|Adansonia digitata in Tanzania|
See Species section
Adansonia is a genus made up of eight species of medium to large deciduous trees known as baobabs (//). Previously classified within the family Bombacaceae, they are now placed in the Malvaceae. They are native to Madagascar, mainland Africa and Australia. Trees have also been introduced to other regions such as Asia. The generic name honours Michel Adanson, the French naturalist and explorer who described Adansonia digitata. The baobab is also known as the "upside down tree", a name that originates from several myths. They are among the most long-lived of vascular plants and have large flowers that are reproductive for a maximum of 15 hours. The flowers open around dusk; opening so quickly that movement can be detected by the naked eye and are faded by the next morning. The fruits are large, oval to round and berry-like and hold kidney-shaped seeds in a dry, pulpy matrix.
In the early 21st century, baobabs in southern Africa began to die off rapidly from a cause yet to be determined. Scientists believe it is unlikely that disease or pests were able to kill many trees so rapidly, and some speculated that the die-off was a result of dehydration from global warming.
Borrowed from Medieval Latin bahobab, from Arabic أَبُو حِبَاب (ʾabū ḥibāb, “father of many seeds”), from أَبُو (ʾabū, “father”) + حَبّ (ḥabb, “seed”).
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbeɪəʊbab/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈbeɪoʊˌbæb/, /ˈbaʊbæb/