Baobab leaves (New)

Scientific Name
Adansonia digitata Linnaeus. (Gbif secretariat, 2022)
Order / Family
Order; Malvales Family; Malvaceae
Local Names
East Africa: Mbuyu, Muuyu (Swahili), Olmesera (Masai, Kenya &Tanzania), Yak, Yaaq (Somali), Muamba, Mwaamba, Namba {Fruit} (Kamba), Muramba (Mbeere, Gikuyu, Tharaka), Muuyu (Mijikenda), Mramba (Pare); Bamba (Amargna & Amhara), Ba’obaab, Humaar (Oromugna)
Common Names
African Baobab, Dead rat tree, Monkey bread tree, Upside down tree, Cream of Tartar Tree (English) (Heuze al., 2016); Lemonade tree, Sour Gourd (English) (Orwa et al., 2009).

Geographical Distribution in Africa

Considered indigenous Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Baobab is considered introduced in Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gabon, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Martinique, Mauritius, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Sao Tome et Principe, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, US, Virgin Islands (US), Comoros, Madagascar Zaire, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sao Tome.

(Orwa et al., 2009, Sidibe & Williams, 2002).

Other Local names
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Local names

East Africa: Mbuyu, Muuyu (Swahili), Olmesera (Masai, Kenya &Tanzania), Yak, Yaaq (Somali), Muamba, Mwaamba, Namba {Fruit} (Kamba), Muramba (Mbeere, Gikuyu, Tharaka), Muuyu (Mijikenda), Mramba (Pare); Bamba (Amargna & Amhara), Ba’obaab, Humaar (Oromugna); Muyu (Lozi), Muuyu (Shona), Umkhomo (Ndebele), Duma (Tigrigna).

(P Maundu & Bo Tengnas., 2005, Orwa et al., 2009, Mbuya et al, 1994, Bekele Tesemma et al., 2007)

West Africa: Igi ose (Yoruba), Boki, Bokki (Fulani), Kuka, Kouka (Hausa), Yiri mango (Igbo); Ngigne (Senufo), Kpassa (Fon, Mahi, Aïzo in Benin), Trega, Twenga, Toayga (More, Burkina Faso), Mapou etranger (French), Odadie (Twi, Ghana), Boki (Poular, Malinke)

(Adjanohoun, E. J., 1988, Hyde, M.A.,2021, National Academies of Sciences., 2006).

Central Africa: Boko; Boki (Foufouldé), Boki (Malinké), Sito, Sira (Mandinka), Igiti cya bawoba (Kinyarwanda), Pain de singe (French), Nkondo (Kongo);

(Latham and Mbuta., 2006, Andrew Hankey., 2004)

North Africa: Humeira (Sudan), Habhab (Egypt), Dungwol (Dinka)

(Baobab Facts and Health Benefits, 2019)

South Africa: Kremetart (Afrikaans), Mowana (Tswana), IsiMuku, Isimuhu, UmShimulu (Zulu) Ximuwu, Shimuwu (Tsonga), Muvhuyu (Venda), Motsoo (Pedi), Muvuhuyu (Tswana), Movana (Tswana of Botswana), Tabaldi, Boaboa, Isimuku (Zulu), Ximuwu (Tsonga), Mlonje (Yao); Muuyu (Shona, Zimbabwe); Umkhomo (Ndebele, Zimbabwe)

Madagascar: Reniala (Malagasy)


(Baobab Facts and Health Benefits, 2019, National Academies of Sciences, 2006, Orwa et al., 2009, Hyde, 2021).


The Adansonia digitata L., commonly known as the African Baobab, is a highly versatile and drought-resistant wild fruit tree that is native to the arid and semi-arid regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. As the only species of the Adansonia genus found in tropical Africa, it stands apart from the other eight species, including A. grogorii, A. grandidieri, A. perrieri, A. bereirii, A. suarezensis, and A. wakefieldiii, which are distributed in Australia, Madagascar, and various islands of the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Despite its softwood, the African Baobab is among the longest-living trees, capable of surviving for up to 3,000 years (Maundu P.& Bo Tengnas., 2005). The tree possesses several features that enable it to thrive in dry climates (Alao et al., 2016)., including an extensive root system, high water holding capacity, and early shedding of leaves, making it highly resistant to drought and fires.

In local communities throughout Africa, the baobab fruit and its products hold varying values for subsistence and income generation. Baobab leaves, a nutrient-dense vegetable, are widely consumed in local communities throughout Africa and are considered a valuable food source. These leaves contain high amounts of essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. According to Fischer et al. (2020), they are an excellent source of dietary fibre and are frequently used in African cuisine as a vegetable.

In some regions, the baobab leaves are harvested fresh and cooked as a potherb, while in other regions, the leaves are dried and crushed for later use (Maundu & Bo Tengnas, 2005). The leaves are also combined with other vegetables, such as cassava leaves, and served as a side dish with starchy meals such as stiff porridge or boiled cassava. The leaves are harvested from the baobab tree in a sustainable manner, as only a portion of the leaves is harvested at a time, leaving the tree to regenerate new leaves (Alao et al., 2016).

Furthermore, the baobab leaves are a significant source of food for animals, and the tree itself provides habitats for many wild animals, contributing to the preservation of biodiversity in the region (Hankey, 2004). The young stems and branches of the tree provide usable fiber that can be processed and used to make baskets, ropes, and trap strings. The lower portion of the trunk's bark frequently bears scars from local people harvesting it for its strong fiber, while the stems and twigs are used as firewood. The fruit shell is a versatile material used to create a variety of household utensils, traps, and fuel.

The African Baobab's roots have a wide range of therapeutic utilities in traditional medicine, and when the tree dies, it collapses into a soggy, fibrous pulp that produces mushrooms used as food. The tree also plays a significant role in African communities' traditions and way of life, surrounded by rich historical contexts, superstitions, and customs transmitted verbally from generation to generation. Additionally, the tree provides habitats for many wild animals and other ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, soil enrichment, air and water quality improvement, and biodiversity conservation (Hankey, 2004).


Species account

Adansonia digitata is a succulent, deciduous tree that can grow up to around 20 meters tall, often with a very sparse crown, especially in the drier parts of its range. The swollen, urn-shaped bole eventually becomes very wide, often exceeding the diameter of the crown, and can be up to 10 meters across. The stem is covered with a bark layer, which may be 50-100 mm thick (Fern, 2021). Bark; is greyish brown and usually smooth but can often be variously folded and seamed from years of growth. Leaves; are hand-sized and divided into 5-7 finger-like leaflets. Flowers; The flowers are large, white, or yellow, with prominent stamen protruding over crinkled petals and sweetly scented. They emerge in the late afternoon from large round buds on long drooping stalks in early summer. Large, egg-shaped Baobab fruits develop at the early stages of growth. Fruits; are green in color, turning brownish-grey as the fruit ripens. Unlike the flowers, the fruits hang pendulously off the branches on long pedicels (Hankey, 2004).

The mature fruit consists of a hard, woody outer shell covered with yellowish-brown hairs that feel velvety. They exhibit different forms; small and big, tapered and rounded, and even the fruit skin hair hue. The fruit contains red-brown and coarse fiber that crisscross the fruits and holds creamy powdery fruit pulp. The fine pulp covers large kidney-shaped seeds. Roots; Baobab tree produces an extensive network of lateral roots that end in tubers. The seedlings produce prominent taproot, which is quickly replaced by laterals. Roots of mature trees rarely extend beyond 2 meters and are relatively shallow, which is one reason why old trees frequently fall over.







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