Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. (Bignoniaceae)

Sausage Tree, Kigelia africana
The giant, woody fruit
hanging from the branch
Kigelia africana
Sausage Tree, Kigelia africana

Popularly known as the Sausage Tree, Kigelia africana from family Bignoniaceae originated from tropical Africa covering Eritrea and Chad south to northern Africa, and west from Senegal to Namibia. Kigelia's named after the Mozambican name, ‘kigeli-keia’ and africana  indicated its origin, Africa. The common Sausage Tree name refers to its long, sausage-like fruit that can be easily recognised hanging from its branches.

Kigelia africana is a medium to large sized tree up to 25 m tall. The bark is grey in colour with smooth texture at first, peeling on older trees. The leaves are pinnate and arranged in opposite or in whorls of three. The flowers are bell-shaped, orange to reddish or purplish green in colour and about 10 cm wide. The flowers produces a scent that is most intense at night indicating that they are adapted to pollination by bats. The fruits are huge, grey-brown in colour, woody berry from 30- 100 cm long and up to 18 cm broad and can weight up to 10 kg. The fruit pulp within the thin skin is firm and fibrous and contains many small seeds that are eaten by mammals, including baboons, giraffes and monkeys. The seeds are then dispersed in their dung.

This tree can be found near Oasis Garden and Heliconia Garden  by Jalan Tembusu in our Botanic Garden. The uniqueness of the fruits becomes the eye-catcher to the visitors because of its showy hanging, giant, woody fruits. The fruit has antibacterial properties  thus, traditional remedies prepared from crushed, dried or fresh fruits are used to deal with ulcers, sores and syphilis. Today, beauty products and skin ointments are prepared from fruit extracts.


Written by:
Syazwani Binti Azeman
Research Officer
Perdana Botanical Garden