A baobab (Adansonia digitata) is an interesting addition to a bonsai collection. These trees are native to Africa and have an unusual structure and appearance. Some legends say that the tree was cast down from the heavens and landed upside down, where it began to grow. This story is no doubt a result of the tree’s appearance in the winter, when the upper branches of the tree look more like roots than treetops. The baobab has some specific needs, but if you pay careful attention to its requirements, this tree is not difficult to grow and makes an excellent bonsai specimen.
Keep the baobab tree warm, since it is sensitive to the cold. This tropical tree grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and up, but in most areas of the United States, a baobab bonsai is kept only as a houseplant. You can set it outside on warm days, but if the temperature drops below 54 degrees, the tree may die.
Place the tree in a bright, sunny window. Baobabs need at least six hours of full sunlight per day, so a window with a western or southern exposure is best. If your house doesn’t get enough light, supplement natural light with artificial grow lights for 16 hours daily, or less if the tree receives partial sunlight.
Water the tree well about once a month during the growing season or whenever the soil is dry. Never water the tree when it is dormant, since to do so is likely to cause root rot and kill it.
Feed a baobab bonsai a good-quality liquid fertilizer about once a month, applying the fertilizer when you water the tree. Due to the nature of the bonsai pot and root system, the fertilizer must be diluted to no more than half the normal strength, or you risk burning the roots and killing the tree.
Prune the branches of your baobab bonsai as often as they need it to give the tree the shape you desire, pruning or pinching off branches that are growing at odd angles or are too long. Trim early in the spring before new growth appears.
Repot the baobab bonsai every two years in the spring. Remove it from its pot and trim the roots back by one-third to two-thirds of their length, completely removing any that are damaged or dead. Place it in a container that is twice the size of the root ball and fill the pot with a mixture of 70 percent compost and 30 percent salt-free sand. Water well to minimize shock and be sure to keep it warm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Baobab tree (known scientifically as Adansonia digitata) is often called the tree of life because it stores life-sustaining water inside its trunk and branches. In Africa, India, and Madagascar, where the tree grows in arid regions, the tree’s water is a valuable resource. The Baobab tree is an ancient survivor; some Baobab trees may live for several thousand years.
The phrase « tree of life » is rooted in religious history. The original tree of life was in the Garden of Eden, Jews and Christians believe. In the Torah and the Bible, cherubim angels guard the tree of life from humans who had fallen into sin: « After he [God] drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life » (Genesis 3:24). Jews believe that archangel Metatron now guards the tree of life in the spiritual realm.
Miraculous Water Help:
When nomadic people and wild animals (such as giraffes and elephants) can’t find enough water from their usual sources during a drought, they would be in danger of dying from dehydration if it weren’t for the Baobab tree, which stores the water they need to stay alive. People cut the tree’s branches or trunk to access drinking water that is miraculously available even during severe droughts. Animals chew on the Baobab tree’s branches to open them up, and then use the branches like straws to drink the water from inside the tree. Large Baobab trees may contain more than 30,000 gallons of water at once.
Fruit from Baobab trees (sometimes called « monkey fruit » because baboons love to eat it) contains high concentrations of antioxidants, which protect the cells in people’s bodies from damage. Baobab fruit, which tastes like cream of tartar, features lots of the popular antioxidant vitamin C (which may help prevent cancer and heart disease). The mineral calcium (which helps keep bones strong) is also abundant in Baobab fruit. Other healing ingredients found in Baobab fruit include vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and iron. People can also eat the fruit’s seeds and the leaves of the Baobab tree.
The Baobab, also known as ‘The Tree of Life’, is an extraordinary African tree. It can live as long as 5000 years and the trunk can reach up to 82 feet in circumference. Baobab is often called the ‘upside down tree’ as its branches look like roots.
The baobab fruit looks like a large velvety-green coconut. Inside are large seeds, coated with powder that has a tangy taste of caramel pear with a hint of grapefruit. This precious natural powder has an array of nutrients and health benefits.
The benefits of this extraordinary organic baobab fruit powder
Raw organic baobab fruit is highly nutritious and rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Manganese, Zinc, Phosphorus, Iron, protein and dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble). And with an ORAC value of 1,400 per gram, Baobab Fruit Powder exceeds the ORAC values of many other popular super fruits.
Ounce for ounce, the baobab fruit contains six times the Vitamin C found in oranges, three times the iron found in spinach, three times the antioxidants found in blueberries, three times the calcium found in milk, and six times the potassium of bananas. Baobab fruit also contains all 8 essential amino acids and is rich in pectins, triterpenoids beta-sitosterol, beta-amyrin palmitate, alpha-amyrin palmitate, sterols, saponins, triterpenes & ursolic acids.
The Baobab fruit is known for its high content of Vitamin C; in particular, 100 grams of pulp contain up to 300 mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C has been used to combat scurvy, a syndrome occurring in humans whose diet is deficient in fresh fruit and vegetables, and protects against free radicals, because it is the most effective antioxidant in hydrophilic compartments. Additionally it contributes to several metabolic processes including collagen biosynthesis in connective tissue, neurotransmitter support, and in the steroidal hormones synthesis. It also increases the calcium absorption and iron bio-availability, and it is related to the prevention of many degenerative diseases (cataract formation, cardiovascular risks, arteriosclerosis).
Today, dietary fiber has gained increased importance as a component of the diet, for its capability to influence multiple aspects of the digestive tract. Baobab fruit powder is very high in dietary fiber which can be associated with a reduction of the risk of cellular mutation and other problems in the digestive tract, and in particular, the rectal colon tract.
The optimal level of dietary fiber consumption has not yet been defined, but it is generally accepted that fiber is fundamental in the composition of an healthy and balanced diet. Consumption of fiber rich foods also reduces constipation and weight gain. Baobab fruit pulp powder provides soluble and insoluble fibers, with an amount of about 50 grams/100 grams of powder. The insoluble fibers are not absorbed by the intestine and are useful for relieving constipation and to create a feeling of satiety.
The fruit also contains other essential vitamins, such are riboflavin (vitamin B2), necessary for growth and to maintain the integrity of nervous fibers, skin and eyes, as well as niacin (vitamin PP or B3) which is important for the regulation of several metabolic processes. The fruit contributes to the supply of other important dietary nutrients, including minerals and essential fatty acids. 100 grams of powder contains 293 mg of calcium, 2.31 mg of potassium, 96-118 mg of phosphorus, and α-linolenic acid (27 µg of acid per gram of product expressed in dry weight).
The Baobab fruit pulp shows interesting properties in the stimulation of the intestinal microflora growth. Studies carried out in Research Centers have shown that the hydrosoluble fraction of the fruit pulp has a stimulating effects on the proliferation of Bifidobacteria. In fact, soluble dietary fibers, like those contained in the pulp (about 25%), are known to have prebiotics effects stimulating the growth and/or the metabolic activity of beneficial organisms.
According to the International Centre for Underutilized Crops at the University of Southhampton, the baobab is ‘a fruit of the future’ because of its amazing nutritional benefits.
Some possible benefits of our Raw Organic Baobab Fruit Powder may include:
● Strong anti-oxidant with an ORAC value of 1,400 per gram
● Antibacterial & anti-fungal properties
● Source of soluble fibers with prebiotic activity
Suggested Use: Mix 1 tablespoon with juice, yogurt or add to your favorite smoothie.
Botanical Name: Adansonia digitata L.
Other Names: Boab, boaboa, bottle tree, magic tree, cream of tartar tree, king of fruits, Senegal calabash, chemist tree, Ethiopian sour gourd, symbol of the earth, the top-down tree, baobab, sour gourd, mawuyu, upside-down tree, monkey bread tree, cream of tartar tree, the vitamin tree
Origin: Senegal – Certified Organic
Baomix strives to offer the highest quality organically grown, non-GMO, raw products available using low temperature drying techniques that preserve the vital enzymes and nutrients. Our raw Baobab Fruit Powder passes our strict quality assurance which includes testing for botanical identity, heavy metals, chemicals and microbiological contaminants. Baomix.com offers raw Baobab Fruit Powder packaged in airtight stand-up, resealable foil pouches for optimum freshness. Once opened, just push the air out of the pouch before resealing it in order to preserve maximum potency. Keep your raw Baobab Fruit Powder in a cool, dark, dry place.
If you want to learn more about the Baobab, Adansonia digitata Bombacaceae, take a look at the descriptions below.
You’ll know everything about its local names, notanic description, biology, ecology, biophysical limits, documented species distribution, products, services, tree management, germplasm management, or pests and diseases.
