In a Nutshell:
* Adansonia digitata, the baobab, is the most widespread tree species of the genus Adansonia, the baobabs, and is native to the African continent.
* The long-lived pachycauls are typically found in dry, hot savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa, where they dominate the landscape, and reveal the presence of a watercourse from afar
* Their growth rate is determined by ground water or rainfall, and their maximum age, which is subject to much conjecture, seems to be in the order of 1,500 years.
* They have traditionally been valued as sources of food, water, health remedies or places of shelter and are steeped in legend and superstition.
* The trees usually grow as solitary individuals, and are large and distinctive elements of savannah or scrublandvegetation. Some large individuals live to well over a thousand years of age. All baobab trees are deciduous, losing their leaves in the dry season, and remain leafless for nine months of the year.
* Many consider the tree to be “upside-down” due to the trunk likeness to a taproot and the branches akin to finer capillary roots.
* During the early summer (October to December in southern hemisphere) the tree bears very large, heavy, white flowers.
* The indehiscent fruit are large, egg-shaped capsules. They are filled with pulp that dries, hardens, and falls to pieces which look like chunks of powdery, dry bread. The seed are hard, black and kidney-shaped.
* Adansonia trees produce faint growth rings, probably annually, but they are not reliable for aging specimens, because they are difficult to count and may fade away as the wood ages. Radiocarbon dating has provided data on a few individuals of A. digitata. The Panke baobab in Zimbabwe was some 2,450 years old when it died in 2011, making it the oldest angiosperm ever documented, and two other trees — Dorslandboom in Namibia and Glencoe in South Africa — were estimated to be approximately 2,000 years old.
* The baobab is a traditional food plant in Africa, but is little-known elsewhere. The fruit has been suggested to have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care.
* In 2008, the European Union approved the use and consumption of baobab fruit. It is commonly used as an ingredient in smoothies and cereal bars. In 2009, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) granted generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status to baobab dried fruit pulp as a food ingredient.
* The African bushman legend states that Thora, the god, took a dislike to the baobab growing in his garden. Therefore, he threw it over the wall of Paradise onto the Earth below. The tree landed upside down and continued to grow. more...