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.
A photo of the seed pod and seed, below.
And the tree trunk and branching structure.