During the wet season the Baobabs are a luscious green with thick leafy canopies. The stout trunk is fibrous and spongy and stores huge amounts of water. This is one of the reasons the elephants love to snack on the trees. You will often notice that the bottom sections of Baobabs are rubbed off or hollowed out as elephants regularly eat their bark and gouge holes in the trees during droughts. They cause a considerable amount of damage, but this is nature and the circle of life! The locals use the fibres to make string, cloth and baskets while the leaves are used for medicines and condiments.
In the dry season the Baobabs are completely bare and look very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air. Legends say that the Baobab tree came to be stuffed in the ground upside down, so it could no longer complain.
The Baobabs are currently in bloom with white flowers which are pollinated by fruit bats - these large white flowers last only for one single day.
The grayish green, furry coated fruits are starting to grow, their oblong woody fruits will grow up to 30cm in length. A tasty juice can be prepared from the fruits of the baobab; you may also snack on the bitter fruit which is known as “monkey bread” – this is a great source of vitamin C. I enjoy the Baobab fruits as a morning treat. Judy cracked open a dried fruit for us this morning, yummy!
It is hard to tell the age of a Baobab because they do not lay down wood with annual rings. Scientists have measured changes in their size and have calculated that they increase 2.7 meters (9 feet) in circumference every 100 years. Thus, a tree 18 feet in girth is around 200 years old. Many Baobabs are hollow, and provide homes for bees, owls, and bats – even people. I had the opportunity to stand inside the monster sized tree, with the bats, bees and moths - and a few other creatures I’m sure! I love the energy of these magnificent trees. You will notice sticks on the inside of this Baobab, they are used to climb to the bee hives.
This young Baobab is just 17 years old.