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Baobab facts for kids

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Baobab
Baobab Adansonia digitata.jpg
African baobab
Scientific classification
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Adansonia
Baobob tree
African baobab, as it looks for most of the year.
Adansonia grandidieri04
Adansonia grandidieri, Madagascar

Baobab is the common name of a genus of trees (Adansonia). There are a total of eight types of its kind: six species live in the drier parts of Madagascar, two in mainland Africa, one in Australia and three in India. It is the national tree of Madagascar.

Other names

Other common names include 'boab', 'boaboa', 'bottle tree', 'the tree of life', 'upside-down tree', and 'monkey bread tree'. The trees reach heights of 5 to 30 meters (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11 meters (23 to 36 ft.). Its trunk can hold up to 120,000 liters of water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air.

Medicinal uses

Baobabs are one of the largest and most important trees in all of where they grow, as they are able to provide shelter and wood. The leaves of the tree are used for making soup and the tree has some medicinal purposes in some regions of Africa for treating ailments such as wounds, diarrhea, asthma, fever, and malaria.

Baobab seeds
The fruit is about 18 cm long

Long life of baobab tree

The trees are long-lived, but just how long is disputed. The owners of Sunland Farm in Limpopo, South Africa have built a pub called "The Big Baobab Pub" inside the hollow trunk of the 22 metres (72 ft) high tree. The tree is 47 m (155 ft) in circumference, and is said to have been carbon dated at over 6,000 years old.

Other uses

The baobab tree is known as the tree of life, with good reason. It can provide shelter, clothing, food, and water for the animal and human inhabitants of the African savannah regions. The cork-like bark and huge stem are fire resistant and are used for making cloth and rope. The leaves are used as condiments and medicines. The fruit, called "monkey bread", is edible, and full of vitamin C. As of 2010 experts estimate the potential international market at a billion dollars($US) a year.

The fruit has a velvety shell and is about the size of a coconut, weighing about 1.44 kilograms (3.2 lb). It has a somewhat acidic flavour, described as 'somewhere between grapefruit, pear, and vanilla'.

The tree can store hundreds of liters of water, which is an adaptation to the harsh drought conditions of its environment. The tree may be tapped in dry periods.

Mature trees are usually hollow, providing living space for many animals and humans. Trees are even used as bars, barns, wine and beer shops and more.

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