What’s in a name: Adansonia digitata

The latin name, Adansonia digitata, was given to the baobab by Carl Linneaus.  He named the baobab after the a French naturalist Michel Adanson.  Adanson was posted to Senegal in 1749 to research the natural resources of the area. He was blown away by his first sight of a baobab describing it as "a forest in itself”. This description of the tree reached Linneaus while Adanson was still in Africa, However when Adanson retuned to Europe he opposed the name, suggesting it be named baobab from the earlier description made by Alpini.  But Linneaus would not change his mind and thus the genus continues to be known as Adansonia. 

The specific name for this species is ‘digitata’ from the palmate shaped leaves which look like a hand with digits (fingers).  

Source: Watson, 2007

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