A baobab it’s a tree. The term refers to the members of the genus Adansonia, in turn belonging to the family group of the Bombacaceae.
Bombacaceous species such as the baobab are dicotyledonous (Their embryos show two cotyledons or first leaves) and they present alternate leaves with panicle or raceme flowers. Their seeds they are usually covered with pulp or wool.
Scientists recognize eight species of baobab. Seven of them are native to the African continent and the remainder, from Australia. Among African women, six are in Madagascar, an island nation characterized by its biodiversity.
Before moving on, it is important to mention that the name of the gender Adanson comes from Michel Adanson, the French botanist who wrote about these plants in the thirteenth century.
The Adansonia digitata it is the best known baobab. It is an endemic tree of the south of the sahara that can be found, among others sides, at Krueger National Park from South Africa.
The rest of the baobabs that grow in Africa they do it in Madagascar. Are the Adansonia madagascariensis, the Adansonia za, the Adansonia suaresensis, the Adansonia rubrostipa, the Adansonia perrieri and the Adansonia grandidieri.
As for the remaining species, its name is Adansonia gregorii. The great thickness of its trunk it is its distinctive feature.
Although the features of baobabs vary according to the species, some peculiarities can be mentioned as a reference. Baobabs are generally about ten meters tall, with a thick trunk that looks similar to a bottle and long branches that develop horizontally.
These trees have the ability to store a large amount of Water. This allows them to grow and subsist in desert regions.
It is important to mention that baobabs are very long-lived and usually live a few 1,000 years. Specimens have even been found that, according to the estimates of specialists, lived near 5,000 years.
The fruit of the baobab, known as monkey bread or Senegal pumpkin, is valued for its flavor and its nutritional components since it has high levels of fiber, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin C.
The pulp is used to make beverages. Also, after a drying process, it is ground and the powder is used for the preparation of ice creams, juices (juices) and sweets. The seeds, meanwhile, are used in cakes and salads. As for the leaves, there are African peoples who use them in soups.
The manufacture of ropes and paper and the obtaining of oil are also possible with baobabs, a tree revered by different communities.
Its presence in culture
Baobabs appear in multiple cultural manifestations. The tree is the national symbol of Madagascar and integrates the shield from Senegal, for instance.
An African legend tells that, for their beauty, the baobabs received the gift of longevity on the part of the gods. This made them arrogant and that is why they decided to grow excessively in defiance of the divinities.
Beyond Africa, the baobab became famous worldwide thanks to “The little Prince”. In the masterpiece of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the main character considers these trees as a weed since, by growing so large, they are in a position to destroy their asteroid by the pressure of the roots.