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Adansonia Genus

Baobab

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General Needs

  • LightFull sun
  • HardinessTropical (min 17°C)
  • SoilWell drained
  • WaterDry

Description

Adansonia genus (Baobab). These are deciduous or semi-evergreen, mainly spring flowering trees with swollen trunks. To conserve water they have evolved dwarfed crowns with short branches and drop their leaves early in the dry season. Their trunk wood is as soft as balsa and capable of storing thousands of gallons of water. They have waxy, white flowers that are pollinated by moths, bats and even bush babies. They are very long-lived, with one tree in Namibia, still growing, which has been radio-carbon dated to be 1,275 years old. This is the oldest known flowering plant on the globe. There are eight species: six from Madagascar, one from mainland Africa and one from Australia.

Characteristics

Deciduous, Trees

Origin

Madagascar, mainland Africa, Comoros Islands, N.W Australia.

Named after Michel Adanson, the French explorer and naturalist.

Interest and use

Grown for their characteristically swollen trunks, their foliage and their shade.

Uses have been found for many parts of the tree: the fruit has a high vitamin C content equivalent to 4 oranges. The pollen can be used as glue. The seeds, which are rich in protein, calcium, oil and phosphates, can be roasted and ground like coffee beans. Young leaves have a high calcium content and can be used as spinach. The trunk is fibrous and can be woven into rope mats and paper. Beer and tea can be made from the bark.

Cultivation

They are frost tender with a min of 13-16C. They will require full light and sharply drained soil.

Propagation

Seed in spring should be sown as soon as they are ripe at about 22C.

Pests, diseases or disorders

Pot specimens under glass are prone to red spider mite and aphids may infest young leaves and flower buds.

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