|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
syn: M. subcordata (Gilg) De Wolf, M. edulis De Wolf
Bajun: abiro Borana: bariyub, agarnyaab Daasanach: haluf Giriama: mkulube Ilchamus: lamayoki, lamayokin, lamaloki, lamalogi Kamba: munatha Luo: amoyo Maa: olkiage Malakote: dawa-nyoka, dawa-aaze Marakwet: chebillio (plural) chepiliowo (singular) Mbeere: mukindaarithi, mutunguarithi, mundarithi, gindarithi Orma: kukube-tari, kukube-dik dik Pokot: chepuluswo, chepiliswo, chebliswo Samburu: lamuyaki Somali: abarmog (Mandera), ohia-sagara (Tana River) Taita: kangalige Tharaka: munatha Turkana: eerut
Description: A small shrub to 3 m high (more commonly 1.2-1.8 m), often multi-stemmed, arising from a tuberous rootstock. LEAVES: Greyish green, broadly ovate. FLOWERS: Generally white (due to the numerous large white male parts). FRUITS: Ellipsoid up to 3 cm long and borne on a long stalk. Ripe fruits yellow or orange.
Ecology: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Widespread in Kenya, e.g. at Nginyang (Baringo), Kaputir (southern Turkana), Mutha (Kitui) and Marafa (Kilifi) in dry bushland and open areas in riverine vegetation. Commonly found in sandy areas, light clay soils and rocky areas. Zones IV-VI.
Uses: FOOD: Sweet ripe fruits are sucked. Seeds boiled for 3-4 hours with water being replaced 4-6 times, then eaten (Pokot, Turkana, Bajun). Seeds soaked for up to two days, rinsed and cooked (Bajun). Roots added to water to make it sweet. The water is used for preparing tea or as a drink which causes thirst, enabling one to drink a lot. Good before one sets out on a long journey (Pokot). Root bark chewed by women when pregnant because of its sweet taste (Maasai).
FOOD/MEDICINAL: Roots boiled and mixed with broth for health and strength (Kipsigis).
MEDICINAL: Leaves and flowers boiled in a little water and the mixture applied in a poultice and bandaged firmly on sore joints (Boran). Roots a strong purgative (Pokomo; Pare, Tanzania).
OTHER: Camel and goat fodder (eaten sparingly) in the dry season; said to provide salt (Pokot). Roots added to muddy water and left overnight for purification (Pokomo, Pokot, Turkana, Somali, Samburu, Bajun, Maasai (Narok), Daasanach).
Remarks: Beentje in Kenya Trees, Shrubs and Lianas combines M. subcordata (Gilg) De Wolf, and M. edulis De Wolf putting them under M. decumbens (Brongn.) De Wolf. Roots of this species may be toxic if used improperly. Many species in the family Capparidaceae (Capparaceae) are known for their sweetening and flocculating (water purification) properties. Preparation, however, needs care and should be left to those with sufficient knowledge.