Grandidier’s Baobab Madagascar
March 11, 2012 by staff
Grandidier’s Baobab Madagascar, Adansonia grandidieri, sometimes known as Grandidier’s baobab, is the biggest and most famous of Madagascar’s six baobabs. This imposing and unusual tree is endemic to (occurs only on) the island of Madagascar, where it is an endangered species threatened by the encroachment of agricultural land.
Grandidier’s baobabs have massive cylindrical trunks, up to three meters across, covered with smooth, reddish-grey bark. At certain times of the year the flat-topped crowns bear bluish-green palmate leaves, dark brown floral buds or spectacular flowers with white petals. The large, dry fruits of the baobab contain kidney-shaped seeds within an edible pulp.
A. grandidieri is named after the French botanist and explorer Alfred Grandidier (1836-1921).
Grandidier’s baobab occurs in south-western Madagascar between Lac Ihotry (near Morombe) and Bereboka. Grandidier’s baobab used to inhabit dry, deciduous forest, especially near seasonal rivers or lakes. However, today it is mainly found in open, agricultural land or degraded scrubland.
The long-lived Grandidier’s baobab is in leaf from October to May, and flowers between May and August. The flowers, said to smell of sour watermelon, open just before or soon after dusk, and all the pollen is released during the first night. The tree is pollinated by nocturnal mammals, such as fork-marked lemurs. These lemurs move through the canopies, inserting their snouts into the white flowers and licking nectar from the petal bases, resulting in pollen being deposited in the lemurs’ faces.
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