Baobab

 
 

Baobab, or dead-rat-tree, is native to Africa. It is an immense tree, not  only for its height, which can reach 100 feet, but for its trunk, which can grow over 35 feet in diameter. The trunk stores a large amount of water which the tree uses during dry periods. The leaves are composed of five to seven leaflets up to 6 inches long. The hanging flowers, up to 8 inches wide, open near sundown and are pollinated by bats. Fruits are hard capsules up to 1.5 feet long that resemble rats hanging by the tail. It flowers during summer and fall at the Federal Agricultural Experiment Station, near the campus. The generic name honors the French botanist Michael Adanson (1727-1806). The species name refers to the shape of the leaflets, which resemble fingers.


The photographed tree is east of the Piñero Building and is the only member of the species in the campus. This is a young individual which does not yet flower.


Fruits: this link.

Adansonia digitata (Malvaceae)