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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)

Acacia tortilis (Forssk.) Hayne

Mimosaceae (Fabaceae)

syn: A. spirocarpa A. Rich., A. raddiana Savi

Borana: dadach, dadacha, urbu-ree (fruits) Daasanach: seech-geebe, sies-geebe (plural) English: umbrella thorn Gabra: d'addaca Ilchamus: ltepes, lkunyi Kamba: mulaa, muaa, ulaa (fruits) Kipsigis: chebitet Maa: oltepesi, sagararam (fruit) Malakote: dadacha, dadwota, dadech (young) Marakwet: ses, sesai (plural), sesoy (plural) Mbeere: mugaa Meru: mugaa Orma: gudis Pokot: ses, sesyai (plural), sesoy (plural) Rendille: gahar khabdo (pods), dahar, qubdo Samburu: ltepes, sagaram (fruits) Somali: qurah Swahili: mgunga Tugen: siesiet, sesya Turkana: ewoi (mature), etir (young)

Description: A spiny acacia, usually 4-8 m high but reaching 20 m in riverine vegetation. Crown narrow when young, spreading, fiat-topped and umbrella-like at maturity. BARK: Longitudinally fissured, dark grey. THORNS: Branches armed at each node with a straight white thorn as well as two short grey sharply recurved spines. FLOWERS: In white heads. FRUIT: A green-yellow to brown pod, often curled into a ring or crescent shape. Seeds smooth, greenish grey.

Ecology: Widespread in Africa from Algeria and Senegal to Eritrea and south to Angola, Namibia and Mozambique. Widespread in Kenya in dry bushland, bushed grassland, wooded grassland, riverine vegetation and arid-land scrub, 600-1,500 m. Soils very variable, from sandy to black cotton. Common in red soils. It is among the most drought-resistant acacias in Kenya. Rainfall: 200-900 mm. Zones IV-VII.

Uses: FOOD: Ripe fresh pods are eaten but seeds are discarded (+) (Maasai, Pokot, Turkana, Somali, Gabra, Daasanach). The crunchy pods have a faint sweet taste. Pods (ng'itit) are pounded, sieved to remove fibrous particles and the flour mixed with blood and eaten (Turkana). The gum is also eaten (Pokot, Turkana, Somali) but is of inferior quality, sticky and may cause choking.

MEDICINAL: Boiled infusion of bark used for diarrhoea and stomach-ache (Pokot).

OTHER: Fuelwood (+++), charcoal (+++), fibre (++) for weaving traditional baskets (Tharaka), kyondo (Kamba), ciondo (Mbeere); ropes and string for building and other purposes are obtained from the bark. This fibre was much used before the introduction of sisal. Thorns used as pins or needles. Fibre chewed for coated tongue, kivuti (Kamba). Debarked roots, which have tiny perforations, are smoked as a remedy for colds (Kamba, Tharaka). Leaves, young shoots, and especially dry pods, are excellent fodder (+++) for livestock, especially goats and camels. Shade and as a meeting place (Turkana). Fencing using dry branches.

CULTURAL/BELIEFS: Roots burned to reconcile families (Tharaka). The tree is believed to attract lightning (Tharaka).

COMMERCIAL: This is the most important acacia among pastoral communities. Pods sold for livestock (Lodwar, Mandera) and human food (Lodwar). Fuelwood and charcoal from this plant are widely sold in small market centres.

Season: Fruits in September-October (Machakos, Kajiado, Kitui, Tharaka).



Management: Seeds taken straight from the pod seldom germinate. Dormancy is broken when they pass through an animal gut, by scarification, bush fire or by hot-water treatment. Should not be planted near homes because of its thorns and the likelihood of attracting caterpillars that feed on the plant at certain seasons. Protection of some areas for some time to give young plants time to grow above the reach of goats may be the best way of increasing this useful tree. As this species is very drought-resistant it has a high potential for desert reclamation.

Status: Locally very common.

Remarks: Two subspecies occur in Kenya:

· ssp. spirocarpa (A. Rich.) Brenan (syn: A. spirocarpa A. Rich.). Fruit hairy and glandular. Distribution: Moyale, Kima (Machakos), Taveta. Eritrea and the Sudan south to Mozambique and Angola.

· ssp. raddiana (Savi) Brenan var. raddiana (syn: A. raddiana Savi). Fruit non-hairy and non-glandular. Distribution: Coastal area, Faza and Manda Islands, Lamu. Algeria and Senegal east to Egypt, Somalia and Kenya.