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close this bookTraditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentLocal names
View the documentColour plates
Open this folder and view contentsSpecies accounts
View the documentAppendix: Nutritional composition of edible parts of plants
View the documentGlossary
View the documentBibliography
View the documentList of families and species
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Anther The part of a flower producing pollen.

Asymmetric Not divisible by one or several planes into two or more similar parts.

Axil The upper angle between the stem and the branch or leaf growing from it.

Axillary Rising from the axil.

Berry A juicy indehiscent fruit having the seeds enclosed in pulp.

Bract A small leaf-like organ or modified leaf, especially one with a flower or inflorescence growing from its axil.

Bracteoles Small, usually scale-like bracts on or close to the calyx of a flower, above the bract.

Bulbil Small bulb-like organ near the base of leaves or in place of flowers which breaks off to form a new plant.

Calyx Outer (usually green) protective envelope of a flower consisting of free or united sepals.

Capsule A dry dehiscent fruit, composed of two or more united carpels.

Carpel Female reproductive organ, consisting of ovary, style and stigma. Carpels may be fused to form a single pistil.

Compound leaf A leaf with several leaflets.

Concoction Mixture of various ingredients.

Cordate Heart shaped (a term usually applied to leaf bases).

Corolla The petals as a whole, especially when joined.

Cotyledon A seed leaf.

Cyme An inflorescence in which the first flower to open is the terminal bud of the main stem, and subsequent flowers develop from lateral buds below it, or as terminal buds of lateral stems.

Deciduous Shedding leaves at certain times of the year.

Decoction An extract made from boiling parts of a plant in water.

Decumbent Lying flat with the tip growing upwards.

Dehisce To burst open.

Dehiscent Opening spontaneously when ripe.

Digitate Divided into five leaflets.

Dioecious Flowers unisexual; the male and female flowers on different plants (cf. monoecious).

Drupe Fleshy fruit with a stone enclosing the seeds.

Elliptic Shaped like an ellipse.

Elongate Drawn out.

Entire Having an edge without ridges or lobes.

Epiphyte Plant growing on another but not deriving nourishment from it (cf. parasite).

Filament The stalk of a stamen.

- foliate Bearing leaves (e.g. 4-foliate = bearing 4 leaves).

- foliolate Bearing leaflets (e.g. trifoliolate = bearing 3 leaflets).

Free Not united.

Globose Spherical.

Glutinous Sticky.

Gum A product of the disintegration of internal tissue, swelling or dissolving in water, insoluble in alcohol or ether.

Habit General appearance and manner of growth.

Head Mass of sessile or subsessile flowers grouped on a common receptacle.

Herbaceous Soft, not woody.

Hilum The point of attachment of a seed to its stalk.

Indehiscent Remaining closed when ripe.

Inflorescence The flowering part of a plant and the arrangement of the flowers upon it.

Infusion Liquid extract obtained when parts of one or more plants are left in hot water for some time.

Kernel The part lying inside the hard shell of a nut or drupe.

Lamina Blade of a leaf or petal.

Leaflet A single division of a compound leaf.

Leguminous Relating to the legumes (plants of the bean, acacia and tamarind families).

Liana A woody climber.

Live fence, live hedge A fence or hedge composed of growing plants

Lobe Division of a leaf, perianth or anther. Lobed margins usually have large rounded teeth and shallow notches.

Monoecious Flowers unisexual; the males and females on the same plant.

Nerves A vascular bundle of a leaf, usually appearing as a projecting ridge or line on the under surface of leaves, often starting from the midrib. The smaller ones are veins.

Oblong With sides more or less parallel and a rounded apex; longer than broad.

Obovate Like the longitudinal section of an egg, with the narrow end at the top.

Ovate Shaped like the longitudinal section of an egg, with the narrow end at the base.

Ovoid Egg shaped.

Pedicel Stalk bearing an individual flower of an inflorescence.

Petiole Stalk of a leaf.

Pinna Primary division of a pinnate or bipinnate leaf.

Pinnate Having leaflets growing on each side of a common stem or rachis.

Prostrate Lying along the surface of the ground.

Raceme Inflorescence in which the flowers are borne on pedicels or stalks along an unbranched stem or axis, the lower flowers opening first.

Rachis The axis of an inflorescence or of a compound leaf.

Recurved Bent backwards or downwards.

Resin A product of secretion or disintegration of internal tissue, insoluble in water but soluble in alcohol or ether, bum-ing with a sooty flame.

Rhizome Root-like stem, partly or wholly creeping underground and sending out roots and shoots.

Riparian Confined to river banks or along a stream.

Scandent Climbing.

Scrambling Producing long weak shoots with which it covers other plants.

Sepal One of the separate parts of the calyx of a flower.

Serrate Toothed like a saw.

Sessile Without a stalk.

Shamba Cropland or a piece of land owned by an individual or group.

Sheath Protective covering.

Simple leaf An undivided leaf.

Spike An arrangement of flowers (normally without a stalk) along an unbranched axis or stem, the lower flowers usually opening first.

Stamen Male organ of a flower, consisting of anthers (with pollen) and usually a filament (stalk).

Toothed With short projections on the margin of a leaf.

Tuber Underground food storage organ of a plant.

Ugali A kind of stiff porridge made by boiling flour and water-the flour is usually of maize, sorghum, cassava or millet.

Uji A runny porridge made by boiling flour and water (see ugali).

Whorl Group of three or more similar parts arranged in a circle about an axis (e.g., a twig).


1. Any flat membranaceous expansion.

2. One of the two lateral petals of a papilionaceous flower.