Baobab – Adansonia digitata

By fruit bearing trees
April 28, 2008

Baobab, Adansonia digitata or “monkey’s bread tree” is the most common name of a genus Adansonia containing eight species of trees indigenous to Madagascar (six species) and mainland Africa and Australia (one species in each country). However, Baobab has been established in other equatorial African states where suited habitat occurs. It is bounded to hot, dry timberland and rocky well drained soils, in frost-free areas.

Adansonia digitata is a broad leaf tree with its large leaves divided into 5-7 finger-like leaflets. The leaves are commonly utilized as a vegetable throughout the region of mainland African distribution, and they are consumed both fresh and dry and crushed. In Nigeria, the leaves are used to make up kuka soup. The leaves are abundant in vitamin C, sugars, potassium and calcium. Young shoot can be used up like asparagus.

Flowers are large, drooping up to 20 cm in diameter, white and sweet perfumed. They emerge from October to December in the late afternoon on elongated droopy stalks from large round buds. They fall inside 24 hours, becoming brown in color and take an objectionable odor. Pollination takes place by fruit bats at night.

Baobab Fruit

Baobab fruit is big, ovoid oftentimes more than 12 cm, covered with yellowish brown hairs. The fruit consists of a tough and woody external shell and a dry, powdery substance inside covers up the hard, black, kidney-shaped seeds. The whitish, powdery content is seemingly rich in vitamin C.

The powdery substance when soaked in water supplies a refreshing beverage with a slightly lemonade like taste. It is as well used medicinally to address fevers. The dry pulp of the fruit usually covered in red colored sugary coating it is sold in boxes as a sweet and sour candy named “boonya” or “bungha”.

The fruit was at one time utilized in the production of tartar sauce. The seeds are generally used as a thickener for soups, roasted for direct consumption, or pounded up to express vegetable oil. They might also be fermented into a seasoning.

The Baobab tree bark is grayish brown in color, usually smooth, cork-like and it is fire resistant. Baobabs store water inside the distended trunk up to 100,000 liters to survive the brutal drought conditions specific to each region. The tree also supplies a source of fiber, dye, and fuel.

Baobab Propagation Methods

Plant propagation is rather easily from seeds. Seeds can be picked up from dry fruits open and wash away the dry, powdery covering. The dark colored, kidney-shaped seeds should be soaked in hot water and allowed to cool; they may then be planted after soaking for approximately 24 hours.

Baobab, Adansonia digitata

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