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Triangle Tops Tree

Check out this unusual Kenyan tree, whose flowers have been made into a wonderful lotion and whose leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

| January 2020

Figure 1. Tree with ripe fruits. Photo by J. Stevens, African Plants - A Photo Guide.

Axonomy and Nomenclature

Family. Sapindaceae

Synonyms. Phialodiscus unijugatus (Baker) Radlk.

Vernacular / common names. Triangle tops tree (English); mkivule, mwakamwatu (Swahili); mpwakapwaka (Digo); muikoni (Kikuyu); shiarambatsa (Luhya); achak, bilo, ochol, ochond achak (Luo); muthiama (Meru); mubo, mubonyeni (Pokomo).

Plant Description

Life form. Tree.

Plant. Evergreen, dioecious, 6–9(–30) m tall, crown dense, rounded (Figure 1), bark smooth, but often with horizontal ridges and warts, grey to dark green; young twigs finely orange brown hairy, becoming smooth.

Leaves. Reddish when young, drying bright green or brownish; alternate, compound with up to 5 pairs of leaflets which are opposite, elliptic to oblong, 6–22 x 1.5–8 cm, upper pair largest, apex tapering, margin often wavy.

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