1. Family: Bignoniaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Kigelia DC.
      1. Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth.

        Kigelia africana is an African tree, easily recognised due to the large sausage-shaped fruits hanging from its branches. The generic name Kigelia comes from the Mozambican name for sausage tree, 'kigeli-keia'. Sausage trees are sacred to many communities and are often protected when other forest trees are cut down. In Kenya, the Luo and Luhya people bury a fruit to symbolise the body of a lost person believed to be dead.

    [FZ]
    Habit
    Medium or large sized tree up to 25 m. tall.
    Leaves
    Leaves opposite or in whorls of 3, imparipinnate, crowded towards the tops of the branches; leaflets (1) 2–5-jugate, sessile or subsessile, except the terminal ones with petiolule (0.7)1–4(6.5) cm., long; leaflet lamina 3.5–17.5 (22.5) x 2.5–11 cm., ovate elliptic, obovate to rounded, apex obtuse, broadly tapering to rounded or retuse ana not so often apiculate, base rounded to cuneate, slightly to profoundly asymmetric except in the terminal leaflet which is asymmetric, glabrous to more or less hairy in both surfaces sometimes more roughly hairy in the superior one, papyraceous to coriaceous, margins entire, serrate or toothed and sometimes conspicously wavy; lateral nerves (4)6–13 pairs impressed above, prominent below, venation laxly reticulate; petiole (2)3.5–14(16) cm. long; rhachis 3–25 (29) cm. long, sulcate above, terete below.
    Flowers
    Flowers in pendulous very lax, terminal panicles, 30–100 (150) cm. long, longly pedunculate; pedicels 1–11 (13.5) cm. long, upcurved at the tip; bracts small lanceolate caducous.
    Calyx
    Calyx shortly tubular to campanulate, (1.7)2–4.3 cm. long, irregularly 4–5 lobed with the lobes up to 1 cm. long, ribbed, glabrous to sparsely puberlous outside, sometimes with irregularly scattered small glands.
    Corolla
    Corolla large, 6–12 cm. long, widely cup-shaped, at first yellowish, later becoming reddish to purplish, streaked darker inside and outside, glabrous except sometimes at the point where the filaments become free; limb bilabiate, the superior lip bilobed, the lower one 3-lobed and recurved, lobes more or less rounded; corolla tube cylindrical at the base and suddenly widening and incurving upwards.
    Stamens
    Stamen-filament 3.5–6.5 cm. long, adnate up to 1–2.5 cm. from the base of the corolla tube; anthers 7–13 mm. long; staminode rather large.
    Disc
    Disk c. 1 cm. in diam. 2–3 mm. high, fleshy, irregularly lobed, sometimes almost truncate.
    Ovary
    Ovary 8–15 mm. long, cylindrical; style 4–7(8) cm. long, filiform.
    Fruits
    Fruit sausage-shaped up to 1 m. long and 18 cm. in diam., pendulous from a long peduncle, greyish-brown, lenticellate in the youth, massive, wood-walled, indehiscent.
    Seeds
    Seeds 10 x 7 mm. numerous, wingless, embedded in a fibrous pulp; testa coriaceous; cotyledons folded.
    [KSP]
    General Description
    The sausage tree is sacred to many African communities and has a wide variety of uses in traditional and Western medicine, including commercially available skin lotions.

    Kigelia africana is an African tree, easily recognised due to the large sausage-shaped fruits hanging from its branches. The generic name Kigelia comes from the Mozambican name for sausage tree, 'kigeli-keia'. Sausage trees are sacred to many communities and are often protected when other forest trees are cut down. In Kenya, the Luo and Luhya people bury a fruit to symbolise the body of a lost person believed to be dead.

    The flowers only open at night and are pollinated by bats and hawk-moths. They are dark red, which is unusual for a bat-pollinated species (bats are normally attracted to white flowers), but the strong unpleasant smell of the flowers is thought to attract bats.

    Every part of the tree is used in herbal medicines (eg for digestive and respiratory disorders, and to treat infections and wounds). The sausage tree is used in a variety of commercial applications to treat skin complaints. Research into its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-tumour activity is ongoing.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    The sausage tree is found across sub-Saharan tropical Africa and as far south as South Africa. It is cultivated in other tropical countries and is used as an ornamental tree in Australia, the USA and parts of South-East Asia.

