Baobabs must be the most identifiable trees in the world. They are also called the upside-down tree, because the trunk and branches look like a huge root system…
Here are some fascinating facts about these botanic giants
- There are nine baobab species of which two occur in Africa. In South Africa, these trees are found in the northern parts of Limpopo. Musina is said to be the Baobab Town.
- Baobab trees that are believed to be the biggest in South Africa are the Sunland Baobab near Tzaneen, Limpopo, which has a bar built into its trunk; the Sagole Big Tree between Tshipise and Pafuri in the far north of Kruger; and the Glencoe Baobab outside the town of Hoedspruit, Limpopo. The girth and height of the Sunland one is 47m by 22m. Carbon dating shows that Baobabs can reach a very old age – 3 000 years and maybe more.
- Baobabs are deciduous trees and their large white flowers open at night. The inside of the fruit was used to make cream of tartar, a powder especially used in making meringues . Now it is a byproduct of wine production. The fruit is also high in vitamin C.
- Baobabs are extremely hardy. They can store thousands of litres of water in their trunks. When burnt or stripped of their bark by elephants, they just regrow the bark. When they die of old age, they implode into a heap of fibre.
- Baobabs are eco-friendly and they sustain many animals. Baboons eat their fruit, elephants their bark, bats and bush babies drink the nectar and pollinate the flowers, people boil and eat the leaves. The leaves are used for medicinal purposes and the bark is utilised in making ropes and baskets.
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Where to see these wonderful trees
In the northern area of Kruger National Park and in Mapungubwe National Park and Heritage Landscape. Or just drive from Pafuri to Messina to Louis Trichardt to Hoedspruit, to Tzaneen and you will find them.
Words and Photography Anita de Villiers
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