The baobabs (Adansonia) are a genus of eight species of trees, native to Madagascar (the centre of diversity, with six species), and Africa and Australia (one species in each). The species reach heights of between 5-25 m (exceptionally 30 m) tall, and up to 7 m (exceptionally 11 m) in trunk diameter. They are noted for storing water inside the swollen trunk. All occur in seasonally arid areas, and are deciduous, shedding their leaves during the dry season. Some are reputed to be many thousands of years old, though as the wood does not produce annual growth rings, this is impossible to verify; few botanists give any credence to these claims of extreme age.
The baobab is the national tree of Madagascar.
- Adansonia digitata - African Baobab (central & southern Africa)
- Adansonia grandidieri - Grandidier's Baobab (Madagascar)
- Adansonia gregorii (syn. A. gibbosa) - Boab or Australian Baobab (northwest Australia)
- Adansonia madagascariensis - Madagascan Baobab (Madagascar)
- Adansonia perrieri - Perrier's Baobab (Madagascar)
- Adansonia rubrostipa (syn. A. fony) - Fony Baobab (Madagascar)
- Adansonia suarezensis - Suarez Baobab (Madagascar)
- Adansonia za - Za Baobab (Madagascar)
Uses & folklore
In the Kimberley region of Western Australia, prisoners were held inside its massive hollow trunk. Aborigines used to eat the fruit and use the leaves medicinally.
In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's story The Little Prince, the Little Prince was worried that baobabs (described as "trees as big as castles") would grow on his asteroid and take up all the space.
- Jardin Botanique et Pepiniere - Baobab species details http://www.baobabs.com/Baobabs_species.htm
- Jardin Botanique et Pepiniere - Baobab photo gallery http://www.baobabs.com/Baobabs_photos.htm
- Madagascar info - Baobab photo gallery (Madagascan species only) http://www.madainfo.de/baobabs/
Section Eclectic herbal information
- Adansonia digitata (Baobab) http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/eclectic/kings/adansonia.html King's American Dispensatory @ Henriette's Herbal
Last updated: 05-03-2005 02:30:17