The Kigelia Africana, commonly known as the sausage tree, is a unique and intriguing plant native to tropical Africa. This botanic marvel stands out for its sausage-shaped fruit, hence its name. This plant, part of the Bignoniaceae family, holds significant cultural, medicinal, and ecological value.
The Kigelia Africana traces its origins back to the floodplains, riverbanks, and open woodlands of Sub-Saharan Africa. This bat-pollinated plant is found mainly in Tanzania, Malawi, and Botswana. The ‘sausage tree’ nickname comes from the massive, sausage-like fruit that the tree produces, which can weigh up to 26 lbs (12 kg).
This tree has a broad, spreading crown and a grey, smooth trunk. It can grow up to 65′ (20m) tall, exhibiting pendulous, dark red flowers that open at night and are pollinated by bats. The glossy foliage houses large sausage-like fruits that are purplish green and can grow up to 24″ (60 cm) long.
Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana) Care
The sausage tree thrives in well-drained soil, preferring a balance of clay, sand, and loam.
While the sausage tree can withstand dry conditions, it prefers a regular watering schedule. Check for dry soil before watering to avoid over-saturation.
This tree needs full sun exposure to thrive, making it ideal for open landscapes.
Humidity & Temperature
As a tropical plant, it thrives in high humidity and temperatures between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Best grown outdoors in zones 10-12.
Use a balanced NPK fertilizer once every two months for optimum growth.
Propagation of the sausage tree is achieved through its seeds. Once the seeds are fully mature, they can be planted in fertile, well-drained soil and kept in a sunny location.
Diseases and Pests
The sausage tree is highly resistant to diseases and pests, although young plants can be susceptible to root rot with overwatering.
The unripe fruit is poisonous. It can cause severe gastrointestinal issues if consumed, so it’s essential to keep it out of reach from children and pets. Although, fruit extracts have been used for medicinal purposes, always under expert supervision due to their potent effects.
It is known for its striking, dark red, pendulous flowers. These unique flowers open at night and are primarily pollinated by bats, attracted by the tree’s rich nectar. Following the night bloom, the flowers are followed by the growth of sausage-like fruits, adding to the tree’s fascinating appeal.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Kigelia fruit is used for medicinal purposes, including treating skin sores and syphilis. Its extract also holds antibacterial and antifungal properties.
No, the unripe fruit is poisonous. However, seeds from mature fruit are roasted and eaten in some cultures.
Kigelia Africana extracts, used in traditional medicines, can treat a range of infections and diseases, thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Sausage Tree Kigelia Africana – Information. (2023 June 12). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.