|Traditional Food Plants of Kenya (National Museum of Kenya, 1999, 288 p.)|
Borana: garse Chonyi: mkuha Daasanach: kadite, kada (plural) Giriama: mkuha Kamba: kisiu, kikaitha (Kitui) Kambe: mkuha Malakote: mokopa Marakwet: koros (plural), korosion (singular) Orma: gashir Pokomo: mukuha Pokot: keresion, korosion Samburu: serr-i, n-daaruma Somali: garas, garso Swahili: msega, mswaki Tharaka: mungaritha Turkana: edapal
Description: Evergreen tree usually 4-7 m high with rounded or spreading low crown. Bark dark grey, almost black or light grey, smooth or nearly so with reticulation giving it a false rough appearance. Leaves opposite, simple, entire, dark green or grey-green, ovate to almost round with a fleshy appearance. Flowers greenish white, fragrant. Fruit green, wrinkled, oval, turning yellow-orange when ripe.
Ecology: Widespread in East and north-east Africa. Also in India. In Kenya common at the coast, Kitui and northern areas in dry bushland, often near watercourses and places with a high groundwater-table in rocky or sandy soils, less often on clay soils. Zones IV (coast)-VII.
Uses: FOOD: Fruit pulp eaten raw (+). Cotyledons eaten when cooked (++). Preparation: The fruit and seed covers are removed, usually by pounding. The bean-like cotyledons are boiled for 3-4 hours during which water is replaced 4-6 times (Pokot, Turkana, Tugen, Marakwet, Daasanach). Ash or a salty extract from a type of soil (ngeny) is added towards the end of the process to improve the taste (Pokot). Dried cotyledons may be stored for more than a year. The fruit ripens during drought, thus making it particularly useful as a source of food. Gum from the tree eaten in Mandera (Somalia).
MEDICINAL: Boiled root infusion given to a mother after birth to prevent fainting. Leaves pounded, soaked in cold water and solution used as drops for eye disease (Samburu).
OTHER: Wood used as fuelwood and in construction of huts (Tharaka, Pokot, Turkana). Wood used to make mortars (Giriama), watering troughs, taker (Pokot), containers (Somali, Mandera). It is, however, soft. Smaller branches used as toothbrushes (Giriama, Pokot, Somali, Turkana); camel and goat fodder (+++); a good shade tree (+++).
CULTURAL/BELIEFS: A ceremonial tree and meeting place (Pokot, Baringo). Leaves are burnt in ceremonies, for sick cattle, for protection during battles and against wild animals, and by young girls before circumcision (Pokot).
COMMERCIAL: Boiled cotyledons sold in Lodwar town.
Management: Propagated by seeds which are best sown directly on site. Seeds lose viability rather quickly. A very slow-growing tree. Coppices well.
Status: Uncommon but may be very common locally.
Remarks: A related, almost indistinguishable (and probably the same), species is D. loranthifolia (Warb.) Harms. (Chonyi: mkuha, Orma: dende, Swahili: msega, mswaki, Giriama: mkuha, Kamba: kisiu). A medium-sized tree with a rather spreading crown. LEAVES: Grey-green, leathery. BARK: Corky, longitudinally fissured, flaking off in small patches. FLOWERS: White. FRUITS: Oval, wrinkled, yellow-green on ripening. Fruits are used in the same way as those of D. glabra and the other uses are more or less the same. Distribution: Kenya, southern Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique. Altitude: 0-800 m.