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The weird Sausage Tree

Posted by mariavorontsova Apr 6, 2010

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Sausage Tree, Kigelia africana. The “sausages” is up to 40 cm long and are eaten by elephants.

 

We have been searching for Solanum schumannianum around the edges of wet forests but could not find it until today. There are numerous collections and I thought it would be common, but we just could not see it. Most Solanum species have a distinctive branching pattern so it is possible to spot them from a distance, but this species appears very similar to a common roadside Vernonia shrub. I did not realise this was a Solanum until I was standing right next to it.

 

The best part of the day was seeing the Sausage Tree, Kigelia africana.  I have never seen it in the wild with fruit and today I saw it for the first time. The fruits hang on inflorescences several metres long looking a bit like sausages suspended on strings. It looks so amazing and bizzare. The Southern Highlands contain many plants native to southern Africa, very different from vegetation in northern Tanzania – the Sausage Tree is part of this southern vegetation type, as well as a few Protea species we saw on the way.

 

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Solanum schumannianum growing under a tree in the Mbeya mountain range. Its leaves look similar to many other species so it is difficult to notice it from the road.