The baobab of madagascar

During his improbable days of creations while God finished plants, he finished his work by a majestic specimen that was the ancestor of the baobab. It became a monster of pride and to bring it to more humility, God tore it to replant it upside down. Of its former splendour, it only kept its large swollen trunk but now extends into the sky by its roots.

The Baobab was described for the first time by a European, Prospero Alpino in 1592 in De plantis aegypti liber (Book of Egyptian plants). It is also in the same book that the name baobab was used for the first time in the “ba Hobab” script that became in the 17th century “baobab”. It seems that “ba Hobab” comes from the Arabic word “bu hibab” which means “the tree’s fruits with many seeds”.

Madagascar is the only country with more than one species of baobabs (family Bombacacea).
In fact, besides the African baobab (Adansonia digitata), several species of baobabs grow in Madagascar, nicknamed Reniala (the mother of the forest) by people in the South and Southwest, Za Bao or Bozy in the North and Northwest.

Only the Australian baobab (Adansonia gibbosa gregorii) does not grow in the country.
The scientific name Adanson was awarded by the botanist Bernard de Jussieu (1699-1777) in honour of the explorer Michel Adanson (1727-1806) which was the first to describe in Senegal the Adansonia digitata.

Habitats vary but most species grow in the western regions of the island (the extreme north and south-west). Adansonia za can be found in the Northwest, West and Southwest, on the plateaus of medium altitude (west shore of Lake Alaotra). A.perrieri and A.suarezensis are only located in the north (Diego, Ankarana).

A.rubrostipa or A.fony is mainly on the west coast of Mahajanga, in Tulear with a high concentration between Andavadoaka and Ifaty. A.digitata (African baobab) is found only in the province of Mahajanga while A.grandidieri is limited to the region of Morondava.

The different species of baobab encountered in Madagascar:

1) Adansonia digitata (the African baobab)
2) Adansonia madagascariensis
3) Adansonia grandidieri
4) Adansonia za
5) Adansonia fony or A.rubrostipa
6) Adansonia perrieri
7) Adansonia suarezensis

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