What is a Baobab Tree?
Adansonia digitata -- Baobab Tree
Also known as the monkey-bread tree, the baobab tree originated in Africa. This deciduous tree can live to be upwards of 1,500 years old.
It averages anywhere from twenty to eighty feet tall, coupled with a large, barrel-like trunk with a diameter up to forty-five feet.
Baobab trees grow in a solitary pattern, and the larger ones often serve as a kind of landmark in the environment they are located in.
The roots have a tremendous span, which allows for the dry, desert-like conditions it is tailored for. The entire tree looks as if it is growing upside down, and indeed, some cultures believe that the Gods intentionally planted them in reverse.
During the summertime, the baobab tree produces large white flowers. These flowers open during the afternoon, and only remain open for twenty-four hours before turning brown and dropping to the ground.
While the scent of the flowers while blooming is pleasant, once they have dropped, they emit a smell similar to rotting meat. The tree produces an incandescent, egg-shaped fruit that is harvested for its nutritional value.
The baobab tree is used as a valuable source of fresh water in dry, desert-like environments. This is because rainwater collects in the areas where the large branches meet.
Some baobab trees even have a part of their central trunk hollowed out to act as a water reservoir for nearby people. The decaying flowers are not wasted, serving as a favorite food source for domestic animals, such as cattle and goats.
The baobab tree is distinguished as being the largest succulent plant in existence. Baobab fruit has more calcium than spinach and more vitamin C than citrus fruit.
It is also a good source of potassium. The entire fruit acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping to prevent against cancer by guarding against free radicals and carcinogens.
It can also be used to help guard against fevers and helps quell the symptoms of both malaria and dysentery. Baobab has anti-inflammatory properties, and can act as a moderate analgesic.
Amongst some African tribes, Baobab trees can play host to evil spirits. It is particularly bad luck to pick the flowers, and doing so will almost certainly result in death or serious injury.
The baobab tree is associated with good health and longevity. Soaking the seeds in water and then drinking the liquid is said to promote a long life, as well as increasing fertility in women.
The baobab is an extremely resilient tree. If it is cut down, it simply begins to regrow again from the roots up. It’s association with survival even in harsh circumstances makes it a powerful amulet against adversity when it is carried or worn as a charm.
The bark of the baobab tree is valued for its ability to grant strength and courage. African mothers often bathe their infant sons in water that has been infused with baobab bark in order to ensure that he grows up with the warrior spirit.