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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BAOBAB TREE - Beautiful African Tree

Adansonia (Baobab tree) is a genus containing eight species of trees, native to Madagascar (having six species), mainland Africa and Australia (one species in each). The mainland African species also occurs on Madagascar, but it is not a native of that island.

A typical common name is baobab. Other common names include boab, boaboa, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree. The species reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and have trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). An African Baobab specimen in Limpopo Province, South Africa, often considered the largest example alive, has a circumference of 47 metres (150 ft) and an average diameter of 15 metres (49 ft).

Some baobabs are reputed to be many thousands of years old, which is difficult to verify as the wood does not produce annual growth rings, though radiocarbon dating may be able to provide age data. The Malagasy species are important components of the Madagascar dry deciduous forests.

Beginning in 2008, there has been increasing interest for developing baobab as a nutrient-rich raw material for consumer products.

Baobabs store water inside the swollen trunk (up to 120,000 litres (32,000 US gal)) to endure the harsh drought conditions particular to each region. All occur in seasonally arid areas, and are deciduous, shedding their leaves during the dry season.