Among the Luhya, lunani and sinani are the male and female species of the same tree. Lunani and Sinani trees have somewhat similar characteristics and it is not easy to tell them apart. These trees of cultural value to the Luhya are both shrubs whose vines greatly intertwine with surrounding plants, such that they appear as climbers or scramblers.
Both indigenous trees can thrive on their own, but do better in the presence of big trees where they can intertwine themselves. The trees have brown stems with small thorns. Out of stems grow small branches that support compound leaves with many tiny leaflets. One branch, for example, can host 20 pairs of leaves.
Quick Facts On Lunani/Sinani Trees
|Scientific Name||Senegalia ataxacantha or Acacia ataxacantha|
|Common Name||Flame Thorn|
|Local Names||Lunani or Sinani in Libukusu|
|Key Characteristics||Wild, grows densely|
The Female Lunani Tree
Lunani has slightly bigger leaves, light green in color with somewhat bigger thorny stems. It bears seed pods the size of green peas. Out of the fresh seed pods comes sticky sweet substance that we loved taking a lick of while growing up. The pods take a very short time to mature and dry. What this means is that Lunani can be a menace if not closely tamed.
Lunai is used to make hedges. In addition, lunani produces seeds in pods from which traditional glue was procured. This does not come without numerous injuries from the said thorns. The thorns grow off the stems and branches. Very painful, a prick is from these thorns.
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The Male Sinani Tree
The male version of Lunani is known as Sinani. It has dark green leaves. Its branches are smaller compared to that of Lunani. Its thorns are also smaller in size. Sinani commonly grow in swamps in thickets.
Compared to Lunani, Sinani is a complete climber. Spineless almost and can barely stand by itself. Sinani depends on the presence of big trees to thrive. Moreover, Sinani does not produce seeds. It gets propagated by planting cuttings.
Not only is the Sinani tree grown around homes to physically protect them, the tree is also believed to keep away all trouble from the home. In this way, it serves a role similar to the kumwimbwi tree.
Just like Kumufutu and Kumufutumwe trees, roots of Sinani were also used to treat sexually transmitted diseases also known as Endwasi. While the common meaning of endwasi is gonorrhea, it appears that it refereed generally to venereal disease. This is because scientific literature has it that the this tree was used in traditional medicine to treat syphilis.