Sausage Tree

Sausage Tree
Setswana Name: 
Scientific Name: 
Kigelia africana
Jacaranda Family (Bignoniaceae)


Apart from the Baobab, this is probably the most frequently discussed tree of species in the Okavango Delta. It is extremely easy to recognise, because both flowers and fruits are very characteristic. As the common name "Sausage tree" implies, fruits resemble huge sausages and their persistence on the tree makes it easy identify most times of the year.

The fruits can weigh up to 4 kg and camping beneath a Sausage tree is accordingly not recommended, since they fall to ground throughout the year and at the most unexpected times! In spring, the exquisitely beautiful red flowers, which are borne in profusion, are very striking. In the absence of fruit and flowers the usually unbranched, grey, mottled stem and the wide-spreading, rounded, dense crown are identifying features. Closer observation reveals the large, leathery, compound leaves.

The tree can grow up to 20m height. In his diary Livingstone refers to the giant sausage tree beneath which they were camped shortly before he saw the Victoria Falls. This was at what is today known as Kazangula, the point where Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Caprivi meet. Kazangula was named after this historic tree. One African name for the Sausage tree means "the fat tail of a sheep', while the Arabic name means "the father of kit bags".


Grey. Smooth in young specimens. Older bark flakes off in round discs, giving the bark a markedly mottled appearance.


Compound with 3-5 pairs of leaflets with a terminal one. When leaves are young, they are leathery and rough to the touch. Bright green above, pale below. Whole leaf is up to 30cm long.


Very striking and dark red to maroon. Cup-shaped and large (15 x 15 cm).


Large, sausage-shaped fruit, up to 50cm long and 15cm in diametre. It is grey-brown and stalks up to one metre long. It can be very heavy (up to 5 kg).


August to October


December to June


It is one of the dominant species occurring on the islands in the Okavango Delta. In the dry-land Moremi it is common in the Xakanaxa, Third Bridge and Mboma Island areas, but only isolated specimens are to be found towards Khwai and Maqwee.

They are more prevalent in deep, well-drained soils.