia mysorensis) as mboga. Leaves are also fried with meat and used as mboga. Leaves are said to be mixed with those of Solarium nigrum and Cleome gynandra in Malawi. The cooked vegetable has a characteristic sharp odour and it is not bitter. In southern Africa, oil is extracted from the seeds and used for cooking and for rubbing on the skin.
MEDICINAL: Water obtained after boiling leaves is used to treat diarrhoea (Luo).
OTHER: Seeds much liked by birds, hence the Maragoli name.
Management: Grows easily from seeds which are sown in lines or broadcast. Normally grown in kitchen gardens (Luo: sirundi, kirundi) at the homestead to minimize on bird attack (Luo, Luhya). Among the Luo it is grown together with akeyo (Cleome gynandra). Seeds are often mixed with ash when planting to keep off pests. Seeds are also distributed by birds. Plants are normally cut at a height of about 15 cm to induce the plant to produce larger leaves.
Remarks: A plant of unclear taxonomic position and doubtful origin. Some authorities treat B. carinata as a variety of B. juncea (L.) Czern. This species is also found in India (English: Indian mustard). B. carinata is believed to be a native of the Ethiopian highlands. Significant variation in leaf width is found in this species. Some forms have very narrow leaves. Leaves are generally small and there is need for improvement if it is to have potential as a vegetable.
The genus Brassica contains some important exotic species such as the cabbage (B. oleracea L. var. capitata), rape and swede (B. napus L.), turnip (B. rapa L.) and kales (B. oleracea L. var. acephala). (Swahili: sukuma-wiki, Kikuyu: matharu, Kipsigis: sarokel, Luo: badmaro, Kisii: egesusura, Luhya: likabichi). Several of these introduced species have gone wild, especially in the highlands. Kales are becoming more important, especially among urban dwellers, thus replacing cabbage and traditional vegetables.