The Baobab is a striking tropical tree which is very well suited to be grown as a Bonsai. The Baobab Bonsai is easily grown and is as unusual as it is attractive. A well cared for specimen makes a good conversation piece especially if the owner is aware of the facts and fables which surround the tree.
Baobab's do not like the cold and so need to be kept indoors unless in a tropical or sub tropical climate. They will also require a 'dry' dormant period every year. Some growers will actually unpot their plants (as is sometimes done with cacti) during this time and just leave them in storage till growth activity is noted in the spring. Growing your own specimen requires patience because they are very slow growing.
There are three species of Baobab which are in cultivation as bonsais. These are the Australian Baobab Adansonia gibbosa (gregorii) the African Baobab Adansonia digitata and the Madagascar Baobab Adinsonia grandidieri. Although all are similar in appearance and have similar requirements. There is only one African Baobab species but several in Madagascar. Although not really a plant for the amateur the seeds are readily available for sale and can make both an interesting and rewarding project.
The Baobab is a long lived tree and some full grown specimens in the wild have been shown to be over 3,000 years old. The bizarre shape of the tree gave birth to the legend that God has made a mistake and planted the Baobab upside down. Both the citrus tasting seed pods and the leaves are eaten by local people as well as by animals.
Baobab in Fact and Fable
- The Baobab is the national tree of Madagascar
- The Baobab tree has a number of different English names through its range. These include the Lemonade Tree, Monkey Bread Tree and Dead Rat Tree,
- The flowers of the Baobab are believed to be the home of spirits. Anyone picking one will be eaten by a lion.
- If you bathe in water in which Baobab seeds have been soaked then you will be protected from crocodiles.
- The trunk of the Baobab may reach 30' in diameter.
- The scientific name of the Baobab Adansonia digitata is from Michel Adanson who first saw and described the tree in Senegal in 1750.
- The fruit can be used to make a tasty Vitamin C rich refreshing drink.
- The seeds can be roasted and ground to make a coffee type drink.
- A type of beer and tea can be made from the bark.
- Pounding and beating the bark allows it to be shredded and used to make cloth, baskets, mats and more.
- Glue is made from the pollen of the flowers.
- The masive trees have been used for storage, shops, bars, houses, bus stops and even a prison.
- The Big Baobab in Sunland has been carbon dated to 6000 years old. Older than the Pyramids in Giza!
- Many birds and insects look on the Baobab as home and monkeys, baboons and elephants will feed upon the fruit, leaves and bark.
- The Baobab is often referred to as the 'Tree of Life'.
Adult Baobabs in Nature
Having a Baobab Bonsai in your home will add an atractive feature to brighten up the dullest corner.