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Sterculiaceae (Malvaceae), Sterculia africana, Qawureta (Konsogna) – Kenya

December 6, 2012


Below are some photos I just took of Sterculia africana (Syn. Triphaea africana), also known as Qawureta (Konsogna), Mopopaja tree, and African Star Chestnut.

The Sterculiaceae (Malvaceae, Bombacaceae) family is definitely in my top three favorite plant families, so needless to say I was excited to come across this species. I tend to encounter Sterculia species everywhere I travel. Cacao (Theobroma cacao) is a close relative, as are all Cola species, among many others.

The oil rich seeds of S. africana are edible, consumed either raw or toasted, as are the seeds of most Sterculia species. The leaves are supposedly edible as well, but considered to be a famine food. The tree can grow quite large, up to 40 ft tall by 10 ft wide, and resembles the Baobab (to which it is closely related) when mature.

There is a supspecies socotrana of S. Africana from the botanically interesting island of Socotra, Yemen.

Aside from Kenya (where I encountered it) the tree can be found in Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Additional names for this species include: Munera (Shona), Mungosa (Shona), Murere (Shona), Mutedza (Shona), Mutsvedza (Shona), Tick tree (English), Umkukubuyu (Ndebele).

After viewing the photos below, click on the following links to see previous posts on the Sterculiaceae family, the Malvaceae family, and the Bombacaceae family. These three plant families used to be categorized separately, however apparently they are all grouped under Malvaceae now. I can’t keep track so I still group them separately.

Below is a photo of the unopened fruit/seed pod.

Sterculia africana, seed pod, fruit

A photo of the seed pod and seed, below.

sterculia africana, fruit, seed, pod

The leaf… below. sterculia africana, leaf

And the tree trunk and branching structure.

sterculiaceae, sterculia africana, trunk, tree

13 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2012 10:08:13 pm

    such a beautiful tree… fascinating info, thanks!

  2. chiquita Woodard permalink
    December 6, 2012 10:08:20 pm

    Did you taste the seeds? Beautiful photos – I can just picture your excitement of discovery.

  3. December 6, 2012 10:08:37 pm

    Lovely, thanks. The Sterculiaceae is in my list of favorites as well. Some of the species’ seeds can be eaten in small quantities only, as they can have a purgative effect. I don’t know whether S. africana falls into that category or not.

  4. December 6, 2012 10:08:08 pm

    That trunk looks like it has seen a bit of life…We have a lot of trouble getting anything African into the country because of our past history with African invaders who loved the place and took over (most of our weeds are from South Africa…). I love the look of this tree and the fact that it can be used for food makes it all the more interesting. Cheers for sharing 🙂

  5. Nature and Science permalink
    December 6, 2012 10:08:26 pm

    Yes some of the most interesting families I agree, also pretty well represented in Australia with some distinctive and characteristic local trees.
    Just picked a couple of pods off our local Sterculia quadrifida the other day.

    They have a very similar fruit with bright red pod and satin deep black seeds, which seem to be characteristic for many Sterculia. Locally it’s called peanut tree because the seeds actually taste mostly like peanuts. Eaten fresh or roasted after removed the thin black seed coat, which is easier after roasting a little.

  6. December 7, 2012 10:08:20 am

    I have a pair of Sterculia quadrifida planted out here in Hollywood, FL. They are both flowering now, and I’ve hit them with the paintbrush in hopes of encouraging fruiting. The flower has sepals fused at the tip, which prevents easy hand pollination. I reckon ants must be the main pollinator, or gnats. S. shilinglawii has the same sort of flowers. I’ve managed one fruit off of it in quite a few years, and I didn’t pollinate it. The African spp. tend to have open flowers, yellow with stripes for several spp. S. appendiculata has flowers that smell faintly of rotten balogna.

  7. January 16, 2013 10:08:13 pm

    Sterculia africana germination…

    • January 16, 2013 10:08:38 pm

      Great. Thanks for thee update. By the way, while in Jalisco two weeks ago I think I found the Jatropha chamelensis you mentioned. A very cool tree, peeling bark looks very similar to a Bursera. We tansplanted a few 10 – 12 ft trees. But I didn’t see any seeds. Have cuttings worked well for you? I’ll be back down that way soon and can continue to look for seed or get some cuttings.

  8. September 25, 2014 10:08:00 pm

    Planted on purpose.

    Planted itself.

    Sterculia quadrifida I grew and planted fruiting in a friend’s garden.

    Hope you’re well!


    • September 25, 2014 10:08:05 pm

      Very cool, looks great. Yes, I’m well. I was checking for seed on the Jatropha chamelensis while in Mexico. I’ve never seen it fruit. I have successfully transplanted trees. You think cuttings would work? Jatropha sympetala is common in the area and produces seed much more frequently if your interested.

      • September 25, 2014 10:08:42 pm

        Yes, I’d love cuttings of chamelensis, and seeds of endemic Jatropha i.e. sympetala would be much welcome. I have standleyii, hernandiifolia, humboldtiana, et. al. growing, and it’s one of my favorite genus of plants.

        Thanks for remembering!

  9. September 25, 2014 10:08:34 pm

    A better shot of the one I just planted.


  1. More Sterculia africana, seeds and seedpod – Kenya « anthropogen

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