Large tubular flowers resembling a mouth with dark red lips and a velvety interior that is often overflowing with nectar bloom only at night and are visited by bats and hummingbird moths. The subsequent hard, woody, sausage shaped fruit is 2 to 4 feet in length and can weigh eleven to twenty-two pounds. A full size tree can reach 55 to 60 feet making it a spectacular central point in the landscape.
The most interesting thing about growing Kigelia sausage trees are the blossoms and resulting fruit. The blood-red flowers bloom at night on long, ropy stalks that dangle from the limbs of the tree. They release an unpleasant aroma that bats find very appealing. This odor draws in the bats, insects, and other birds to feed on the nectar rich blooms which are in turn pollinated by the animals. The fruit, actually a berry, droops down from the long stalks. Each mature fruit may grow up to 2 feet long (.6 m.) and weigh up to 15 pounds (6.8 kg.)! The common tree for Kigelia comes from the look of the fruit; some say they look like large sausages dangling from the tree. The fruit is fibrous and pulpy with many seeds and is toxic to humans. Many types of animals enjoy the fruit including baboons, bushpigs, elephants, giraffes, hippos, monkeys, porcupines, and parrots. Humans also ingest the fruit but it must be specially prepared either by drying, roasting or most commonly fermenting into an alcoholic beverage somewhat like beer. Some native people chew the bark to treat stomach ailments. The Akamba people mix the juice of the fruit with sugar and water to treat typhoid. The wood of the sausage tree is soft and burns quickly. The shade of the tree is also often the site for ceremonies and leadership meetings. For both reasons, it is seldom cut for wood or fuel.