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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
View the documentBack Cover

Back Cover

The great range of climatic and ecological conditions prevailing in Kenya has resulted in a flora of about 7,100 distinct plant species and several thousand subspecies and varieties, some widely distributed, others endemic or more restricted in occurrence. Very many of these species are used traditionally for food as well as for a wide variety of other purposes. Leafy vegetables, fruit, roots and tubers collected from the wild often play a crucial nutritional role for rural communities, for example in children's diets and in times of famine, and some are cultivated on a small scale in homegardens. But on the whole, as elsewhere in the world, these traditional food plants have been neglected in Kenya and their vast potential for domestication and improvement has barely begun to be exploited.

This book aims to help the user to appreciate this wealth of plant resources, the cultural traditions behind their use in Kenya and how to recognize and utilize them for the well-being of society, including urban communities, in these times of recurring food shortages and increasing reliance on a few commercial food crops. In addition to describing the ways in which the plants are used as food by the various communities, medicinal, ethnoveterinary, cultural, household and other uses are also given to show the value of each species to the communities concerned, as well as its potential for use elsewhere.

The book will be invaluable for researchers, development workers and all those working to conserve Kenya's cultures and plant resources. Some of its features are:

· Descriptions of 175 main and some 60 minor species with information on food, medicinal and other uses, distribution in Kenya and the rest of the world, ecology, commercial use, potential for domestication and status of the species in the wild

· Over 500 illustrations

· Over 3,250 local plant names with their scientific equivalents

· A food composition table

· Tables of domesticated and marketed species

· A glossary of botanical terms

· A linguistic classification of Kenyan communities

· Maps showing the distribution of the species within Kenya, administrative divisions, ethnic communities and agro-ecological zones.

The publication of this book was made possible by financial support from:

International Plant Genetics Resources Institute (IPGRI)
Regional Land Management Unit (RELMA/Sida)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (KENRIK)
National Museums of Kenya

ISBN 9966-9861-4-6