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Tree: Baobab (Adansonia digitata)

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Unread post by MarkWildDog » Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:02 pm

(Kruger National Park)
*Taken by my aunt Anne, with permission.

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Why the boabab is known as the Upside-down tree

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:45 pm

The reference in this thread on numerous occasions that the baobab has somehow landed up with roots pointing to the sky is “rooted” in African folklore.
Some stories go that the baobab was thrown out of paradise because of constantly whinging about wanting to be prettier, taller and just generally better than what it was.
It landed on earth upside down but continued to prosper.
In other stories the hyena gets blamed for planting the Baobab wrong way up in ignorance.

Many thousands of years ago, my favourite version of the many legends about the upside-down tree goes, before human beings inhabited the earth, the trees were the most important of all life on earth.
The gods each made a tree and bestowed on it properties to be enjoyed by the other gods.
Some trees were made with good fruit to eat, some were made strong and hard for furniture, others were made for security and still other were made just for beauty.
The gods loved the trees and would come down to earth and sit in their shade, eat of their fruit and place the flowers in their hair.
They assured each of the trees that they were all created equal and that no one tree was loved more than another.
Finally a group of gods decided to make the best tree of all, so they combined their talents and made a tree so big, so beautiful, with such fruit and so useful that they were amazed and they clapped their hands with delight.
They called it the Baobab.

This tree had rainbow coloured flowers that shone as if the heavens had just rained them down onto the tree.
It flowered all year long with no regard for the seasons.
It produced the sweetest, juiciest cool fruit.
Its leaves were used for healing and its wood was good for furniture.

But the baobab tree grew haughty as a result of its great size, and even greater beauty and value.
It started to give orders to the other trees and soon the other trees became afraid of the baobab tree and were resenting it.

When the gods came down to sit under the trees they heard the rustling of the leaves and branches and the saw that the other trees were most unhappy.
This saddened them, for they truly loved all the trees, so they approached the baobab and spoke to it.
They asked it to be gentle and kind to the other trees and reminded it that its properties were gifts from the gods, not something that the baobab had learned to do.
But the baobab grew prouder still, even proud of the fact that the other trees resented it.
It started to taunt the other trees.
The other trees became even more miserable.
The useful trees closed their leaves, the branches died and their fruit didn't develop.
The beautiful trees shed their flowers while the baobab continued to flower and fruit and heal.
The gods grew alarmed and held a council.
They then approached the baobab and gave it one last warning. "If you don't stop making the other trees unhappy, we will be forced to withdraw the properties we gave you at creation".
But the birds in the branches whispered that the gods could not withdraw a gift once given and the baobab just laughed.

Now the other trees started to droop, refusing to drink water, even when rained upon them gently from the sky.
The gods had to do something.

Then one delicate little tree died.
This so angered the god who created that tree that he swept down, grabbed the baobab, pulled it up by its mighty roots and turned it upside down.
Now its beautiful leaves and flowers were in the ground and the roots were in the air.
The baobab was silenced.
Then one by one the trees began to drink.
This is how the mighty baobab became a tree with its roots in the air - so that all the rest of creation can see how the arrogant are humbled.
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Unread post by reinette » Sat Oct 13, 2007 8:20 pm

Taken at 13:15, 20 September 2007

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Unread post by reinette » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:44 pm

Some pictures of the great baobab on the Lebombo trail. This tree is in the Mozambican side of the park.

Image Image

The 'hollow' inside:
Image Image

Just look at the texture of the bark:

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Baobab at Mopani

Unread post by flying cheetah » Sun Jun 27, 2010 7:47 am

While looking at the pics of Chappies trip report I started to dream of the wonderful baobab at Mopani again. A trip to Kruger wouldn't be complete for me without saying hello to this venerable tree!
I often wondered how old this tree might be :hmz: Does anyone have an idea or maybe has read something about it?
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Re: Baobab at Mopani

Unread post by Chappie » Sun Jun 27, 2010 7:58 am

A very good question FC :thumbs_up:

I know very little about baobabs other than they are very slow growing thus large specimens can be hundredes of years (or more?) old.

