Rhamnus prinoides

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Shiny-leaf buckthorn
Rhamnus prinoides, loof, Ncagaberg, a.jpg
Habit of Rhamnus prinoides
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rhamnaceae
Genus: Rhamnus
R. prinoides
Binomial name
Rhamnus prinoides
  • Rhamnus pauciflora Eschsch
  • Alaternus prinoides Raf.
  • Celtis rhamnifolia C.Presl

Rhamnus prinoides, the shiny-leaf buckthorn, is an African shrub or small tree in the family Rhamnaceae. Commonly referred to as "gesho" it was first scientifically described by French botanist Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle in 1789.[1]


Rhamnus prinoides occur from Ethiopia, Eritrea to South Africa at medium to high altitudes. They grow near streams or along forest margins. The small edible fruits are shiny red and berry-like.


The Rhamnus prinoides plant has many uses amongst the inhabitants of Africa. All parts of the plant are harvested and used for nutrition, medicine or religious purposes. Gesho, as it is known in Eritrea and Ethiopia, has a considerable value in these countries. It is one of the most precious crops used both locally for domestic use, and fabricated products industrially.[citation needed]

In Eritrea and Ethiopia, where the plant is known as gešo or gesho,[2] it is used in a manner similar to hops. The stems are boiled and the extract mixed with honey to ferment a mead called myes in Tigrinya and tej in Amharic.[3]

It is also used in the brewing of tella (siwa in Tigrinya), an Eritrean and Ethiopian beer.[4] This local drink is made from gesho as a major ingredient. Gesho leaves are sundried and pounded with mortar and pestle into flour. Barley malt is prepared and sundried and ground. These two ingredients are mixed, in a proportion that varies from maker to maker, and fermented 3 to 5 days on average. Finger millet (or sorghum and maize flour regionally) are baked, and finally mixed with the fermented solution. After 1–2 days of fermentation, the tella can be filtered and consumed in a drink locally called guesh (tsiray in Tigrinya).



  1. ^ "Rhamnus prinoides L'Hér". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 24 October 2010.
  2. ^ Pankhurst, Rita. "Gešo". In Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha, edited by Siegbert Uhlig. 773. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005
  3. ^ Richard Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Haile Selassie I University, 1968), p. 194.
  4. ^ Amborn, Hermann. Sewa in Tigringa "Ṭälla." In Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: O-X: Vol. 4, edited by Siegbert Uhlig. 848-49. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010.