Monday, May 11, 2009

The Ancient African Upside-Down Tree

The Baobab tree of Africa is known as the upside-down tree; an ancient tree of life, the baobab tree is capable of storing water vital for the survival of local nomads.

One of Africa's ancient trees, the baobab (Adansonia digitata) is synonymous with the African plains; prevalent throughout Africa, Adansonia digitata can also be found on the island of Madagascar, where other species of the baobab tree grow. One species of the baobab tree, Adansonia gregorii, can only be found in northern Australia.

Characteristics of the African Baobab Tree
Adansonia digitata is most well known for its wide trunk, in which it can store vital life-saving water; the African baobab tree is deciduous and some are said to be thousands of years old. It produces large, aromatic flowers up to 7 inches wide; the baobab tree of Africa also produces fruit, which hangs from the branches of the tree. The fruit of the African baobab tree is particularly appealing to baboons, hence its nickname monkey-bread tree.

How the Baobab Tree Stores Water
The African baobab tree is known as the tree of life; it is capable of storing life-saving water during the drought season which is vital to local nomadic people who may not have any other means of obtaining water. Large baobab trees are said to contain more than 30,000 gallons of water; to access this water, the Kalahari bushmen use hollow pieces of grass (much like a straw) to suck the water out.

The Use of the Baobab Tree for Food
The African baobab tree is a vital nutrition source for many local tribes; the fruit of the baobab tree contains both pulp and seeds which are eaten. The pulp can also be mixed with water and made into a drink; the seeds of the baobab tree can be eaten alone or mixed with millet. The seeds can also be traded for the extraction of the oil or eaten in a paste; seedlings and young leaves are eaten like asparagus or are used in salads.

Living in the Trunk of a Baobab Tree
The hollow trunk of the baobab tree (either aged naturally or through human intervention) is a place where native people have stored grain, water or livestock. The size of some baobab trees is so great that natives have used the hollow of the baobab tree trunk in which to live.

The Baobab Tree for Medicine
The African baobab tree has many medicinal uses; the baobab tree is high in vitamin C and calcium and therefore the leaves and fruit are eaten to protect against illness. The bark of the African baobab tree is used to treat fever; its medicinal use was considered to be of such value that Europeans used the bark in place of cinchona bark (from where quinine was obtained) to protect against malaria.

The Baobab Tree for Clothes and Instruments
The inner workings of the African baobab tree provide a fiber which indigenous people have used to make cloth, rope, nets, musical instrument strings and waterproof hats. The bark of the baobab tree has to be removed to obtain the fiber; the baobab tree can regenerate the loss of bark if it is cut away.

Baobab: The Tree of Life
The African baobab tree earns its reputation as the tree of life for its many uses; it is a huge water storage container, a food source, has many medicinal properties, provides the source for cloth and other vital items and can even be used as a home. The ancient baobab tree has ensured the survival of a lot of indigenous people of Africa.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty much exited to know of this Baobab tree! I am student of agriculturing and would love to know new things as this..have bookmarked and expecting many more from you!! i think many new tress can only be found in Africa!!

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