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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.
View the documentAerva lanata (L.) Schultes
View the documentAlbizia amara (Roxb.) Boivin
View the documentAmaranthus blitum L.*
View the documentAmaranthus dubius Mart. ex Thell.*
View the documentAmaranthus graecizans L.
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.
View the documentAsystasia mysorensis (Roth) T. Anders.
View the documentAzanza garckeana (F. Hoffm.) Exell & Hillcoat
View the documentBalanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del.
View the documentBalanites pedicellaris Mildbr. & Schlecht.
View the documentBalanites rotundifolia (Van Tiegh.) Blatter
View the documentBasella alba L.
View the documentBerchemia discolor (Klotzsch) Hemsley
View the documentBorassus aethiopum Mart.
View the documentBoscia coriacea Pax
View the documentBoswellia neglecta S. Moore
View the documentBrassica carinata A. Br.
View the documentBridelia taitensis Vatke & Pax
View the documentCajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.
View the documentCanthium glaucum Hiern
View the documentCanthium lactescens Hiern
View the documentCarissa edulis (Forssk.) Vahl
View the documentCatha edulis Forssk.
View the documentCitrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf.
View the documentCleome gynandra L.
View the documentCoccinia grandis (L.) Voigt
View the documentCoffea arabica L.
View the documentCommelina africana L.
View the documentCommelina benghalensis L.
View the documentCommelina forskaolii Vahl
View the documentCommiphora africana (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentCommiphora rostrata Engl.
View the documentCommiphora schimperi (O. Berg) Engl.
View the documentCorchorus olitorius L.
View the documentCorchorus trilocularis L.
View the documentCordia monoica Roxb.
View the documentCordia sinensis Lam.
View the documentCrotalaria brevidens Benth.
View the documentCrotalaria ochroleuca G. Don
View the documentCucumis dipsaceus Spach
View the documentCyperus blysmoides C. B. Cl.
View the documentCyphia glandulifera A. Rich.
View the documentDactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) Willd.
View the documentDactyloctenium giganteum Fischer & Schweick.
View the documentDialium holtzii Harms
View the documentDialium orientale Bak. f.
View the documentDigera muricata (L.) Mart.
View the documentDioscorea bulbifera L.
View the documentDioscorea dumetorum (Kunth) Pax
View the documentDioscorea minutiflora Engl.
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.
View the documentEragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter
View the documentEriosema shirense Bak. f.
View the documentErucastrum arabicum Fisch. & Meyer
View the documentEuclea divinorum Hiern
View the documentFicus sycomorus L.
View the documentFicus thonningii Bl.
View the documentFlacourtia indica (Burm. f.) Merr.
View the documentFlueggea virosa (Willd.) J. Voigt
View the documentGarcinia livingstonei T. Anderson
View the documentGrewia bicolor Juss.
View the documentGrewia tembensis Fres.
View the documentGrewia tenax (Forssk.) Fiori
View the documentGrewia villosa Willd.
View the documentHoslundia opposita Vahl
View the documentHydnora abyssinica Schweinf.
View the documentHyphaene compressa H. Wendl.
View the documentHyphaene coriacea Gaertner
View the documentIpomoea aquatica Forssk.
View the documentIpomoea lapathifolia Hall. f.
View the documentIpomoea longituba Hall. f.
View the documentIpomoea mombassana Vatke
View the documentIpomoea oenotherae (Vatke) Hall. f.
View the documentKedrostis pseudogijef (Gilg) C. Jeffrey
View the documentKigelia pinnata (Jacq.) DC.
View the documentLablab purpureus (L.) Sweet
View the documentLagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standley
View the documentLandolphia buchananii Stapf
View the documentLandolphia kirkii Dyer
View the documentLannea alata (Engl.) Engl.
View the documentLannea edulis (Sond.) Engl.
View the documentLannea rivae (Chiov.) Sacleux
View the documentLannea schimperi (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentLannea triphylla (A. Rich.) Engl.
View the documentLantana trifolia L.
View the documentLaunaea cornuta (Oliv. & Hiern) Jeffr.
View the documentLeptadenia hastata (Pers.) Decne.
View the documentLippia carviodora Meikle
View the documentLippia kituiensis Vatke
View the documentMaerua decumbens (Brongn.) De Wolf
View the documentManilkara mochisia (Baker) Dubard
View the documentManilkara sansibarensis (Engl.) Dubard
View the documentManilkara sulcata (Engl.) Dubard
View the documentMeyna tetraphylla (Hiern) Robyns
View the documentMimusops fruticosa Bojer
View the documentMimusops kummel A. DC.
View the documentMomordica rostrata A. Zimm.
View the documentMondia whitei (Hook. f.) Skeels
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
View the documentRhus tenuinervis Engl.
View the documentRhus vulgaris Meikle
View the documentRubus apetalus Poir.
View the documentRubus pinnatus Willd.
View the documentRubus volkensii Engl.
View the documentRumex usambarensis (Damm.) Damm.
View the documentSaba comorensis (Bojer) Pichon
View the documentSalacia madagascariensis (Lam.) DC.
View the documentSalvadora persica L.
View the documentSclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst.
View the documentScutia myrtina (Burm. f.) Kurz
View the documentSesamum calycinum Welw.
View the documentSesamum orientale L.
View the documentSolanum nigrum L.
View the documentSorghum bicolor (L.) Moench
View the documentSorindeia madagascariensis DC.
View the documentStathmostelma propinquum (N. E. Br) Schltr.
View the documentStrychnos henningsii Gilg
View the documentStrychnos madagascariensis Poir.
View the documentStrychnos spinosa Lam.
View the documentSyzygium cordatum Krauss
View the documentSyzygium guineense (Willd.) DC.
View the documentTamarindus indica L.
View the documentThylachium thomasii Gilg
View the documentTylosema fassoglense (Schweinf.) Torre and Hillc.
View the documentUrtica massaica Mildbr.
View the documentUvaria acuminata Oliv.
View the documentUvaria scheffleri Diels.
View the documentVangueria apiculata K. Schum.
View the documentVangueria infausta Burch. ssp. rotundata (Robyns) Verdc.
View the documentVangueria madagascariensis Gmel.
View the documentVangueria volkensii K. Schum. var. volkensii
View the documentVatovaea pseudolablab (Harms) J. B. Gillett
View the documentVernonia cinerea Less.
View the documentVigna friesiorum Harms var. angustifolia Verdc.
View the documentVigna membranacea A. Rich.
View the documentVigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.
View the documentVigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.
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)

