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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.
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View the documentBridelia taitensis Vatke & Pax
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View the documentCitrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf.
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View the documentCoffea arabica L.
View the documentCommelina africana L.
View the documentCommelina benghalensis L.
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View the documentCommiphora africana (A. Rich.) Engl.
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View the documentCorchorus olitorius L.
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View the documentCordia sinensis Lam.
View the documentCrotalaria brevidens Benth.
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View the documentDactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) Willd.
View the documentDactyloctenium giganteum Fischer & Schweick.
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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.
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View the documentErucastrum arabicum Fisch. & Meyer
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View the documentFicus sycomorus L.
View the documentFicus thonningii Bl.
View the documentFlacourtia indica (Burm. f.) Merr.
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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.
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View the documentLantana trifolia L.
View the documentLaunaea cornuta (Oliv. & Hiern) Jeffr.
View the documentLeptadenia hastata (Pers.) Decne.
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View the documentMeyna tetraphylla (Hiern) Robyns
View the documentMimusops fruticosa Bojer
View the documentMimusops kummel A. DC.
View the documentMomordica rostrata A. Zimm.
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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
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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)

Launaea cornuta (Oliv. & Hiern) Jeffr.

Compositae (Asteraceae)

Chonyi: mutsungu, mtsunga wa utsungu Digo: mutsunga Giriama: mutsunga Kamba: muthunga, uthunga Kambe: mutsungu Kikuyu: muthuga Luo: achak Mbeere: muthunga Samburu: lekulee Sanya: mtsunga Taita: mnyinya Turkana: lukwaras

Description: Erect herb with underground rhizomes. Usually 0.3-1.5 m, branching above into branchlets which end in flower heads. LEAVES: Grey-green, long, narrow, lobed laterally, often on one side and with a toothed margin. FLOWERS: Yellow, borne on numerous heads.

Ecology: Widely distributed in Kenya in cultivated land, abandoned cultivation, at roadsides, disturbed grassland, 0-2,000 m. Found on all soil types from sandy to black-cotton soils. Seems to prefer sandy soils. Zones II-V.

Uses: FOOD: Eaten as a vegetable (Kamba, Kikuyu, Luo, Giriama, Taita). Often cooked with Solarium nigrum leaves. Vegetable said to be good for stomach disorders, ulcers, dysentery, etc. (Taita, Kamba). An important vegetable among the Giriama, often cooked during wedding ceremonies (+++).

FOOD/MEDICINAL: Vegetable believed to have curative as well as prophylactic properties against malaria.

MEDICINAL: Leaves given to chickens for mavui (lung diseases) (Kamba).

OTHER: Fodder, especially for rabbits.

COMMERCIAL: Leaves sold in most coastal urban centres.

Management: Not normally planted as it is a common weed where it is used as a vegetable. May be grown from stem bases which have some roots. The plant readily sends out new shoots even in dry weather and when harvested intensively.

Status: Very common.

Remarks: Among the Chonyi, the name mutsunga is occasionally used as a general term for a leafy vegetable. Among the Mijikenda this vegetable is never cooked alone. It is usually mixed with less bitter ones such as Asystasia gangetica (talakushe), amaranth, pumpkin leaves, cowpea leaves and Vernonia cinerea, but never with sweet potato leaves, okra leaves, Corchorus spp. and Oxygonum salicifolium (kimbiri), which are slippery. This vegetable is very important in Mijikenda culture. Its preparation is considered an important role of a married woman and is often given as the reason why a bride should leave her parents for her new home (Giriama). Related to this species is the exotic Sonchus oleraceus (sow thistle) whose leaves are occasionally used.


Sonchus oleraceus


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