Thursday, May 15, 2008
The baobab, also known as "the Tree of Life" for its vitality and longevity, grows in African and Indian savannas. Its height can reach up to 25 meters. Baobabs can live for several thousand years. This tree remains leafless for nine months of the year. Some people describe it like a tree that has been picked out of the ground and stuffed back in upside-down. The secret of the baobab's surviving in harsh environments is that it has little wood fibre but a large water storage capacity. It is able to hold up to 300 litres of water. In the wet months water is stored in its thick, corky, fire-resistant trunk for the nine dry months ahead. They produce leaves for only a short time during the rainy season, when they also develop huge pink or white flowers. The trees are pollinated by bats and have a fruit as unique as the tree itself. It has a furry coating around a tough, gourd-like shell that shields a soft pulp inside called 'monkey bread' and seeds that are rich in citric acid and oil.