Garsa (Afargna), Domaye (Gamogna), Garas, Haras (Somalgna), Geresa (Tigrigna)
It is an much branched evergreen
shrub or tree up to 8m. The bark is green to dark grey and patchy. Leaves
are opposite, yellow to grey-green, thick, smooth, veins hardly seen, up
to 7cm long, tip usually notched. Flowers are small and white in colour.
Fruits are ovoid to 2cm, with 1 - 2 flat seeds. Paradoxically it produces
better and more seeds in dry spell (under moisture stress conditions) than
in normal times.
Farmers and pastoralists in southern
Ethiopia and Afar Region alike recognize a number of indigenous so-called
drought indicator plants. In the lowlands of Konso Special Woreda, along
the Segen River, Dobera glabra is one such typical drought indicator. New
shoots always grow during the dry season. If rains are delayed or fail,
the tree typically shows an enhanced production of new shoots, fruits and
seeds. Local Konso people observed a significant Dobera glabra fruit production
increase during the last four years (1996-1999) coinciding with the climatic
dry spell. Farmers revealed that in normal times, when rains are on time
or abundant, Dobera glabra does not produce much fruit and seed. When the
tree is blooming abundantly, Konso people fear that a drought may very
well be under way and hence, food may become scarce. Besides its drought
indicator qualities, Dobera glabra produces edible fruits and the seed
is considered a typical 'famine-food'.
preparation methods and palatability
Fruit contains two green cotyledons,
which are consumed after cooking. Before consumption the cover of the fruit
is removed and seeds are washed thoroughly with ash. Usually consumed mixed
with other foodstuff like boiled maize. The fruits of Dobera glabra are
edible and the kernel is considered a typical famine food. It has to be
cooked for a long time, i.e. up to 24 hours, and it produces a bad smell.
According to farmers interviewed, excessive consumption causes stomachaches
and other intestinal problems.
A shrub that
grows in dry areas, on saline, heavy, or calcareous loam soils and on rocky
hillsides. It grows abundantly in dry and moist lowland areas (400 - 1,300m).
seeds, direct sowing and wildlings.
Jarso Kebele, Konso; (2) Zone 4 & 5 of Afar Region
In Konso reportedly, due to intensive
deforestation activities the density of the plant is diminishing and is
hardly available other than in the environs of Segen riverbanks. It is
also used as a shade tree in the lowlands.
In Afar Region Dobera glabra tree is
abundantly found in Zone 4 and Zone 5 and can easily be recognised in times
of drought because of its deep green colour, which stands out in the otherwise
uniform grey-kaki coloured dusty arid landscape (see picture below). The
settlement at the branch-off from the Mile-Bati road to Zone 5 and Zone
4 is called 'Garsa Gita', which means 'the place where 'Garsa' trees are
found'. Afar pastoralists have a proverb saying: 'the one who finds 'Garsa'
is lucky and will not suffer'. Finding a 'Garsa' tree in times of drought
is a good sign for somebody suffering from hunger, because he knows he
will survive. At several occasions, when interviewing Afar people during
dry spell periods near water points and questioning them about wild food
consumption, they immediately mentioned and also presented samples of cooked
or fresh fruits of Dobera glabra, which indicates that people are consuming
of the following description have been taken from Bekele-Tesemma et al.,
1993: p. 194/195