'Mother of the forest'

This strange yet magnificent tree is found only on the island of Madagascar. Known locally as the renala and sometimes referred to as ‘mother of the forest’, Grandidier’s baobabs have huge, cylindrical or bulbous trunks that can grow up to three metres across and are covered with smooth, grey bark. The baobab’s flowers are pollinated by bats and nocturnal lemurs. Grandidier’s baobabs are most at home in dry, deciduous forest; however, following severe destruction of this habitat, today they are more commonly found in open, agricultural or degraded land.

Grandidier’s baobab facts

  • Grandidier’s baobab is found only in western Madagascar
  • Some baobab trees are believed to be the dwelling place of spirits, and local communities leave offerings such as food and money at the base
  • Some trees grow in bizarre or twisted shapes, and these unusual-looking trees hold special cultural value for people living locally
  • The outer bark is sometimes removed and made into rope, used for roofing, or broken into small pieces and sold as a calcium-rich medicine at local markets
  • Out of the nine species of baobab, six are confined to Madagascar
At a glance
Adansonia grandidieri





Est. in the wild:


Known locally as renala, Grandidier’s baobab is probably the best-known of Madagascar’s baobabs. These remarkable and iconic trees symbolise Madagascar’s unique wildlife just as much as its lemurs.


baobab species are found in Madagascar. All of them are threatened with extinction.

Three metres

The diameter of a baobab’s trunk, which stores water to help the tree cope with drought.

Conservation story

Although the number of Grandidier’s baobabs is currently quite high, the species is threatened by a lack of regeneration (the formation of new trees). It is also threatened by overexploitation of its fruits, seeds and bark, which could be adversely affecting its ability to regenerate. The seeds are collected to make oil for cooking and to produce cosmetics, the bark is used in traditional medicine, while bark fibres are turned into rope, and used for roofing. It is also threatened by the rapid transformation of its habitat into agricultural land, by fires and by overgrazing.

How FFI is helping to save Grandidier's baobab

Fauna & Flora International – working through the Global Trees Campaign and in collaboration with partner Madagasikara Voakajy – has been protecting baobabs since 2008. We have helped two communities gain management rights over important baobab habitats and designed management plans with local people to reduce threats (such as forest fires, bark removal and felling of mature baobabs) to this species. We are also replenishing populations with seedlings grown in nurseries.

Baobabs have huge cultural value for nearby communities and are the subject of local stories and legends. The trees also provide a focal point for village events and ceremonies. Madagasikara Voakajy has built on this cultural connection in its work and together we are helping people find solutions to the tree’s overuse, through the development of local enterprises linked to sustainable baobab fruit harvesting.

“Grandidier’s baobab is a true icon of Madagascar; together with local communities, Madagasikara Voakajy and FFI are working to protect and multiply this irreplaceable species in the Malagasy landscape.”

Victoria PriceProgramme Officer, Global Trees Campaign