imfe, noun

imfa, imfayShow more Also imfa, imfay, imfé, imfer, imfi, impfie, imphe, imphee, imphey, imphi, imphye.
Xhosa, ZuluShow more Xhosa and Zulu.
A cultivar of the cereal grass Sorghum bicolor, grown for the sweetness of its culms; soetriet; sweet cane. See also sorghum sense 1.
1828 W. Shaw Diary. 28 Feb.We found a number of the men assembled at one of the Kraals, chewing Imfay, or sweet cane.
1832 Graham’s Town Jrnl 15 June 100Two kinds of Impfie or Sugar-cane are mentioned by the travellers; one as thick as the little finger, and the other as thick as the wrist.
1833 S. Kay Trav. & Researches 123A species of sugar cane, called imfe, is grown in great abundance.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 27A bundle or two of imphi (a spurious sugar cane).
1844 J.M. Bowker Speeches & Sel. (1864) 135The sweet cane (imphe), which the Kafirs grow with their other corn merely for the sake of the saccharine matter contained in the quite as sweet as the sugar cane itself, and requires little cultivation.
1850 J.E. Methley New Col. of Port Natal 81We were supplied with quantities of ‘imphi,’ a kind of spurious sugar-cane, which is cultivated for its sweet and juicy qualities.
1857 Country Gentleman (U.K.) 11 June 379A plant bearing the name of Imphee, or Imphey, or Imphye..which it is alleged is identical with the Chinese Sugar Cane, has been introduced by Mr. Leonard Wray, from Southern Africa.
1864 T. Baines Explor. in S.-W. Afr. 438I..spent the intervening time with a circle of old fellows, who gave me imphi (holcus saccharatus) stalks to chew.
[1880 S.W. Silver Handbk for Australia & New Zealand 273The imphee, or Planter’s Friend, is well adapted to the Queensland climate.]
1893 Watt Dict. Econ. Prod. Ind. VI. iii. said to be extensively grown in Africa and America, the plant of the former country being the Imphee, and of the latter the Sorgho, which is mainly cultivated on account of sugar.
1897 F.W. Sykes With Plumer in Matabeleland 21Amongst other articles that ran short..was sugar. A capital substitute for this was found in many of the kraals in the shape of ‘imfi,’ or native sugar-cane.
1923 W.C. Scully Daniel Vananda 112In a corner of the field nodded the plumes of a patch of ‘imfé’ or Native sugarcane.
1937 B.J.F. Laubscher Sex, Custom & Psychopathology 109The crops..consist of mealies, caffir corn, pumpkins and imfe. The imfe is a miniature sugar-cane, thin of stem and very similar to the kaffir corn.
c1963 B.C. Tait Durban Story 155All along the coast the natives cultivated an indigenous reed for the sweet juice contained in the stalks which they liked to chew. They called the reed ‘imphi’ and it made excellent cattle fodder.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 254ImFi,..Cultivated over a long period by Natal natives for the sweet culms. The species was known on the old Kaffrarian frontier long before 1800.
1987 J. Munday Grasses, Grains & Conservation 14Two kinds of sugar cane, umoba and imphe, were grown in Natal by the indigenous people long before the arrival of the white man in 1823.
A cultivar of the cereal grass Sorghum bicolor, grown for the sweetness of its culms; soetriet; sweet cane.

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