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ADANSONIA digitata

Image of Adansonia digitata

James Burghardt

Family

Bombacaceae

Botanical Name

ADANSONIA digitata

Plant Common Name

Baobab, Dead Rat Tree

General Description

With a flared, muscular trunk and architectural, stubby branches, the baobab is a tree to admire in spacious landscapes. A slow-growing, deciduous tropical tree native to southern Sub-Saharan Africa, this succulent tree is characterized by a swollen trunk that often becomes hollow in order to store rainfall for sustenance. Interestingly, the wood of baobab is relatively soft and spongy and does not produce age rings, even though considered one of the longest-lived tree species on earth.

The medium to olive-green leaves are compound, like a hand, with five to nine oblong leaflets. The leaves readily drop away in drought or excessive winter chill, only to return after spring rains. In only the warmest and moistest of climates will this tree be only briefly deciduous. On late spring and summer nights (or the start of the rainy season) it bears fragrant, creamy-white, pendulous flowers that are pollinated by hawk moths and mouse lemurs. Blossoms are later followed by velvety brown, woody fruits that are sometimes called "hanging dead rats", especially when viewed from leafless branches.

Baobab is exceedingly drought tolerant but will grow under wetter conditions only if the soil is well drained. Give it a full sun exposure and ample space to slowly reach it finest stature. This plant may be grown as a specimen shade tree in tropical or desert gardens that are frost-free, as a potted plant when young, or for bonsai. It is easy to propagate from seed, although slow to germinate.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 14

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    60'-70' / 18.3m - 21.3m

  • Width

    50'-80' / 15.2m - 24.4m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Middle Africa, Southern Africa, Madagascar

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Very Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No