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The family Cucurbitaceae includes species cultivated for vegetables and fruits. Some wild species are used locally as vegetables; others are given to domestic animals as fodder. Some wild species are poisonous, and cases of poisoning, both of people and domestic animals, arise from misidentification of the wild species. Twenty three species were collected and identified. Their poison content, consisting of cucurbitacins, was investigated. Fifteen species were found to contain the dangerous chemicals. An identification key that can be used by people without botanical training is presented. An appendix with short descriptions of the species is included to aid identification.
This paper presents a case study on using an ethno-botanical approach for compiling plant taxonomy data. Introductory chapters deal with the study area in the semi-arid eastern part of Kenya, describing its physical characteristics and the various vegetation types. A check-list is presented of all woody plants found in the area. The plants are arranged alphabetically by their scientific names. Local vernacular names in the Malakote (also known as the Ilwana), Orma and Somali languages are included in the check-list. In addition, a separate list is presented with the vernacular names arranged alphabetically.
Ol Ari Nyiro is a 360 km2 ranch on the Laikipia Plateau, in a semi-arid part of Kenya. The vegetation of the ranch and of nearby Mukutan Gorge was mapped, and a preliminary check-list of fungi and vascular plants compiled. The vegetation was classified in 16 different types. A total of 708 species and subspecies were identified. This represents 10% of the estimated Kenyan flora, making Ol Ari Nyiro one of the most diverse non-forest areas in East Africa.