|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
Borana: burquqe, burquqis Chonyi: mtsemeri, munga Digo: kigundi, chigundigundi English: Egyptian mimosa, Egyptian thorn Gabra: burquqe, burq'uq'e Giriama: msemeri, munga, muhegakululu Ilchamus: lkiloriti, lkilorit Kamba: kisemei (Machakos), musemeli (Kitui) Kambe: mtsemeri, munga Keiyo: kiprutyot Kikuyu: mugaa Kipsigis: chebitet, kopko Maa: olkiloriti Mbeere: mucemeri Orma: chalado Pokot: kopko, kapka Rendille: ilgiliti Samburu: lkiloriti Somali: marah, guider, langid, marai, tuwer Swahili: mgunga, mjungu, mtetewe Taita: shighiri Teso: ekapelimen Tharaka: mwemba Tugen: chebiwo, chebiwa Turkana: ekapilimen, ekapelimen
Description: A small- to medium-sized acacia, usually 3-5 m, with scattered branches (especially in young plants) or with a spreading umbrella-shaped crown and low branches (in older plants). BARK: Dark brown to black on the trunk. Branches reddish brown. THORNS: Branches armed with paired strong spines. FLOWERS: In bright yellow to orange heads. FRUIT: A grey to purple-black, straight or slightly curved indehiscent pod up to 12 cm long by 1.2 cm wide, with a whitish bloom and a gummy pulp.
Ecology: A species widely spread in tropical and subtropical Africa and east to India, from Ethiopia and Sudan to north-eastern South Africa and northern Namibia. Widely distributed in Kenya in acacia bushland and wooded grassland, e.g. growing in Kaputei plains (Kajiado), Kedong valley and Kerio Valley, 0-2,500 m. Common in both dry lowlands and highlands. Soils variable from sandy to black cotton. Seems to prefer gravelly red soils. Rainfall: Commonest at 500-800 mm. Zones III - VI.
Uses: FOOD: Bark (Kamba, Maasai, Mbeere) and the gummy fruit pulp (Pokot, Turkana, Rendille) boiled in water, sugar added and drunk as tea (+++). Pods are a famine food (Mbeere).
FOOD/MEDICINAL: Bark and roots boiled in milk, blood (Rendille) or soup, especially by warriors for appetite and general fitness (Maasai, Rendille, Samburu). Tea made from fruit drunk for stomach problems. Boiled root extract drunk as a tea for chest pain, abdominal pain and tuberculosis (Samburu). Root or bark extract taken alone or boiled in soup for indigestion (constipation), stomach upset (Maasai, Samburu), as an emetic (Samburu) and for hepatitis (Samburu).
MEDICINAL: Bark and root used in the treatment of venereal diseases (Maasai, Kamba, Tharaka). Cold bark infusion drunk to treat nausea caused by drinking milk. Chewed leaf or boiled bark applied on wounds, burns and sore eyes (Samburu). Inner bark chewed or boiled as cure for stomach-ache and diarrhoea (Pokot). Inner bark chewed for sore throat and cough (Maasai). Boiled leaf extract used for chest pain or pneumonia (Maasai). Bark and roots used as an aphrodisiac, and roots for gonorrhoea, impotence and chest diseases (Maasai). Bark decoction given to children for fever (Maasai). Sap from twigs (Pokot) and squeezed pods (Turkana, Pokot, Tharaka) applied to infected eyes. Bark infusion used against "malaria" (Pokot) and for stomach problems in goats (Pokot). Infusion of any plant part used to treat headache (Somali, Boran). Root bark (Mbeere) and fruit (Kamba) decoction used for coughs; boiled bark with fat used for painful joints, backache and stomach ulcers (Pokot).
OTHER: Fencing material, fuelwood (+++), charcoal (+++), fodder for all livestock (+). Bark boiled with meat to soften it (Pokot). Bark used for tanning (Mbeere). Bark and roots are a source of dye for baskets (Machakos). Thorns used for piercing ears (Kamba, Tharaka), removing jiggers (Mbeere) and as plugs for gourds (Kamba, Mbeere). Gum from fruit or bark used for attaching feathers to arrows (Mbeere). Wood hard and durable, used as posts for grain stores (Kamba).
CULTURAL/BELIEF: Ground bark used for rituals (Maasai). Fresh juice from fruit rubbed on eyelids to make them black during dances (Digo). Gum from fruits rubbed on hair by old men (Digo).
Season: Flowers in January (Kitui), May-June (Laikipia) or September-October (Naivasha, Kajiado). Fruits in August-September (Kitui) or October (Laikipia).
Management: Best propagated by direct sowing at site.
Status: Very common.
Remarks: This species is quite variable. Two subspecies occur in Kenya: ssp. subalata (Vatke) Brenan (syn: A. subalata Vatke) which is by far the commonest; ssp. leiocarpa is a coastal subspecies (Malindi, Pate Islands, Kiunga, into Somalia) with hairless fruit and young branches. At least seven subspecies are recognized, the others being found outside Kenya.