Cover Image
close this bookTraditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)
close this folderSpecies accounts
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcacia drepanolobium Sjöstedt
View the documentAcacia hockii De Wild.
View the documentAcacia nilotica (L.) Del.
View the documentAcacia senegal (L.) Willd.
View the documentAcacia seyal Del.
View the documentAcacia tortilis (Forssk.) Hayne
View the documentAcokanthera schimperi (A. DC.) Schweinf.
View the documentAdansonia digitata L.
View the documentAerva lanata (L.) Schultes
View the documentAlbizia amara (Roxb.) Boivin
View the documentAmaranthus blitum L.*
View the documentAmaranthus dubius Mart. ex Thell.*
View the documentAmaranthus graecizans L.
View the documentAmaranthus hybridus L.*
View the documentAmaranthus sparganiocephalus Thell.
View the documentAmaranthus spinosus L.*
View the documentAnnona senegalensis Pers. ssp. senegalensis
View the documentAntidesma venosum Tul.
View the documentAsystasia gangetica (L.) T. Anders.
View the documentAsystasia mysorensis (Roth) T. Anders.
View the documentAzanza garckeana (F. Hoffm.) Exell & Hillcoat
View the documentBalanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del.
View the documentBalanites pedicellaris Mildbr. & Schlecht.
View the documentBalanites rotundifolia (Van Tiegh.) Blatter
View the documentBasella alba L.
View the documentBerchemia discolor (Klotzsch) Hemsley
View the documentBorassus aethiopum Mart.
View the documentBoscia coriacea Pax
View the documentBoswellia neglecta S. Moore
View the documentBrassica carinata A. Br.
View the documentBridelia taitensis Vatke & Pax
View the documentCajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.
View the documentCanthium glaucum Hiern
View the documentCanthium lactescens Hiern
View the documentCarissa edulis (Forssk.) Vahl
View the documentCatha edulis Forssk.
View the documentCitrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf.
View the documentCleome gynandra L.
View the documentCoccinia grandis (L.) Voigt
View the documentCoffea arabica L.
View the documentCommelina africana L.
View the documentCommelina benghalensis L.
View the documentCommelina forskaolii Vahl
View the documentCommiphora africana (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentCommiphora rostrata Engl.
View the documentCommiphora schimperi (O. Berg) Engl.
View the documentCorchorus olitorius L.
View the documentCorchorus trilocularis L.
View the documentCordia monoica Roxb.
View the documentCordia sinensis Lam.
View the documentCrotalaria brevidens Benth.
View the documentCrotalaria ochroleuca G. Don
View the documentCucumis dipsaceus Spach
View the documentCyperus blysmoides C. B. Cl.
View the documentCyphia glandulifera A. Rich.
View the documentDactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) Willd.
View the documentDactyloctenium giganteum Fischer & Schweick.
View the documentDialium holtzii Harms
View the documentDialium orientale Bak. f.
View the documentDigera muricata (L.) Mart.
View the documentDioscorea bulbifera L.
View the documentDioscorea dumetorum (Kunth) Pax
View the documentDioscorea minutiflora Engl.
View the documentDiospyros mespiliformis A. DC.
View the documentDobera glabra (Forssk.) Poir.
View the documentDovyalis abyssinica (A. Rich.) Warb.
View the documentDovyalis macrocalyx (Oliver) Warb.
View the documentEleusine coracana Gaertn.
View the documentEragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter
View the documentEriosema shirense Bak. f.
View the documentErucastrum arabicum Fisch. & Meyer
View the documentEuclea divinorum Hiern
View the documentFicus sycomorus L.
View the documentFicus thonningii Bl.
View the documentFlacourtia indica (Burm. f.) Merr.
View the documentFlueggea virosa (Willd.) J. Voigt
View the documentGarcinia livingstonei T. Anderson
View the documentGrewia bicolor Juss.
View the documentGrewia tembensis Fres.
View the documentGrewia tenax (Forssk.) Fiori
View the documentGrewia villosa Willd.
View the documentHoslundia opposita Vahl
View the documentHydnora abyssinica Schweinf.
View the documentHyphaene compressa H. Wendl.
View the documentHyphaene coriacea Gaertner
View the documentIpomoea aquatica Forssk.
View the documentIpomoea lapathifolia Hall. f.
View the documentIpomoea longituba Hall. f.
