Baobab tree is one of the Africa’s ancient trees and is also known as the “Tree of Life”, “The Chemist Tree” and “The Monkey Bread Tree”. Adansonia Digitata is the scientific name of baobab tree. Baobab tree can be found all over the African continent and also on the island of Madagascar and is synonymous with the African plains; prevalent throughout Africa. The Baobab Tree has life span of 5000 years and is protected from fire because of its spongy wood.
Baobab tree is a deciduous tree that reaches to heights of 30 meters or 90 feet and has a trunk diameter of 15 meters or 45 feet. Flowers of the tree are equally large with up to 7 inches in size and the tree also produces edible fruit, called monkey bread as especially baboons love it. The inflamed short, bottle shaped trunk can hoard up to 30,000 gallons of water during the dry season, which serves as water storage for the villages. This interesting and absolutely magnificent tree has so many stories and interesting facts.
The baobab tree grows in hot tropical areas that are completely frost free. Also, it grows well in hot dry areas for example dessert areas, and is a reliable source of water for the indigenous people the tree can possibly contain about 1000 gallons of water. The natives of that area would drill a hole in the stem using a sharp stick or stone, and would then insert a bung; water could then be taped from this tree at will.
The bark of the tree is a pinkish grey color sort of like hippo skin. It contains a tragacanth like gum thick with mucilage, making it very bitter, however the native people still use it as food. Also, it is very good for bringing down fevers and some natives believe that it can cure malaria. For this, the leave is boiled and the water that is left after the boiling can be taken in small dosages to cure asthma, coughs and other chest related ailments.
An unpleasant smell is given off by the flowers of the tree. The flowers are very large and appealing to the eye and the fruit of the tree is hard shelled and covered with fine hair. These seed are believed refreshing to suck and when boiled or soaked in water they create a refreshing lemony flavored drink. Some natives consider that drinking the water that made by soaking the seeds would protect them from crocodiles.
Characteristics of the Baobab Tree:
Baobab Tree is most famous for its wide trunk, in which it can store vital life-saving water. African baobab tree is deciduous and produces large, aromatic flowers up to 7 inches wide. The fruits of the tree hang from the branches of the tree and is particularly appealing to baboons, so its nickname monkey-bread tree.
How the Baobab Tree Stores Water?
- As baobab tree is “the tree of life”, it is capable of storing life-saving water during the dearth season which is very important to local itinerant people who may not have any other means of obtaining water. Large baobab tree may contain 30,000 gallons of water. The Kalahari bushmen use hollow pieces of grass (much like a straw) to suck the water out.
Some more interesting and mystical information of the Baobab Tree:
- The baobab tree is Africa’s latest fair trade feeling. On the 15th July 2008, the European Union has officially agreed the export of powdered baobab fruit to the United Kingdom as a healthy additive to cereal bars and smoothies. It is said that baobab have three times the vitamin C content of an orange, and as much calcium as a glass of milk. The baobab is rich in vitamin B1, B2, and C, and calcium, plus it’s bursting with antioxidants, according to Britain’s University of Southampton.
- The African baobab tree can store water during the drought season which is sometimes vital to the rural population and so it is called the “tree of life”. Large baobab trees could contain more than 30,000 gallons of water. To suck the water out, Kalahari Bushmen use hollow pieces of grass like a straw.
- The African tribes call the baobab tree “the upside down tree”. The spreading branches of the Baobab look like roots sticking up into the air when uncovered of leaves as if it had been planted upside-down. Also, an African legend tells that the baobab was amongst the first trees to appear on Earth. The Baobab tree has brilliant flame colored flowers, and tasty fruit also. The Gods grew angry at this ceaseless bawling and pulled up the tree by its roots, and replanted in upside down to keep it quiet.
- The bark of the Baobab is used as natural medicine to lower fevers. Chewing a leave is apparently waking you up and ingesting some of the tartar powder is helping with stomach aches.
- The citric and tartaric acids that present in the pulp supply the base for cream of tartar, frequently used as a baking ingredient.
- The bark of baobab tree is used to make ropes and even clothing in rural area of Africa.
- Rafiki (the baboon) from “The Lion King” lives in a Baobab Tree.
- People have been storing supplies in old hollow trunks or have been living inside a Baobab Tree due to their size.
The Use of the Baobab Tree for Food:
The baobab tree is a vital nutrition source for many local tribes. The fruit of the baobab tree contains both pulp and seeds which are eaten. The pulp of seeds can also be mixed with water and made into a drink; the seeds of the baobab tree can be consumed alone or mixed with millet. For the extraction of the oil or eaten in a paste, the seeds of tree is traded. The young leaves of tree are eaten like asparagus or are used in salads.
The Baobab Tree for Clothes and Instruments:
The African baobab tree provides a fiber which is used by indigenous people to make cloth, rope, nets, musical instrument strings and waterproof hats. To obtain the fiber, the bark of the baobab tree has to be removed. After the cut away, the tree can regenerate the loss of bark.
Baobab tree video from Youtube: