Baobabs: what are they and their characteristics

Revered by native African peoples and famous for works of literature such as The Little Prince, baobabs are trees surrounded by solemn majesty that is awe-inspiring and hard to forget. Their enormous proportions, their unique appearance in the world, and their almost mythical longevity make them some of the most impressive vegetables on our planet.

If you want to learn more about what type of tree the baobab is, join us in this article in which we will travel in search of one of the largest trees in the world. Find out what baobabs are and their characteristics, as well as a gallery of baobabs images, below.

What are baobabs and species

Its scientific name is Adansonia , the genus that includes the 8 species of baobab, all belonging to the Malvaceae family. It is also known as monkey bread or tree planted upside down , and legend has it that it was such an extremely presumptuous tree that a god turned it over to punish it, hence its unique appearance, in which it seems that the highest part of the tree are its roots, and that the crown is buried.

The baobab tree has a tropical or subtropical climate in all its species, since they all belong to semi-arid areas of Australia, Madagascar and Africa, with the African baobab being the best known. These are the baobab species :

Adansonia digitata

This is the specifically called monkey bread, a tree with a massive trunk native to the south of the Sahara and also the best known of the baobab trees. It reaches heights of up to 25 meters , but the most remarkable thing is its trunk, with a circumference that can exceed 40 meters . Its flowers are large and white, giving rise to fruits that are reminiscent of small melons.

Adansonia grandidieri

This is the baobab that reaches the highest height, reaching up to 30 meters and sometimes a little more. Its trunk, cylindrical in shape and smooth bark, is about 3 meters in diameter and produces highly aromatic, cream-colored flowers that give rise to ovoid fruits with a high content of vitamin C. It is an endangered species.

Adansonia gregorii

The only natural species in Australia, which is also commonly called the Australian boab or baobab , although there it is also called the dead rat tree or bottle tree, due to the shape of its trunk. It reaches heights of up to 10 meters, with a trunk that can exceed 5 meters in diameter.

Adansonia madagascariensis

It reaches heights of up to 25 meters, although the usual thing is that it stays well below this, its trunk reaching a thickness of up to 6 meters or more. Its flowers are pink, and it stands out for being able to enter the sea for a few meters.

Adansonia perrieri

Another species that, like the previous one, is typical of Madagascar, and of which very few specimens remain, as it is in serious danger of extinction.

Adansonia rubrostipa

The smallest of the Adansonia is a tree that is usually found at heights of around 5 meters , although it can quadruple this measure in some individuals. It is known to attract lemurs, who come to feed on its fruits.

Adansonia suarezensis

It is popularly known as the Suarez baobab and is in danger of extinction. Its trunk is quite thin for a baobab, growing up to 2 meters in diameter, and reaching heights of up to 25 meters.

Adansonia za

With a cylindrical and irregular trunk, it can reach 10 meters in diameter and 30 meters in height. The baobab Adansonia za flower is orange in shades and appears in spring.

Baobabs: what are they and characteristics - What are baobabs and species

Characteristics of baobabs

These are the main characteristics of baobab trees :

  • These are trees that stand out, above all, for the great thickness of their trunks , which in some species and cases can exceed 11 meters on average and even reach more than 40 meters.
  • These trunks usually grow pillar-shaped, with smooth bark and no branches to the top.
  • They are deciduous trees, which produce flowers and fruits in the rainy season and lose their leaves in the dry season.
  • What are the baobab leaves like ? Those of the adult tree are compound, with 5 to 11 leaflets, although in young trees these are simple.
  • The baobab fruit , which is also called monkey bread , reaches 45 centimeters and its pulp is edible for humans and many other animals and is very rich in nutrients, especially fiber. 
  • Some baobabs are known to hollow out inside as they grow and mature, becoming huge reservoirs of water, some being able to accumulate up to 6,000 liters of water in the baobabs .
Baobabs: what are they and characteristics - Characteristics of baobabs

Where do baobabs grow

To discuss where baobabs are found , we are going to divide them into three main groups:

  • The Adansonia digitata , which is the African baobab grows to the south of the Sahara .
  • The Adansonia gregorii species are from the baobabs that grow in Australia .
  • The rest are all endemic species of baobabs all growing in Madagascar .

Therefore, you can see baobabs in Madagascar, Australia and in the South of the Sahara that grow naturally.

Baobabs: What They Are and Characteristics - Where Baobabs Grow

How many years does a baobab tree live

When rainfall is between 300 and 500 mm per year, and in tropical or subtropical climates with light soil and high drainage, these trees have a life expectancy of about 1,000 years . However, specimens of more than 4,000 years of life have been found , making it one of the oldest trees on the planet.

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