Common name: Baobab, Cream of Tartar tree
Native to: Eastern and Southern Africa
Regarded as the largest succulent plant in the world, the baobab tree is steeped in a wealth of mystique, legend and superstition wherever it occurs in Africa. It is a tree that can provide, food, water, shelter and relief from sickness. Often referred to as 'grotesque' by some authors, the main stem of larger baobab trees may reach enormous proportions of up to 28 m in girth. Although baobab trees seldom exceed a height of 25 m. The massive, usually squat cylindrical trunk gives rise to thick tapering branches resembling a root-system, which is why it has often been referred to as the upside-down tree.The stem is covered with a bark layer, which may be 50-100 mm thick. The bark is greyish brown and normally smooth but can often be variously folded and seamed from years of growth. The leaves are hand-sized and divided into 5-7 finger-like leaflets. Being deciduous, the leaves are dropped during the winter months and appear again in late spring or early summer.The large, pendulous flowers (up to 200 mm in diameter) are white and sweetly scented. They emerge in the late afternoon from large round buds on long drooping stalks, in early summer. The fruit is a large, egg-shaped capsule (often >120 mm), covered with a yellowish brown hairs. The fruit consists of a hard, woody outer shell with a dry, powdery substance inside that covers the hard, black, kidney-shaped seeds. The off-white, powdery substance is apparently rich in ascorbic acid. It is this white powdery substance which is soaked in water to provide a refreshing drink somewhat reminiscent of lemonade. This drink is also used to treat fevers and other complaints.
Native / exotic: Native
Aspect: Full sun
Flowers: White pendulous flowers
Foliage: Deciduous, palmate light green leaves
Growth habit: Squat cylindrical trunk with larg girth, giving rise to thick tapering branches
Hardiness: Hardy and drought resistant
Height: Up to 25 metres
Spread: Up to 30 metres
Soil requirements: Well-drained soils.
Uses: Specimen tree