The sausage tree of sub-Saharan Africa is beautiful in flower. The blood-red to maroon flowers hang in long panicles. The fragrance of the flower is not pleasing to humans but attracts the dwarf epauleted bat (Micropteropus pusillus), its pollinator. As the flowers drop from the tree, animals come to feed on the nectar-rich blooms. Impala, duiker, baboons, bush pigs, and lovebirds all feed on the flowers of the Sausage tree.
Grey friuts grow out of these flowers. These grey fruits resemble sausages and can grow for months to become over a foot long and weigh over 10 pounds.
Flowers and fruit
The blood-red flowers of the South African sausage tree bloom at night on long, ropelike stalks that hang down from the limbs of this tropical tree. The fragrant, nectar-rich blossoms are pollinated by bats, insects and sunbirds in their native habitat. The mature fruits dangle from the long stalks like giant sausages. They may be up to two feet (0.6 m) long and weigh up to 15 pounds (6.8 kg).
The rind of the fruit is used to aid the fermentation of the local brews. The pods are kept as religious charms and fetishes, and produce a red dye when boiled. Ointment is made from the fruit and is used to treat skin conditions. And Meyer's parrots are fond of the seeds.
Mekoro are dug-outs made of the trunks and large roots of the sausage trees. These canoes have been used for thousands of years as transportation in the Okavango River delta in Botswana.
The 'sausages' cannot be eaten but the skin is ground to a pulp and used externally for medicine. Its most important use is for the cure of skin ailments especially skin cancers. The fruit is burnt to ashes and pounded by a mortar with oil and water to make a paste to apply to the skin.
Where they are found
It is native to the woodland and more open areas of South Africa.