Ever heard of the upside down tree? If you haven't, it is probably because of the numerous names by which it's called. It's formally known as the baobab tree but in Australia, it has been shortened to 'boab'. Locals say the shortening was to avoid swallowing the numerous flies around. This magnificent tree naturally grows in Africa and Australia.
The baobab or shall we call it the boab? Well, I guess that depends on the population of flies in your environment. Anyway, like I hinted earlier, this tree is known by many names. One of such names is 'the tree of life'. It is so called because it provides shelter, food and medicine to those around it. It is abundantly rich in vitamin C, its seeds and nuts are edible and also highly nutritious. The baobab is also very medicinal. The fruits due to their extremely high vitamin C content possess strong antioxidant properties that greatly help the skin especially against wrinkles and other signs of aging. In Africa, it has been used to treat fevers, malaria, gastrointestinal problems and so on.
Also called dead-rat tree (due to the dangling of its seed pods which look like dead rats from a distance), the baobab is normally leafless during dry seasons. A giant survivor, this old lady can be as high as 30 meters and with a trunk diameter of up to 11 meters. Baobabs can live for thousands of years especially in hot, dry and sandy areas. Though it's one of the biggest trees in its environment, it is hardly one of the most beautiful. In fact, it gets uglier with increasing age.
The size of the baobab may add to its ugliness but it can also be a blessing. Its huge trunk (which earned it the name 'bottle tree') can hold up to 120,000 liters of water and its fire-resistant bark can be used for making cloth and rope. But mind you, not only humans love this ugly beauty of a tree. Even the monkeys love its fruit and that's how it earned one of its names: monkey-bread tree.
The egg-shaped nuts of the baobab which can be as large as a
coconut, are most often used by outback artists to exercise their skill. Using pocketknives, pictures of creatures and events are carved on the brown nuts of the baobab. These works are sought by tourists and collectors and also local shops. In the past, baobab trees were used as resting places by travelers. Some baobabs have crevices large enough to house several people. Their barks were also used as message centers.
The baobab may not be handsome and colorful like some other trees but it is extremely and uniquely valuable in more ways than one.