IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

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Biology

In April, at the end of the wet season, the Suarez baobab drops its leaves in preparation for flowering. The ephemeral flowers open an hour before dusk, from late May through to September and are reproductively receptive for a only single night, usually withering and falling from the branch within 24 hours of opening (2) (4). In addition to being large, pale and strong smelling, the flowers produce copious nectar during the night. While moths, bees and sunbirds have all been observed visiting the flowers, none are large enough to consistently make crucial contact with the stigma whilst accessing the available nectar. Instead, it is the fruit bat, Eidolon dupraenum, by virtue of its size, that is the primary pollinator of the Suarez baobab (3) (4). Following flowering, the fruit develop over an extended period, eventually becoming ripe in November. Whilst the fruit, which contain a nutritious pulp around numerous seeds, would be a rich reward for foraging animals, there are no known Madagascan animals that disperse the seed of the Suarez baobab, or indeed any Madagascan baobab (2). There is some speculation that several animal species that became extinct during human colonisation of Madagascar, such as two baboon-like primates and the enormous elephant bird, may have been original dispersers of baobab seed (2) (3). Needless to say, eventually the fruit fall from the crown, and when the first rains come, heralding the beginning of the wet season, the new leaves emerge (2).

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Source: ARKive

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