English (upside-down tree,baobab,guinea tamarind,monkey bread tree,lemonade tree,cream-of-tartar tree,sour gourd);
French (pain de singe, baobab, calebassier,arbre aux calabasses,mapou zombi,mapou etranger);
Hindi (gorakh-imli,gorak lichora,gorak amla,gorak ali,gorakh-cinch,kapla-vriksha,khura-sani-imli);
Sinhala (aliha gaha); Somali (yak);
Tigrigna (kommer,hermer banba,momret,duma);
Tongan (mubuyu); Tswana (mowana);
Adansonia digitata is a large, round canopied tree with a swollen trunk, about 10-25 m in height, often with a bole of 3-10 m (giant individuals attain a girth of up to 28 m); bark is soft, smooth, fibrous, reddish-brown, greyish-brown or purplish-grey; bark of leaf-bearing branches is normally ashy on the last node; a green layer below the outer, waxy layer of the bark, presumably to assist in photosynthesis when the tree has shed its leaves.
The thick, fibrous bark is remarkably fire resistant, and even if the interior is completely burnt out, the tree continues to live. Regrowth after fire results in a thickened, uneven integument that gives the tree its gnarled appearance resembling an elephant’s skin but that serves as added protection against fire. Mature thick and extensive lateral roots anchor the tree on the ground and end in clusters of potatolike tubers; the thick, strong, prominent taproot at 6 months is 3 times the length of the seedling; roots grow fast but never penetrate far beyond a depth of 2 m, which explains why in old age they are often found toppled when the branches increase in weight.
Leaves alternate, digitately 3- to 9-foliate; leaflets oblong to ovate, 5-15 x 3-7 cm, lower leaflets being the smallest and terminal leaflet the largest; leaflets dark green, with short, soft hairs; lateral veins looping; apex and base tapering; margin entire; petiolules absent or almost so; petiole up to 12 cm long.
Flowers a waxy white, up to 20 cm in diameter, axillary, solitary, pendulous, bisexual; all floral parts in 5s; calyx deeply lobed, with white, silky hairs inside; large, crinkly, spreading petals; many stamens on a large central column that is shed with the petals; ovary superior, 5-10 chambered; petals bruise easily and become brown; flowers have an unpleasant scent.
Fruit ovoid, 12 cm or more in length, with a hard, woody shell, covered with yellowish-grey velvety hairs, indehiscent; seeds smooth, embedded in a whitish powdery pulp, have little or no endosperm.
The name commemorates the French botanist Michel Adanson (1727- 1806), who lived in Senegal for 6 years and wrote a work on that country’s natural history. Linneaus dedicated the genus and species to him; ‘digitata’ means hand shaped, referring to the shape of the leaf.
Mostly bats (Ephormorphus wahlbergii and Rousettus aegyptiacus) pollinate the flowers. The flowers emit what some describe as a strong carrion smell, which is presumably attractive to the bats; it is also known to attract the bluebottle fly (Chrysomyia marginalis) and at least 3 nocturnal moths: American bollworm (Heliothis armigera), red bollworm (Diparopsis castanea) and spring bollworm (Earias biplaga). In East Africa, the bush baby (Galago crassicaudatus) feeds nocturnally on the flowers, thus aiding in pollination. In southern Africa the tree flowers from October to December and fruits from April to May.
The tree is characteristic of thorn woodlands of the African savannahs, which are characterized by low altitudes with 4-10 dry months a year split into 1 or 2 periods. A. digitata is resistant to fire, termite and drought, and prefers a high watertable. It occurs as isolated individuals or grouped in clumps irrespective of soil type. It is not found in areas of deep sand, presumably because it is unable to obtain sufficient anchorage and moisture. A. digitata is very sensitive to waterlogging and frost. All A. digitata locations can be described as arid and semi-arid, with not more than a day frost per year.
Altitude: 0-1500 m, Mean annual rainfall: (100)250-1 000(1500) mm. Soil type: Shows a preference for well-drained soils that are acidic
Documented species distribution
Native: Exotic: Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gabon, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Martinique, Mauritius, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Sao Tome et Principe, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, US, Virgin Islands (US)
The map above shows countries where the species have been planted. It does neither suggest that the species can be planted in every ecological zone within that country, nor that the species can not be planted in other countries than those depicted. Since some tree species are invasive, you need to follow biosafety procedures that apply to your planting site.
Food: An edible white, powdery pulp found in the fruit is very rich in vitamin C and B2 and makes a refreshing drink. Ripe fruits are collected and cracked to remove the ‘flour’, which is mixed with milk to prepare a flavoured fermented porridge. Young leaves are also rich in Vitamin C, contain uronic acids, and are high in demand in West Africa as a soup vegetable. In Ferlo, North Senegal, an extract of the leaves, called ‘lalo’, is used to give couscous (millet porridge) a smooth consistency. The leaves also form an excellent condiment and seasoning.
