The majestic baobab is an icon of Africa and we are lucky that its striking silhouette is a familiar sight here at The Outpost Lodge and Pel's Post. Our landscape is dotted with thousand-year-old baobab trees, and it is truly a sight to see. Read on to find out a little more about this magical ‘upside down' tree.
The upside down tree
Baobabs are the ancient giants of the African bush: they can grow up to 30 metres in height, 50 metres in circumference and can live for up to 5,000 years. Their smooth and shiny trunk is usually pinkish-grey or sometimes copper-coloured and the canopy of branches are bulbous and tangled. When the tree is bare of leaves, the branches reaching into the sky look like roots sticking up into the air, as if it had been planted upside-down.
Flowers and fruit
Baobabs have beautiful flowers, often the size of a saucer. During November each year, they open their delicate white waxy petals as the sun sets - opening from bud to full bloom within just 20 minutes. The blossoms stay alive for just 24 hours so by the time the sun sets the next day, the flowers are spent.
The fruit, which grows up to a foot long, dries naturally on the branch - transforming from its green, prickly, velvety coating into a smooth, brown, coconut-like shell. The fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals and has been harvested by tribes for centuries for medicinal purposes and, today, is used in multiple health and wellness products too.
The tree of life
Baobabs are actually succulents and consist of 80% moisture, which makes them among the most useful plants to both animals and humans. They swarm with life as they provide shelter and sustenance to a myriad of species - from the largest elephant to the tiniest insect. Thankfully, baobabs are very hardy and incredibly tough - they can be burnt, or stripped of their bark, and they will just form new bark and carry on growing.
Drought, water logging, lightning, marauding elephants and black fungus are the baobab's biggest threats.
Elephants, eland and a host of other animals chew the bark of the baobab during the dry season, as an enormous amount of water can be found in baobab tree trunks - up to 4,500 litres!
Baobabs support the life of countless creatures, often creating its very own ecosystem. Baboons and warthogs eat the seed pods and birds such as weavers, barn owls, mottled spine tails and ground-hornbills build their nests within the tree . The hollowed interior also provides homes to all kinds of reptiles, insects and bats.
Baobabs can survive for thousands of years! One recently collapsed Namibian tree known as ‘Grootboom’ was thought to be 1,275 years old.
Join us at The Outpost Lodge or Pel's Post and experience the baobab-dominated sandveld for yourself. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions. We are here to help.