|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
Chonyi: mkone Daasanach: suriech Giriama: mkone Kamba: mulawa, kikalwa, ngalwa (fruit), ilawa Kambe: mkone Kipsigis: sitetet, sitetooik (plural) Luo: powo Maa: olsiteti Marakwet: siitet, siti (plural) Mbeere: muragwa, murawa Orma: haroru Pokot: sitet Rendille: dabach, arlilo (fruit) Samburu: lagrat-denai, seteti, lkarraiyo Sanya: haroru Somali: debhi (Tana River), dowee Swahili: mkone, mfukufuku, mikoche Taita: mmara, ndomoko Tharaka: murawa, muraagwa Turkana: ekali
Description: Spreading shrub or tree with a light crown and up to 7 m high. Branches hanging down. BARK: Smooth or fissured, dark grey. LEAVES: Usually asymmetrical at the base, whitish green underneath, margins toothed. FLOWERS: Yellow, on short stalks. FRUIT: Often divided into two lobes, each up to 0.7 cm, orange when ripe, rather hairy.
Ecology: Widely distributed in Africa and a common species all over Kenya, especially in lowlands in dry bushland, bushed grassland, 300-1,800 m. Soils very varied but mainly red clay, sandy and rocky soils. Zones III-V.
Uses: FOOD: Fruits eaten raw (+). The pulp, which is sweet but scanty, is sucked off the seeds and then the seeds are discarded. Occasionally the whole fruit may be crushed and eaten. Seeds are hard, however.
MEDICINAL: Bark chewed and placed on cuts as a bandage (Kitui). A cold infusion of the root is drunk for chest complaints (Maasai). Root decoction used for diarrhoea in humans and mixed with another species (sokotwo) for the extraction of the afterbirth in cattle (Pokot). The slimy pounded bark is applied locally for body itches.
OTHER: Sticks, bows and stirrers. Wood is tough and used to make knives, spears, clubs, bows, arrows, walking and fighting sticks (Daasanach), construction. Wood carving (Kamba). Bark used for string and rope. Animal fodder (++). Shade tree (++).
CULTURAL/BELIEFS: Leaves used by medicine men in exorcizing spirits and used to produce smoke in ceremonies for sick cattle (Pokot). Sticks used in an earthquake-prevention ceremony. Ritual sticks (Maasai).
Season: Flowers mainly in the rainy season. Fruits about 3 months later.
Status: Locally common.
Remarks: Most of the 27 or so species of Grewia occurring in Kenya have edible fruits. They are generally shrubs, rarely attaining tree size, usually multi-stemmed and more common in dry areas. Leaves are simple, alternate and toothed. Flowers usually have 5 coloured sepals, usually joined below, and 5 petals which are often shorter than the sepals and free. Many, usually 10, stamens. The fruit is normally hairy and divided into 2-6 lobes (often 1, 2 and 4).
Fruits with smaller lobes such as G. tenax, G. similis and G. tembensis can be chewed and swallowed whole. With the larger ones, one can only scrape off the thin sweet outer pulp then throw away the seed. Fruits eaten whole have better food value, especially proteins. The seeds are, however, known for their constipating property and ingesting large amounts may lead to serious constipation. Due to their high prevalence in the dry areas, Grewia fruits may form a substantial part of the daily diet among the pastoral communities. Apart from providing food, Grewia species are good sources of fibre. Their stems are often tough and durable, thus they find many uses in the household.