These large trees, with trunks that become hugely swollen with age
into a bottle or flask shape, amazed European explorers in Africa,
Madagascar and northwestern Australia, the only regions where the 9
species are found growing wild (7 are endemic to Madagascar). They
are usually deciduous in the tropical dry season. Leaves are divided
into a number of leaflets radiating from the end of a common stalk.
The cream flowers, which open only at night, are large and
attractive and hang singly on pendulous stalks, are adapted to
pollination by nectar-feeding bats. The large oval fruits contain
seeds embedded in a sour, edible pulp.
Hardiness zone from 11 To 12
Cultivation: Propagate from seed or cuttings. Growth is slow until a
good root system is established, but vigorous young trees with
trunks beginning to swell make fine subjects for parks and streets.
They are not too difficult to cultivate in the tropics or warmer
subtropics and despite being from monsoonal climates with a long dry
season, they adapt well to wetter regions.