Maembe ma Kimunyi
This traditional mango (Mangifera indica) variety, known locally as maembe ma kimunyi, is sometimes also called kasikeu in Ukambani, a stretch of territory between Nairobi and Mombassa. The plant grows into a huge evergreen tree that takes up to five years to begin producing fruits. The tree is quite hardy, resistant to pests, disease and drought, and so this variety is often used as rootstock in grafting other hybrid mango varieties. The mangos are green in color when unripe. Ripe fruits may stay green, or develop into shades of orange (with or without patches of green). The fruit ripens very late compared to other varieties, making it unique. The fruit contains a single, small seed. The flesh of the mango is not fibrous, but smooth, and with a sweet taste, sweeter even than hybrid varieties produced in the area. Fruits eaten before they are ripe, however, are quite sour. The legendary sweetness of the kimunyi mango is referenced in a phrase shared by lovers in Ukambani, that translates to, “you are as sweet as a kimyuni mango.” This variety in particular is often given as a gift to loved ones. The kimunyi mango variety is rare and grows best mainly around Makueni County in southern Kenya. However, despite the fact that it produces good harvests for over 30 years, if the tree grows to a size considered too large, many farmers will chop them down, and replace them with smaller-growing hybrid trees, that are faster to produce fruit, but produce less sweet mangos. Also, many of these hybrids are in fact grafted on to kimunyi mango rootstock, meaning the pure tree, and its distinctive fruit, is becoming rarer and rarer. Current production is mainly for home consumption, with extra mangos sold to neighbors and the market if available.