Baobab Treeson April 5, 2011
When we replanted the Falls Resort with thousands of indigenous trees, we planted baobab trees as well. Baobabs are one of nature’s wonders. They can live for thousands of years and can grow to have a trunk of 10 meters in diameter. Hollow baobabs have been used as homes, prison cells and I have even seen one as a bathroom!
A baobab is an odd-looking tree with sticking-out branches. An old legend says that the gods were angry when they put the baobab tree on earth and planted it upside down with its roots in the air.
The baobab has many uses. The leaves can be cooked and eaten as a type of spinach. The pods are used for carrying water; the pith around the seeds is full of tartaric acid and makes a refreshing drink when mixed with water; and the seeds can be ground and cooked as porridge or roasted and used as a coffee substitute. What an incredible, multi-tasking tree!
The flowers of the baobab are big and white and smell of rotten meat. Not very attractive you might think, but because the flowers are often pollinated by flies, it does make sense. One thing which we must all be aware of, though, is that local tradition says that if you pick one of the flowers off a baobab you are definitely going to be eaten by a lion before the year is out.
Elephants love to eat baobab trees too. They rip off the outer layer and munch on the fibers inside. Not only does it taste good, but the baobab stores water in its trunk so it can quench the elephant’s thirst.
Near to the Falls Resort we have an ancient baobab. It is called the “Lookout Tree” because it has a platform in its branches from where there are excellent views over the river and the Victoria Falls. No one is really sure how old the tree is but it has to be at least 1,000 years old. I wonder what that tree has seen during its long life overlooking the Victoria Falls.
When I walk around the Resort and look at our baobabs which we planted I know that they are still just infants in baobab terms. At 10 years old, they may live for at least another 1,000 years. What will they see in their lifetimes? It is impossible to imagine.