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Adansonia,Adenium Adenocarpus. A-Z of Plant Genera Part 7

Updated on October 19, 2015

Adansonia digitata

Taken in Tanzania
Taken in Tanzania | Source


In this series of articles ,A-Z of plant genera,we look at the species within the genera both wild,and cultivated forms. We commence this review with a look at the genus Adansonia. This genus is a group of trees known commonly by the name of Baobab. The genus is named after Michel Adanson a French Naturalist and explorer.

The genus contains nine species ,six of which are native to Madagascar,two to mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsular,and one native to Australia.

Baobab with Elephant

Taken in Tanzania.
Taken in Tanzania. | Source

Adansonia digitat flower


Fruit of native tree


A look at the species.

Adansonia digitata, is where we commence, a tree which in its native form is found on the African continent and introduced to other countries, such as India and China.It is a tree of hot places such as dry Savannah's. It has several common names such as 'dead rat tree',' monkey bread tree' and ' Upside down tree'. The trees are often referred to as baobab.

The trunk of this tree is smooth,shiny,from reddish brown to grey. The bark tends to feel somewhat like cork. The trunks often have a swollen appearance.The branches are thick and wide. It produces large white flowers four to four and three quarter inches wide,and they open at night. The flowers consist of five petals, five sepals, stamens, multiple anthers and styles. They are hairy inside and have a leathery texture. Individual flowers last for a period of about twenty four hours. These pendulous showy flowers are pollinated by fruit bats.The trees are usually encountered as single specimens.

The leaves of this tree only occur for about three months of the year.Each leaf is composed of five leaflets.

The Cultivar--- Adansonia digitata. The cultivars are slow growing semi-evergreen rounded trees reaching a height of fifty feet or so,with a similar spread. They have palmate leaves of five to seven lustrous green leaflets.

The tree produces fragrant,pendent ,log-stalked white flowers with five reflexed petals during the spring. These are followed by edible sausage -shaped brown fruits. These trees require full sun and sharply drained soil,they are frost tender, so not recommended for cold or damp climates.

Adansonia grandideri.

Taken in Madagascar.
Taken in Madagascar. | Source

Adansonia grandidieri

This species often referred to as Grandidier's baobab, is the largest and most famous of Madagascar's six species of Baobabs. It is endemic to Madagascar where it is listed as an endangered species due to agricultural encroachment.It is named after the French Botanist and explorer Alfred Grandidier 1836-1921.

This species has a massive cylindrical trunk which may be up to three metres across. It can also attain the height of up to ninety eight feet. The crown of the tree tends to be flat-topped and the foliage is palmate of a bluish green colour. They also produce white flowers. They are in leaf from October to May and the flowers are produced between May and August. The succeeding fruits are ripe between November and December. The seeds contain a vitamin C. rich pulp which may be eaten in its fresh state.

Adansonia gregorii -The Derby Boab is a famouse old tree.

Taken in Western Australia.
Taken in Western Australia. | Source

Adansonia gregorii, and Adansonia madagascariensis

Adansonia gregorii, is an Australian species commonly referred to as the Boab. It is easily recognized by its swollen trunk which forma a very large caudex. It is the only species of Boabab to occur in Australia. The species attains the height of five to fifteen metres but the average height is generally around twelve metres. It is a deciduous tree, producing new leaves and large white flowers between December and May.

Adansonia madagascariensis, is endemic to Madagascar,where it is a species of dry deciduous forests and is classed as being Near threatened.

Adansonia suarezensis is an endangered tree species.


Other species of Adansonia.

Adansonia perrieri is endemic to Madagascar and is classed as Endangered. Adansonia suarezensis, is endemic to Madagascar and classed as being endangered. Adansonia rubrostipa, commonly known by the name of Fony Baobab, is also endemic to Madagascar and classed as being Near Threatened,it occurs in dry deciduous forests. Adansonia ZA, is endemic to southern and north western Madagascar and is classed as being Near Threatened. Adansonia kilima, is a tree native to Africa and is somewhat similar to Adansonia digitata {above}, but is distinguishable by its smaller flowers which are produced in larger numbers than the former.

Adenium flower


Flowers and foliage

Maldives | Source

The genus Adenium

The genus Adenium,is a genus of flowering plants in the Apocynaceae family. They were first described as a genus in 1819. They are native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsular. The cultivars are perennial succulents with fleshy swollen trunks and are tender. They require full sun or partial shade and well drained soil. They are very prone to rotting. The plants are propagated by seed in spring or summer.

The Cultivar, Adenium obesum,is a tree or Bonsai -like perennial, succulent with fleshy a tapering green trunk and stems,crowned by glossy,green leaves,dull green beneath.. They produce funnel-shaped pink to pinkish red flowers which are white inside They may attain the height of six feet. They require a minimum temperature of fifteen degrees C. {59 degrees F} Their are numerous hybrids.

The native species occur in the Sahel regions , south of the Sahara,and tropical and sub-tropical eastern and southern Africa and Arabia.

Adenium arabicum


Adenium arabicum

Adenium arabicum, if you are a fan of bonsai plants this is the one for you. It is often trained as a bonsai for its leaves,growth form and its flowering characteristics. The leaves a have a broad surface,but tend to be large and of a leathery texture. The trunk has a definite caudex {swelling},and squat,the branches and trunk are very similar in nature. The flowers range fro pink to reddish pink.

It is the most succulent and desert- like of the species. The seeds are large and give rise to seedlings that very soon form a nice hard caudex,there are several forms.

Adenium boehmianum in its natural state.


Flowers of Adenium boehmianum

Kunene river ,Namibia
Kunene river ,Namibia | Source

Adenium boehmianun

Adenium boehmianum,is a poisonous succulent species endemic to the dry regions of Nambia and southern Angola. It is referred to as the 'Bushman's poison' because an extract from the plant was used to produce arrow poison.

