Adansonia digitata L.
African Baobab, Baobab, Cream of Tartar Tree, Dead-rat Tree, Lemonade Tree, Monkey-bread Tree, Upside-down Tree
Adansonia bahobab, Adansonia baobab, Baobabus digitata
Adansonia digitata is one of the most amazing trees and the largest succulent plant in the world. It grows up to 82 feet (25 m) tall with single or multiple cylindrical or fluted trunks that give rise to massive, tapering, irregularly distributed branches resembling a root system. The trunk is up to 35 feet (10.7 m) in diameter and covered with a bark layer that may be up to 4 inches (10 cm) thick. The bark is grayish-brown and usually smooth but can often be variously folded and seamed from years of growth. Leaves are divided into 5 to 7 finger-like leaflets, crowded at the ends of branches, dropped during the winter months, and appear again in late spring or early summer. They are up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and up to 2.8 inches (7 cm) wide.
The large flowers are white, up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) in diameter, and hang down on long stalks. They appear from large round buds on long drooping stalks at the end of the dry season in the late afternoon and fall within 24 hours, turning brown and smelling quite unpleasant. Fruit are variable in shape from globose to cylindrical, up to 10 inches (25 cm) long, up to 4.8 inches (12 cm0 in diameter, and covered with yellow-brown or greenish hairs.
Adansonia digitata is native to semiarid sub-Saharan Africa. It grows in woodlands or thickets, mainly in drier lowland areas, from Angola, through Southern Africa to East Africa, as far north as southern Sudan and Ethiopia.
USDA hardiness zone 10b to 11b: from 35 °F (+1.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Baobabs are quite easily grown from seed, although they are seldom available in nurseries. Seed can be collected from dry fruits by cracking the fruit open and washing away the dry, powdery coating. The dark brown to black, kidney-shaped seeds should be soaked in a container of hot water and allowed to cool, and they may then be sown after soaking for 24 hrs. Seeds are best sown in spring and summer in a well-drained seedling mixture containing one-third sand.
Cover the seed with sand to a depth of 0.14 to 0.24 inches (4 to 6 mm), place the trays in a warm semi-shaded position, and water regularly until the seeds have all germinated. Germination may take from 2 to 6 weeks. Seedlings should be carefully monitored for damping-off fungus, which can be treated with a fungicidal drench.
Transplant the seedlings once they are 2 inches (5 cm) tall into individual containers, preferably in sandy soil with some well-rotted compost and bone meal. Baobabs grow reasonably quickly when they are young.
See more at Baobab: The Largest Succulent Plant in the World.
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