View the documentIpomoea mombassana Vatke
View the documentIpomoea oenotherae (Vatke) Hall. f.
View the documentKedrostis pseudogijef (Gilg) C. Jeffrey
View the documentKigelia pinnata (Jacq.) DC.
View the documentLablab purpureus (L.) Sweet
View the documentLagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standley
View the documentLandolphia buchananii Stapf
View the documentLandolphia kirkii Dyer
View the documentLannea alata (Engl.) Engl.
View the documentLannea edulis (Sond.) Engl.
View the documentLannea rivae (Chiov.) Sacleux
View the documentLannea schimperi (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentLannea triphylla (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentLantana trifolia L.
View the documentLaunaea cornuta (Oliv. & Hiern) Jeffr.
View the documentLeptadenia hastata (Pers.) Decne.
View the documentLippia carviodora Meikle
View the documentLippia kituiensis Vatke
View the documentMaerua decumbens (Brongn.) De Wolf
View the documentManilkara mochisia (Baker) Dubard
View the documentManilkara sansibarensis (Engl.) Dubard
View the documentManilkara sulcata (Engl.) Dubard
View the documentMeyna tetraphylla (Hiern) Robyns
View the documentMimusops fruticosa Bojer
View the documentMimusops kummel A. DC.
View the documentMomordica rostrata A. Zimm.
View the documentMondia whitei (Hook. f.) Skeels
View the documentMoringa oleifera Lam.
View the documentMyrianthus holstii Engl.
View the documentNymphaea nouchali Burm. f. var. caerulea (Savigny) Verdc.
View the documentOxygonum sinuatum (Meisn.) Dammer
View the documentPachystigma schumannianum (Robyns) Bridson & Verdc.
View the documentPappea capensis Eckl. & Zeyh.
View the documentParinari curatellifolia Planch. ex Benth.
View the documentPennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.
View the documentPhoenix reclinata Jacq.
View the documentPiliostigma thonningii (Schum.) Milne-Redh.
View the documentPortulaca oleracea L.
View the documentRhus natalensis Krauss
View the documentRhus tenuinervis Engl.
View the documentRhus vulgaris Meikle
View the documentRubus apetalus Poir.
View the documentRubus pinnatus Willd.
View the documentRubus volkensii Engl.
View the documentRumex usambarensis (Damm.) Damm.
View the documentSaba comorensis (Bojer) Pichon
View the documentSalacia madagascariensis (Lam.) DC.
View the documentSalvadora persica L.
View the documentSclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst.
View the documentScutia myrtina (Burm. f.) Kurz
View the documentSesamum calycinum Welw.
View the documentSesamum orientale L.
View the documentSolanum nigrum L.
View the documentSorghum bicolor (L.) Moench
View the documentSorindeia madagascariensis DC.
View the documentStathmostelma propinquum (N. E. Br) Schltr.
View the documentStrychnos henningsii Gilg
View the documentStrychnos madagascariensis Poir.
View the documentStrychnos spinosa Lam.
View the documentSyzygium cordatum Krauss
View the documentSyzygium guineense (Willd.) DC.
View the documentTamarindus indica L.
View the documentThylachium thomasii Gilg
View the documentTylosema fassoglense (Schweinf.) Torre and Hillc.
View the documentUrtica massaica Mildbr.
View the documentUvaria acuminata Oliv.
View the documentUvaria scheffleri Diels.
View the documentVangueria apiculata K. Schum.
View the documentVangueria infausta Burch. ssp. rotundata (Robyns) Verdc.
View the documentVangueria madagascariensis Gmel.
View the documentVangueria volkensii K. Schum. var. volkensii
View the documentVatovaea pseudolablab (Harms) J. B. Gillett
View the documentVernonia cinerea Less.
View the documentVigna friesiorum Harms var. angustifolia Verdc.
View the documentVigna membranacea A. Rich.
View the documentVigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.
View the documentVigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.
View the documentVitex doniana Sweet
View the documentVitex ferruginea Schum. & Thonn.
View the documentVitex mombassae Vatke
View the documentVitex payos (Lour.) Merr.
View the documentXimenia americana L
View the documentZanthoxylum chalybeum Engl. var. chalybeum
View the documentZiziphus abyssinica A. Rich.
View the documentZiziphus mauritiana Lam.
View the documentZiziphus mucronata Willd.
View the documentTermitomyces-mushrooms (edible fungi)

