The many fascinating secrets of a baobab

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Baobab tree in the Kruger Park (c) Etienne Oosthuizen

In November, last year we filmed Henry Parsons, one of EcoTraining’s head instructors and asked him to tell us more about the infamous baobab tree. Ranging from five to twenty meters tall the grand Baobab tree is life to many ecosystems, countless wildlife ranging from large mammals to the tiniest creatures.

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In this video Henry describes the different beliefs and facts about this fascinating tree.

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This particular baobab tree Henry is standing next to in the video is called the Rhodes Baobab and is found in the Northern Tuli block on Mashatu game reserve. It is believed that Cecil John Rhodes and his Secretary Antonia da Silva’s initials (CJR and ADS) are carved into the bark of the tree while they were surveying the land for a possible railway from Cape to Cairo.

The famous Rhode’s Baobab (c) Cara Pring


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Cultural beliefs about the Baobab tree are deep rooted in African history and often the main actor of many African tales told to children. The stories of the Baobab tree are not all mystical and there are many facts that exist as well. The bark from the Baobab tree is pounded to make rope, mats, baskets, bracelets, paper, cloth and even glue.

Handbag made out of Baobab bark


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These are some interesting facts and cultural beliefs about the majestic Baobab tree:

Cultural beliefs

  • It is believed that people who drink the water where baobab seeds have been soaked in will be protected from crocodile attacks.
  • If young boys are bathed in water where the bark from a baobab tree trunk was soaked in, they will grow up to become strong and healthy men.
  • In certain cultural beliefs, deceased relatives are buried at the base of baobab trees, where it is believed that the trees become imbued with their souls.


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Food for thought

The baobab tree is also referred to as the ‘tree of life’ for various reasons.

  • The powder that is extracted from the fruit of the Baobab tree is used to create a refreshing drink similar to lemonade.
  • The pulp of a baobab seed pod consists of six times more vitamin C than an orange, 50 percent more calcium than spinach, and enough flavour to keep any simple dish from tasting bland.
  • The Baobab fruit tastes similar to that of a pear but more acidic because of the high Vitamin C content.
  • Fresh baobab leaves provide an edible vegetable similar to spinach which can also be used for various medicinal purposes including the treatment of kidney and bladder disease, asthma, insect bites, and several other disorders.
  • The Baobab fruit is a traditional snack for children on their way home from school as well as a healthy dietary supplement for pregnant women.
Powder made from Baobab seeds


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If these facts are all related to just one tree, imagine the endless learning possibilities about nature in Africa. Join the #SafariTrivia now and you can learn all about nature from the comfort of your own home.

Here is a little advice from a tree written by Ilan Shamir. Stand tall and proud, sink your roots deeply into the earth, reflect the light of a greater source, think long term, go out on a limb, remember your place among all living beings, embrace with joy the changing seasons, for each yields its own abundance.



About the Author:
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EcoTraining Connect

EcoTraining, which has been in operation since 1993, is the innovator and top provider of training for safari guides and wildlife experts in Africa.

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