Everybody knows the importance of trees to humankind. There are countless benefits we can get from trees, such as using them for food, shelter, medicine, paper, etc. But apart from its common benefits, there are certain varieties of trees that are deemed as ‘supertrees’, earning the title ‘the tree of life’ because of a vast number of uses, from the roots to the leaves. One famous example is Baobab tree. What is Baobab? Commonly seen in the savannas of India and Africa, the tree can live for thousands of years and can grow beyond 25 meters. This tree is gaining popularity, being a source of food, water storage container and many medicinal properties.
Scientifically called Adansonia digitata, Baobab is famous for its wide trunk, only exceed by sequoia in terms of trunk diameter. Although it has an enormous girth, the tree isn’t too tall and hence, has a bottlelike look. Baobab produces fruit that are oval in shape and furry. It is edible and the meat has a powdery texture and many seeds. Its unique characteristic of being leafless for nine months causes many people to call it as ‘upside-down tree’. It is because when viewed from afar, the intricate leafless branches look like tiny capillary roots. It is also nicknamed as ‘monkey bread tree’ because its fruit is very appealing to baboons.
What is Baobab and its Benefits
Baobab tree has the ability to store large volumes of water, containing nearly 30 000 gallons of water for larger trees. This water is then used by local nomads who don’t have any means to acquire water. To collect water from the trees, they use hollow straws to absorb and suck out water. Besides its water storage function, it is also an important source of food for African tribes. Its fruit is edible and the pulp is often mixed with water as a nutritious drink. Young leaves are also eaten as salads while the seeds are made into paste.
Baobab tree has numerous medicinal purposes. The fruit is rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants and calcium, which can effectively treat certain illnesses while the tree bark is used to treat fever. In fact, certain European scientists have used it instead of the cinchona bark to treat malaria. In addition, the bark of Baobab is used by the locals to make nets, ropes, musical string instruments, clothes and hats. To obtain the fiber, the bark is removed gently. Baobab trees typically regenerate bark once it is peeled out.
Baobab Being a ‘Supertree’
What is Baobab and why is it considered an impressive tree? While it sure does have countless benefits, this tree is regarded as an extraordinary tree due to a number of reasons. One is its ability to survive even in hostile environments, such as in extremely dry areas where little rainfall occurs. The tree copes by storing large amounts of water in its trunk to survive during drought. Baobab can be planted on any type of soil, even alkaline soils. They can also survive for a very long time, to the extent that some trees found today are already past a millennium in age.