Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - An African Bignon

Our African trip was focused on animals not plants, but TPP was at least familiar with one rather common tree that was in flower & fruit this time of year, the beginning of the dry season.  It's called the sausage tree because of the big, heavy indehiscent fruits hanging down like so many salami in a deli (bottom image).  Like other Bignons, Kigelia africana, has winged seeds but since the fruit doesn't open they don't get much of a chance to fly until after a large mammal gnaws it open.  The dark maroon-colored flowers only open for a single night and they are bat pollinated; sometimes you can see the marks left by bat thumb hooks on the outer throat of the flower.  Since the flower is rather large and fleshy that much biomass attracts considerable interest and various antelope, and even elephants will stop by trees for a snack of recently dropped corollas.


No comments: