Friday Fellow: Grandidier’s Baobab

by Piter Kehoma Boll

ResearchBlogging.org Let’s expand the universe of Friday Fellow by presenting a plant for the first time! And what could be a better choice to start than the famous Grandidier’s Baobab? Belonging to the species Adansonia grandidieri, this tree is one of the trademarks of Madagascar, being the biggest species of this genus found in the island.

Reaching up to 30 m in height and having a massive trunk only branched at the very top, it has a unique look and is found only at southwestern Madagascar. However, despite being so attractive and famous, it is classified as an endangered species by IUCN Red List, with a declining population threatened by agriculture expansion.

Adansonia grandidieri. Photo by Bernard Gagnon (commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Bgag). Extracted from Wikipedia.

This tree is also heavily exploited, having vitamin C-rich fruits which can be consumed fresh and seeds used to extract oil. Its bark can also be used to make ropes and many trees are found with scars due to the extraction of part of the bark.

Having a fibrous trunk, baoabs are able to deal with drought by apparently storaging water inside them. There are no seed dispersors, which can be due to the extiction of the original dispersor by human activities.

Originally occuring close to temporary water bodies in the dry deciduous forest, today many large trees are found in always dry terrains. This probably is due to human impact that changed the local ecosystem, letting it to become drier than it was. Those areas have no or very poor ability to regenerate and probably will never go back to what they were and, once the old trees die, there will be no more baobabs there.

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Baum, D. A. (1995). A Systematic Revision of Adansonia (Bombacaceae) Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 82, 440-470 DOI: 10.2307/2399893

Wikipedia. Adamsonia grandidieri. Available online at <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia_grandidieri>. Access on October 02, 2012.

World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1998. Adansonia grandidieri. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Access on October 02, 2012.

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