|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
syn: K. aethiopium (Fenzl) Dandy, K. africana (Lam.) Benth.
Boni: shelole English: sausage tree Giriama: mobwoka Kamba: kiatine Kikuyu: muratina Kipsigis: ratuinet Luhya (Bukusu): kumumungu Luhya: morabe Luo: yago Maa: oldarpoi, ortarboi Marakwet: rotio Meru: muratina Nandi: ratinuet Orma: bogh Pokot: rotin Rendille: muun Samburu: imombi Somali: bukorola Swahili: mwegea, mvungunya Taita: mwaisina Taveta: mukisha Turkana: edot
Description: Tree to 12 m high (usually 5-8 m) with a light to medium dense rounded crown. LEAVES: Large, divided into 7-9 leaflets. Leaflets very rough and stiff with an entire or serate margin and asymmetrical base. FLOWERS: In panicles, red, large and hanging. FRUIT: Long, usually 30-40 cm, sausage-like and hanging on long stalks. Very variable.
Ecology: Widely distributed in Kenya and the rest of Africa in wooded grassland, shrubland and riverine vegetation. Common on hillsides, 0-2,200 m. Loam, red clay or rocky ground. Rainfall: 500-1,500 mm. Zones II-V.
Uses: FOOD: Fruits, split in half longitudinally, are widely used for fermenting traditional beer (Kamba, Kikuyu, Mbeere, Embu, Tharaka, Giriama, Digo). The soft inner tissue is cleaned out in hot water then dried and inoculated with the fermenting agent by mixing with old fruits (Kamba). To ferment beer, these fruits are left in a solution of water and sugar or honey for 3-5 days. A wide-mouthed gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is the preferred container. This is placed near the fireplace in the house.
CULTURAL/BELIEFS: Plant revered in many communities. Often preserved. Fruit buried instead of the body of a lost person believed to be dead (Luo).
COMMERCIAL: Fruits occasionally seen in market places (Makueni, Machakos, Kitui, Mwi, Tharaka, Embu, Meru).
Season: Flowers in December-January (Kitui). Fruits in April-May in Kitui, Machakos, Tharaka, Makueni, Mwingi.
Status: Occasional but not threatened.
Remarks: May be a good ornamental plant. For fermentation the Maasai also use the roots of Aloe species (Kamba: kiluma, Kikuyu: kiruma, muguna nugu, thukurui, Maa: osuguroi, Meru: kiluma, Kipsigis: tangaratwet, Luo: ogaka, Tharaka: kiruma, Turkana: echuchuka). Several species of Aloe are used for this purpose (A. secundiflora Engl., A. deserti Berger, A. ngongensis Christian, A. kedongensis Reynolds).
Aloes are perennial fleshy-leaved plants. Some are small and almost stemless while others attain tree size. Over 30 species have been recorded in Kenya. Uses: Nectar from the flowers of A. secundiflora is sucked by children (Machakos, Kajiado). The sweet base of the inflorescence may be chewed. The sap from the leaves of most species is applied to wounds to keep flies away. Leaves are dropped into drinking water for chickens as a treatment for coccidiosis and Newcastle disease.