Crotalaria brevidens

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Crotalaria brevidens with seed pods.

Crotalaria brevidens (Rattle Pod) is a plant in the legume (Fabaceae) family that is eaten in Africa.[1] It is an erect herb with many branches, usually 0.5 to 1.2 m high. The leaves are divided into 3 narrow leaflets typically 10 cm long by 2 cm wide. Flowers are yellow with very conspicuous reddish purple veins. The fruits are long narrow pods, as large as 5 cm long by 0.7 cm wide, which are black when dry. The seeds are yellowish orange to dark red. The plant grows from Nigeria to Ethiopia. It grows in grassland and bushland, often on termite mounds, at roadsides, in cultivated lands, disturbed forest, and near seasonally flooded areas. It grows from 500m to 2700m above sea level. It is propagated by seeds.

Cultivation in Kenya

"Uses: Food: Leaves are widely used as a vegetable in western Kenya (Luo, Luhya, West Pokot) and into Uganda. Bitter, normally cooked with Corchorus species (Pokot) or milk to mask the bitterness (Luo, Luhya). More bitter than Crotalaria ochroleuca."[1]

The plant is sold in markets in major towns of western Kenya, where it is widely cultivated. The Luo call it mito or mitoo and believe that it treats boils, improves appetite, and helps stomach pain and swelling.

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Patrick M. Maundu, Grace W. Ngugi, and Christine H.S. Kabuye, Traditional Food Plants of Kenya, Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, 1999, p. 106.

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