BaoBab “Tree of Life”
BaoBab Tree the representative of the African continent and Tree of Life.
BaoBab “Tree of Life”
The Baobab tree is one of the ancient trees that is also known as the “Tree of life”. It is the representative of the African continent. The appearance of the tree makes it different from other trees and they can become enormous in size from 5m to 20m in height. The method of carbon dating (a process to estimate the age of carbon-based organisms like the tree) shows that they can survive about 3000 years. The smooth and glossy trunks of this tree have variation in their color ranging from pinkish-grey to copper.
It has an astonishing look without the leaves. It looks like a tree that has been planted upside-down as the leafless branches seem like roots upward. They can grow new barks if they have been stripped and survive fires. They are too fit to die easily.
For its enormous size and longevity, it is able to form and behold an ecosystem on its own. Different types of insects and animals are dependent on this tree. For instance, its fruit is for baboons, branches for the birds as shelter, flowers for the fruit bats and bush babies to drink its nectar, and the elephants sometimes take the whole tree in their palate (giant meets giant).
The older trees are different in comparison to the younger ones. Though they grow like other trees, they die exceptionally. It rots internally after death and mounds of fiber remain where the tree stood once. They disappear as soon as they fall on the ground like a magical tree. This makes the people believe that they don’t die, they disappear.
Baobab Flowers and Fruit
The big, white and open baobab’s flowers can produce a pungent scent at night. The scent attracts the bats to taste their nectar. On the other hand, the baobab flower’s blooming cycle is a perfect match for the lifestyle of the nocturnal bats. In exchange for this nutritious treat, the bats serve the trees by pollinating the flowers.
The baobab fruits are also pretty big. The largest size can be 30 cm! The fruit also looks like a dead rat hanging on the tree for their gourd-like size and having gray fur. So, it has also derived the name “dead rat tree.” They are full of vitamin C and tartaric acid. The amount of vitamin C is six-time higher than that of an orange.
Use of Baobab Tree
The baobab tree has more than 300 uses. You can eat the baobab leaves like spinach. All you have to do is to boil the rich iron-containing leaves. The seeds can be used as a substitution of coffee. If pressed, you can make oil from them to cook or make cosmetics. They have market value in Africa and in the European, US, and Canada.
There is a very old baobab tree in Zimbabwe. The hollow trunk of this tree can hold up to 40 people inside. You will be surprised to know the various use of the trunks’ usage. People have been using them over the years as houses, shops, storage barns, bus shelters, and even as prisons.
Locally, the fruit pulp is made into juice, jam, or fermented to make beer. The young seedlings have a taproot that can be eaten like a carrot. The flowers are also edible. The roots can be used to make red dye. Its fruit can be soaked in the water to make a glass of refreshing drink like lemonade. It also gives a coffee-like drink if you ground up and roast it. We can make glue from its pollen. The useful bark of this tree can be used to make rope, paper, baskets, mats, and cloth.
The reason for the death of Baobab
It is a matter of great concern that African baobab specimens are on the way of extinction since 2005. It is evident as 9 of the 13 specimens and 5 of the 6 largest trees have been damaged to death. Scientists suggested that these phenomenons may have been caused by the effects of climate change. Though more work needs to be done to definitively connect the dots between climate change and baobab mortality, a different study, published in Biological Conservation, has already concluded that changing climates will harm two of the three endangered baobab species in Madagascar.