top of page

Common Names: False Baobab, Mwemwe, Mlele, Mukosa, Mgoza
Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family) Sub-family: Sterculioideae


Growth Form, Habitat and Distribution
A medium-sized, stout stemmed, deciduous tree, branching from nodes and curved upwards, of low to medium altitude in rocky plateau escarpments, dry thicket, limestone outcrops and termite mounds in many woodland types, except the Kalahari woodland biome in western Zambia and in the Luapula Province.

Size     Height 5 to 12m, spread 6 to 10m.
Bark    Smooth, silver-white, or greenish with a reddish coating peeling or flaking to reveal a pale cream under bark. Produces a brown gum similar to gum tragacanth.
Leaves    Digitate, clustered at branch ends, circular to 3 to 5-lobed (6 to 15cm), olive green, furry, 7-veined from the base. Petiole up to 10cm. Leaves appearing with the rains and falling from May to July. 
Flowers    Compact, terminal panicles (9cm), greenish-yellow with red veining (up to 2.5cm), appearing before the new leaves. 
Fruit     Up to 5 boat-shaped, beaked, woody capsules, golden velvet up to 15cm, splitting down one side surrounded by intensely irritant hairs, revealing several attractive blue-black tick-like seeds, quickly attacked by Dysdercus beetles once on the ground.
Uses    The bark is used for nets and mats. The seeds are favoured by hornbills. Makes a garden specimen tree where space permits.
Other species in Zambia: 3 species are northern lake-side, or riverine forest species. Q. quinqueloba is similar and also a dry escarpment tree, but distinctly tall and single stemmed.

Sterculia africana

    bottom of page