    Description

    Kigelia africana is a tree, 2.5-18 m tall, or sometimes a shrub 2-3 m tall. The bark is smooth and grey-brown in colour. The leaves are in groups of three at the ends of the branches and are 10-20 cm long with 3-8 leaflets. The inflorescence is a panicle, 30-80 cm long. The tubular flowers are dark red with yellow veins, and have an unpleasant smell. The fruits are sausage-shaped, 30-90 cm long and 7.5-10 cm in diameter.

    The sausage tree is very variable in habit and leaf morphology. Trees growing in forests have larger leaflets than trees growing in open areas. It was once thought that there were ten different species of Kigelia, but botanists now recognise only one. In East Africa two subspecies are recognised, K. africana subsp. africanagrowing in grasslands and woodlands and K. africana subsp. moosa in tropical forests.

    Threats and conservation

    The sausage tree is widespread across tropical Africa. It is a sacred tree for many communities and is usually protected on farm lands when other tree species are cut down. In Malawi, Kigelia africana is now protected after many trees were cut down to make canoes.

    Uses

    Kigelia africana is an important tree for many people and has a wide range of uses and vernacular names.

    Both ripe and unripe fruits are poisonous to humans but the fruits can be dried and fermented, and used along with the bark to enhance the flavour of traditional beers. The seeds are sometimes roasted and eaten in times of food shortage.  The wood makes good quality timber for fences, planking, boxes and canoes.

    Kigelia africana is a suitable tree for planting to stabilise riverbanks, while its broad canopy makes it a good shade tree in the open savanna. It is, however, not advisable to park a vehicle or to sit beneath a fruiting tree - the ‘sausages’ (fruits) can weigh up to 12 kg and can cause considerable damage when they fall!

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Two collections of sausage tree seeds are held in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

    For further information on Kigelia africana seeds see Kew's Seed Information Database

    Sausage tree at Kew

    The sausage tree can be seen growing in the Palm House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

    Dried and spirit-preserved specimens of Kigelia africana are held in the Herbarium, one of the behind-the-scenes areas of Kew. Details, including images, of some of these specimens can be seen on-line in the Herbarium Catalogue.

    Bark, fruits, seeds and wood from K. africana are also held in the Economic Botany Collection. These specimens are made available to researchers from around the world by appointment.

    Ecology
    Riverine forest, wooded grassland, savanna and forest margins.
    Conservation
    Least Concern (LC) in the Red List of South African Plants.
    Hazards

    Both ripe and unripe fruits are toxic to humans and can also do considerable damage if they fall on vehicles or unsuspecting humans.

    [FWTA]
    Habit
    A medium-sized tree 20-50 ft. high
    Flowers
    Flowers variable in colour, purplish-red, purple-yellow, orange, greenish-yellow, and sometimes spotted with darker reddish colours
    Fruits
    Fruits like long sausages
    Vernacular
    The Sausage Tree
    [KSP]
    Use
    Food, medicine, timber.
    [UPPd]
    Nervous System Disorders
    A decoction from the bark is drunk to cure epilepsy Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
    Ill-Defined Symptoms
    A decoction from the bark is drunk to cure heacache Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
    Muscular-Skeletal System Disorders
    A decoction from the bark is drunk to cure rheumatism Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
    Infections & Infestations
    A decoction from the leaves is drunk to cure malaria Leaves - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition. A decoction from the bark is drunk to cure venereal disease Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
    Antibacterial
    Animal Disease Control - A bark and fruit decoction is given to calves for gastroenteritis Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
    Blood System Disorders
    Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: An Illustrated Guide
    Digestive System Disorders
    Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: An Illustrated Guide Fruits and bark may also be taken orally or as an enema for stomach ailments in children. Bark - Medicinal plants of South Africa Root decoction is used for gastrointestinal problems. Roots (incl. Rhizomes etc) - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
    Genitourinary System Disorders
    Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: An Illustrated Guide
    Pain
    Bark - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: An Illustrated Guide
    Wood
    Constructions Stems - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: basic list of species and commodity grouping
    Ornamentals
    Live plant (in situ) - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: basic list of species and commodity grouping
    Circulatory System Disorders
    Roasted leaf ash mixed with honey used for high blood pressure Leaves - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
    Pregnancy, Birth or Puerpuerium Disorders
    The plant is also known to be used for abortion Unspecified parts - Medicinal Plants of East Africa: Third Edition.
    Herbage
    Unspecified Animal Unspecified plant parts - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: basic list of species and commodity grouping
    Unspecified Medicinal Disorders
    Unspecified plant parts - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: basic list of species and commodity grouping
    Tannins Dyestuffs
    Unspecified Product Unspecified plant parts - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: basic list of species and commodity grouping Other Products - Roots give a bright yellow dye. Roots (incl. Rhizomes etc) - People's plants: A guide to useful plants of Southern Africa

