baobab (bäˈōbăbˌ, bāˈō–) [key], gigantic tree of India and Africa, exceeded in trunk diameter only by the sequoia. The trunks of living baobabs are hollowed out for dwellings; rope and cloth are made from the bark and condiments and medicines from the leaves; the gourdlike fruit (monkey bread) is eaten. The botanic name is Adansonia digitata. An Australian baobab is also called sour gourd. In spite of the enormous girth of the trees, they are not particularly tall, and thus have a bottlelike appearance. Baobab is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Malvales, family Bombacaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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