THE OCCURRENCE OF INDIGENOUS EDIBLE MUSHROOMS IN KAYA CHIVARA FOREST IN KILIFI, KENYA
Keywords:Indigenous mushrooms, Toxicology, Kaya Chivara
Kaya forests are pockets of natural rainforests in the lower coastal regions of Kenya. These forests have for generations supported livelihoods of communities living around them. Mushrooms have seasonally been harvested from these forests but the harvests have dwindled with time because of population pressure and frequent human traffic that disturbs the breeding grounds. Harvesting wild edible mushrooms requires skills to distinguish edible from poisonous species. The local communities have however acquired skills to identify edible mushrooms. Sadly, these skills remain a preserve of the older generation because the youth are not interested. The community therefore risks losing these skills if not documented. This study was therefore intended to characterize indigenous edible mushrooms from Kaya Chivara and document indigenous skills in wild mushroom gathering. To achieve this, local skilled mushroom collectors were engaged to guide the team to identify indigenous edible species from the mushroom-rich Kaya Chivara. A purposive sampling was adopted where edible mushrooms were collected from the canopies of Brachystegia speciformis. Gilled mushrooms with insect or rodent damages, those with non-sporulated caps and had local names were pointed out for harvesting as edible mushrooms. Images were taken in-situ before collecting the mushroom samples for further analyses. Morphological characteristics were used to partially identify the mushroom species based on image and literature matching. Toxicological assays were then conducted using the purge and trap Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) system from AGILENT® Technologies. Twenty indigenous edible mushroom samples were collected. These were further categorized into eight (8) species as; Mwasi (Pleurotus spp.), Hakoranyani (Rusulla spp.), Choga sikiro reruhe (Pleurotus spp.) and Mbwate (Agaricus spp.), Choga rerema (Agaricus spp.), Muhama (Rusulla spp.), Choga Kadzonzo (Agaricus spp.) and Choga nyama (Agaricus spp.). Mwasi and Hakoranyani occurred frequently at 30%, Mbwate and Choga rerema occurred at 10% while Muhama, Choga Kadzonzo and Choga nyama occurred at 5% each. Toxicological analyses indicate that these mushrooms species are edible and had a variety of medicinal constituents. Communities living around Kaya Chivara possess skills that are useful in identifying edible wild mushrooms. Communities have names for mushroom species they have frequently interacted with. This is key in the identification and gathering process. GC-MC analyses reveal immense medicinal potentials of the study mushroom species. It is therefore prudent to conserve theses germplasm for possible domestication and ultimately commercialization.
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