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Caprivi Strip, Central African Repu, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Gulf of Guinea Is., Ivory Coast, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Introduced Into:

    Ecuador, Mexico Southwest

    Common Names

    English
    Sausage tree

    Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Nov 1, 2008 Onana, J.-M. [3607], Cameroon K000580298
    Jan 1, 2008 Etuge, M. [2004], Cameroon K000437530
    Jan 1, 2008 Etuge, M. [2004], Cameroon K000436152
    Oct 1, 2005 Cheek, M. [11669], Cameroon K000338410
    Dec 1, 2003 Zapfack, L. [2004], Cameroon K000746017
    Dec 1, 2003 Ghogue, J.-P. [1035], Cameroon K000746018
    Jul 1, 2001 Cheek, M. [8882], Cameroon K000108463
    Jul 1, 2001 Ghogue, J.-P. [76], Cameroon K000108465
    Jul 1, 2001 Etuge, M. [2701], Cameroon K000108470
    Jul 1, 2001 Cable, S. [2796], Cameroon K000108471
    Jul 1, 2001 Lane, P. [295], Cameroon K000108472
    Jul 1, 2001 Elad, M. [111], Cameroon K000108473
    Jul 1, 2001 Groves, M. [25], Cameroon K000108474
    Jul 1, 2001 Kenfack, D. [251], Cameroon K000108476
    May 1, 1999 Onana, J.-M. [632], Cameroon K000339225
    Jan 1, 1999 Pollard, B.J. [75], Cameroon K000339224
    Jan 1, 1992 Wheatley, J.I. [232], Cameroon K000518908
    Jan 1, 1992 Wheatley, J.I. [232], Cameroon K000518925
    Jan 1, 1990 Manning, S.D. [499], Cameroon K000029052
    Jan 1, 1987 Manning, S.D. [588], Cameroon K000029053
    Jul 1, 1983 Welwitsch. [489], Angola K000430450 Unknown type material
    Jul 1, 1983 Welwitsch. [489], Angola K000430451 Unknown type material
    Jul 1, 1983 Welwitsch. [489], Angola K000430452 Unknown type material
    May 1, 1983 Allen, C.E.F. [30], Zimbabwe K000430449 syntype
    Jan 1, 1965 Grens, J. [289], Botswana K000489226
    Jan 1, 1960 Binuyo, A. [FHI 35083], Cameroon K000029043
    Jan 1, 1960 Binuyo, A. [FHI 35083], Cameroon K000029044
    Jan 1, 1960 Binuyo, A. [FHI 35083], Cameroon K000029045
    Jan 1, 1960 Hepper, F.N. [1878], Cameroon K000029046
    Jan 1, 1960 Hepper, F.N. [1878], Cameroon K000029047
    Chevalier, A. [3315], Burkina Faso K000386441
    Chevalier, A. [3315], Burkina Faso K000386442
    Chevalier, A. [3313], Mali K000386443
    Chevalier, A. [1208], Mali K000386444
    Chevalier, A. [3314], Burkina Faso K000386445
    Chevalier, A. [3314], Burkina Faso K000386446
    Laferrere, M. [84], Burkina Faso K000386447
    Faulkner, H. [3030] 25772.000
    Brown, R.C. [7743], Botswana K000511039
    Brunt, M.A. [1233], Cameroon K000029042
    Thompson, S.A. [1396], Cameroon K000029048
    Thompson, S.A. [1396], Cameroon K000029049
    Thomas, D.W. [2796], Cameroon K000029050
    Nemba, J. [41], Cameroon K000029051
    Sabatier, M. [s.n.] K000430380
    Sabatier, M. [s.n.] K000430381
    Vogel [88], Ghana K000430396 Unknown type material
    Harvey, Y.B. [151], Cameroon K000338857
    Smith, P.A. [1158], Botswana K000489223
    Biegel, H. [3848], Botswana K000489224
    Grens, J. [373], Botswana K000489225
    Elffers, R. [109], Botswana K000489227
    Story, R. [4738], Botswana K000489228

    First published in Niger Fl.: 463 (1849)

    Accepted in:

