Adansonia za

Accession Count: 2
Common Name: Baobab, Za
Family Name: Malvaceae
Botanical Name: Adansonia za
Synonyms:
Botanical Synonyms: Adansonia alba
Sub Species:
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics: Adansonia za is a deciduous tree with a sparse, apically branching crown that remains leaf-less for 9 months every year. The wide, cylindrical trunk is impressive, reaching up to 98 feet tall and 20 feet wide, often swelling or tapering to the top, with gray bark. The soft and spongy trunk stores great quantities of water – up to 100 gallons have been extracted from a single tree. Additionally, Adansonia za is the only tree that is capable of regenerating bark directly from an exposed wood surface.
From November to February, the distinctive flowers will appear – a long green cylinder that resembles a bean, from which yellow and red petals emerge, possessing long yellow stamens. The flower bud curls onto the stem of the flower and remains even after blooms have appeared. Lastly, after flowering, black oblong or globose fruits will form.
Compound: Ada za
Geographic Origin: Madagascar
Ecozone Origin: Afrotropic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: There are 8 species of baobabs, six of which are native to Madagascar, one native to Australia (Adansonia gibbosa, Adansonia gregori) and the last species is native to Africa (Adansonia digitata).
Adansonia za is the most common and widely distributed baobab species within Madagascar, and is the only species found in both the southeast and southwest. Its distribution includes the Northwest coast, western coast, and inland Madagascar, inhabiting degraded sub-arid and semi-arid shrublands, dry deciduous forests, spiny forests, thickets, and riparian environments up to 800 meters in elevation.

Cultivation Notes:
Baobab species are capable of living for thousands of years and reaching incredible heights. To cultivate, provide long periods of sun exposure, but protect from the frost. Do not keep indoors during the spring and summer growing seasons to maximize sun intake. However, bring indoors during the winter, as species are only tolerant to 35°F, USDA hardiness zone 10, and are very frost tender.
Adansonia za should be watered sparingly from spring to late summer – about twice a week. However, during the fall and winter dormancy period, the soil should be kept relatively dry. Rocky and well-draining soils are preferred, with a pH of 6.6 to 7.5.  At the same time, ensure that the soil is kept dry and that the substrate is well-draining, in order to prevent root-rot.
Baobab can be propagated through seed, and experiences Phanerocotylar germination, in which the seed germinates above ground, and the cotyledons emerge from the seed coat.
Ethnobotany: The baobabs are an object of folklore and reverence throughout Madagascar, Australia and Africa. In Malagasy, the baobabs are inhabited by spirits or ancestors long past. Passing villagers put grass at the trunk as an offering to the night spirits who use the baobab as their daytime retreat. Additionally, in northern Madagascar, it is customary to embrace the baobab’s trunk as a signature of respect.
In its natural environment, baobab provides food and shelter to numerous mammal and bird species. At the same time, the bark, leaves, roots, flowers, fruit, seeds, and sap can be consumed by humans or cattle, and used medicinally – such as to cure sore throats or to assist infants in gaining weight. During drought, cattle owners fell trees and peel off the bark or split the trunk into two so that the zebu cattle may chew the moisture-saturated pith. Culturally, large sheets of wood can be cut and used as roofing for homes. Finally, A. za can be used as a cistern for storing water, transformed into a bonsai, or used to create cloth and cordage from the bark.

Height: 50 - 100 feet
Width: 6 - 10 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season: Spring
Flower Season: Summer
Color: Yellow
Function: Accent
Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Moderate Water Use

Citations:
  1. Tropicos
  2. Baobabs.com
  3. Baobabs.com
  4. Bonsaisa
  5. Wickens, Gerald E., Pat Lowe. The Baobab: Pachycauls of Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Kew, UK : Springer, 2008.
  6. Useful Tropical Plants
  7. Treegirl
  8. University of Arizona Arboretum
  9. Dave’s Garden
  10. Rare Exotic Seeds
  11. Steere Herbarium
  12. Top Tropicals
  13. iNaturalist
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Adansonia za