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Adansonia digitata (African Baobab)


Scientific Name

Adansonia digitata L.

Common Names

African Baobab, Baobab, Monkey-bread Tree, Cream of Tartar Tree, Lemonade Tree, Dead-rat Tree, Upside-down Tree


Adansonia bahobab, Adansonia baobab, Adansonia integrifolia, Adansonia scutula, Adansonia situla, Adansonia somalensis, Adansonia sphaerocarpa, Adansonia sulcata, Baobabus digitata, Ophelus sitularius

Scientific Classification

Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Bombacoideae
Genus: Adansonia


Adansonia digitata is the largest succulent plant in the world. The main stem may reach enormous proportions of up to 92 feet (28 m) in girth. The massive, usually squat cylindrical trunk gives rise to thick tapering branches resembling a root-system, which is often referred to as the upside-down tree. The stem is covered with a bark layer, which 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 hand-sized and divided into 5 to 7 finger-like leaflets. The leaves are dropped during the winter months and appear again in late spring or early summer. Flowers are white, sweetly scented, pendulous, and up to 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. They emerge in the late afternoon from large round buds on long drooping stalks from October to December. The flowers fall within 24 hours, turning brown and smelling quite unpleasant.


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.


Native to the African continent.


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