Fony Baobab – Adansonia rubrostipa
Other Names: Perrier's Baobab, Bottle Baobab, bontona, bozybe.
Distinctive Characteristics: This crazy-looking deciduous tree has a distinctively cylindrical shape that narrows considerably at the top like a bottle, where it sprouts an extremely sparse crown. Trees may be tall or squat and stocky, some resembling a giant teapot or potato.
Distribution: Endemic to northwestern and southwestern Madagascar. Elevation: sea level to 2,600 ft. (800 m).
Ecosystem: The Fony Baobab is found in arid scrublands, in deciduous thorn thickets and spiny forests, and in moist montane forests. Found with another species of Baobab, Adansonia za, in the Kirindy region.
Maximum Age: Undetermined. Like all species of Baobab, its indeterminate rings make accurately dating the tree impossible. They appear older than they are because they hold water.
Maximum Height and Girth: 82 ft. (25 m) in height; 31 ft. (9.4 m) in circumference.
Animal Community: This tree provides food and habitat for various animals, including fruit bats and lemurs such as sifakas, fat-tailed dwarf lemurs, brown lemurs and possibly mouse lemurs. It is pollinated by the nocturnal forkmarked lemur. Birds, such as the greater and lesser Vasa parrots, feed on the flowers and fruits.
Medicine: The bark, roots, leaves, fruits, and seeds have been widely used for medicinal applications, for both people and animals.
Food: The large gourd-like seedpods contain a dry, sour center high in vitamin C that has been made into candy, porridge, or a lemony drink; the seeds have been roasted; the young leaves and seedling roots have been eaten. The seeds can be pressed for cooking oil.
Fiber: The inner bark has been harvested to make very strong rope and cordage.
Art and Ceremony: The Baobab is the focus of much taboo, folklore, and spiritual reverence.
Shelter: Sheets of dried wood have been used as roofing material.
Threats and Conservation: Although not listed as threatened, the Fony Baobab is being over-exploited north of Toliara for local use for hut construction and rope making. It is also in danger from agriculture, livestock grazing, and lack of regeneration. It is protected in a number of reserves.