The small stem and roots of the seedlings are eaten as vegetable; mature, thick roots are cooked and eaten during famine. A root decoction is widely used in Sierra Leone as food. It is prepared by boiling, roasting, soaking or fermenting the roots, and tastes like almonds. Having a high water content, the wood is chewed by humans and animals in case of extreme water scarcity. The wood can be used as a salt substitute. The acid pith is used as a substitute for cream of tartar in baking, to curdle milk and smoke fish. It is also roasted and used as a coffee substitute. The seeds contain appreciable quantities of tartaric acid and potassium bitar; they are refreshing to suck, and when soaked in water make a palatable drink.
Fodder: Young leaves, fruit, pods and seeds provide fodder for game and domestic animals. During drought, donkeys and game animals chew both the bark and fibrous wood for sap. Livestock and game often destroy young trees.
Apiculture: The tree is a source of fine quality honey. Wild bees manage to perforate the soft wood and lodge their honey in the holes. In many parts of Africa, the hollow trunks are used for beekeeping.
Fuel: The long-fibred wood is suitable for firewood. The shell and seeds are also used for fuel, which potters use to smooth earthenware necklaces before firing.
Fibre: The bark from the lower part of the stem of younger trees and of the roots can be removed to produce a valuable fibre. If managed properly the trees are not seriously damaged, and even after repeated use the bark regenerates and can be stripped again some years later. It is used to make excellent cordage, ropes, harness straps, mats, snares and fishing lines, fibre cloth, musical instrument strings tethers, bed-springs and bow strings. In both Senegal and Ethiopia, the fibres are woven into waterproof hats that may also serve as drinking vessels. The fibre is the best for making the famous ‘kiondo’ baskets of Kenya. Strong, tough and tear-resistant paper is produced from the fibre. It is commercially exploited in India for currency notes.
Timber: The wood is whitish, spongy and light (air-dried 320 kg/cubic m). It is used for making canoes, rafts, insulating boards, wooden platters and trays, boxes and floats for fishing nets.
Gum or resin: Glue can be made by mixing flower pollen with water.
Tannin or dyestuff: The wood contains some tannins, and the acid pith is used to coagulate rubber. In East Africa, the roots produce a useful red dye.
Lipids: A non-drying, golden yellow oil of agreeable taste, which is used in gala occasions in Senegal, may be obtained by distilling the seeds. In Bicha and Mondo villages in Tanzania, A. digitata seeds are used as a substitute for cooking oil.
Alcohol: The Wasandawe of Tanzania use the liquid from the pulp for brewing beer, as do the Akamba people of Kenya, who use the seed pulp as fermenting agent in some local beer.
Poison: The bark is boiled for days to extract a substance poisonous to ants. Fruit pulp burns with an acrid, irritating smoke that can be used to deter insects troublesome to livestock.
Medicine: Hyposensitive and antihistamine properties are present in the leaves, which are used to treat kidney and bladder diseases, asthma, general fatigue, diarrhoea, insect bites, and guinea worm. Leaf and flower infusions are valued for respiratory problems, digestive disorders and eye inflammation. The seed paste is used for curing tooth and gum diseases. The fruit pulp, seed and bark are reputedly an antidote to Strophanthus poisoning. Gum from the bark is used for cleansing sores. It is also used as an expectorant and a diaphoretic. The bark is used in steam baths for calming shivering and high fever. A decoction of the roots is taken as a remedy for lassitude impotence and kwashiorkor. The bark is boiled and taken as a cure for body pains. This infusion is also used to treat colds, fever and influenza. Seeds are used to cure gastric, kidney and joint diseases; they are roasted then ground and the powder smeared on the affected part or drunk in water.
Other products: Ash from the shell, bark and seed, rich in potash, is widely used in making soap, prepared by boiling the bark and fruit ash in oil. The shell can be used as a dish, water dipper, vessel for liquids, snuffbox, fishing float; it also makes an excellent rat trap. The powdered husk or penducule may be smoked as a tobacco substitute or added to snuff to increase pungency. The pulp extract can be used as a hair wash.
Soil improver: Decaying wood of a tree that has died of old age or from lightning is spread on fields as a fertilizer. Ashes from the shell, bark and seed are rich in potash and are useful as a fertilizer.
Ornamental: A. digitata is a popular species for bonsai specimens. The South African ‘Baobab Style’ originated with A. digitata.