The foliage of the native species only occurs for about three months of the year,and they are arranged spirally,clustered near the tips of the branches. The flowers also appear for a few weeks in winter. The seeds are dispersed by the wind. It is a small peculiar species with a silvery branching caudex. The leaves are pale-greyish green. They are slow growing and require long periods of dormancy. The flowers are beautiful and range in colour from light pink to dark magenta pink.

In cultivation--- This speces is considered to be easy to grow. It will remain virtually evergreen if grown in warm tropical conditions and watered. However, in a cool climate it will loose its foliage and go in to a long winter dormancy. New growth will recommence in early spring. When grown in pots or containers it requires generous drainage holes,and the compost needs to be porous. To achieve this add a medium to the compost such as Pearlite, Pumice or Vulcanite.

The plants need to be planted with the majority of the roots below the caudex line.In order for the plants to develop a large swollen trunk and to increase the flowering,they will need to be fed a potassium and phosphorus rich fertilizer, with a low nitrogen content. They also require watering,early morning being the best time, especially during the growing season. never let them dry out ,this will lead to reduced flowering and the plant may well go into early dormancy.

Adenium multiflorum the Impala Lily growing in a garden


A plant grown from seed now nine years old.

Adenium multiflorum 'mombossa'.
Adenium multiflorum 'mombossa'. | Source

Adenium multiflorum

In its natural state, Adenium multiflorum, is a small succulent tree native to central,eastern and southern Africa. It is sometimes treated as a sub-species of Adenium obseum {above}. It is referred to as as the Impala Lily.

It is the best known of the southern African Adenium's, producing flowers when most of the surrounding vegetation is rather dull. The flowers are brilliant white,pink,and crimson red which cover the plants when in full bloom. The flowers are worthy of the garden and container plants. However, they are not plants for cold damp regions.

It is a deciduous succulent tree up to nine feet tall or more.The shape resembles that of a small Baobab. The stems arise from an underground root-stock. The latex inside the bark is poisonous. In their natural state the trees that are browsed tend to be small and shrubby. When left to its natural behaviour it can mature in to a handsome tree.

Adenium oleifolium variety


Adenium oliefolium

Adenium oleifolium , is a species native to desert scrub land in southern Africa and the extreme south of Botswana. It is the smallest species in the genus. The caudex is subterranean and the stems are scarcely succulent and rarely reach a foot tall.

The flowers are generally pale pink with a yellow throat and prominent red nectar guides. They are often places as a sub species of Adenium obsesum

Adenium swazicum

Taken in Pretoria
Taken in Pretoria | Source

Adenium swazicum

Adenium swazicum,is a species native to the Lowveld of Swaziland and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. As a cultivar it is often referred to as the 'Summer Impala Lily'. It produces beautiful pink tubular flowers from January until April which appear with the leaves. The simple leaves are long,tapering and smooth,and borne in terminal clusters. They are often folded,broader at the apex than at the base and there is a prominent mid-rib.

It is a plant found in open woodland ,generally on sandy brackish flats in South Africa,Swaziland and Mozambique.

'Summer Impala Lily' Adenium swazicum

Taken in South Africa.
Taken in South Africa. | Source

Adenocarpus viscosus

Image taken at La Palma ,Spain.
Image taken at La Palma ,Spain. | Source

Adenocarpus decorticans

Image taken in Madrid
Image taken in Madrid | Source

The genus Adenocarpus.

Adenocarpus is a genus of flowering plants in the Legume {pea and bean } family, referred to as the Fabaceae. These Broom -like shrubs produce bright yellow flowers. The plants are native to Macaronesia Portugal and southern Spain. Three species are endemic to the western Canary Islands.

Adenocarpus decorticans ,is referred to by the common name of 'Silver broom', and is a species endemic to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain. The flowers are produced abundantly and are of a lemon -yellow colour, from late spring until early summer.

The foliage is silvery grey from which it takes its common name.

Adenocarpus viscosus in its natural state.

Growing near the La Palma Observatory
Growing near the La Palma Observatory | Source

Adenocarpus viscosus.

Adenocarpus viscosus is a shrub endemic to the Canary islands where it may be encountered up to five thousand feet above sea level.

The cultivar is a species of semi-evergreen arching shrub about thee feet tall,with a similar spread. They produce grey green leaves with three narrowly lace-shaped leaflets on densely covered shoots. The flowers are in dense terminal clusters {racemes} of an orange yellow colour which appear in late spring.

They require full sun and well drained soil. It does best grown against a south or west facing wall. They are frostto half hardy. The cultivar may be propagated by seeds in autumn.

Adenocarpus hispanicus,synonym, Adentocarpus argyrophyllus, is endemic to Spain.

Other species

There are many other species of Adenocarpus such as A.telonensis, and they all have similar characteristics as those already shown. Adenocarpus ombriosus is classed as being endangered with the populations decreasing.

Adenocarpus argyrophyllus.


Addenocarpus telonensis

Image taken in Spain.
Image taken in Spain. | Source


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    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hi Deb, your welcome and thank you for your visit. Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      These are all fascinating trees, that I would never know otherwise. Keep up the good work.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Did you mean the Australian species Adansonia gregorii,. the other species found in Asia is Adansonia digitata. They are very long lived trees some of over 1000 years old are known I am not aware of any that are 2000 years or more old. Thank you for your visit and best wishes to you.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 2 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi DAL,

      Adansonia is known as Kalpa Vriksh in Rajasthan, India and its an endangered species. We have planted a tree in a school in Jaipur some twenty years back. According to dialects, the tree lives for thousand years.

      However, we do not know about the varies categories of the species. The picture of the American category matches with ours. Please provide some more info.


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