The African Baobab Tree (Adansonia digitata) is a tree with many stories and interesting facts.
Adansonia digitata can be found all over the African continent and even Madagascar. It reaches heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and has a trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). Flowers are equally large with up to 7 inches in size. The tree produces edible fruit, called monkey bread as especially baboons love it. I have eaten monkey bread, and have to admit that the sour taste is not especially appealing to my European pallate. Having said that, in the African culture the fruit, seeds and even young leaves and seedlings are very much used for local dishes and drinks.
Here is some more interesting and mystical information on the Baobab Tree…
1. The African tribes call the tree “the upside down tree”. When bare of leaves, the spreading branches of the Baobab look like roots sticking up into the air as if it had been planted upside-down. An African legend tells that the baobab was amongst the first trees to appear on Earth. When the palm tree, the flame tree and the fig tree appeared, the Baobab began to grumble that it wanted to be taller, to have brilliant flame coloured flowers, and bear tasty fruit too. The Gods grew angry at this incessant wailing and pulled up the tree by its roots, and replanted in upside down to keep it quiet!
2. The African baobab tree is also called the “tree of life” as it can store water during the drought season which is sometimes vital to the rural population. Large baobab trees could contain more than 30,000 gallons of water, and to get to it, Kalahari bushmen use hollow pieces of grass like a straw to suck the water out.
3. The baobab is Africa’s latest fair trade sensation. On the 15th July 2008 the European Union has officially approved the export of powdered baobab fruit to the United Kingdom as a healthy additive to cereal bars and smoothies. The baobab is said to have three times the vitamin C content of an orange, and as much calcium as a glass of milk. According to Britain’s University of Southampton, the baobab is rich in vitamin B1, B2, and C, and calcium, plus it’s bursting with antioxidants.
4. The citric and tartaric acids found in the pulp provide the base for cream of tartar, often used as a baking ingredient.
5.Because of their size, people have been storing supplies in old hollow trunks or have been living inside a Baobab Tree. Have a look at a website called “bigbaob” for some amazing videos.
6. Natural medicine uses the bark of the Baobab to lower fevers, chewing a leave is apparently waking you up and ingesting some of the tartar powder is helping with stomach aches.
7. In rural Africa the bark is used to make ropes and even clothing.
8. Rafiki (the baboon) from “The Lion King” lives in a Baobab Tree.
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