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Adansonia digitata (baobab)

Baobab, Africa's iconic 'upside-down' tree, is pollinated by bats and bushbabies.
Photo of Adansonia digitata (baobab)
Adansonia digitata (baobab) (Photo: David Goyder, RBG Kew)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Adansonia digitata L.

Common name: 

baobab

Conservation status: 

Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria; widespread and locally common.

Habitat: 

Dry bushland, woodland, wooded grassland; often left standing in cultivated areas.

Key Uses: 

Foodstuff, medicine, rope-making, basketry.

Known hazards: 

None known.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Rosanae
Order: 
Malvales
Family: 
Malvaceae
Genus: Adansonia

About this species

Widespread and common, baobab is a defining icon of African bushland and can grow to an old age. Radiocarbon dating of a baobab in Namibia indicated an age of about 1,275 years, making this the oldest known tree within the angiosperms (flowering plants). All parts of the tree are used by local people, to whom baobab has great social and economic importance.

Common trade routes were often based on the baobab trees growing along the way, and each tree even had its own name. The large, white flowers are pollinated by bats and bushbabies. Elephants often gouge the trunks of baobabs to get at the water inside and can damage mature trees.

It has recently been proposed that the African baobab consists of two species – one very widely distributed lowland species with four sets of chromosomes (Adansonia digitata), and a second, more montane species with just two sets of chromosomes (A. kilima). Some floral differences can be observed, but the hypothesis needs to be tested with wider geographic coverage.

Genus: 
Adansonia

main info

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