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Sausage Tree at the Lincoln Park Conservatory

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Each year at about this time, the Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana) at the Lincoln Park Conservatory puts out its flowers. These deep red and yellow blooms hang down from the tree’s branches on long, pendulous, chandelier-like stalks, and bloom at night to attract their bat pollinators. The flowers fall off during the day and produce a copious, sticky nectar that makes them attractive treats for tropical African animals such as antelope and baboons.

 

The most striking feature of the Sausage tree, though, is the sausage fruit. These woody-looking fruits grow quickly, at times reaching three feet in length and weighing close to 30 pounds. In the Conservatory, the sausage fruits are typically closer to two feet and weigh between 16 and 20 pounds. While the fruit is poisonous, especially when not yet ripe, humans have been known to cook and then ferment it to make the taste more palatable. Eating the raw fruit can cause blisters in the mouth and skin.

 

Traditionally, sausage fruit has been used medicinally. Its anti-microbial properties aid in treating a variety of skin conditions, including measles, eczema, psoriasis, skin infections, and other wounds. People have also used other parts of the plant, including the leaves and roasted seeds as a source of vegetable nutrition. The roots make a yellow dye, and the trunk can be used to make canoes, shelves and fruit boxes.

 

One of the fun facts about our tree is that it blooms at about the same time as the one at the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee. Every year Chicago Park District or Mitchell Domes staff make the trip to exchange flowers so that both sites can pollinate some of the flowers and visitors get to see the mature fruits. This flower exchange didn’t happen last year because of Covid-19 restrictions. We are hoping to pollinate both trees this week. If we’re successful, we should start seeing the fruits soon.

 

The sausage tree is just one of the myriad wonders on display in the recently reopened Conservatory. Reserve your tickets to tour our global collection of plants!

<noscript><img loading=lazy decoding=async class=wp image 4222 size medium lazyload src=httpslincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 9865 225x300jpg alt= width=225 height=300 srcset=httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 9865 225x300jpg 225w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 9865 600x800jpg 600w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 9865 768x1024jpg 768w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 9865 1152x1536jpg 1152w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 9865 1536x2048jpg 1536w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 9865 700x933jpg 700w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 9865 scaledjpg 1920w sizes=max width 225px 100vw 225px ><noscript><a> Sausage tree flower bud
<noscript><img loading=lazy decoding=async class=size medium wp image 4283 lazyload src=httpslincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 5236 225x300jpg alt= width=225 height=300 srcset=httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 5236 225x300jpg 225w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 5236 rotatedjpg 480w sizes=max width 225px 100vw 225px ><noscript><a> Sausage tree flowers Courtesy S Salpeter
<noscript><img loading=lazy decoding=async class=size medium wp image 4238 lazyload src=httpslincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 0658 225x300jpg alt= width=225 height=300 srcset=httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 0658 225x300jpg 225w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 0658 600x800jpg 600w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 0658 768x1024jpg 768w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 0658 1152x1536jpg 1152w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 0658 1536x2048jpg 1536w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 0658 700x933jpg 700w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 0658 scaledjpg 1920w sizes=max width 225px 100vw 225px ><noscript><a> Conservatory staff pollinating the Sausage tree 2019
<noscript><img loading=lazy decoding=async class=size medium wp image 4253 lazyload src=httpslincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 3221 225x300jpg alt= width=225 height=300 srcset=httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 3221 225x300jpg 225w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 3221 600x800jpg 600w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 3221 768x1024jpg 768w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 3221 700x933jpg 700w httpswwwlincolnparkconservancyorgwp contentuploads202104IMG 3221jpg 960w sizes=max width 225px 100vw 225px ><noscript><a> Sausage tree April 2021
Docent Museum Trip

Docent Training & Updates

Volunteers took a field trip this month to the Field Museum and explored behind the scenes with Head of Botanical Collections, Matt von Konrat! Matt helps with Conservatory docent training

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