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Adansonia digitata
Baobab

(drawing to come)

Origin

Africa, south of the Sahara in semiarid to subhumid tropical areas.

Ecology

Annual rainfall: 100-1500 mm.

Normal temperature range: 16-36C.

Altitude range: up to 1500m.

Seasonal adaptability: tolerates long dry season.

Soils: grows on a wide variety of soils but prefers deep moist calcareous soils. Tolerates seasonal flooding but not on heavy clay soils.

Light requirement: light demanding.

Description

Height at maturity: 20m.

Diameter at breast height (1.3m) at maturity: 200-600cm.

Form: poor, short bole, heavy branching and umbrella shaped crown.

Coppicing ability: poor.

Growth: 12m in height in 15 years.

Other: deciduous tree with smooth silvery grey bark. Branches curve downwards and resemble large roots when leafless. Flowers are pendulous and creamy white, onlong stalks, extending up to 1 m when the fruit develops. The species is dioecious: male and female flowers are produced on separate trees.

Primary advantages

Drought and fire resistant, and multiple uses.

Primary disadvantages

Not a timber or fuelwood tree.

Products and yields

Wood products: timber not normally used, but can be made into canoes, trays, fishing floats, utensils and can be chewed to provide drinking water.

Fodder: leaves are an important source in the early rainy season.

Other: leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit are edible for humans. Bark of young trees provides fibre and can regenerate. Trunks can be reservoirs of large quantities of water. Multiple medicinal uses from every part of the tree. Roots give a red dye, bark is a source of tannin and fruit pulp is an insect repellant when burnt.

Propagation

From seed sown in bags, pots, stake cuttings, direct sowing.

Seed treatment

Viable for several years if stored under normal conditions. Immerse in boiling water, remove immediately and cool. Digestion by animals also breals dormancy.

Management

Suitable for individual planting only. No major pests or diseases. Young trees can be damaged by fire or grazing.

Agroforestry uses

Homegardens or pastoral systems.

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