Friday, February 19, 2010

6000 year old Baobab Tree

Baobab (Bombacaceae family) is a native deciduous tree from the African savannas. The English common name is baobab, probably derived from the Arabic bu hibab, which means “fruit with several seeds”. There are many different local names used in southern Africa: Umkhomo and Muuju in Zimbabwe; Mowana, Moana, Dovuyu, Ibozu, Mbuyu and Mobuyu in Botswana; Mnambe and Mbuye in Malawi; Muuyu, Mbuyu, Mkulukumba, Mlambe in Zambia (Kurebgaseka, 2005).

It is characterized by an unusual, swollen, relatively short, bottle shaped trunk (about 15 m in height) in which spongy fibers store water for the dry season. For this reason, it is also called “bottle tree”. The mature circumference can exceed 20 m; the diameter at chest height is about 10m. The crown is rounded and shows a stiff branching habit. The tree has an extensive lateral root system, which produces tubers at the end. African baobab is a very long-living tree. It normally has a life for about 500 years, but it is believed that some trees are up to 6000 years old.