Adansonia digitata: Grow and Care

Adansonia digitata, also called “African baobab” or “monkey breadfruit”, is an African tree that belongs to the Malvaceae family.

It can grow up to 25 m high, and approximately 11 m in diameter and shaped like a bottle. 

This tree loses its leaves in the dry season, autumn and winter.

The stem of Adansonia digitata is covered with a bark layer, which can be 50 to 100 mm thick. 

This bark is grayish-brown in color and is normally smooth.

The leaves are short and robust, which are divided into 5 to 7 finger-shaped leaflets. 

The leaves reappear in late spring or early summer.

The flowers of the Adansonia digitata are hermaphroditic, white and hand-shaped.

This plant produces a fruit, which looks like a small melon, called “Senegal gourd” or “monkey bread.” 

This fruit is rich in fiber, from which pasta is produced, and a very refreshing drink.

Soups can be made with the leaves of this tree. 

And tribes such as the Dogon of the Bandiagará Fault (Mali) use the tree’s bark to make ropes.

The black seeds, the peel of the fruit, a oil that is extracted, can also be used to make enamel. 

The young leaves can be eaten as greens.

In medicinal uses, a drink is prepared from the fruit that used for fever, for dysentery, it can also be a good substitute for quinine.

The beautiful flowers that this tree produces are between 10 and 20 cm wide. These flowers only open at night.

The petals are waxy and wrinkled, about 10 cm long.

An interesting fact is that bats feed on the nectar that these flowers produce.

The flowers appear when the dry season ends. These flowers fall in 24 hours and turn brown and begin to release a rather unpleasant aroma.

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Adansonia digitata Care

Follow these steps, and you won’t have any issue with the care of your succulent plant.

Illumination

This is a tree that can be located in direct sun. 

If the plant is in a pot you can protect it from direct sun during high heat times.

You can place the plant under a tree larger than it, so that during the day, it receives a little sun.

Substratum

This tree does well with calcareous, alkaline, or neutral soils (preferably those that are dry, nutrient-dense, and poor in phosphate), that are of good quality in their composition.

Just always remember that the substrate must have excellent drainage and that it dries quickly to prevent the roots from having excess moisture and fungi from forming in it.

Propagation

You can propagate your Adansonia digitata through cuttings or seeds.

Propagation by seed:

1. Soak the seeds in hot water for 24 hours.

2. Make a seedbed or pot with 50% universal substrate and 50% mulch.

3. After 24 hours, sow the seeds and cover them with a light layer of soil.

4. Keep the substrate slightly damp, avoiding puddles of water.

5.Place the seeds where they receive the heat of the sun but not in direct sun. Try to keep the temperature between 15ºC to 19ºC; it can never be lower than 10ºC.

6. When the plant measures about 7.5 cm you can transplant it to its final pot or sow it directly in the garden. 

At this point, you can water the plant like an adult tree.

Propagation by cutting:

Cut off a branch with a few leaves and soak the tip with a rooter.

Plant the cutting in a well-draining substrate. 

Just insert half the branch.

Keep the growing medium slightly damp, and occasionally add a small amount of the rooter after you’ve watered the plant.

Transplant your Adansonia digitata when it no longer fits in the pot.

Watering

Adansonia digitata requires moderate watering. 

Only water your plant when the soil is dry, as adansonia digitata roots are prone to rot and fungus when excessively moist.

During the summer you can water 2 to 3 times a week and in winter no more than twice a month. 

Do not worry if you think that you are watering your plant little, Adansonia can store thousands of liters of water that they can consume in times of drought.

Pests or diseases

This Tree has a high probability of suffering from pests and external infections, especially if you do not have the necessary care.

That is why it is necessary to have a good substrate and water the plant properly.

Fertilization

The fertilizer must be low in phosphates. Add only during spring and summer

Temperature

Baobabs do not tolerate very cold temperatures. 

If you want to have it outside, the best thing is that the temperatures are not lower than -1 ºC.

Transplant

The transplant is only required if you have the plant planted in a pot; if you have it directly in the garden, there’s no need to transplant.

The time to transplant your Adansonia digitata is when you notice that your plant no longer has room to continue growing in the pot, especially if the roots are sticking out of the drainage hole.

Pruning

It does not need to be pruned especially because its leaves fall off. 

What you can do is remove the leaves and flowers that are already wilted to prevent pests from attacking the plant.

Toxicity

This plant is not toxic.