Trees of the world: extraordinary African tree with a strange appearance

Monday 11 April 2016

The Baobab (Adansonia digitata) is an extraordinary African tree. It can live for almost a thousand years and reach a trunk circumference of up to thirty-five metres. In Zimbabwe there is one hollow Baobab so large that 40 people can stand inside it. The tree grows in extremely dry areas. It can survive these conditions by storing water in its trunk during the rainy season, making it swell to a bizarre thickness. The Baobab only has leaves for three months of the year, during the other nine it is bare.

In Africa the tree is used to store water, among other things. If a tree is hollowed out from above correctly, it will not die. Water stored in a hollowed-out tree like this stays fresh for years.

The Baobab's fruit looks like coconuts covered in green velvet. These fruits contain large numbers of seeds, covered with a powder that tastes like a mixture of caramel, pears and grapefruit. This powder is an incredibly rich source of vitamins and minerals: fifteen times more vitamin C than a pomegranate, five times more potassium than bananas, three times more antioxidants than blueberries and three times more calcium than milk. It also contains the eight essential amino acids that our bodies need.

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