Baobab (Adansonia)

The trees of the genus Adansonia are among the most impressive that we can see. Their trunks grow as if they were pillars, often becoming so thick that it would be impossible for one person alone. But perhaps that is why they are so popular, since it must also be said that their growth rate is very slow; so that they can be grown in pots for years.

These magnificent plants typical of the tropical and subtropical regions produce large flowers, thus attracting various pollinating insects such as bees. And it is something they do every spring, yes, only when they reach adulthood.

Where do baobabs live and what climate do they need?

Trees of the genus Adansonia are known by the name of baobab, which comes from the Arabic (buhibab) meaning «father of many seeds.» On the other hand, the scientific name is Michel Adanson, a French botanist who lived between 1727 and 1806. But, leaving taxonomy aside a bit, we have to talk about one of the doubts we ask ourselves the most when we want to cultivate them.

As well. Baobabs or Adansonia are plants that live in the semi-arid regions of Africa, Madagascar, and Australia. The climate must be tropical or subtropical, without frosts, and with annual rainfall of between 300 and 500mm. The moderately acclimatized specimens may resist temperatures of up to -1ºC, but from my own experience I recommend keeping them protected from them since later, during the spring, it is difficult for them to resume their growth.

As for the soil, it must be porous and light, capable of draining the water quickly, because otherwise the roots of these trees will not support it. What’s more, before planting them in the garden, it is highly recommended to dig a hole of at least 1m x 1m, and fill it with substrates such as the pumice (on sale here ). If you are going to have them in a pot, this will also be very useful for them to grow properly.

What are the general characteristics of the Adansonia?

Adansonia or baobab are deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the dry season (or in autumn/ winter, if they are grown in temperate climates). Their trunks are usually very large, bottle-shaped, and from them sprout leaves composed of 5 to 11 green leaflets.

Its flowers are hermaphroditic, with an average size of 10 centimeters, and of different colors: white, cream, orange. The fruit is a berry or thick capsule that contains numerous seeds with a shape similar to that of a kidney or a pear.

What is the name of the baobab fruit?

The fruit of the baobab is known as monkey bread or bouy. It can measure between 10 and 45 centimeters, and has a pulp that can be consumed without problems. In fact, it is usually eaten as if it were a candy. However, it is used more to make an energy drink due to its vitamin and mineral richness and its high fiber content.

How many types of baobab are there?

Although the most who least knows the African baobab, there are other types of Adansonia. They are as follows:

Adansonia digitata

Image – Wikimedia/ Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE

Known as the baobab or monkey bread tree, it is an endemic tree from the south of the Sahara (Africa). It grows up to 25 meters in height, and develops a trunk whose circumference is 40 meters or more. It produces very large, white flowers and fruits that resemble small melons. It has a life expectancy of 4000 years.

Do you want seeds? Buy them here.

Adansonia grandidieri

Image – Wikimedia/ Bernard Gagnon

It is the tallest and most slender baobab species, with a height of up to 30 meters (rarely 40 meters), and a cylindrical trunk «only» 3 meters in diameter. Its flowers are creamy-white in color, and very aromatic. The fruits are ovoid, and rich in vitamin C.

It is in danger of extinction.

Adansonia gregorii

Image – Wikimedia/ MargaretRDonald

It is a native tree of Australia, so it could be called Australian baobab, although its other common name is more used: boab. It grows between 9 and 10 meters in height, and the base of its trunk can exceed 5 meters in diameter. In spring large white flowers sprout.

Adansonia madagascariensis

It is an endemic Adansonia from Madagascar, growing between 5 and 25 meters in height, with a trunk thickness of more than 6 meters in diameter. The flowers appear in spring, and are pink in color.

Adansonia rubrostipa

Image – Wikimedia/ C. Michael Hogan

Now its scientific name is Adansonia fony var. rubrostipa. It is the smallest of all the baobab, reaching a height of 4 to 5 meters, although it can reach 20 meters. It is native to Madagascar, and blooms in spring.

As a curiosity, say that lemurs are animals that love to eat their fruits.

Adansonia suarezensis

Image – Wikimedia/ masindrano

Known as the Suarez baobab, it is a tree native to Madagascar that reaches a height of up to 25 meters. Its trunk is not very thick: it measures up to 2 meters in diameter. Each spring they produce flowers of good size, and aromatic.

It is in danger of extinction.

Adansonia za

Young specimens.

It is a species native to Madagascar that reaches a height of 30 meters. Its trunk is thick, up to 10 meters in diameter. The flowers are orange and bloom in spring.

Get seeds here.

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