The Baobab tree, commonly known as “the tree planted upside down” and “monkey bread tree”, is a tropical tree belonging to the family of Bombacoideae, a plant sub-family whose almost all the trees grow in the tropical regions. Their characteristic is very large fruits, such as the Durian fruit. The Baobab tree grows spontaneously in Africa, Australia and, Madagascar. Explore these extremely unique facts about the baobab trees.
1. Massive in size
The adult Baobab trunks are among the thickest of all tree trunks in the world. A baobab tree trunk can measure up to 15 meters in diameter and 47 meters in circumference.
This means that about 27 average heightened humans holding hands can stand around a baobab tree of this size.
Baobab trees are also jumbo tall. An adult baobab tree can measure up to 30 meters in height.
2. Gigantic water storage capacity
The most recognizing feature of the baobab trees is their hollow trunk. Although the wall of the trunk can be up to 0.5 meters thick. The purpose of the hollow trunk is to store gallons of water. In fact, baobab trees can store up to 120,000 liters of water. However, the water stored in them isn’t available for anyone to use freely. The water in their stem helps them stand upright.
Baobab are deciduous trees, that is, they shed their leaves in the dry or autumn period in order to save the loss of water through perspiration. Baobab trees remain leafless for 9 months in a year.
These trees can live for thousands of years. The oldest baobab known is the Sunland Baobab in South Africa, which is estimated to be about 6,000 years old.
Although, as of 2018, baobab trees in Africa have been dying due to the rising number of droughts and climate change.
4. Valuable fruits and flowers
Baobab starts blooming at the age of 20 years and blooms throughout the year. They produce large white flowers measuring 12 cms that last for almost a day.
Baobabs produce large fruits 5-6 months after flowering begins. Their fruits look like large green coconuts and contain seeds. Seeds are further consumed in different forms.
This fruit contains more dosage of essential nutrients than commonly eaten fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
Its leaves, flowers, and fruits are very nutritious and consumed widely by the aboriginal people.
5. The tree of life
The word “baobab” comes from an Arabic word, “Bu-Hibab”, which means “father of many seeds”.
As the baobab gets older, the trunk gets wider and dries up. Its wide hollow trunk is used by people and animals as sheds and homes. The Sunland baobab in Africa is used as a pub and is a major tourist attraction.
Bats have been known to live inside the trunks of the baobab tree and even pollinate the seeds.
6. Baobab trees around the world
There are nine species of baobab. Eight of these are found in Africa, the ninth is found in Australia. The Australian baobab is much smaller in size. Baobab can also be seen in India where it was brought artificially. It is known as “Kalpavriksha” in India and is strongly associated with Jainism.
Six of the species of baobab can be found in Madagascar, while the rest two species can be found in continental Africa.
7. Dear to Africans
African call baobab by many names, such as, “Magic Tree”, “Pharmacy Tree”, “Tree of Life” “Cream of Tartar”. It is respected by the Africans and only the wise are allowed to climb to collect its leaves, fruits or flowers.
8. Growth over the years
Here’s how the baobab tree grows through the years –
0 to 15 years – the young tree phase
15 to 70 years – the cone phase
70 to 300 years – the bottle phase
300 to beyond – the old age phase
9. Legends associated with the Baobab tree
As per the African legend, one day, the baobab saw its reflection in the clear water. It wasn’t satisfied with the way it looked and asked the god to make it perfect too, like other plants. The creator, however, uprooted it and planted it upside down so that it could never see its reflection again. Since then, the baobab has been helping people and animals.
10. Dangers to the Baobab tree
Studies have found that the future isn’t bright for these unusual trees. Baobabs face threat due to increase in droughts and rising temperatures. Forests consisting of baobab trees are being converted to agricultural lands. Both animals and humans consume the baobab produce leading to no seeds left for pollination.