    • [2] (2010) Journal of East African Natural History 99: 129-226
    • [3] (2010) Taxonomania. Revue de Taxonomie et de Nomenclature Botaniques 30: 1-307
    • [5] (2009) Englera 29-1: 1-438
    • [6] Mannheimer, C.A. & Curtis, B.A. (eds.) (2009) Le Roux and Müller's field guide to the trees and shrubs of Namibia , rev. ed.: 1-525. Macmillan Education Namibia, Windhoek.
    • [9] (2008) Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • [10] (2006) Scripta Botanica Belgica 35: 1-438
    • [11] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [13] (2005) Southen Africa Botany Diversity Network Reports 37:
    • [14] Curtis, B. & Mannheimer, C. (2005) Tree Atlas of Namibia . The National Botanical Research Institute, Windhoek.
    • [16] Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo , ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
    • [24] (1988) Flora Zambesiaca 8(3): 61-85. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [26] Boudet, G., Lebrun, J.P. & Demange, R. (1986) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Mali . Etudes d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux.
    • [27] (1985) Flore du Gabon 27: 19-56. Muséum National D'Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
    • [30] Brunel, J.F., Hiepo, P. & Scholz, H. (eds.) (1984) Flore Analytique du Togo Phanérogames: 1-751. GTZ, Eschborn.
    • [32] (1977) Flore d'Afrique Centrale (Zaïre - Rwanda - Burundi) . Jardin Botanique National de Belgique, Meise.
    • [33] Boulvert, Y. (1977) Catalogue de la Flore de Centrafrique 3: 1-89. ORSTOM, Bangui.
    • [34] Peyre de Fabregues, B. & Lebrun, J.-P. (1976) Catalogue des Plantes Vascularies du Niger . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.

    Synonym in:

    • [17] (2003) Strelitzia 14: 312-313. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria. [Cited as Kigelia africana.]
    • [19] (2000) Fieldiana Botany New Series , n.s., 41: 77-160. Field Museum of Natural History. [Cited as Kigelia pinnata.]

    Literature

    • [1] Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012) Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies) , ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
    • [4] Medicinal Plants of East Africa: An Illustrated Guide
    • [7] Ramundo, D. (2009). Red List of South African Plants, Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
    • [8] Medicinal plants of South Africa
    • [12] Bidgood, S., Verdcourt, B. & Vollesen, K. (2006). Flora of Tropical East Africa, Bignoniaceae. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.
    • [15] Maundu, P. & Tengas, B. (2005). Useful Trees and Shrubs for Kenya. World Agroforestry Centre.
    • [18] Grace, O. & Davis, S.D. (2002). Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. In Oyen, l.P.A. & Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (eds), Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. Precursor. PROTA Programme, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Pp. 98-102.
    • [20] People's plants: A guide to useful plants of Southern Africa
    • [21] Kenya Trees, Shrubs and Lianas
    • [22] Roodt, V. (1993). The Shell Guide to the Common Trees of the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve. Shell, Gabarone.

    • [23] (1990) Flora de Moçambique 120: 1-35. Instituto de Investigaçao Científuca Tropical.
    • [25] Launert, G., Bell, E. & Goncalves, M. (eds) (1988). Flora Zambesiaca, Volume 8, Part 3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.
    • [28] Burkill, H.M. (1985). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa, Volume 1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.
    • [29] (1984) Flore du Cameroun 27: 26-61. Ministère de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche scientifique (Mesres), Yaoundé.
    • [31] (1977) Flora of Ecuador 7: 1-172. Botanical Institute, University of Göteborg, Riksmuseum, Stockholm.
    • [35] Aubrév. Fl. For. C. Iv. ed. 2, 3: 242, t. 231
    • [36] Harris, B. & Baker, H. (1958). Pollination in Kigelia africana. J. W. Afr. Sci. Assn. Vol. 4: No. 1.
    • [37] Fl. For. Soud.-Guin. 484, t. 111
    • [38] (1931) Flora of West Tropical Africa 2(1): 237-242
    • [39] Chev. Bot. 487
    • [40] F.T.A. 4, 2: 536
    • [41] incl. var. aethiopica (Decne.) Aubrév. ex Sillans and var. elliptica (Sprague) R. Sillans in Not. Syst. 14: 324 (1853).
    • [42] Sillans in Not. Syst. 14: 323 (1853)
    • [43] in Fl. Nigrit. 463 (1849)

    Sources

    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    [A] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
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    Flora Zambesiaca
    [C] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [D] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [E] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [F]

    Project MGU – Useful Plants Project (UPP) database
    [G]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [H] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [I] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Plants and People Africa
    Roger and Alison Heath, Plants and People Africa http://www.plantsandpeopleafrica.com © Copyright Plants and People Africa. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [J]