Termitomyces-mushrooms (edible fungi)

Kamba: ikunu, makunu (plural) Kikuyu: makunu Kisii: oboba, amandegere, amoba (plural) Luhya (Bukusu): bubwoba Luhya (Marachi): luoba Luhya (Samia): obwoba Luhya (Tachoni): obwaba, bumbo Luo: obuolo, obwolo Maa: osuyai Mbeere: ikunu Meru: makunu Pokot: kelyomough, oota, ooten (plural) Swahili: uyoga Taita: voga Tharaka: ikunu Turkana: ebaale

Mushrooms belong to a group of plants without chlorophyll known as fungi. As these types of fungi are relatively large, they are referred to as Macrofungi. They originate from a mass (mycelium) of tiny branches which originally germinate from tiny spores distributed by wind and growing where the situations are favourable. The mycelium obtains food from the substrate, usually dead organic matter such as dead plant material and dung. The spores germinate when conditions become favourable especially during the rainy season. The fruiting body-the umbrella-like structure seen above ground (pileus) or cap- is borne by a stem-like structure, the stipe. The underside of the pileus bears gills which produce spores. There are many edible species of mushrooms classified into several genera, some, especially those bearing the "deathcup" can be very poisonous. The following are the commonest:

· Termitomyces are fungi found growing on or near termite mounds. These usually have no ring on the stipe. They have a large white cap up to 12 cm across depending on the species, a large stalk and a long "root". They are found on termite mounds where termites cultivate the spores deep in the mound in special "fungus gardens". The spores germinate when conditions become conducive, sending the fruiting body above the mound.

