|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
syn: C. gharaf Ehrenb. ex Aschers.
Borana: harores, mader-boor, madeer-qoowe, madee'r Chonyi: mkayukayu Gabra: mad'eera Giriama: mderia, mkayukayu Ilchamus: salapani, lgweita Kamba: kithea, muthei-munini, kithia Kipsigis: nokirwet Maa: ol-durgo, ol-dorko, ol-olgot Malakote: mutalya-chana (riverine. Tana River), mutaale Marakwet: adomoyon Orma: mader Pokomo: muhale, mhali, mtale Pokot: adomeyon, adomeon, adome (fruit) Rendille: gaer, koh, madeer, gayer Samburu: dorgo, lmanturre, lgueita, lgweita-orok, silapani Sanya: ho'orocha Somali: mareer, marer Tugen: adumewa, edoma (leaves), adomewa Turkana: edome
Description: A low leafy shrub or bush, rarely a small tree up to 6 m high, often multi-stemmed. BARK: Finely fissured longitudinally, or smooth, dark grey on branches. LEAVES: Variable, smooth or slightly rough, narrow and long, ovate to obovate or broadly so. FLOWERS: Cream, browning when over. FRUITS: Conical, bright red or orange when ripe, produced in masses. Seed hard, rough, yellowish cream.
Ecology: Grows in the Middle East, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and in Africa from West Africa to Ethiopia, Somalia and Egypt south to Namibia and north-east South Africa. Widespread in the drier parts of Kenya but absent in Western and Nyanza Provinces. Found in dry riverine vegetation, usually with Salvadora persica, or in open bushland, usually 0-1,400 m. Mainly alluvial, sandy, red loam and rocky soils. Zones IV (coast)-VII.
Uses: FOOD: Ripe fruits eaten raw (+++). The sweet mucilaginous pulp may be eaten fresh. Fruit cover and seeds are discarded. Large quantities of the fruits are gathered, pounded to a sticky mass, sun-dried and stored in a wooden container, eburr (Turkana). Whenever it is needed, water is added to soften it, then served. The fruit pulp is sometimes used for brewing a local beer. The fresh fruits are squeezed in water to dissolve the pulp. This is mixed with tamarind (Tamarindus indica) juice and fermented. Fresh juice may also be drunk (Turkana). A clear gum produced by the tree is edible.
OTHER: Stems are widely used as poles in hut construction (+++) (Turkana, Pokot, Boran, Somali, Gabra) and for erecting bird-scaring platforms in sorghum fields (Turkana). In many cases these may root, hence becoming a near-by source of food. Fodder (+++) for goats, camels, sheep and cattle. Stems are made into walking sticks, wooden spoons, stirrers. Stems used for smoking gourds (Maasai).
CULTURAL/BELIEFS: Branches are spread where the house of a newly married couple is to be built, branches are put above the house during almadho and soriyo ceremonies (Samburu). Sticks used in settling battles in the absence of C. monoica, oseki (Maasai). Widely used in rituals (Gabra, Samburu. Maasai, Boran).
COMMERCIAL: Fruits sold in Lodwar (Turkana). Poles for construction sold (Pokot, Turkana).
Season: Flowers in April-May (Turkana). Fruits in March (Kilifi), May-June (Kajiado, Kitui), August-September (Garissa, Samburu, Turkana, Kajiado).
Management: Propagated by seeds which are best sown directly on site.
Status: May be very common.
Remarks: C. sinensis is a very variable species. In northern Kenya and at the coast it tends to have longer, smooth leaves. In the Tharaka, Kitui, Mbeere, Machakos and Kajiado area, the leaves tend to be more coarse, shorter and with an irregular margin. A very important plant in dry zones as a source of food, fodder and wood for building. Many of the Cordia species have edible fruits. Other notable examples are C. somaliensis Bak., a bushy usually multi-stemmed shrub found in the drier parts of coastal Kenya and southern Somalia only in open areas and in bushland on sandy soils, dunes and coral, and C. crenata Del. (Turkana: ebiteosin, Rendille: koh, Somali: marer-koh) with hairy young shoots and broad leaves which is widespread in the drier parts of Kenya. Common in riverine vegetation.