Facts About the Baobab Tree - the Tree of Life
The Baobab Tree is an ancient relic that is more than 6000 years old and was probably there before the birth of Christ. These trees are found in countries such as Africa, Australia, India, Oman, and Yemen. Baobab Tree is the national tree of Madagascar.
This tree is called, "The Tree of Life." It provides food, water and shelter to people, animals, and birds. All the parts of the Baobab Tree are used for different purposes. The Baobab Tree stores water which are very useful when water sources run dry.
The Baobab Tree has a unique appearance. The tree looks as though it is planted upside down when the branches have no leaves, hence the name the “Upside down” tree. The branches are a stick like and resemble a network of roots rather than branches. This tree is also referred to as the “monkey bread” tree. Other names referring to this tree are - Boab, Boaboa, Bottle tree.
About the Baobab Tree
The Baobab Tree belongs to the genus Adansonia and has eight species. It grows to heights of about 5-30 meters. The diameter of the trunk is about 7 -11 meters. This tree is leafless for about nine months in a year.
The trunk of the Baobab Tree can hold up to 120,000 liters of water. This water can be tapped during dry periods. The trunk of the Baobab Tree is thick, stout and very strong. It is fire resistant. The trunk of a mature Baobab Tree is hollow and provides shelter to animals and birds.
The Baobab Tree flowers for the first time in about twenty years. It usually blooms in mid-summer at sunset. The flowers are white in color and luminous. The flowers are large, pendulous and have many stamens.
The flowers have a strong musky smell that attracts fruit bats and other insects. The fruit bats and insects are responsible for pollination as they flit from flower to flower. The life of the flower is very short and falls off after a few hours.
The fruit of the Baobab Tree is also called, “monkey bread.” The fruits are highly nutritious and are rich in Vitamin C. The fruit is 6 – 8 inches long and is a hairy pod.
The seeds enclosed in the hairy pod are surrounded by a white pulp. When the white pulp dries off, it looks like powdery bread. The seeds are eaten by baboons, elephants, antelopes, and monkeys.
The Adansonia grandidieri is the biggest and most famous baobab of Madagascar. It is also referred to as Grandidieri's baobab. This tree is endemic to Madagascar and is marked as an endangered species by the IUCN.
Uses of the Baobab Tree
- the hollow branches provide shelter to lizards, snakes, spiders, scorpions, tree frogs, and squirrels
- birds such as rollers, parrots, kestrels, spinetails, hornbills and parrots nest in the hollow trunk
- large holes in the branches and trunks are occupied by eagles, vultures and storks
- red billed buffalo weavers nest mostly in this tree
- the bark is used to make fabrics and ropes
- leaves are used as a condiment and are also used as medicine
- the fruit called “monkey bread” is eaten by animals and humans
- pollen can be used as glue
- seeds are rich in protein, iron, calcium and phosphates
- leaves are rich in calcium and can be cooked and eaten like spinach
- the trunk is fibrous and can be woven into mats, ropes and can also be used to make paper
- the trunk is also used to make beer and tea
Legends of the Baobab Tree
1. The Baobab is one of the first trees to appear on earth. The Palm Tree was next in line. When the Baobab saw the Palm Tree it became jealous and cried out “I want to be taller than the Palm Tree”.
Then the beautiful flame tree made its appearance on earth. When the Baobab saw the Flame Tree, it became all the more jealous and cried out loud “I want to be more beautiful than the Flame Tree”.
The Fig Tree was created next. When the Baobab saw the magnificent Fig Tree jealousy raged within the Baobab and it prayed for more magnificence and better fruits than the Fig Tree.
God became very angry and uprooted the Baobab and replanted the tree upside down to keep the Baobab quiet.
2. The Arabian legend of the Baobab is as follows – The devil uprooted the Baobab Tree and thrust its branches upside down in anger.
3. Bushmen believe that any person who plucks the Baobab Tree will be torn apart by lions because there are free spirits residing in the flower.
The world’s only bar inside a tree – The Baobab Pub.
Heather and Doug van Heerden discovered this tree in the late 1980’s in a farm that they had bought. When they saw the size of the hollow tree, they were struck with the fantastic idea of building a pub inside the tree.
This Baobab tree pub is 20 meters in height and 45 meters in width located in Limpopo Province of South Africa. Fifteen people can comfortably sit in this.pub.
This is the location of the famous Baobab Pub.
© 2012 Nithya Venkat