Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website


Adansonia digitata

Family Name: Bombacaceae
Common Name: Baobab, Dead Rat Tree, Monkey Bread, Cream of Tartar Tree, Ethiopian Sour Gourd, Upside-down Tree
Full Sun: 6-8h Little Water Herb & Spice Bonsai Fragrant Dry Soils / Drought Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Medium (16m-30m))
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Exotic

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Large tree with a trunk that has an enormous girth, able to grow up to about 10 - 25 m tall.
Trunk Girth size usually between 3 - 10 m, but sometimes can reach up to 28 m wide. Bark is thick and fibrous and resistant to fire, termites and drought.
Foliage Green leaves borne at the end of the branches, alternate arrangement, each leaf has about 3 - 9 leaflets attached to a central point, each leaflet oblong to ovate in shape and measuring about 5 - 15 cm long and 3 - 7 cm wide, petiole measuring about 12 cm long.
Flowers White 5-petaled flowers with an unpleasant scent, measuring about 20 cm wide, pendulous and solitary in axillary positions, petals large and crinkly. 
Fruits Fruit is a cylindrical capsule covered with yellowish-brown hairs, measuring about 35 cm long and 13 cm wide, whitish powdery pulp inside which covers the small, black, kidney-shaped seeds, seeds measuring about 1 cm long.
Others - Plant Morphology In 1941, this tree was declared a protected tree under the Forest Act in South Africa.
Etymology Genus Adansonia is named after Michel Adanson (1727 - 1806), who was a French botanist in Senegal and author of the book, Familles des plantes. Species digitata means hand-shaped and refers to the shape of the leaves.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits, Edible Leaves, Edible Seeds, Edible Roots)
Food (Herb and Spice : The white, powdery pulp in the ripe fruits is mixed with milk to prepare a flavoured porridge. Leaves are also used as condiment and seasoning. )
Medicinal ( Leaves are used to treat kidney and bladder ailments, asthma, diarrhea and insect bites. The seeds are made into a paste and used for treatment of tooth and gum diseases. The roasted seeds can also be grounded into powder and mixed with water to treat gastric, kidney and joint diseases. )
Timber & Products ( The wood is used to make rafts, canoes and floats for fishing nets. The bark from the lower part of the stem of younger trees produce a valuable fibre which can used to make ropes, fishing lines, bow strings, harness straps and fibre cloth. )
Cultural / Religious ( It is a belief that the flowers are inhibited by spirits and that the decoction of the seeds will protect an individual from crocodile attacks. Heritage Tree : There is currently one individual of Adansonia digitata listed as a Heritage Tree in Singapore. It can be found in Singapore Botanic Gardens. To find out more about this tree, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Form, Fragrant
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Bonsai

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bat Food
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Little Water
Propagation Method Seed


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Location Axillary

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Mature Seed Colour(s) Black

Image Repository



Master ID 1403
Species ID 2696
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.