The one tree that you will without a doubt come across while on a Kruger Park safari, is this one, the baobab tree.
The baobab tree is fondly referred to as the upside down tree because in the winter the tree loses its leaves the branches resemble roots.
These remarkable trees can live to be over 3000 years old and when they die they simply rot inside and collapse.
If the trees bark is stripped by animals, it will simply regrow it.
The baobab is unconcerned about drought as a mature tree can store up to 120 000 litres in its trunk, which grows to 25 meters in diameter. In drought seasons, elephants have been known to sometimes tear the trunk in order to get to the moisture inside.
Not even fire or termites can bring this tree down.
The tree can grow to a height of 30 meters. In the Kruger National Park the Baobab can be found in the central and northern regions.
The flowers of the baobab emerge at night, so they are pollinated by bats and nocturnal insects. The flowers will fall off the tree after about 24 hours. Animals enjoy eating the flowers that have dropped.
The fruit of this tree has a hard outer shell but inside you will find a powder and black seeds. If you take the powder and add water you can make a drink that is said to taste similar to lemonade. This powder is a rich source of vitamin C and B2 and has also been used to treat fever or stomach ailments.
The leaves can be eaten fresh, or boiled and eaten like spinach, or dried, milled and made into a powder that you can add to sauces or drinks. The seeds are put into soups to thicken them or roasted and eaten as a snack. The roasted sees are also used as a substitute for coffee.
The hollow stems of the baobab trees have been used over the years for anything from a house to a dairy. Known as the Murchison Club a baobab was converted into a bar near Leydsdorp. Up in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia a baobab was converted into a toilet, with a full flushing system!
The baobab is known as the “Tree of Life” and that is not just because of the tree having a long lifespan but also because of all the beneficial health aspects of the tree. In recent times baobab oil has taken the world by storm. The oil is made from the fruit seeds. Baobab oil is a rich anti-oxidant that has Vitamin C, A and B which when applied to the skin protects the skin from free radicals. It also assists with the skins elasticity and adds in firming and hydrating the skin. And on top of all of this, the oil also contains Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids.
To find out more about this tree and to experience the wildness that is the Kruger National Park, book a Kruger National Park safari with Wanyama.