The beauty of Madagascar’s giant Baobab trees

The Grandidier’s Baobabs (Palmate adansonia) are giant trees indigenous to Africa. Nicknamed the “mother of the forest,” this species of Baobab tree is predominantly found off Africa’s mainland in the island country of Madagascar. It joins the fiery flowering plant Delonix regia as native to the country.

Baobabs can live up to 800 to 1000 years with their unique ability to act as water storage tanks. The trees can store up to 32 gallons of water in their thick trunks.

Baobab’s survival and longevity

The heart of many African remedies and folklore, the iconic Baobab is often called the “Tree of Life.” Both the animals and locals tap the trees for H20 during the dry season. The resilient trees are also resistant to termites and fire.

Vintage Madagascar Baobab Tree
19th-century photo of Baobab Tree, Madagascar
Madagascar Baobab trees

The 80-plus foot trees average a circumference of 108 feet and appear “upside down” since the tops of the trees look like roots. They also feature on a 250-meter path called the Avenue of the Baobabs in Madagascar’s Menabe region. The tree is famous for producing surreal white, bat-pollinated flowers as well.

“A Caliban of a tree, grizzled, distorted old goblin with the girth of a giant, the hide of a rhinoceros, twiggy fingers clutching at empty air and the disposition of a guardian angel,” once wrote the Australian novelist Ernestine Hill about the Baobab’s immensity.

Unfortunately, baobab trees are at risk of extinction due to climate change, with more than ten thousand disappearing yearly.

Madagascar Baobab trees
Madagascar Baobab trees

Is there more than one type of Baobab Tree?

Nine species of Baobab Trees primarily grow in Madagascar, mainland Africa, and Australia. Madagascar is home to six exclusive species. Mainland Africa hosts Adansonia digitata, while Australia has Adansonia gregorii. The ninth species, Adansonia kilima, grows in both mainland Africa and Madagascar.

The nine different species of Baobab Trees

Species NameNative RegionNotable Characteristics
Adansonia digitataMainland AfricaLong-lived, iconic “upside-down tree” appearance
Adansonia grandidieriMadagascarTall, slender trunks, often called “reniala”
Adansonia madagascariensisMadagascarThick trunk, produces large fruit
Adansonia perrieriMadagascarEndangered, limited to a few locations
Adansonia rubrostipaMadagascarBottle-shaped, sometimes called “fony baobab”
Adansonia suarezensisMadagascarSmall to medium-sized, limited to northern regions
Adansonia zaMadagascarWide trunk, drought-resistant
Adansonia gregoriiAustraliaAlso known as the “boab,” similar to A. digitata
Adansonia kilimaAfrica, MadagascarSimilar to A. digitata but adapted to mountainous regions