|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
Borana: qoone, kone, meeti Chonyi: mkoma Daasanach: kulidhe Digo: mkoma, mkoma lume English: doum palm Gabra: meetti Giriama: mkoma Ilchamus: lparruai, lparrua Kamba: mukoma, ilala (Mbitini, Kitui) Kambe: mkoma Malakote: mokoma, mezi (young) Mbeere: irara (Mavuria) Orma: kone, meti (young) Pokot: takuyua, takaiw'a, takayua Rendille: gey-i-khooona, baar Samburu: lparwai, nkujit-ae-nkeok Sanya: auwaki Somali: baar, qoona (fruit), dabell (young. Tana River) Swahili: mkoma, mkoche, mlala, mnyaa, muaa Taveta: irara Tharaka: muruguyu Turkana: eeng'ol, eng'ol
Description: A branched or unbranched usually multi-stemmed palm tree up to 15 m high. Trunk grey. Leaves and petiole up to 2 m long. Petiole semicircular in cross-section, edges armed with sharp black spines. Leaf lamina up to 0.8 m long, spreading, with numerous longitudinal folds and segmented in the upper (third) part into up to 60 segments. FLOWERS: Borne on long inflorescences to 1.5 m. FRUITS: Young fruit dark red or maroon. Mature fruit to 8 cm long, yellow to red, glossy, smooth with markings, laterally compressed on 2 sides.
Ecology: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and south to Mozambique. In Kenya along the Kerio and Turkwel Rivers and at Lokori, Lodwar, Kwale, Kilifi and Malindi. In northern Kenya along rivers and all along the coast, 0-1,400 m. Sandy coastal lowlands, places with a high water-table, along seasonal watercourses, open sandy flood plains. Often forming pure stands. Much affected by bushes and taller trees. Alluvial, deep sand. Rainfall: 200-900 mm. Zones: I-III (coastal)-VII (riverine).
Uses: FOOD: The brown fibrous pulp of mature fruit eaten raw (+++). As with the coconut, the juice in immature fruits is drunk (Turkana, Pokot), also used in beer making. The fruit's outer coat (epicarp) is peeled, pulp is sliced off the stony "seed" (endocarp), sun-dried, ground, mixed with blood to a brown, sticky, fibrous mixture (lokot) and eaten or sold in markets (Turkana). Young germinating seedling is dug up and embryo eaten (Turkana).
MEDICINAL: Fruit pulp eaten for worms (Giriama).
OTHER: Leaves used for making baskets, brooms, mats, hats, ropes, handbags, and in thatching (Turkana, Somali (Mandera), Boran, Gabra), sewing milk containers (Daasanach). Leaf rachis used as a stirrer for melted fat (Daasanach). Trunks strong, durable and used as poles in fencing (Turkana, Somali), in house construction, as fuelwood (Turkana, Somali, Boran, Gabra) and when bound together they make good fishing rafts (Turkana, El Molo). Hard fruit endocarp used as fuelwood. Roots are a source of dye used in the basketry industry (Turkana). Leaves may also be dyed black by soaking for a week in lorimoch, a herb, usually found in association with Salvadora persica roots.
COMMERCIAL: The fruit and its products are sold in Lodwar market. Items made from the leaves (baskets, brooms, mats, etc.) are sold throughout the country. Fibre sold in Mbeere (Ishiara). The endocarps are sold to the Kamba as snuff containers. A very important tree palm in Turkana district.
Management: Propagated by seed (endocarp) with pulp removed. Preferably it should be scarified to hasten germination, which, under normal conditions, may take several months to a year. Preferably plant deep in moist sand.
Season: Fruits in all seasons but mainly July-November in Turkana.
Status: May be locally very common but over-exploited in some areas.
Remarks: Fruit pulp is also used as food in the Sudan and Egypt.