baobab bä´ōbăb˝, bā´ō– [key], gigantic tree, Adansonia digitata, of India and Africa, exceeded in trunk diameter only by the sequoia. The hollow trunks of living baobabs have been used for dwellings; rope and cloth are made from the bark and condiments and medicines from the leaves; and the gourdlike fruit (monkey bread) is eaten. Research in the 21st cent. has indicated that the hollow trunks of large trees are in many instances a cavity that is created by the fusion of multiple stems, each of which in some cases is hundreds of years old. The Australian baobab, Adansonia gregorii, is also called boab or 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.
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