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Adansonia digitata, more commonly known as Baobab tree is an instantly recognisable figure of African landscape. Standing proud, this species of tree is often referred to as the ‘upside-down tree’ because it looks as though it’s been planted with it’s roots sticking up!
The Baobab tree, often referred to as ‘the tree of life’
A few facts and figures…
- carbon dating indicates that the Baobab tree can live to be 3,000 years old
- the Baobab can reach the dizzy heights of 16 to 98 ft or 5 to 30 metres
- trunk diameter measures between 23 to 36 ft or 7 to 11 metres
- the vast trunk is capable of holding around 120,000 litres of water
- the trunk is smooth and shiny and and pink/grey or copper coloured
- an ancient hollow Baobab tree in Zimbabwe is large enough to shelter 40 people inside the trunk
- Baobabs are deciduous, it’s without leaf for much of the year
- out of the nine species of baobab tree, two are native to Africa’s mainland and six are native to Madagasca (the remaining species can be found
- in the Arabian Peninsula and Australia
- common names include ‘boab’, ‘boaboa’, ‘bottle tree’, ‘the tree of life’, ‘upside-down tree’, and ‘monkey bread tree’.
Baobabs have been made good use of… as a shop, house, storage barn, bus shelter and even a prison!
The baobab has successfully created its very own ecosystem… supporting many creatures from the tiny insects which scurry around in the crevices, the birds which nest in its branches, baboons which feed on the fruit, fruit bats and bush babies take the nectar and pollinate the flowers to the larger mammals… elephants have been known to consume a whole tree!
Baobabs are very resilient… even if affected by fire and have their bark stripped off, new bark will form and the tree with continue to grow. When they die they tend to rot from inside and just collapse – all thats left are the fibres…. some people believe that they have just disappeared!
The baby Baobab tree… has a very different appearance to a mature baobab – it’s the belief of the Bushmen that the tree doesn’t follow the same growth pattern as other trees but instead and crashes to the ground when fully grown and disappears. Perhaps that’s why they’re considered to be magic trees.
Fruit and flowers… the large whitish flowers of the baobab tree open at night. The Baobab’s fruit can be roasted and ground up to make a coffee-like beverage, the fruit measures up to 12 inches or 30 cms in length.
The bark of the baobab… is used to make rope, strings for musical instruments, baskets, cloth and paper and the leaves are edible and like spinach once boiled, they are also used for medicinal purposes to treat asthma, insect bites and bladder and kidney conditions. Glue is even made from the pollen.
Did you know… in Modjadjiskloof, Limpopo in South Africa stands the Sunland ‘Big Baobab’ famous because it’s the widest baobab tree in the world – this Big Baobab is carbon dated to be over 1 700 years old!
Majestic baobabs on the northern border of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park lies Nxai Pan National Park, home to millennia-old baobab trees
Discover the Avenue of the Baobab in Madagascar
We’ve added another Jacaranda photo to our Trees of Southern Africa Album.