The baobab tree is a remarkable tree, so much so that it’s had a legendary status for centuries in the scorching, arid landscapes of Africa, Madagascar and Australia that it inhabits.
We also think it's wondrous, while it’s not called the ‘Tree of Life’ for nothing! Here are our top ten fascinating baobab tree facts:
1. The baobab tree grows to epic proportions
And we mean epic. It’s not unusual for these trees to live for 2,000 years and have trunks of 15 metres in circumference.
In fact, there’s one living in the Limpopo Province of South Africa that’s said to be over 6,000 years old and have a trunk that measures 47 metres all the way around.
That’s some measuring tape! The baobab tree doesn’t grow to form rings in its trunk like other trees, so can only be roughly dated using carbon dating.
2. It truly is the stuff of legend, despite looking a bit odd
With its spindly branches, the baobab tree looks like it’s been de-rooted, turned upside down and planted again. Over the centuries, there have been many myths created as to why this is, mostly involving a God like deity taking it from the ground and tossing it aside only for it to take hold again wherever it landed.
All manner of mystical tales have been passed down the generations about this amazing tree, from elixirs for a long life to tonics made from the seeds protecting against crocodile attacks.
It’s also said that two intertwined baobab trees in Madagascar are that way because of a young couple from different villages who fell in love, quite against the wishes of the elder villagers. These two trees are still intertwined, centuries later, together forever, just as the young couple had wanted to be.
3. Baobab trees empower women
Because the baobab tree is so ubiquitous in the dry, hot Savannah’s of Africa, charities are bringing groups of African women together, training them up in running a business and helping them out with small business loans.
These women are already selling the baobab fruit at local markets but, using the small loans, can process and store more fruit. This means they can trade at new and bigger markets while forming small co-operatives with other sellers.
These co-operatives attract the attention of larger, international buyers and the women are able to sell the baobab fruit in bulk, thus helping to reduce poverty and empower women.
4. The baobab tree provides safety
It’s not just the trunk, or stem, of the baobab tree that’s enormous, it’s root-like branches reach far and wide, providing much-needed shelter and safety for the people and wildlife that share the sun-scorched plains it lives on.
5. Every single part of the baobab tree is useful
The obvious use is in the timber industry, but as each baobab tree grows, it’s stem hollows out, allowing it to store thousands of gallons of water for it to use to survive when the drought season approaches, just like cacti do.
It’s the spare hollows the tree isn’t using that ingenious farmers use to safely store grain and farming tools, reducing the need for extra buildings, freeing up precious space for extra farming.
Plus that’s not all, the leaves of the tree are cooked and eaten as a spinach-like vegetable, the fibrous pulp that comes from the bark is used to make paper, clothing, grain sacks and fishing nets and the sap is used to make glue, rubber and soap.
The true superhero from the baobab tree, however, is the fruit, but more of that later. It’s little wonder this tree is so honoured.
6. A baobab tree can regenerate itself
Fire, drought, termite attack, it can recover from it all. Even if it’s bark is stripped it will grow back. There are baobab trees in Africa that have spears lodged in their trunks from battles long since over. The tree simply grows more bark over the ‘wound’ and carries on sharing its wares with its people.
7. Baobab trees do have one Achilles heel
Back in 2004, it was reported that some trees were sadly giving in to an unknown disease that was making the trees turn black and die.
It was assumed it was caused by a fungus which could only take hold if the tree already had some damage to it, often caused unwittingly by an elephant stopping for a rest at the roots. It’s a problem that we hope, for the sake of our baobab farmer’s livelihoods, doesn’t become any bigger.
8. You can get drunk in its trunk
Quite literally. Remember that 6,000-year-old tree in Limpopo? Well, one adventurous couple has turned the hollow trunk into a bar that comfortably seats 15 people, their drinks and a dartboard…
9. The baobab fruit is a vitamin C powerhouse
The fruit from the baobab tree contains more vitamin C than oranges and kiwis. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it helps protect against free radicals, nasty toxins that build up and cause disease, but it doesn’t just help our immune systems.
Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen and elastin, which help keep our skin plump and younger looking and speed up wound healing.
Also, it’s not just it’s superiority in vitamin C, baobab fruit contains more potassium than bananas, more calcium than cow’s milk, more fibre than apples and more magnesium than avocados. So ditch your multivitamin tablet and go baobab!
10. It’s easy to add this super-fruit to your diet!
Our fantastic baobab powder comes directly from the dehydrated pulp of the baobab fruit (just dehydration in the sun, then ground to a powder, nothing else), it’s certified organic and has a delicious citrusy and tangy taste.
When added to water, this simple drink can be enjoyed any time of day, after exercise as a sugar-free mineral-rich drink to re-hydrate, as a pre-winter, immune boosting shield against seasonal bugs or simply as a refreshing alternative to water.
Sustainable, empowering, protecting, nutritious and delicious.