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Learn more about the Baobab tree in African landscape

The baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) is a common sight in Malawi’s varied and lush landscape. Standing sentinel, the trees seem ancient, immovable landmarks that connect the present with the past. Not necessarily beautiful, the trees look odd, even upside down, as their often bare limbs stretch out like a complicated root system. The bark is tough, steel gray with wrinkles like elephant hide. The trees grow to massive size and girth and virtually every tree has a unique silhouette and numerous scars that remain permanently ingrained in the bark. Baobab trees are the subjects of legends and spiritual stories, while scientists continue to try and better understand what makes them grow and thrive.
Humans have benefitted from baobabs for generations. Each part of the tree can be used for a wide range of products, such as fishing nets, cords and rope, mats, containers, cloth, hats, and shoes, and the bark has even been used for elephant saddles. The bark, wood, seeds, piths, and leaves offer great medicinal value and have been used in traditional medicine to cure asthma, dysentery, diarrhea, colic, eye infections, malaria, fatigue, fever, inflammation, ear aches, tumors, kidney and digestive problems, as well as open wounds. Because baobab trees are mostly hollow, people have also used the inside of the trees for all sorts of purposes, making them into shops, bars, stables, a dairy, a bus shelter, prisons, postboxes, burial sites, wells, and even a flush lavatory.

The Baobab tree in African landscape

The Baobab tree in African landscape

The baobab tree is synonymous with the African landscape. One can find the resilient baobabs surviving in even the most unforgiving landscapes: on rocky outcrops, high on mountains, and deep in deserts. Usually solitary, the trees survive droughts, aggressive elephants, and human contact. Despite their massive size and unusual shape, they rely on a system of hydraulic pressure to stay upright, as the porous wood retains water. The trees have extensive root systems that remain close to the surface. Remarkably immune to destruction, those trying to clear a tract of bushland in Tanzania after World War II used bulldozers, military tanks, and even tried dynamite, but failed to move the largest of the baobab trees.

The first recorded description of a baobab tree was written by Ibn Battuta. Born in 1304 in Tangiers, Battuta traveled throughout Africa and was fascinated by the unique specimen. From then on, travelers have remarked on the extraordinary size and strange form of the trees. David Livingstone’s companion, Thomas Baines, wrote that one tree in particular was “10 times the span of my extended arms, or perhaps, nearly 50 feet.” David Livingstone also recorded the circumference of several baobabs during his expeditions and even carved his initials into the trees along his routes. One can find traces of others doing the same, including the Green brothers, a pair of Canadian hunters who carved “Green’s Expedition 1858, 9″ into a baobab that is still standing in South Africa.

Scientists have not agreed upon an equation to determine a baobab’s age by its size. E.R. Swart published his study in 1963 that used carbon dating to determine that a baobab specimen with a radius of 2.28 meters was 1,010 years old. In Malawi, many say that for every meter of circumference, the tree is a hundred years old. The largest tree on record since scientists began a registry in the 1980′s, has a 25 meter circumference and is 33 meters tall. In South Africa, owners of a baobab tree claim that it is the largest in the world, with a circumference of 46.8 meters. While it is difficult to determine exact age without carbon dating, it is clear that these monolithic trees look and feel permanent. The Prussian explorer Friedrich von Humboldt described baobabs as the “oldest organic monuments of our planet.”
Baobabs are so much a fixture of the landscape that they were even used in the formal treaty that demarcated the border between Kenya and Tanganyika in 1900. The agreement reads that “on the high bank the boundary goes from the baobab at No 5 past a second baobab to a third baobab.”
With such a rich and varied landscape, it is easy to take these behemoth trees for granted. In Malawi, these trees are part of the history of the land, the culture of the people, and add to the beauty and mystery of the African panorama.


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Why is the Baobab a magical fruit?

Baobab is a magical fruit! The latest find in the superfood world – outdoing the amazing properties of even the goji berry – and is widely considered to be the king of all superfruits.
The baobab tree is native to Madagasgar, Australia and most famously, Africa where it is known as ‘the tree of life’. It is also referred to as dead-rat tree (from the appearance of the fruits), monkey-bread tree (the soft, dry fruit is edible), upside-down tree (the sparse branches resemble roots) and cream of tartar tree!
Baobab is rich in macronutrients, antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins B2 & 3 and essential minerals. It contains twice as much calcium as milk, ten times the antioxidant level of oranges – as well as three times the vitamin C – and four times as much potassium as bananas. The seed and pulp are also excellent sources of magnesium, thiamin and phosphorous.
The baobab tree has iconic status in mythology. It has been claimed that baobab has been grown since the time of the Great Flood 4000 years ago, however, science dates them as having begun growing 1000 years ago. The bark of the tree is self regenerating and in some parts of Africa, babies are wash in stewed bark to give them strength.

Baobab is a magical fruit!

Baobab is a magical fruit!

Most parts of the tree can be used. The bark can be used to make rope and the trunk is hollow and can store thousands of gallons of water that can be extracted during drought. It also acts as a home to bats and snakes, and even humans. Famously, a district commissioner in Zambia once set up his office inside a baobab tree and a tree still standing in Western Australia was used to imprison Aboriginal convicts in the 1890s.
Baobab is a sticky powdery fruit encased in a hard outer shell. It has a taste similar to citrus and sherbert. In its native counties, baobab is used in a variety of ways, most often the seeds are roasted to make coffee and the fruit mixed with water to form lemonade or made into a jam that has a tart flavor, like lemon curd and a gritty texture like pear. The leaves can be eaten as relish or soup and the seeds used to produce edible oil which is also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
Baobab is not an easily edible fruit in its natural state. Along with the difficulty of shipping, this means that baobab is most often found in Europe already powdered, ready to be used as a superfood addition to smoothies and juices or as an ingredient in raw or cooked dishes.


