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Amazing Trees: The Baobab

Stories From the Field Senegal

Although the Baobab (Adansonia) is not a tree that we plant in our Forest Gardens, it is one that we see frequently throughout our projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically, it can be found a lot around our Forest Gardens in Senegal. The tree has many nicknames and is in our collection of “Amazing Trees” because of its many benefits for people, land, and the environment.

Commonly called the 'Upside Down Tree' because it looks like its roots are where its branches are supposed to be.

The tree itself

The Baobab is one of the world’s most fascinating trees simply because of its life expectancy and size. The giant can grow to over a 100 feet tall and up to 155 feet in circumference! The tree can even live several thousand years.

The Baobab is seen in many parts of Africa as well as Australia. Its large trunks can hold thousands of gallons of water, helping it survive severe droughts and making it a powerful climate-change fighter.

The tree is often talked about as magical because of the legends behind it but also because of how it dies. Baobabs are very hard to kill, but when they do die, they usually rot from the inside and leave only broken pieces when it falls. This causes people to think the tree just disappears.

Rings around the trees show where people have stripped the trunks.

Endless uses

One of the great uses of a Baobab tree come from its trunk. People strip its trunk to make rope, clothing, bags, and fishing nets. The ring around the bottom of the tree is where people have taken its bark. The next best part? The tree automatically regenerates its bark.

The tree also serves to promote biodiversity. It is home to many different birds, critters and seasonally, it carries a white flower that are pollinated by bats at night and then they use the trees’ branches as their home. Many other animals are seen eating at the trees’ trunk and fruit.

The baobab fruit is a popular market item in many communities, so it is also used to produce income for many of its harvesters.

Even its pollen is used to make glue and soap!

Moor munches on baobab fruit before lunch.

Nutritional powerhouse

One of the biggest reasons we love this tree is because of the nutrition it provides for the people near it. The fruit has an incredible amount of fiber and vitamin c. It is tart and used to make drinks, powder, and can also be eaten straight from the source. The leaves are also beneficial. They taste similar to spinach and are used to medicinally treat bug bites, kidney disease, asthma, digestive issues and other illnesses.

Baobab fruit ready to harvest.

When most people first see this tree, they stand in awe of his size and structure…thankfully what the tree holds and produces is just as magnificent.

Keep an eye out for more articles from our “Amazing Trees” blog collection, featuring some of the world’s most powerful tree species.

Let’s Get Planting

Your donation has a direct impact on the earth and lives of the people who need it most. By helping us plant trees, you give families the ability to transition from unsustainable farming techniques to a flourishing Forest Garden system. Your donation not only helps the environment, but it also empowers farmers to end poverty for their families.