Zimbabwe Baobab Tree
The Zimbabwe Baobab tree is part of a unique species and has adapted in amazing ways to its environment.
The impressively sized baobab tree in Zimbabwe is odd-looking and quite remarkable in many ways. These prehistoric-looking trees are able to survive in the very driest parts of Africa and in a variety of other habitats.
What Is A Baobab Tree?
The baobab tree is definitely a tree that will make you stop in your tracks and take a look.
Firstly, the size is unmissable. Secondly, it is a rather odd-looking member of the tree family.
The nickname for this tree is the upside down tree. The reason for this is that the branches of the tree resemble roots. Therefore it is as if the tree has been turned upside down with the roots sticking up in the air.
The genus of the Zimbabwe baobab tree is Adansonia Digitata. This is the genus found in Southern Africa.
These magnificent trees can have a lifespan of up to 2,500 years. That is quite remarkable.
The biggest trees can store over 100,000 liters of water in their thick fibrous trunks, using it to get through times of poor rainfall and times of drought.
In severe years of drought the trunk shrinks, then enlarges again when the rains come and the water is replaced in the huge trunk. This makes it uniquely different from any other tree on the planet.
Even though the tree stores water in itself, it is not possible to extract the water for humans to drink. The fibrous nature of the bark does not release water droplets when compressed.
This unusual tree has a nickname in the local communities where it is found. The “Tree of Life”, as well as several other names, such as the “magic tree”, “chemist tree”, “symbol of the earth”, “monkey bread of Africa”, “cream of tartar”, to name a few.
The title reflects how the local people view and respect this tree.
Benefits of Baobab Trees
The baobab is a protector for both humans and the animals and birds that live side by side with it. This cannot be said about very many plant species.
Why is this the case?
The baobab “tree of life” can provide much-needed medicine, food, clothing, shelter, and water. That is quite an impressive list. No wonder it is so revered in its communities.
Life is hard for those living in the dry, hot, African savannahs. Distances are long between communities and small outposts with shopping and medical facilities.
These people have learnt over time that the local baobab tree has a host of advantages which are right on their doorstep.
We will explain all this in more detail.
The Baobab Tree Provides Income
The bark of this large tree is fire resistant and, because of its size, is in abundant supply. The locals use the bark of the tree to make useful objects.
The bark is quite fibrous, therefore fairly easy to strip off and transform into durable ropes and get woven into decorative mats, bags and hats.
So, for the local communities that live in the region where these trees grow, it is a welcome source of income.
Remarkably, stripping the bark does not kill or permanently damage the tree. When carefully harvested with the trees health in mind, the tree will stay healthy.
By only taking a calculated quantity of bark, in time, the tree will heal itself and the removed fibrous bark will be replaced by fresh growth. In this way the tree will continue to grow and increase in size during its lifetime.
As the tree gets older, the middle of the trunk naturally gets hollowed out and is sometimes used as a haven by some animals.
It is a perfect hideaway and provides protection from both the elements and any predators that may be lurking around.
In some of these hollow areas in the rainy season, rainwater can collect and provide a much needed drink for thirsty people or passing wildlife.
For humans, the shade of tree is a welcome relief against the hot African sun. The protection it provides at the hottest times of the day can be a lifesaver.
The Local Community And The Baobab Tree
Included in the baobabs uses are medicinal advantages, with many people liking to eat the fruit which has lots of vitamin C.
The leaves are eaten for medicinal purposes, with the fruit being a good source of Vitamin C.
Baobab fruit pulp is used as a pain reliever and to treat hemoptysis (coughing up blood), smallpox, measles, diarrhea, dysentery, and fever in traditional African medicine.
Infant diarrhea is treated by giving the child millet flour, water, and floury pulp mixture every several hours until the condition is resolved.
Baobab leaves are used orally or added to a beverage to treat dysentery.
In hip-baths, leaves can be utilized to cure parasite skin illnesses.
To cure conditions affecting the kidneys, joints, and stomach, the seed can be pulped and used topically or consumed by mixing it with water
So, for the local communities that live in the region where these trees grow, it is a welcome source of income as well as a local pharmacy for several ailments.
10 Baobab Tree Facts
- There are nine different species of baobab trees. The two species are native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Six species were found in Madagascar, with one native to Australia.
- The species found in southern Africa is of the genus “adansonia digitata”.
- A famous Zimbabwe baobab and said to be the biggest baobab tree in Zimbabwe is the big tree Victoria Falls.
- These remarkable trees are known as upside down trees because their branches look like roots.
- The baobab lifespan is up to 2,500 years.
- The trunk of the tree is very large, reaching diameters of between 25 and 36 feet.
- The biggest baobab tree in the world is the Sagole Baobab found close to the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa in the Vhembe province of South Africa.
- The oldest baobab tree Zimbabwe has is the Big Tree in Victoria Falls.
- The tree trunks can hold up to 120,000 litres (32 000 gallons) of water.
- The cork-like bark of the tree is soft and fibrous, allowing the fibres to be woven into cloth or rope. The tree bark is also fire resistant.
- Elephants like to eat the bark during the dry season for moisture. These trees regrow their bark if it is stripped so elephant damage is not harmful to the tree.
- These fruits are very rich in Vitamin C and are known as ‘monkey bread’ or ‘cream of tartar fruit’.
- When they die, they rot from the inside and will suddenly collapse in on itself.
The health benefits are becoming more and more well-known in western society. Baobab powder is now being added to healthy drinks and included in everyday cooking too.
Here is a breakdown of some of the proposed benefits to your health:
- The fruit is rich in Vitamin C and B2, providing health benefits for pregnant women, children and the elderly.
- It is said to possess antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties.
- It contains more antioxidants than any other fruit.
- Supports immune health and helps tissue growth and repair.
- Beneficial for your digestive system by regulating your digestion, reducing gut inflammation and improving nutrient uptake.
- Lowers blood pressure and improves circulation which help prevent heart disease and stroke.
- Increases the production of collagen and elastin in your skin that keep your skin supple and wrinkle-free.
- The calcium and magnesium support bone health, especially as we get older.
- Vitamin C helps you burn more fat and lose more weight.
- Improves liver function, which supports your body’s natural ability to detox.
Baobab Powder Benefits
The baobab fruit is long and elongated resembling a papaya fruit. When mature, it can reach 18cm in length and weigh up to 1.4kg. It has a hard outer shell with a pulpy fruit inside that dehydrates naturally as the fruit matures.
The baobab tree fruit is “wild-harvested” from the trees in their natural habitat and is allowed to dry naturally. The seeds are subsequently removed from the shell and ground into powder.
The resulting powder contains a powerhouse of nutrients that can be added to food and drinks to be orally taken. These nutrients include vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a collection of antioxidants.
The fruit powder has a sweet citrus flavor that is very pleasant.
A remarkable fact is that the powder and fruit have a natural shelf-life of 3 years. So there is no need for preservatives or other additives to be included.
The ‘African upside down tree’ is a very apt analogy and these unusual trees have also been described as looking prehistoric. Undoubtedly they are very distinctive and you cannot miss them standing so solidly in the African landscape.
The adansonia digitata or African baobab tree is a truly remarkable product of nature and has withstood the test of time right through the ages!
To add to their reputation are the medical benefits the fruit has to offer as well as the versatility of the bark for making useful products.