Adansonia gregorii

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Derby boab, Western Australia.jpg
Adansonia gregorii, the boab
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Adansonia
A. gregorii
Binomial name
Adansonia gregorii
Occurrence records from GBIF[1]

Adansonia gregorii, commonly known as the boab, is a tree in the family Malvaceae. As with other baobabs, it is easily recognised by the swollen base of its trunk, which forms a massive caudex, giving the tree a bottle-like appearance. Endemic to Australia, boab occurs in the Kimberley region[2] of Western Australia, and east into the Northern Territory. It is the only baobab to occur in Australia, the others being native to Madagascar (six species) and mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (one species). Boab ranges from 5 to 15 metres in height, usually between 9 and 12 metres, with a broad bottle-shaped trunk.[3] Its trunk base may be extremely large; trunks with a diameter of over five metres have been recorded. A. gregorii is deciduous, losing its leaves during the dry winter period and producing new leaves and large white flowers between December and May.[3] Boabs are pollinated by the convolvulus hawk-moth Agrius convolvuli.[4]

Alternative names[edit]

The common name "boab" is a shortened form of the generic common name "baobab". Although boab is the most widely recognised common name, Adansonia gregorii has a number of other common names, including:[5]

  • baobab — this is the common name for the genus as a whole, but it is often used in Australia to refer to the Australian species;
  • Australian baobab
  • boabab was in common use from the late 1850s[6] (Perhaps the origin of boab)
  • baob[7][8]
  • bottle tree
  • upside down tree
  • dead rat tree
  • gouty stem tree
  • monkey bread tree[6]
  • cream of tartar tree
  • gourd-gourd tree
  • sour gourd
  • gadawon — one of the names used by the local Indigenous Australians. Other names include larrgadi or larrgadiy, which is widespread in the Nyulnyulan languages of the Western Kimberley.

The specific name "gregorii" honours the Australian explorer Augustus Gregory.


The plant has a wide variety of uses; most parts are edible and it is the source of a number of materials. Its medicinal products and the ability to store water through dry seasons has been exploited.[9] Indigenous Australians obtained water from hollows in the tree, and used the white powder that fills the seed pods as a food. Decorative paintings or carvings were sometimes made on the outer surface of the fruit. The leaves were used medicinally. The leaves may see a future use prepared as food, due to their high iron content.[10] The 1889 book 'Useful native plants of Australia' states that "The dry acidulous pulp of the fruit is eaten. It has an agreeable taste, like cream of tartar.[11]

Notable trees[edit]

A large hollow boab south of Derby, Western Australia is reputed to have been used in the 1890s as a lockup for Aboriginal prisoners on their way to Derby for sentencing. The Boab Prison Tree, Derby is now a tourist attraction.[12] Another hollow boab near Wyndham, Western Australia was also used as a prison tree.[13][14][15][16] The Hillgrove Lockup or Wyndham Prison Tree is on the King River Road out of Wyndham near the Moochalabra Dam. Gija Jumulu is a large boab which was transported from Warmun in the Kimberley region of Western Australia to Kings Park in 2008. Further to this, there is a boab tree located within the Wyndham, Western Australia caravan park that is of estimated age 2000 years, standing 20 metres tall and with a trunk 5 metres wide.

The boab tree is celebrated in the end credits of the 2008 film Australia with the song "By the Boab Tree", a song nominated for a 2008 Satellite Award,[17] with lyrics by Baz Luhrmann and performed by Sydney singer Angela Little.

A massive boab tree, similar in appearance to the aforementioned prison tree, is also featured in the 1992 animated film FernGully: The Last Rainforest to imprison the film's antagonist, Hexxus.



  1. ^ (26 May 2018) GBIF Occurrence Download Adansonia gregorii F.Muell.
  2. ^ Mabey, Richard, 1941- (2015). The cabaret of plants : botany and the imagination. London. pp. 69–71. ISBN 978-1-86197-662-8. OCLC 927291647.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b "Adansonia gregorii". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
  4. ^ Baum, D.A., 1995, A Systematic Revision of Adansonia (Bombacaceae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden , 1995, Vol. 82, No. 3 (1995), pp. 440-471
  5. ^ "Australian plant common name database". Australian National Botanic Gardens. Archived from the original on 25 October 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Trove Newspaper results for "boabab"". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  7. ^ "A "BOOB" IN A BAOB TREE". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 31 August 1940. p. 9. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  8. ^ "SOUVENIRS". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 1 September 1928. p. 8. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  9. ^ Vickers, Claudia; Jack Pettigrew. "Origins of the Australian Boab (Adansonia gregorii)". The University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 3 July 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  10. ^ "Could a WA tree help in treating iron deficiency?". ABC News. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  11. ^ J. H. Maiden (1889). The useful native plants of Australia : Including Tasmania. Turner and Henderson, Sydney.
  12. ^ Boab Prison Tree Archived 1 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  13. ^ "SOUVENIRS". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 1 September 1928. p. 8. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  14. ^ "Giant Bottle Trees". The Queenslander. National Library of Australia. 26 February 1931. p. 54. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  15. ^ "THE BAOBAB". The Queenslander. National Library of Australia. 26 February 1931. p. 29. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  16. ^ "IN THE FAR NORTH-WEST". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 17 December 1932. p. 5. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  17. ^ Awards Daily - Satellite Awards Nominees. Retrieved 22 December 2008.

Works cited

  • Boland, D. J.; et al. (1984). Forest Trees of Australia (Fourth ed.). Collingwood, Victoria, Australia: CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 978-0-643-05423-3.

External links[edit]