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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.
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View the documentAmaranthus blitum L.*
View the documentAmaranthus dubius Mart. ex Thell.*
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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.
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View the documentAzanza garckeana (F. Hoffm.) Exell & Hillcoat
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View the documentBalanites pedicellaris Mildbr. & Schlecht.
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View the documentCitrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf.
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View the documentCommiphora africana (A. Rich.) Engl.
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View the documentCorchorus olitorius L.
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View the documentDactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) Willd.
View the documentDactyloctenium giganteum Fischer & Schweick.
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View the documentDigera muricata (L.) Mart.
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View the documentDioscorea dumetorum (Kunth) Pax
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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.
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View the documentFicus sycomorus L.
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View the documentFlacourtia indica (Burm. f.) Merr.
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View the documentIpomoea aquatica Forssk.
View the documentIpomoea lapathifolia Hall. f.
View the documentIpomoea longituba Hall. f.
View the documentIpomoea mombassana Vatke
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View the documentKedrostis pseudogijef (Gilg) C. Jeffrey
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View the documentLablab purpureus (L.) Sweet
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View the documentLandolphia buchananii Stapf
View the documentLandolphia kirkii Dyer
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View the documentMimusops kummel A. DC.
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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
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View the documentSalacia madagascariensis (Lam.) DC.
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View the documentStrychnos henningsii Gilg
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View the documentSyzygium cordatum Krauss
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View the documentTamarindus indica L.
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View the documentVangueria apiculata K. Schum.
View the documentVangueria infausta Burch. ssp. rotundata (Robyns) Verdc.
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View the documentVangueria volkensii K. Schum. var. volkensii
View the documentVatovaea pseudolablab (Harms) J. B. Gillett
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View the documentVigna friesiorum Harms var. angustifolia Verdc.
View the documentVigna membranacea A. Rich.
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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)

Adansonia digitata L.


Chonyi: muyu, mauyu (fruits) Digo: mbuyu Embu: muramba English: baobab Giriama: mbuyu, muuyu Kamba: muamba, mwaamba, mauyu Kambe: muyu, mauyu (fruits) Maa: olmesera Malakote: mubuyu Mbeere: muramba Meru: muramba Orma: yak Samburu: lamai Sanya: yaka Somali: yak (Tana River), jag Swahili: mbuyu, muuyu Taita: mlamba (mbale) Tharaka: muramba, muguna-kirindi

Description: A grotesque-looking deciduous tree to 15 m, with a disproportionately large trunk and twisted branching habit. Trunk soft, fibrous with a smooth grey surface. LEAVES: Digitate. Leaflets to 13 cm long. FLOWERS: Large, white. FRUIT: To 25 cm long, with shiny yellowish green or rusty soft hairs and a hard oval or round shell, often grooved longitudinally. Seeds hard, embedded in a cream or white pulp.

Ecology: Somalia to southern Africa. In Kenya, a common plant in the coastal region but which also grows further inland, e.g. Taveta, Kibwezi, south-eastern Makueni, dry parts of Kitui, Meru National Park and at Torosei in Kajiado, 0-1,300 m. Also planted as an ornamental outside this range. Grows in dry low country in Sterculia-Delonix alata-Acacia-Commiphora bushland and in low, hot, high-humidity coastal areas. Soils varied, but common on red soils, sandy loam and in rocky areas. Rainfall: 300-900 mm. Zones II-VI.

Uses: FOOD: The dry cream-coloured pulp is eaten raw (+++) or is dissolved in water, stirred to a milky state (milk may be added), seeds sieved off and the juice used as sauce (mboga) or added to porridge. Coconut juice is normally added (Giriama). Seeds are roasted like groundnuts (Kitui, Tharaka). Soft tuber-like root tips are cooked and eaten in times of famine. Germinating seed roots are also eaten. Young leaves are used as a vegetable (Giriama, Mbeere). Normally mixed with more coarse vegetables like cassava leaves (Giriama). The pulp-coated seeds (mabuyu) are coloured, sugar-coated and sold as sweets in coastal towns (Swahili).

MEDICINAL: Bark decoction used for steam bathing of infants with high fever. Juice made from pulp is drunk to treat fever (Giriama).

OTHER: Fibre from trunk used as string and for weaving baskets and ropes. To obtain fibre, two cuts, one above and the other below, are made on the trunk and strips of string pulled out (the trunk is fibrous from surface to the centre). Strings for baskets are first chewed to soften them (Kamba). Tree used for placing beehives. Trunks damaged, e.g. by elephants, are used as shelter in shambas (Kamba, Giriama) and as a hiding place during war (Tharaka). Bark used for roofing and making temporary structures (Giriama). Appearance of new leaves or flowers signals the start of the rainy season (Kamba, Mbeere). Fallen trees improve the soil quality considerably. Fruit shells are used as fuelwood, containers, bowls and for making a variety of items, including rat traps (Giriama). The fruit pulp mixed with fig-tree latex is used as birdlime. The shoot and trunk are eaten by elephants, the trunk is also a source of water. Fallen leaves are eaten by livestock.



CULTURAL/BELIEFS: A tree surrounded by complex myths and beliefs among most peoples in areas where it grows. Young plants not cut at all (Tharaka), while large trees are not debarked during or just before rains (Kamba) for fear of rain failure. A sacred and peaceful tree (Giriama). A cut tree is said to bleed like a human being, and this brings bad luck to whoever cuts it (Giriama). A person is believed to turn into the opposite sex if he/she walks round it with a goat (Meru).

COMMERCIAL: Large quantities of fruits harvested and sold in coastal areas. Coloured pulp sold as sweets. Fibre sold in markets (Tseikuru, Mwingi, Tharaka). Baskets (ciondo, syondo) sold in curio shops. Usually more expensive than sisal baskets.

Management: Propagated by seed. Scarify or put seed in boiling water and let cool together. Naturally the seed may take several years before germination, hence the belief that it only germinates after abandoning the present homestead (Giriama). Very slow growing, the tree should not be planted near houses. Lateral roots may reach a length of 100 m or more. It is said to produce its first fruits after 60 years (Kitui).

Season: Flowers in October. Leaves in November-December. Fruits ready in July-September.

Status: Locally very common.

Remarks: Eating much fruit pulp with little else is said to cause weakness and swelling of joints. Up to three types of the tree are recognized by farmers through taste (some sweeter than others), and size and shape of the tree or its fruits as well as season of flowering.