Cucumis dipsaceus Spach


Borana: burate-harre English: teasel gourd Gabra: buratte Kamba: kikungi, kyambatwa Luo: nyabuth-muok Maa: orng'alayoi-loo-sirkon, eng'alayioi-naju Mbeere: gikungui, mukungui Pokot: alaskau, kuutitan (fruit), chesapulian, ariapongos Rendille: khonjote Samburu: ntujuu, dudhu Somali: hungureri, hungureri-damer Turkana: eome, ekaleruk

Description: A trailing or climbing plant. Stems with tendrils, angled and with prickly hairs. LEAVES: Ovate or shallowly 3-lobed, coarsely hairy, light green, up to 10 cm long. FLOWERS: Yellow. FRUITS: Oval with numerous protrusions, light green, turning yellow on ripening.

Ecology: North-eastern tropical Africa in bushland, grassland, cultivated land and in disturbed areas climbing on bushes and on hedges. Common at river banks on alluvial and sandy soils but also found in clay soils, 425-1,800 m. Zones IV-VII (riverine).

Uses: FOOD: Young leaves from young plants (Turkana) or young shoots of older plants are used as a vegetable (++) (Kamba, Turkana, Pokot). Leaves are occasionally used in mashed food (Makueni).

MEDICINAL: Roots and leaves crushed and put on cuts. Juice from fruits used to rub on swollen neck glands (Pokot). Fruit juice is made into a solution (Pokot, Somali) or boiled (Luo, Homa Bay) and taken as an emetic or purgative (Turkana). Solution is usually given as an antidote after poisoning. Milk is served immediately after vomiting (Pokot, Nginyang).

OTHER: Goat and camel fodder. Fruit liked by donkeys, pulp eaten by squirrels (Makueni), but said to be poisonous to man.

Season: Leaves available 2 weeks after the start of the rainy season and fruits 2 months later.

Management: Plant grows easily from seeds.

Status: Common.

Remarks: The fruits of several Cucumis species are used as food. These include C. prophetarum L., a prostrate herb from a perennial rootstock, with rough, narrow-lobed leaves and yellow flowers. Fruit egg-sized, pale green with dark green lines and soft bristles, ripening to a yellow colour. (Turkana: ekolese, Samburu: ntuyu, Pokot: ariapongos, Maa: ilporbol lo ntare). Ecology: India west through the Middle East to Africa. Widely distributed in the drier parts of Kenya. Not recorded in Nyanza and western Kenya. Found in dry bushland and woodland. Processed fruits are used as food (Turkana). Fruits are goat and sheep fodder. Two subspecies are recognized: ssp. dissectus (Naud.) Jeffrey, found in north-eastern Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Uganda, Tanzania and most parts of Kenya; ssp. prophetarum found from Senegal east to India and the northern parts of Kenya. Ripe fruits are clear yellow.

Cucumis metuliferus


Another member worth mentioning in this genus is Cucumis metuliferus Naud. (English: spiny cucumber, horned cucumber). This is a climbing herb with hairy stems and solitary unbranched tendrils. LEAVES: Heart-shaped, hairy with long petioles. FLOWERS: Male and female flowers are separate on the same plant. FRUITS: Up to 12 cm long by 6 cm wide. Dark green with striations of white dots and covered with scattered spiny processes to 1.2 cm long, with a horny tip. The fruit turns orange to bright red on ripening. It is found in Acacia bushland (in miombo woodland in southern Africa) and roadside bushes mainly in red alluvial or loamy soils at an altitude of 800-1,300 m. The species is found wild in northern Kenya. Collections have been made in Sigor (West Pokot) and Mandera. It is widely distributed in the rest of Africa but cultivated for commercial purposes in southern Africa. The mature unripe or ripe fruits are eaten raw. The horny part of the spiny processes is cut off and the fruit split to eat the seed-filled white to translucent pulp. Fruit may also be peeled. This fruit has the taste of a cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Its use as a food has not yet been reported in Kenya. The fruit is common in markets in southern Africa and is also exported to Europe and America. The leaves may also be used as a vegetable.

Cucurbita maxima

The ripe fruit has a striking orange-red colour and so the plant may also be grown as an ornamental. Fruits last long in cool weather.

Cucurbita ficifolia BouchEnglish: Fig-leafed gourd, malabar gourd, Kikuyu: kahurura, kanyuria) is another extensive creeper or climber. Cultivated in the central highlands, especially by the Kikuyu. Leaves used in the preparation of irio, a mixture of maize, pulses and often green bananas and/or Irish potatoes. It usually germinates spontaneously in cultivated land.

Also commonly grown for their fruit and leaves are the pumpkins (Borana: bododa, Kamba: ulenge, ilenge (fruit), Kikuyu: marenge, Kisii: risosa, Embu: irenge, marenge, Luhya (Bukusu): lisiebebe, liondo (fruit), Meru: marenge, malenge (Nyambene), Turkana: ekaideit) Cucurbita moschata Duch. ex Lam. and Cucurbita maxima Duch. Ex Lam. C. moschata has distinctly lobed (divided) leaves, while those of C. maxima only have a wavy margin. Both have yellow flowers. Leaves and young shoots are used as vegetables.

Cucurbita moschata