Wild Frontiers

9 fascinating baobab tree facts

Love baobabs? Well here are some interesting facts about your favourite African tree:

1. There are 9 species of the baobab tree (genus Adansonia) – six from Madagascar, two from Africa and one from Australia.

baobab tree in Australia

‘Boab’ tree in Australia, formerly used as a prison. © Simon Espley

2. The baobab’s biggest enemies are drought, water logging, lightning, elephants and black fungus.

3. Baobabs are deciduous and their bat-pollinated flowers bloom at night.

bat colony in a baobab

A bat colony in a baobab interior. © Simon Espley

4. Baobabs store large volumes of water in their trunks – which is why elephants, eland and other animals chew the bark during dry seasons.

5. Baobabs are utilised by humans for many purposes, including shelter, ceremonies, food, medicine, fiber, juices and beer.

6. Animals like baboons and warthogs eat the seedpods, weavers build their nests in the huge branches and barn owls, mottled spinetails and ground hornbills roost in the many hollows. The creased trunks and hollowed interiors also provide homes to countless reptiles, insects and bats.

baboab

A hollow baboab at Limpopo-Lipadi in Botswana © Simon Espley

7. Cream of tartar (a cooking ingredient) was originally produced from the acidic baobab seed pulp, but is now mainly sourced as a by-product from the wine-making process.

baobab seed pod

A baobab seed pod © Simon Espley

8. The large trunks (the largest circumference on record is 47m) have been or are used as jails, post offices and bush pubs, amongst other creative uses.

Prison baob tree in Australia

Prison boab tree in Australia

9. Many baobabs live to a ripe old age – with one recently collapsed Namibian tree known as “Grootboom” thought to be 1,275 years old.

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  • raymondschep

    The seed pods are also eaten by ME

    • Michelle

      Yessss! I wanna try one…

    • disqus_1sTHMHXFPx

      What do they taste like?

      • Reinhardt Fick

        Dry and sour unique a fruit if i can call it that mixes well with home made icepops

  • This was very helpful for my upcoming children’s ebook called “Ranger Jabari and the African Animals.” Three rangers are on the Serengeti and I am endeavouring to point out the glorious nature surrounding them. I also have a site for children http://childrenandteensstoriestomotivateandinspire.com

  • Cynthia McLaglenAllen

    Do Boabab trees grow in any other country other than Africa and Australia?

    • Simon Espley

      Madagascar

      • kreation

        Barbados has two, one in the capital city of Bridgetown is 1000 years old and the other on the outskirts of Barbados at 250 years old.

    • Jason France

      Africa is not a country.

      • Cynthia McLaglenAllen

        No Africa is a continent.

      • Jeremy Duquette

        They’re both continent’s

    • Yikes. It’s 2017. The Internet has been around forever. And adults humans still refer to Africa as a ‘country’.

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