Khat (Catha edulis Vahl) is an evergreen shrub habitually ingested for its euphoric and stimulatory effects. The crop is grown in the Middle East, Somalia, East Africa and Ethiopia. Its referred to as Miraa in Kenya while in Yemen it has several names like Qat, Kat, Kath, Gat, Chat and Tschat. It belongs to the sub-order Rosidae, family Celastraceae and characterized by astringent taste. Despite the daily use and consumption of khat by millions of people in Kenya, little is known about its phenotypic. Phenotypic characterization is an essential approach for assessment of khat diversity however, it’s limited by morphological plasticity and multiple lineage evolution. This study aimed at evaluating the phenotypic diversity of selected khat cultivars grown in Embu and Meru counties. Ninety samples from 18 cultivars were collected for phenotypic characterization. MINITAB 17 Software was used for description of Principal component and construction of dendrogram using the Eucledian distance tool where 58.7% variability was observed among 13 traits studied in 90 samples of khat (Catha edulis).Phenotypes grouped into 2 clusters,phenotypic diversity showed considerable variability based on 13 khat traits. This will be useful in khat breeding programmes and characterization of khat cultivars.
Keywords: Phenotypic, khat,Diversity and cultivar