While making your way around Zoo Miami, keep an eye out for one of our most curious and interesting trees growing here, the South African Sausage Tree (Kigelia Pinnata). While the tree does not grow actual sausages, the name still holds a peculiar accuracy, as the fruits hang from rope-like stalks like a giant sausage! These weighty fruits grow to be about 15 pounds heavy and two feet long. At nighttime, the sausage trees bloom, and bats and insects pollinate the deep-red flowers. However, if you want to catch a glimpse of these beautiful flowers, you would have to make an early trip to the zoo, as the blooms drop around noon. This unique tree can be spotted at Zoo Miami by the Oasis Grille off the walkway by the splash pad.
In their native habitat, the grey skin of the “sausages” covers a fruit pulp that contains many small seeds. While humans would not usually be able to munch on these fruits, we have found another use for them: beer! The fruit is usually used as an ingredient in making beer, as it seems to speed up the fermentation process. In the wild, monkeys, elephants and livestock can eat the fruits as a yummy snack. Other than for food, another useful purpose for the fruit is for facials. The Tonga women of the Zambezi Valley include the sausage tree fruit in a mixture that they apply on their faces to keep their complexions smooth and blemish-free.