The majestic baobab is by far the most iconic tree of the African bush. There are nine species with two native to Africa. These giants can grow to be a 1000 years old! Tales of baobabs have always been told for generations. There is a famous story told that during the time when God was adding the finishing touches to the world, he knew that in Africa he needed to create something useful. Water would always be a problem on the continent so he came up with the baobab. The plan was to make the tree hollow in the top so that it could store water after the rains. God was very proud of this creation but the devil did not find it so
great. The devil took his revenge by turning all the trees upside down. If you look at a baobab you will notice that it looks like the roots are sticking up
into the sky, the hollow part now being in lower part of the tree.
The hollow tree trunks are still used as shelter by Bushmen. Some trunks can be big enough to accommodate up to 30 people. The wood of the tree is not very useful as it is too soft with a texture like that of a sponge. The fruits on the other hand are extremely useful and very healthy. Baobab fruit powder is regarded more and more as a super fruit. Oil can also be extracted from the seeds and used to moisturise skin, or the powder is included in various personal care products for it’s excellent anti-oxidant (age fighting and skin protecting) properties.
In the wild, animals depend on the baobab as a source of moisture and in areas where elephants are found, you will notice that the bark of the tree has been peeled off. Elephants do this as the bark and flesh of the tree are still full of water even during a very dry season.
Sometimes elephants rip away too much of the tree causing it to collapse. Some animals work together to benefit from the tree. Baboons in particular are the ones that climb the trees and drop the fruits for the ground dwellers such as impalas, warthogs, buffalos and elephants.