Imagine if these giants could talk, what stories they could recount!
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Re: Baobab Hill Photo's

Unread post by JenB » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:23 am

This is a very old pic, before the era of digital cameras.
It still resembles one of my favorite Kruger moments. :)

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Kruger - How far north to find Baobabs?

Unread post by edie88 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:49 pm

Hello Forumites,

I would like to visit the central/northern part of the Park.
How far north do i have to drive to find Baobabs?

Thanks for your help
Edie from France

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Re: I'm thinking of! (RV)

Unread post by wildflowergirl » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:59 pm

Hi Eddie. Welcome to the forums and welcome to our beautiful country!! The southernmost boabab is just below satara, and from there on north you'll find them pretty much everywhere.
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Re: Kruger - How far north to find Baobabs?

Unread post by Imberbe » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:06 pm

But to view them at their most spectacular the Northern area around Pafuri is tops!
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Re: Kruger - How far north to find Baobabs?

Unread post by hfglen » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:32 pm

If you plan your trip so that you enter or leave the Park through Pafuri, you can take a small detour to Sagole Spa, and see their Big Tree, which is the largest baobab I know -- a massive 47 metres around the base. Yes, it does cover the equivalent of half a rugby field.

Baobabs come into leaf and flower in November; flowering continues into December. (If that works for you, then you may wish to stay at Shimuwini and take a night drive to / past their big 'un. Baobabs flower mainly at night, and the white flowers against the black sky are spectacular.
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KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Chacma » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:15 pm

On my recent trip I saw several stately old Baobabs, but no young saplings.
I put this down to the elephant explosion and the destruction this is wreaking on the natural environment, after all we have all seen what damage an elephant can do to the trunk of a mature baobab, what chance does a sapling stand?

I did find a handful of youngish trees on top of a spiny ridge near Pafuri picnic spot.
They were obviously in a spot which elephants couldn't access.

I am used to seeing huge numbers of baobab saplings in the bush of Northern Australia, so the total absence of baobab saplings in KNP (except in camps) is quite disturbing to me.

Is the magnificent baobab headed for extinction in the wild?

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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Grantmissy » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:28 am

Chacma I do hope that the magnificent Baobab is not heading for extinction in Kruger. Perhaps someone who has scientific knowledge of these trees could provide us with some information regarding their status in Kruger?
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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Ifubesi » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:36 am

Very valid and interesting question Chacma.
I have done a lot of reading on African ecology and here is a summary of what I found with regards to baobabs:
It turns out that the question you are asking ("why do we never see any young baobabs?") is not only applicable to Kruger, but it is a question often asked in all game reserves around Africa with baobab populations.
Firstly, it seems that you can't judge a baobab's age according to its trunk diameter.
If it had a good start to life, it will have a larger trunk diameter when older, than other baobabs that may be older but had a harsh time growing up.
Therefore its difficult to determine the age structure of a local population of baobabs by looking at trunk diameter alone.
Secondly, all an organism has to do to keep a healthy population, is to balance number of births with number of deaths.
If you assess the fact that baobabs have very long life spans (over a thousand years), the logical implications are that it doesn't need to have a lot of offspring that become adults, in order to maintain its population number constant.
Recruitment of young plants are probably isolated events when the climate etc. are ideal.
Those circumstances may perhaps only occur once every few decades.
Baobabs work on a different timescale than us humans :D .
It must be said however, that the high elephant populations can have a detrimental effect on a species such as this due to the relatively low number of sexually productive individuals present in the ecosystem.
Then again, African savannas work on such large timescales that its difficult to judge what is "natural" and what is not...
Hopefully this clears up a few of your questions.
Perhaps some botanists or scientists can also comment?
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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Penny » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:29 am

At one stage some years ago iron railings were being put around baobabs that were being threatened.
Could this not be relooked at and a programme instituted to protect them from elephant.
As unsightly as these railings might be they would be a necessary evil if the tree were to be saved from destruction.
Some of these baobabs are actually grouped together on top of koppies - maybe an electric fence with a solar panel would deter elephants from gaining access to them.

There is no question in my mind that the trees that were fairly prolific north of the Letaba river, baobabs and others are definitely dwindling.
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