Traditional Vegetables

Different kinds of indigenous vegetables are grown as traditional food plants across East Africa, and contribute to food and nutritional security in rural areas. Each region often has special plants that make the cuisine and diet of that area distinctive. Common traditional vegetables in the region include the black bean (njahe), wild spinach (terere), leafy amaranth varieties, and a number of legumes.

Bees and other insects pollinate traditional vegetables. For example, in western Kenya ‘mitoo’ Crotolaria brevidens is a legume, which has a specialised pollination system that involves leafcutter and carpenter bees serving as its pollinators. ‘Mchicha’ Gynandropsis gynandra is another popular plant whose long brush-like flowers are pollinated by both hawkmoths and bees.

Pollination systems of most of our traditional vegetables have not been studied.

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Young pods of black beans (also known as 'njahe') by D. J. Martins
Young pods of black beans (also known as 'njahe') by D. J. Martins

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