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Kigelia africana


Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth.

Family Name: Bignoniaceae

Bignonia africana Lam., Tecoma africana (Lam.) G.Don., Crescentia pinnata Jacq., Kigelia pinnata DC.

Common Name: Sausage Tree, African Sausage Tree, German Sausage Tree, Cucumber Tree

Kigelia africana is tree that produces night-blooming red flowers, and bears characteristically long woody fruit that looks like large sausage hanging from the crown. This tree is highly valued and culturally important to the African communities.


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded, Umbrella
Maximum Height 35 m
Tree or Palm – Trunk Diameter 0.6 m


Native Distribution Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree, up to 25 m (- 35 m) tall, and trunk can reach up to 0.6 m diameter. It has a round and spreading crown. The bark is grey and thinly flaky. It is mostly evergreen in Singapore, but can be deciduous during long dry season.
Foliage The leaves are compound, odd-pinnate (imparipinnate) and up to 50 cm long. They can be in opposite arrangement or in whorls of 3 – 4. Each leaf comprises of 7 – 11 leaflets which are elliptic to oblong shaped (about 20 cm long and 6 cm wide). Each leaflet has 7 – 9 lateral veins and sometimes may have rough hairs on both sides. The margins can be entire or distally toothed (serrate)
Flowers Occurring on the terminal ends of the branches, the inflorescence is a branched cluster (panicle), about 10 cm long, and hangs pendulously from the crown. Each panicle contains 6 – 12 flowers which are showy with deep red to purple petals. Each flower is about 5 – 10 cm long. They bloom in the evening, lasting only for a night and is reported to be unpleasantly scented.
Fruit The fruit is sausage shaped (25 – 50 cm long and 7.5 – 15 cm wide). They are woody, greyish brown when ripe and can remain on the tree for up to a year. The fruit can weigh up to 10 kg. Fruit does not split open and the seeds are only released after the fruit has fallen off and decayed. Each fruit contains many seeds which are hard and oval shaped (0.1 – 0.7 cm diameter).
Habitat It is found along watercourses, high-rainfall savannah and shrubland, up to 3000 m altitude.
Associated Fauna Hawkmoths and nectar bats are observed to visit the flowers while elephants and rhinoceros are reportedly observed in Africa to feed on the fruit and disperse the seeds.
Taxonomy Presently, it is the only species in its genus.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology The genus Kigelia comes from its native Mozambique vernacular name, kigeli keia. Latin africana, refers to Africa, the place where it occurs naturally.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: In Africa, plant extract is traditionally used to treat an array of illnesses ranging from rheumatism, dysentery, veneral diseases, diabetes, pneumonia, ringworm and tapeworm expellant (Nabatanzi et. al. 2020). Early studies have shown that the plant has potential analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant (Bello et. al. 2016), and anti-malarial properties (Olatunji et. al 2009). 
Timber & Products: The wood is used to make furniture, joinery, dugout canoes, boxes and shelves.
Cultural / Religious: Heritage Trees : There is currently one individual of Kigelia africana listed as a Heritage Tree in Singapore. It can be found at Singapore Botanic Gardens. To find out more about these trees, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.
Others: Though the fruit pulp is said to be inedible and toxic, local villagers in Africa sliced and baked the mature fruits before using it to ferment their traditional beer (Nabatanzi et. al. 2020).

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is widely cultivated as an ornamental tree in parks.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils


Foliage Retention Drought / Semi-Deciduous, Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite, Whorled
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong, Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire, Serrate / Toothed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Mature Bark Texture Peeling / Flaking / Papery
Root Type Underground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Red, Purple
Flower Texture(s) Leathery
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Individual Flower Shape Trumpet-shaped
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Period A Few Times Yearly
Flowering Opening Time Night (dusk to dawn)
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown, Silver / Grey
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Rough
Fruit Type Indehiscent Dry Fruit



Bello, I., Shehu, M.W., Musa, M., Asmawi, M.Z, Mahmud, R. (2016). Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. (Sausage tree): Phytochemistry and pharmacological review of a quintessential African traditional medicinal plant. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 189: 253–276.

Grace, O.M. and Davis, S.D. (2002). Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. In: Oyen, L.P.A. and Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (eds). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa, Precursor. PROTA Programme, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Pp. 98-102.

Nabatanzi, A., Nkadimeng, S.M., Lall, N., Kabasa, J.D. and McGaw, L.J. (2020) Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Activity of Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. (Bignoniaceae). Plants, 9(6), Article No. 753

Olatunji, A. G. and Atolani, O. (2009) Comprehensive scientific demystification of Kigelia africana: A review. African Journal of Pure and Applied Chemistry Vol. 3 (9), pp. 158-164. 

Rønne. C. and Jøker. D. (2005). Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. Seed Leaflet No. 108. Copenhagen, Denmark: University of Copenhagen.

Sprague, T.A. (1905). Bignoniaceae. In: Thiselton-Dyer WT (ed.) Flora of Tropical Africa, vol. 4 (2), pp. 516. London: Lovell Reeve & Co. Limited.

van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (1977). Bignoniaceae. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (ed.) Flora Malesiana, ser. 1, vol. 8 (2), pp. 114–186. Alphen aan den Rijn: Sijthoff & Noordhoff International Publishers

Image Repository



Master ID 1687
Species ID 2980
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: 04 April 2022.