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The Sausage Tree or Kigelia africana
…lights up the landscape of Sub-Saharan Africa with its distinctive blood red hanging flowers.
The flowers of the Sausage Tree are by no means fragrant to us humans but the Micropteropus pusillus or Dwarf Epauletted Fruit Bat loves it, delving into the blooms they act as the trees’ pollinator. The flowers of the Sausage tree are an important source of food during the very hot dry season attracting baboons, impala, bush pigs, duiker and lovebirds who all feed on the Sausage tree flowers as the blooms, rich in nectar, drop to the hot African terrain.
The fruits which follow are grey in colour and, as its name suggests, they look like sausages. But you wouldn’t get many of these sausage to the pound, a single fruit can grow to more than a foot in length and can weigh in at over ten pounds in weight! These huge fruits are at least in proportion, the tree which can grow to an impressive 20 metres.
The Sausage tree is generally found close to streams and rivers in the wet savannah and areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Where it’s found close to rivers it can stay evergreen throughout the year, but where it lives in drier areas is deciduous.
Just call me… The Sausage Tree is known by various other names – the Afrikaans call it Worsbloom; Moporoto, another African name, means “fat tail of sheep” and Abushutor, its Arabic name means ”the father of kit bags”.
A very useful tree… it’s believed that the fruit is a cure for rheumatism, snakebites and can ward off evil spirits. It’s used in skin products, a beer like drink is made from it and mekoros are made from the wood in Botswana.
A note of caution… if you live in a tropical region and are planing to grown the tree for it’s decorative appeal, think before you plant – serious injury can be caused to passers by if they’re hit by the falling fruit!!