|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
syn: C. ovalis DC.
Borana: qotte, mader English: sandpaper tree Ilchamus: seki, lsek, lmuleel, lmuleelin, muleelin Kamba: kithei, nthei (fruit) Kikuyu: muthigi, mukuo, mukuu Kipsigis: nogirwet Luo: oseno Maa: oseki, eseki, lsek, il-seki (plural) Meru: ikuo Orma: araba Pokot: topererwo, toporewo, taparer Samburu: se'eki, lamantume Somali: marergom, marer-girgir (Tana River), marer-goh Swahili: msasa Tharaka: muthugagu, mutugangu Turkana: etuntun, elkaisekiseki
Description: Spreading, much-branched bush, shrub or tree to 6 m high (normally 3-5 m). BARK: Yellow to ash grey, smooth, flaking. LEAVES: Ovate to almost round, very rough above, greenish grey. FLOWERS: Cream, turning brown on drying. FRUIT: Yellow or orange, oval, up to 2 cm across.
Ecology: Grows in India, Sri Lanka and in Africa from Sudan south to South Africa. Widely distributed all over Kenya in bushland, 0-2,200 m. Common in valley bottoms and along watercourses. Often on rocky areas and red clay soil. Zones I-VI.
Uses: FOOD: Mucilaginous pulp of fruit edible (+). Fruit coat is normally removed, the pulp (with seed) is sucked and the seed discarded. The pulp is sweet but gummy.
MEDICINAL: Roots boiled and the extract taken for vomiting and malaria, especially by children. Leaf extract given to animals and people to remove retained placenta (Tharaka).
OTHER: Fuelwood, shade, good charcoal, handles, wood carving (Kamba), beehive hooks (Kamba, Tharaka). Rough leaves are used as sandpaper to polish wooden shafts of spears (Maasai, Pokot). Camel and goat fodder. Stems made into clubs (Luo) and thinner ones into arrow shafts (Maasai, Narok). CULTURAL/BELIEFS: Used in blessings (Maasai, Samburu, Pokot). Used in rituals (Luo). The Maasai believe that if a livestock keeper carries an oseki stick his cattle will not suffer from certain diseases. Believed to be a peace-engendering plant (Maasai). To stop a fight or to prevent oneself from being attacked, a stick from this plant is placed between the opposing parties. The aggression should stop immediately. Whoever disregards this warning may be punished heavily. Bad luck may also befall him and it may mean death of one or more members of the family. It is therefore enough warning to say "elua eseki", meaning "I separate you with eseki".
Season: Flowers in April-May (Kajiado, Samburu), October-November (Taita, West Pokot, Nairobi, Meru). Fruits in February-March (Kajiado, Samburu), April-May (Kwale, Kisii); June-July (Machakos, Kitui, Meru, Isiolo), August (Isiolo, Baringo). Timing mainly depends on rains.
Management: Propagated by seeds sown directly and without pre-treatment.