The many tourists who visit the Municipal Garden in the centre of the city of Funchal have the opportunity to enjoy around seven dozen tree species, mainly exotic and originating in tropical and subtropical regions.
One of these species, popularly known as a sausage tre , represented by four specimens, is one of the attractions of this public garden, opened in 1885, in the area where the convent of San Francisco has been installed since the 16th century.
The sausage tree is indigenous to tropical Africa and belongs to the Bignoniaceae family . Kigelia africana is its scientific name, which appears in the botanical records. According to a superstition in Botswana, the fruits hanging in the house exert a protective action against the storms. In the Municipal Garden of Funchal, the fruits hanging in the branches of the trees attract tourists, who never tire of photographing them.
In nature, these semi-deciduous trees reach up to 15 meters in height. In the gardens of the south coast of Madeira, they do not exceed six meters.
The flowers, distributed in long pendulous bunches, appear from May to October and are especially adapted to their pollinators. To attract them, they open at night and exude a rather pleasant odour for bats, but very unpleasant for humans. After the distribution of the pollen, they fall during the morning.
Pollinated flowers give rise to fruits that resemble huge sausages. The bark is smooth and the woody and fibrous pulp has large seeds. In tropical Africa, they weigh 4 kg. In the Municipal Garden of Funchal, fruits with 2 kg are frequent. These sausages are poisonous, especially while they are green, but African populations use their pulp to produce remedies for the treatment of syphilis, rheumatism and snake bites. The ripe fruits are boiled and added to the beer produced by the natives to aid the fermentation.
Scientific name: Kigelia africana
Common Name: Sausage Tree
Origin: Tropical Africa
Address: Jardim Municipal do Funchal
Photo: Raimundo Quintal