· Agaricus species have a pileus which is smooth, free gills, stipe with a ring (left when the cap breaks away), and brown spores. Some cultivated mushrooms belong to this genus. A common wild example is A. campestris (English: field mushrooms) which has a white cap hardly more than 4 cm across and pink gills and is found in grassland. The gills turn dark brown with age.

· Amanita'. some species of this genus are edible but others are deadly poisonous. Amanita spp. should thus be identified beyond reasonable doubt as many cases of mushroom poisoning are caused by members of this genus. The genus is distinguished by its green to yellowish-green cap, radial streaks, a ring (annulus) on the stalk and a cup at the stalk base. Several other genera with edible members exist in Kenya. More work, however, needs to be done on the classification of macrofungi in Kenya.

Distribution: Edible mushrooms are found all over the country.

Ecology: Depending on the species, they may be found on termite mounds, fallen logs, near and on houses and even on bare ground and roadsides.

Uses: Mushrooms are still used a great deal in stews by the Pokot, Turkana (Ng'ikebootok), Luo, Luhya and coastal peoples, especially the Giriama.


The Giriama recognize up to six edible types known as: zhoga-utuwe, zhoga-nyama, zhoga-muuyu (on baobabs), zhoga-mkulu (on Diospyros sp.), zhoga-mayonda and zhoga-kazonzo (these names usually reflect the kind of substrate).

The Luo use up to five types known by the names obuoch-oruka (white, large, on termite mounds), obuoch-omegere (omejre) (small, found in groups, near houses, roadsides and along streams and which in day gone by were mixed with milk and blood) obuoch-alando (small, red-topped, several together on the ground), obuoch-atieno (with dull spotted top, often growing together with obuoch-alando), obuoch-opumo (ofumo) (brown, small, on termite mounds).

The Pokot eat at least five types of fungi. Examples are oota, the common Termitomyces found on termite mounds, and tree-trunk fungi called embeei and samandar, usually found on fallen logs. Others are sorkopi and ghum.

Preparation: The pileus and the stipe are harvested and stewed with meat, alone or cooked with other vegetables (Turkana). They may be boiled or fried and often eaten with ugali. They may be dried and stored. The pokot may eat samandar cooked or raw. Among the Luo the mushrooms are dried, covered with dry banana stems, okola rabolo or ondakla rabolo. These are hung above the fireplace for preservation. Dry mushrooms are softened by soaking in water. Fresh or softened mushrooms are boiled for about 15 minutes, and fresh milk added. Sometimes soda ash, or more often solution extracted from ashes (thutho), is added to soften them further before eating. Fresh ones may also be mixed with other vegetables, especially cowpeas (bo), apoth (Corchorus spp.), and muto (Crotalaria spp.). By simulating the field conditions (temperature, humidity and substrate), some species may be grown indoors. COMMERCIAL USE: Termitomyces species sold in Siaya, Kisumu, West Pokot (Chepararia, Kapenguria). Agaricus campestris is a common mushroom in the market.

Season: Normally available early in the rainy season.

Propagation: Mushrooms grow from tiny spores. They require special conditions for growth and hence it is difficult for the ordinary farmer to grow them. Mushrooms in the field sprout fast, last for a day or two then start to rot, disintegrating as maggots infest them. They have to be picked as soon as they appear. Folk knowledge of mushrooms, such as the time of emergence of each species and suitable preparation methods, is enormous.

Remarks: The use of mushrooms as food has declined considerably over recent years. But they are nutritious, tasty, widely distributed and readily available during the rainy season so their use should be encouraged. While there are many edible ones in the wild, a good number are, however, poisonous and there is no general rule to determine which is which. However, any species with a "death cup", especially just below the soil surface, should not be harvested. Mushrooms showing colours such as green should also be avoided. Perhaps the safest way is to rely on the knowledge and experience of the local community.