The Ancient Baobab Tree

If you see a sign on the side of the road directing you to viewing spot for a Baobab tree, it is worth checking it out. Undoubtedly one of the most unusual looking trees you will ever see, the Baobab is native to the African lowlands. Today it also grows in Madagascar, India and Australia. They truly look like no other tree you have ever seen, with a thick trunk and short branches that divide into ever smaller segments. The trees are often described as appearing that they have been placed in the ground upside down. 

These are very ancient trees that can live for more than one thousand years and tower to heights of 20 meters. Their massive fibrous trunks store water, which allows the tree to survive during droughts. They are also resistant to fire. As they age, their trunks hollow out, providing shelter to humans and animals. Large Baobab trees have been know to house sleeping quarters and even a bar.

A tree only starts to bloom after about twenty years. The fruit of the Baobab dries while still on the tree. It can be harvested and its powdery content eaten. It has a delicious, sweet flavour that is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants.

In addition to the fruit, Africans have been using the bark of the tree for centuries to make rope, baskets and other items. The leaves have been used in traditional medicines.

Just outside the town of Hoedspruit you can visit a giant Baobab tree. The original giant Baobab at this location has now died and collapsed in a pile of fibres, but it is still worth taking a look at. Another very large, though not quite giant Baobab is still thriving a few steps away. You can even enjoy delicious pancakes in the restaurant that is located overlooking the trees. 

So take the opportunity to view one of these ancient marvels of the plant world.

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