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Two baobab farmers filling a basket with fruit, with a baobab tree in the background

Baobab trees can live for over 3,000 years. When they die, they rot inside and suddenly collapse! You can find baobab growing within our Rainforest Biome.

Botanical description

  • Scientific name: Adansonia digitata
  • Family: Malvaceae (kapok, mallow, cola, hibiscus)
  • Also known as: monkey bread tree, lemonade tree, upside down tree

Tree up to 25m tall. Trunk girth up to 25m when mature. Branches short, stout and twiggy at ends. Bark red-brown to purple-grey. Leaves simple to digitate, with up to 9 dark green and glossy leaflets but usually 5. Flower stalk (peduncle) up to 90cm long. Flowers pendulous, up to 20cm wide, white, petals rounded containing a mass of stamens (up to 1,600), often open before leaves. Fruits amphisarca, up to 20cm long, globose to ovoid, covered in felt-like downy hairs (tomentum), contain many seeds.


  • Baobab trees are known as upside down trees because their branches look like roots.
  • Some people believe that if you pick a flower from a baobab tree you will be eaten by a lion. But if you drink water in which baobab seeds have been soaked, you will be safe from a crocodile attack.


Common uses

In Africa most parts of the baobab are eaten:

  • Fruits: the pale powder that covers the black seeds inside the fruits tastes sharp and tangy, and is added to many sauces and drinks. This fruit powder is rich in Vitamin C and B2, and therefore offers health benefits, especially for pregnant women, children and the elderly, and is said to help fight fevers and settle the stomach.
  • Leaves: an excellent source of protein, minerals and vitamins A and C. They are eaten fresh and also dried, milled and sieved to make a green powder that is used to flavour drinks and sauces.
  • Seeds: used to thicken soups, or fermented to use as a flavouring, or roasted to be eaten as snacks.


Conservation story

Although Adansonia digitata is reasonably common, many other baobab species are under threat. Out of the eight species, six are found in Madagascar, all of which are red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat destruction through extensive agriculture.

Malawian harvesters carrying baskets of baobabs on their heads

Supporting rural harvesters in Malawi

We're helping people in Malawi to build a sustainable future by sourcing the superfruit baobab for our cafes and shops from rural harvesters.

Our baobab is harvested and bought from the harvesters providing them with an income which enables them to live better and send their children to school.

PhytoTrade Africa

In addition some money goes to our friends at PhytoTrade Africa, who help support rural harvesters and producers across southern Africa.


Did you know?

The trees resist drought, fire and termites. They regrow their bark if it is stripped.

Wildlife facts

  • As the flowers emerge in the evening, they are pollinated by bats and nocturnal insects such as moths.
  • The trunks can hold thousands of litres of water, and elephants sometimes tear the trees down to get to the moisture inside.


Useful Links



  • Amphisarca: indehiscent fruits with many cells and seeds, pulpy flesh, and a hard rind.
  • Digitate: individual leaflets arising from a common point or centre, like the fingers of a hand.
  • Globose: spherical.
  • Ovoid: three-dimensionally egg-shaped with broader end at base.
  • Pendulous: hanging down.

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