Help us save the sausage tree
Found across tropical Africa and growing to 20-25 m high, Kigelia africana produces long, hard, gourd-like fruits, giving it the common name sausage tree. You can help Kew safeguard this unusual looking plant for our future by adopting a seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.
Introducing the sausage tree
The large, dark-red flowers of the sausage tree (Kigelia africana) hang from their own stems and are popular with birds, who feed on the large amounts of nectar they contain. The trees are pollinated by bats and hawk-moths when their flowers open at night.
The long, heavy fruits of the sausage tree can be up to 90 cm in length and 12 kg in weight. They are very fibrous and sometimes used as a purgative in local medicines. Both ripe and unripe fruits are toxic to humans. The fruits of this tree can also do considerable damage if they fall on vehicles or unsuspecting passersby.
A useful plant
Sausage tree (Kigelia africana) is used in a variety of commercial applications to treat skin complaints. Research into its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-tumour activity is ongoing.
The wood of the tree also provides good quality timber for fences, planking, boxes and canoes. Sausage trees are also planted on riverbanks to stabilise them, whilst out in the open savanna their broad canopies make them a useful shade tree as well.
This plant species is a sacred tree for many communities in Africa and is usually protected on farm lands when other trees are cut down. In Malawi for instance, the sausage tree is now protected, although many were felled previously to make canoes.
How Kew's work is making a difference
Conserving seeds through the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership provides an important insurance policy for the future of the world's plant life. The seeds we conserve are increasingly used in the restoration of global habitats.
The reintroduction of plants in different habitats around the world is becoming increasingly important as the effects of climate change and other human activities continue to threaten their future. Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is uniquely placed to enable these efforts. Find out more about the areas in which we work.
You can adopt this seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.
When you Adopt a Seed, you'll receive a personalised certificate, featuring your plant species, as a downloadable PDF document you can print off, and regular updates over the year from the Millennium Seed Bank.
For an additional £2, you can have an Adoption Pack posted (either to you, or direct to a gift recipient) featuring a certificate and a full colour picture of your species (UK only).
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