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Baomix : the extraordinary benefits of the baobab fruit pulp

The baobab tree (Adansonia digitata L) is a member of the Bombacaceae family and a genus of eight species of tree. The baobab is widely distributed through the savannas and drier regions of Africa but it is also common in America, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China and Jamaica.

The generic name honours Michel Adanson, the French naturalist who described Adansonia for the first time. Digitata refers to the fingers of a hand, which the leaflets bring to mind.

Baomix production and Baobab fruit pulp health benefit

The tree is also commonly called the upside-down tree, bottle tree, and monkey-bread tree. The trees reach heights of 20 metres with a trunk 10 metres in diameter and branches 50 metres in diameter.

The baobab has long been an important source of human nutrition. Indigenous peoples traditionally use the leaves, bark, roots, fruit and seeds as foodstuffs, as well as in medicines for humans and animals.

Fruit harvesting and production process

Upon pollination by fruit bats, the tree produces large green or brownish fruits which are capsules and characteristically indehiscent (they don’t open to release fruit). The capsules contain a soft, whitish, powdery pulp and kidney-shaped seeds.

All baobab fruit used in our production comes from Senegal. The fruits are collected right in Senegal’s driest regions, under the supervision of expertly-qualified professionals. We focus our activity on abundant species of baobab, whose fruit can be collected with minimal environmental impact. Consequently, the fruits and seeds are the main parts of the plant that are collected, rather than the roots or bark of a particular species.

We use a simple, exclusively mechanical process to obtain the fruit pulp. After the fruit is harvested, the hard outer shell of the fruit is cracked open and the contents are removed. The seeds are then separated from the fibrous material and mesocarp. This is screened to remove further unwanted fibrous and flaky material, leaving a fine mesocarp powder (fruit pulp). Finally, the food grade powder is milled and packaged.

Baomix organic Baobab fruit pulp

Baomix organic Baobab fruit pulp

Vitamins and minerals

Baobab fruit is known for its high content of ascorbic acid (vitamin C); specifically, 100 g of wet pulp contains up to 300 mg of vitamin C, approximately six times more than the ascorbic acid content of one orange or lemon.

The fruit also contains other essential vitamins, such as vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin or PP).

In addition, the fruit contributes to the supply of other important dietary nutrients, such as minerals. 100 g of wet pulp contains about 300 mg of calcium, 3000 mg of potassium and 30 mg of phosphorus.

Serving instructions

Suggested intake — 5-15g per day. Use baobab as a perfect addition to your desserts and smoothies. It is also excellent for dipping fruit into to add a little bit of extra scrummyness.


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The Baobabs are full of mystery and wonder in Africa, tales have been brought down verbally from generation to generation. We have tried to compile as much as possible regarding this great tree of life.

Legends of the Baobab Tree

Picture © 2004 J.F. Broekhuis

Focus on these legends

A very, very long time ago, some African legends say that the first baobab sprouted beside a small lake. As it grew taller and looked about it spied other trees, noting their colorful flowers, straight and handsome trunks, and large leaves. Then one day the wind died away leaving the water smooth as a mirror, and the tree finally got to see itself. The reflected image shocked it to its root hairs. Its own flowers lacked bright color, its leaves were tiny, it was grossly fat, and its bark resembled the wrinkled hide of an old elephant.

In a strongly worded invocation to the creator, the baobab complained about the bad deal it’d been given. This impertinence had no effect: Following a hasty reconsideration, the deity felt fully satisfied. Relishing the fact that some organisms were purposefully less than perfect, the creator demanded to know whether the baobab found the hippopotamus beautiful, or the hyena’s cry pleasant-and then retired in a huff behind the clouds.

But back on earth the barrel-chested whiner neither stopped peering at its reflection nor raising its voice in protest. Finally, an exasperated creator returned from the sky, seized the ingrate by the trunk, yanked it from the ground, turned it over, and replanted it upside down. And from that day since, the baobab has been unable to see its reflection or make complaint; for thousands of years it has worked strictly in silence, paying off its ancient transgression by doing good deeds for people. All across the African continent some variation on this story is told to explain why this species is so unusual and yet so helpful.


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Many cultures claim to remember a time when great and ancient trees cloaked vast areas of the earth. The enchanting original forests and foreboding gigantic trees were of mythical dimensions and proportions.

The Mythical Baobab

The Mythical Baobab

Learn more about the mythical Baobab

The African baobab is a living embodiment of timeless affinities with nature common to many peoples throughout the continent. It serves as a metaphoric window into Africa’s real or imagined past, through which we may view practices said to be of great antiquity.

Visitors to Sukur are warned not to approach a certain ancient baobab tree because, villagers say, it turns people into hermaphrodites.

Several myths that use the baobab as a backdrop for teaching moral lessons are told by the Bushmen or Hausa people of Northern Nigeria. One tale involving the baobab which is used to explain a phenomenon of nature as well as teach a moral lesson is the myth “The Tale of the Superman”. In this story a husband boasts to his wife that he is the strongest man alive. He learns of another man who claims to be “superman”, and goes to seek him out. This second “superman” is actually an extremely powerful superhuman who kicks up wind wherever he goes and eats men for dinner. While trying to escape from “superman”, the husband comes across the “Giant-of-the-Forest” sitting under a baobab tree. The giant offers to help the husband, and enters into a terrible fight with “superman”. In their struggle to free themselves from each other’s grasp, they leap to such a height they disappear into the heavens. As a result, their struggle can be heard as thunder.

The moral of the story is summed up by the wife who says, “Never boast about your achievements again. However strong or clever or rich or powerful you are, there is always somebody more so.