|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
Kamba: mukinyai, mukuthi, (Mwala-Machakos) nginyai (fruit) Kikuyu: mukinyai, mukinyei Luo: ochol, akado Maa: olkinyei, ilkinyei (plural), osojo (Narok), isojon (plural) Mbeere: mukiinyi, mukinyi Nandi: usuet Pokomo: munyiza Pokot: cheptuya Sabaot: shiendet, uswa, wuswet, cheptuishak Samburu: shinghe, ilchinge, lchinge Taita: m'mbuku Teso: emus Tharaka: mukonde
Description: Evergreen shrub, bush or small tree usually 3-5 m with dense foliage. Bark ash grey. LEAVES: Elliptic, glossy above. FLOWERS: Yellowish white. FRUITS: To 8 mm in diameter, green turning purple-black on ripening.
Ecology: Widely distributed throughout Kenya and most of Africa on rocky hillsides, especially in middle altitudes, 0-2,500 m. Commonest between 1,400 and 2,200 m. In lowlands mainly found near watercourses and areas with groundwater, especially on black soil. Zones II-IV.
Uses: FOOD: Ripe purple-black fruits have a sweet edible pulp (+) (Kamba, Luhya, Kipsigis, Nandi, Kikuyu, Samburu, Pokot, Tugen, Maasai). The edible part is, however, scanty, much of the fruit being seed which is discarded. Fruit leaves a rough feeling in the mouth. Bark is added to soup together with Rhamnus prinoides L. Herit. ol-konyil (Maasai) as an appetizer (Kipsigis, Maasai); also added to children's milk as a tonic.
FOOD/MEDICINAL: The root and bark are made into soup which is taken as a tonic (Maasai, Kikuyu).
MEDICINAL: One of the most important medicinal plants (+++). Roots are boiled with the roots of Croton dichogamus and the decoction used to treat chest pains, pneumonia and internal body pains (Kamba, kati). Root infusion or boiled root (occasionally the bark) extract widely used as a purgative (Luo, Kamba, Tharaka, Nandi). Medicine for spleen (Machakos). Soup made from the bark is taken as a worm medicine (Kamba, Pokot). Boiled root infusion used for stomach-ache (Kamba) and diarrhoea (Pokot, Kamba). Roots chewed for toothache (Kikuyu).
OTHER: Leaves used as sleeping mats for initiates during their period of seclusion (Sabaot). Roots (Kamba, Kikuyu) and bark (Mbeere) sources of dye. Wood hard but usually small, used for building houses and grain stores, handles, walking sticks. Branches used as toothbrushes from which the Kikuyu and Mbeere names are probably derived. Fuelwood (+++), fodder (+), shade (++).
Season: Fruits in August in West Pokot.
Status: Locally common.
Remarks: A closely related species is E. racemosa Murr. ssp. schimperi (E. schimperi A. DC.). This too has edible fruits and is normally used in the same manner. It is also common throughout the country.