Other services: In dry regions, A. digitata plays a vital role in water storage; a hollowed trunk may be carved out in 3-4 days. A medium-sized tree may hold 400 gallons while a large tree could contain over 2000 gallons, and water stored in them is said to remain sweet for several years if the hollow is kept well closed.
In East Africa the trunks are hollowed out to provide shelter and storage, and in West Africa the hollowed trunks are sometimes used as tombs.
Once established, the seedlings grow well, becoming 2 m tall in 2 years, and 7 m tall in 10 years. The tree then grows slowly but lives long; under favourable conditions some A. digitata may live for more than 1000 years. There is a prehistoric drawing of an A. digitata tree at the National Museums of Kenya. The trunk may even shrink during periods of severe drought. A. digitata may be pollarded or lopped to encourage abundance of leaves.
Seeds are probably orthodox; no loss in viability during 1 year of hermetic storage at 4 deg. C; viability can be maintained for several years in hermetic storage at 3 deg. C with 8-11 % mc. There are normally 2000-3000 seeds/kg.
Pests and diseases
The tree is very much liked by elephants, which cut the storage tissue of the bole and can damage or even destroy a tree.
Insects include cotton bollworms (Diparopsis castanea, Earias biplaga and Heliothis armigera), cotton stainer bugs (Dysercus fasciatus, D. intermedius, D. nigrofasciatus, D. suberstitious, Odontopus exsanguinis, O. sexpunctatus and Oxycarenus albipennis), and flea beetles (Podagrica spp.). Pollarding was formerly practised in the Sudan to control cotton stainers, but was also found to stop the fruiting for at least 2 years. In Ghana an unidentified black beetle is reported to damage and eventually destroy branches by girdling. Also from West Africa there is a report that a long¬horn beetle, Aneleptes trifascicata, attacks and kills young trees by girdling the stem. In the Transvaal, the masonga caterpillar or mopane worm, Gonimbrasia herlina, is said to feed on the leaves.
A. digitata is also host to members of the Pseudococcoidae family, the mealy bugs, which act as the vectors for various virus diseases of cocoa in West Africa, as well as the cocoa capsid, Distantiella theobroma. The sooty baobab syndrome is an episodic, drought-induced phenomenon related to climatic changes, made worse in recent times by human interference that limits local availability of soil moisture. Affected trees, which appear dead or dying exhibit a striking, blackened or burnt appearance, hence the colloquial term ‘sooty baobabs’.
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Also known as the Giant Madagascar baobab (Adansonia grandidieri), or Grandidier’s baobab, this iconic tree once towered over Madagascar’s dramatic arid western landscapes but now exists in only five known locations.
Its thick, bottle-shaped trunks hold large amounts of water, an extremely valuable resource to people and wildlife living in the drier regions of this island nation.
The baobab reflects the uniqueness of Madagascar’s flora. All but one of the world’s eight baobab species survive here, and most are found nowhere else on the planet.
More information about the giant Baobab tree of Madagascar
Malagasy communities call this tree the “mother of the forest”, because of its edible fruits, oil-bearing seeds, and bark that can be made into rope. In many areas, certain believers consider individual baobabs sacred and make regular offerings. Like other large trees in habitats around the world, this baobab plays an essential role in the local ecosystem. While nocturnal bats pollinate most baobabs, this particular species is pollinated by nocturnal lemurs.
Its status as a resource provider and occasional sacred site has spared individual baobabs in areas where much of the original forests has been cleared. Scientists believe that in earlier times, baobabs grew in deciduous forests near to water. Today, however, they are scattered throughout degraded lands.
The baobab has difficulty reproducing in these unnatural conditions, which has resulted in a steadily aging population. Converting land for agricultural development has dramatically transformed, and in turn reduced, the baobab’s habitat. Competition from invasive species only worsens the situation, placing the species – and the abundant life it once supported – under threat.
Scientists expect habitat loss and climate change to cause many extinctions of plant species. CI-Madagascar is working closely with nongovernmental and government partners, as well as local communities, to address the country’s deforestation and land management issues.
In 2003, the Madagascar government committed to tripling the size of its current protected area network. By identifying sites, or Key Biodiversity Areas, where threatened species such as the baobab are known to exist, we are helping to ensure that protected areas include the most critical places for conservation.
Since the global conservation status of most plants have never been assessed, many species are likely to disappear before we know they exist. The majestic baobab, itself on the brink of extinction, stands as a symbol for those plants we may yet lose.
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.
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.
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.
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.”