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Adansonia rubrostipa Jum. & H.Perrier

Protologue
Matières Grasses 1308 (1909).
Family
Bombacaceae (APG: Malvaceae)
Chromosome number
2n = 72, 88
Synonyms
Adansonia fony Baill. ex H.Perrier (1952).
Vernacular names
Fony baobab (En). Baobab de Madagascar, petit baobab de Madagascar (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Adansonia rubrostipa is endemic to Madagascar, where it is found along the west coast from Itampolo in the south to Soalala in the north.
Uses
The tree is used only occasionally. The fruits, oil-rich seeds and roots are edible, and fruits are sometimes sold in the local market. Sheets of wood of trees killed by fire are dried and used as thatch. A popular edible fungus grows on the trunks of dead trees.
Properties
Seed oil content is 11%. The fatty acid composition of the oil is: palmitic acid 30%, stearic acid 2%, oleic acid 30% and linoleic acid 23%. In addition, the oil contains the rare fatty acids malvalic acid 5%, sterculic acid 2%, and dihydrosterculic acid 3%.
Botany
Small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall; bole cylindrical or bottle-shaped, with distinct constrictions beneath the branches; outer bark usually reddish brown, exfoliating; crown irregular; branches horizontal, erect distally. Leaves arranged spirally, palmately compound, with 3–5 leaflets; stipules caducous; petiole thin and tapering, 3–7 cm long, glabrous; leaflets sessile, elliptical, medial one 4–6(–8) cm × 1–2 cm, margins toothed. Flowers solitary in leaf axils at end of branches, bisexual, regular, 5-merous, large, showy and fragrant; flower bud horizontal, cylindrical, 16–28 cm long; pedicel 1–2.5 cm long, green; calyx with short tube, lobes linear, 15–25 cm × 7–12 mm, reflexed and tightly twisted at base, almost glabrous, yellowish green with faint reddish stripes outside, bright red and sparsely hairy inside; petals free, linear with broadened, overlapping bases, 12–16 cm × 1.5–2.5 cm, bright yellow to orange-yellow; stamens numerous, longer than corolla, fused into a cylindrical tube 6–10 cm long; ovary superior, broadly rounded-conical, c. 7.5 mm long, golden hairy, style 20–25 cm long, pink, hairy at base, fitting tightly in staminal tube, stigma with 5–8 irregular, spreading lobes, red, blackening with age. Fruit a large, globose berry with woody, 4–5 mm thick wall, densely reddish brown hairy, many-seeded. Seeds kidney-shaped, laterally flattened, up to 16 mm × 12 mm × 8 mm. Seedling with hypogeal germination.
The tree is in leaf from November to April and flowers from February to April, rarely up to June. Fruit ripens in October–November.
Adansonia comprises 8 species, of which 6 are endemic to Madagascar, 1 occurs in continental Africa and is introduced in Madagascar, and 1 is endemic to Australia. Adansonia rubrostipa has been classified in the section Longitubae, together with Adansonia gibbosa (A.Cunn.) Guymer ex D.A.Baum from Australia and 2 species from Madagascar : Adansonia madagascariensis Baill. and Adansonia za Baill. Unique characters of Adansonia rubrostipa are leaflets with toothed margins and a central bundle of filaments fused beyond the top of the staminal tube.
Ecology
Adansonia rubrostipa is a locally dominant tree species in the deciduous forests of western Madagascar. It occurs in spiny and dry forest and in sublittoral scrub, up to 500 m altitude. It normally grows on well-drained calcareous soils and limestone.
Management
Germination can be erratic, either occurring quickly with a good germination rate, or taking longer with a poorer rate. Germination depends on the temperature and humidity of the soil, and on other parameters which are not well understood. Adansonia rubrostipa is fairly resistant to insect pests that attack other Adansonia spp. Fruits are collected by climbing the trees with the aid of wooden pegs hammered into the trunk.
Genetic resources and breeding
In the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Adansonia rubrostipa is classified as a ‘near threatened’ species that is close to being classified as ‘vulnerable’ in the wild. The main threats come from continuing deforestation. The populations to the north of Toliara are especially at risk.
Prospects
The fruits and seeds of Adansonia rubrostipa are likely to remain of little importance. Felling of the trees should be discouraged to ensure the survival of the species.
Major references
• Baum, D.A., 1995. A systematic revision of Adansonia (Bombacaceae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 82(3): 440–471.
• Baum, D.A., 1995. The comparative pollination and floral biology of baobabs (Adansonia - Bombacaceae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 82(2): 322–348.
• Baum, D.A., 1996. The ecology and conservation of the baobabs of Madagascar. In: Ganzhorn, J.U. & Sorg, J.-P. (Editors). Ecology and economy of a tropical dry forest in Madagascar. Primate Report. Special Issue 46: 311–328.
• Perrier de la Bâthie, H., 1953. Les Adansonia de Madagascar et leur utilisation. 2ième note. Revue Internationale de Botanique Appliquée et d’Agriculture Tropicale 33: 241–244.
• Ralaimanarivo, A., Gaydou, E.M. & Bianchini, J.-P., 1982. Fatty acid composition of seed oils from six Adansonia species with particular reference to cyclopropane and cyclopropene acids. Lipids 17: 1–10.
Other references
• Bianchini, J.-P., Ralaimanarivo, A., Gaydou, E.M. & Waegell, B., 1982. Hydrocarbons, sterols and tocopherols in the seeds of six Adansonia species. Phytochemistry 21(8): 1981–1987.
• Baum, D.A. & Oginuma, K., 1994. A review of chromosome numbers in Bombacaceae with new counts for Adansonia. Taxon 43(1): 11–20.
• Du Puy, B., 1996. Faunal interactions with genus Adansonia in the Kirindy Forest. In: Ganzhorn, J.U., & Sorg, J.-P. (Editors). Ecology and Economy of a Tropical Dry Forest in Madagascar. Primate Report. Special Issue 46: 329–334.
• Mangenot, S. & Mangenot, G., 1962. Enquête sur les nombres chromosomiques dans une collection d’espèces tropicales. Revue de Cytologie et Biologie Végétale 25: 411–447.
• Miège, J., 1974. Etude du genre Adansonia 2: Caryologie et blastogenèse. Candollea 29: 457–475.
• Salak, M., 2001. The vanishing thorn forests of Madagascar. Part I. Cactus and Succulent Journal (United States) 73(6): 278–286.
Author(s)
B. Ambrose-Oji
Centre for Arid Zone Studies - Natural Resources, University of Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, United Kingdom
N. Mughogho
Centre for Arid Zone Studies - Natural Resources, University of Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, United Kingdom


Editors
H.A.M. van der Vossen
Steenuil 18, 1606 CA Venhuizen, Netherlands
G.S. Mkamilo
Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute, P.O. Box 509, Mtwara, Tanzania
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Ambrose-Oji, B. & Mughogho, N., 2007. Adansonia rubrostipa Jum. & H.Perrier In: van der Vossen, H.A.M. & Mkamilo, G.S. (Editors). PROTA 14: Vegetable oils/Oléagineux. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.